I hadn’t planned to post anything about Easter this year but my neighbour David sent me a link to this article in The Age today written by Melbourne “literary critic” Peter Craven and it’s annoyed me. Craven has written a pretty bleary counter-revisionist attempt to convince us that the Christian mythology behind Easter actually has some validity and should be honoured. For someone who is self-described as “blisteringly arrogant” , this is a shabby piece of pious nonsense. Reading this article, you’d think that Craven must be nearing death and suddenly feeling like he has to do some major sucking up to his imaginary God to account for a lifetime of past sins.

As I wrote back to David:

I don’t see anything mysterious or wonderful about continuing a 2000 year old myth. I find it primitive and scary that so many people in the 21st century still feel the need to worship supranatural beings. I do agree with Craven though that kids should be taught about human mythology in school, but I’d love to see ALL human mythology taught. Kids should be taught the Christian heritage behind easter, but should also be taught the original reason for a celebration at the spring equinox, to celebrate the fertility gods that ancient humans believed brought new life, new crops. I think that if more people had an unbiased and comprehensive education in human mythologies they would recognize that Christianity is a mish-mash of many older mythologies,
some judaic, some “pagan”. Unfortunately the catholic church did too good a job wiping out the memory of those older mythologies during the dark ages so 1500 years later they aren’t understood by most people. All most people in the West have known is the christ myth which has value, no doubt, but should be seen in context to the entire body of human mythology.

Let’s teach the kids, from a very young age, the stories of Ishtar and Isis and Tlazolteotl (the eater of filth!) and, my favourite, Aphrodite.

Let’s not be sexist either. We should teach them about the blokes – Ba’al and Adonis and Marduk and Mithras (who was born of a virgin on December 25 with shepherds in attendance… 100 years before Christ) and Osiris.

Try finding a book for primary school kids which tells those stories at your local bookstore.

Now, let’s get back to the travesty of this Peter Craven article in The Age.

He writes:

“And with all the hideous barbarities of Western civilisation that made Nazis of us all, you can’t go very far in the civilisation stakes without recognising the power and the glory of the Easter story and what has been made of it.”


“It may be that we live in a post-Christian age, it may be that the Enlightenment worked wonders to deepen the mercy that is enjoined on Christians, but our civilisation will lose its heart and mind — you might say it would lose its soul — if it turns its back on the miracle and mystery of the Easter story.”

Actually Peter I think abandoning the worship of imaginary deities and learning to accept rational thinking is the only way we can consider our society “civilized”. Any people that worship imaginary deities must be considered, at least in part, woefully primitive. The “civilized” parts of our society have nothing to do with imaginary deities. They can be considered the benefits of rational minds. Let’s not forget that Christianity forced the dark ages on the human race. They deliberately destroyed the great works of human antiquity. The science and philosophical works of ancient Greece and Rome were nearly all destroyed by small-minded Christian leaders. The “heart and mind” of the human race was obliterated and forced into a period of darkness which it finally struggled out from underneath only hundreds of years later.

“It is a story resonant with the gravest tragedy in the world, but it ends (that’s what those Easter eggs are all about) in light and triumph and love.”

No, Peter, the eggs and the rabbits are both ancient fertility symbols which were being used to celebrate the Spring Equinox in ancient times. Like most things in Christianity, this was borrowed/stolen from older human mythologies, probably to make it slightly easier to force the new religion down the throats of the pagans.

“Whether we like it or not, the story of Christ’s death on the Friday we call Good runs through all our dreams. It’s there in the greatest architecture we know, it’s animate in the great paintings of the Renaissance and a constant point of reference in our greatest poetry and drama, even in Samuel Beckett, who says he saw the world extinguished though he never saw it lit.”

Peter’s education is obviously sorely lacking. Greatest architecture? What about… The Cheops Pyramid? The Colosseum? The Aztec Cholula pyramid? The Eiffel Tower? The Sydney Opera House?

Poetry… 1001 Arabian Nights? The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam?

Drama… The Illiad? The Odyssey? Wuthering Heights??

Anyway… I could go on but I’m bored.

I agree with Craven that “the Easter Story is graphic, stark, mesmerising”. Like much of the Judeo/Christian bible, it’s a terrifying look at human (and deist) depravity.

Let it sit where it should with the rest of ancient human literature. A reminder of where we came from. A lesson on how thousands of years of oppression and bloodshed were justified.

And let’s move on to a brighter future.