Sunday, April 12, 2009

What Do You See When You Look at a Cross?

This is a cross necklace which Two Dogs gave me for my birthday in 2007. I am wearing it today, Easter Sunday. I wear it even though I am an atheist who does not think that the individual most people know as Jesus Christ (his Hebrew name was Yeshua bar Yosef) was a divine being.

The Christian cross (also known as the Latin cross) is an aesthetically pleasing and balanced piece of geometry. It is also an abstraction of a ghastly execution device. On television, we see crosses made of crystal with a tiny Lord’s Prayer engraved in the center (in adult and child sizes). At Easter, we see crosses made of white and milk chocolate. In California, we see white crosses standing tall upon brushy hills. A cross that shows Yeshua pinned to it – a true crucifix -- is much harder to find, except in the Catholic Church.

What if Yeshua had been born in the last 100 years? Can you imagine wearing a crystal pendant in the shape of an electric chair, or giving a chocolate gas chamber to your children?

It’s easy to understand why crucifixion is a subject few of us, even the most devout Christian, want to dwell on. But no matter what your belief, never forget that the cross has its roots in the bloody, agonizing death of a human being in a brutal time. It's a sobering reminder of our capacity for cruelty, and an admonition to leave such cruelty behind.

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