o die and to be reborn.
It's a powerful notion, so powerful and pervasive in human societies
there is no surprise that Christianity puts death and rebirth at the
And it provides an easy way to take a measure of someone's beliefs.
Are you a crucifixion person or a resurrection person? Do you believe
are born to suffer and die, with our ultimate reward coming in some
place, some other time, or are you a resurrection person, immersed in
leaving behind suffering and building a new life, immersed in being
here and now?
The Roman church decided early that they would be a church of the
crucifixion. The Gnostic gospels, proclaiming the reality of being
on Earth, were edited from the canon, removed from the Bible, around
The power of the church and its leadership was consolidated by this
By saying that divinity of the human was denied until the next life, no
human could challenge the church, and the church could say that
was good for you, that your rewards would come in the afterlife.
Today, power is still consolidated by leaders who speak for
emphasizing suffering and victimization of the group, they disempower
individuals who speak for transcendence, attempting to make them
to the group. To empower individuals is to invite challenge, for
reborn in a present relationship with God are not under the control of
not subject to the demands of the group for compliance on an earthly
Instead, they speak for the God they know intimately, even when that
says change is needed, that we must defy convention to be right with
To be a crucifixion person is to deny the possibility of bliss,
ecstasy and power in this world. It is to live in suffering, a
designed to rationalize and support the need for sacrifices in order to
receive a distant ephemeral reward.
To be a resurrection person, though, is to embrace the idea that God is
alive and living in everyone, reborn in every moment we reaffirm our
connection with her. It is to face God everyday, a God who works
divine callings in the hearts of each of us, teaching us where we need
This is a terrifying idea for Crucifixion people who support the status
believing their suffering to follow the rules of the church and
are the only true way to serve God. They need to believe that God
suppression of the individual, sacrifice to the mores of the group.
Crucifixion people see a vengeful God, one who punishes us for
joy in our heart rather than following the tenets of the church and
community. Their God enforces obedience to a set of laws rather than
encouraging new creation from personal divine inspiration.
Resurrection is a very queer idea indeed. It honors those who follow
own unique connection to the Godhead by being born anew in every moment
rather than honoring those who suffer the most by being crucified in
moment. It honors creation, both the creation of a creative connection
the universe, and the creation of a creator who made an incredibly
and beautiful world. To be a resurrection person we must celebrate the
queer and unique beauty in every person, for it is impossible to
own resurrection unless we embrace the resurrection of others,
not beyond the reality of pain and conflict, but beyond the belief in
suffering and fear.
Resurrection comes with a kind of responsibility that doesn't come with
crucifixion. To be a crucifixion person, we just have to follow the
be a good follower in the congregation. To be a resurrection person,
though, we have to follow our heart, even when it puts us in conflict
those who want to maintain the status quo.
To be a resurrection person, we have to be an individual and a leader.
Resurrection means that we are an active agent of God, playing our part
creation, and not just one of the group, believing that meek obedience
bring some kind of reward in a better place, or worse, that strong
enforcement of social norms is following the call of God.
Resurrection requires a commitment to make this world a better place,
like heaven, rather than believing that this place is meant to be where
people suffer and die for the glory of a distant God who is only truly
to church leaders.
Resurrection demands an active romance with the possible, rather than
an infatuation with the flat symbols of devotion.
Joseph Campbell is clear - the hero's journey has always been a journey
death and rebirth, of crucifixion and resurrection. To be a resurrection
person is to be a hero, to be one who is willing to endure death to
new. The only way to be a resurrection person is to be willing to
parts of us die so we may be reborn, and those are most often the parts
have given us comfort. For many, belief in the validity of suffering
the heart of their comfort. A belief in suffering as central releases
personal responsibility and puts the onus on those who refuse to suffer
God demands. This gives those who have chosen suffering the power to
out at people who refuse to suffer like they do as the ones who cause
Resurrection people may seem to mock the price crucifixion people
pay to be right with God, but resurrection people do pay a high price -
price of being crucified daily by the crucifixion people who want to
the lesson of obedience and suffering. As Buddha said, though, loss is
inevitable but suffering is optional. It is those who endure loss and
without succumbing to suffering who make this world more like heaven,
those who transcend pain and loss who have the power to make change.
Are you a crucifixion person or a resurrection person? Which would you
to be, reborn in every moment, or pinned to a cross for the rest of
mortal life? Are you willing to pay the price for whichever choice you
They are hard questions to answer. While crucifixion people will tell
that the lesson of Easter is that we can be reborn in a new life after
die if we sufficiently suffer the cross here, Easter reminds me of one
thing: Jesus was a resurrection person, unwilling to succumb to social
pressure to play along against what he knew to be true and right,
die to be reborn more in the image of God.
As I wrote on the talisman I gave Rachel Pollack on her bat mitzvah,
followed her bar mitzvah by 40 years:
"She is who is
reborn in every moment
will truly know
the glory of G-D."