The Christian story starts off briskly in St. Matthew's account with a place and a date: "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King." St. Luke ... pins the thing down to a piece of government finance. God, he says, was made man in the year when Caesar Augustus was taking a census.... About thirty-three years later (we are informed) God was executed, for being a political nuisance....
Possibly we might prefer not to take this tale too seriously -- there are disquieting points about it. Here we had a man of Divine character walking and talking among us -- and what did we find to do with Him? ....We bribed one of His friends to hand Him over quietly to the police, and we tried Him on a rather vague charge of creating a disturbance, and had Him publicly flogged and hanged on the common gallows....
So there we have the outline of the official story -- the tale of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when He submitted to the conditions He had laid down, and became a man like the men He had made, and the men He had made broke Him and killed Him. This is the dogma we find so dull -- this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero.
It is the dogma that is the drama -- not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death -- but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death.
Of course the story doesn't end there....
A blessed Easter to you all!
Quotes excerpted from "The Greatest Drama Ever Staged" and "The Dogma is the Drama", by Dorothy L. Sayers
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