I am recently not fond of the idea of rebirth. Our culture, at least  the Middle-Class White dominant, professional, pseudo-Buddhist culture of  Liberal America, to be specific, embraces the idea fully. We don't apologize or  reflect or mourn. We move on.

We find new friends or new family when we destroy a relationship, political or personal, usually repeating the same behavior with  the replacement people that hurt the last people in our lives. We don't talk about our pain in public, as that is more impolite than talking about politics or religion. We find new ways of being, such as Buddhism, or pseudo-Buddhism in its many self-care, self-focused forms, borrowing the culture and identity of others, to cover up our own. 

It always feels a little land of the lotus eaters to me, this idea of  being born again, if one is a working class Christian, and certainly this idea of rebirth, if one is of the professional culture. This is something liberals and conservatives have in common. We think we can walk away. It is a trademark of colonial thinking: there is always new territory, even if inhabited by the flesh and blood reality of others, to move on to  once our own flesh and blood home has been destroyed, or made difficult, through our own reality.

Easter, in this cultural narrative about rebirth, cleansing of the  sins, or cleansing of the past, is neuter. Jesus was not reborn. He lived and died painfully, focusing on a small group of close friends; then he came  again, with all  his scars, to the people he had already loved. He presented his mangled body to them, to see, to be seen, to recognize, to be  touched, to be real. 

I am thinking today about how deeply I love and trust old friends. How people grow with each other by growing into each other, through memory and  experience and baggage -- that ugly word for the human experience --that we lift together. 

I cannot undo my experience. But I can incorporate it.

 


Comments

04/08/2012 7:13am

The Buddhist concept of rebirth is very different from the Christian concept of being born again.

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Laurel Dykstra
04/18/2012 8:27am

So I'm preaching this sunday on Luke 24:36b-48 where Jesus appears in the upper room and shows his wounds to his friends.
--I have just attended the Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation hearings in the town where I was born. What you say about wounds and colonial mentality and being real fits this biblical narrative and the real life one.

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