Easter and the Holier than Thou

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Spiritual Journey

“It’s a great tragedy that, by and large, we tend to only get one set of genitals and one set of social conditioning to fuck with.”
Charlie J Forrest

One of the steady presences on my Facebook feed at this time of year is numerous posts highlighting how Easter is, for the most part, a bastardised version of different pre-christian festivals. I guess it’s kind of a positive that people are challenging the standard narrative and that posts like that do raise th overall awareness of paganism and other alternative spiritual paths. But they lack something in coherence. I’ve seen posts in the last week saying that we derive the term Easter both from the germanic deity Eostre and from the Mesopotamian deity Ishtar. Some of these theories are more plausible than others (I mean, look at how much else was stolen from the germanic peoples, like most of our language etc); but the common thread among these seems to be less the specifics of where it’s coming from and more simply asserting that the Christian interpretation is wrong.

I’ve read a couple of blog posts (here and here) talking about deliberately subverting a religious belief for the purposes of kink. I think it’s fair to say that I see eye-to-eye with neither of the writers on this subject, but the conflict between the two is both very natural and a bit of a reflection of my own issues with religion growing up.

I was (am?) a second generation atheist. My parents were rebels in their day and I was raised without inheriting an expected religious dogma. Whatever I wanted to do was fine with my parents. I was free to make my own choices… well almost. You see I, like so many others, was sent to a Church of England school. The sort of place where it didn’t intrude too much into day-to-day life, except we’d sing hymns during assembly, take part in harvest festivals, and that I quietly spent most of my childhood assuming that I was going to go to hell.

With hindsight it’s not hard to see why I identified as an atheist for so long. Things only went further in this direction when I ended up at a university with a very active (i.e. agressive) christian union that spent four years gleefully trying to convert me and with whom I had many interesting and detailed conversations that always seemed to fall apart when I refused to engage with circular arguments.

The upshot is that I am very opinionated and very able to engage in detailed deconstruction of Christianity, or at least the branches of it and interpretations that I’ve experienced first hand through school and university. Christianity is therefore the religion I feel most able to comment on, most confident in deconstructing, happiest to dismiss and, perversely, the symbolism of which is also the one that tends to stick most in my mind.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well how about my fondness for the Hellblazer comics, my favourite country and western song being “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or, for that matter, a huge fondness for any faustian tale. It’s not that it’s what I believe, but that it’s part of my background and, as a common background with many people around me, can be a quick and dirty way of relating an idea. If I tell someone from a similar background to myself that the Devil is in the detail they know what I mean in a way that an off-the-cuff reference to Ishtar just won’t manage.

As for bringing religion into my sex life. Well spirituality and sex is a discussion for another time (but I’ve been thinking a lot about rope as a means of ‘raising energy’ lately). What I will say is that I don’t particularly bring religious themes or subversions into my own play; not out of respect, but simply that it doesn’t do anything for me. To put it bluntly, I don’t think religion did a good enough job of fucking with me for me to want to return the favour.

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