A Martian anthropologist tries to understand Easter.

March 17, 2008 | By | 9 Replies More

I enjoy chatting with Martian anthropologists.  They visit Earth without preconceptions and they ask obvious questions. 

Recently, I encountered a Martian anthropologist who was struggling to understand what Easter was all about.    I tried to explain it in simple terms.  I first tried to tell the Martian Anthropologist (I think it was a “she,” so I’ll use the feminine pronoun) about Good Friday. I told her that a magic fellow named Jesus dies every year on Good Friday and the Christians get all glum, even though He doesn’t really die every year, and we’re not entirely sure that there was a Jesus or that he was truly magic.

I paused, then explained further.  I told her that Catholics are my favorite kind of Christians because I was raised Catholic and because they strive so hard to not eat meat on Good Friday.  She asked why they didn’t eat meat and I said I didn’t know, especially since they eat fish and fish seems to be meat.  At church, it gets even stranger, I explained.  Catholics eat bread that they claim was “transubstantiated” into the actual body of Jesus (even though it still looks and tastes like bread.  The ironic twist is that this bread is supposedly meat and the Catholics eat it on Good Friday, even though they promise not to eat meat on Good Friday

Then, every year on Easter Sunday Jesus is said to rise from the dead and save us, even though we weren’t the one’s who pissed off God by trying to eat fruit from the tree that would help us understand things better.   I needed to clarify.  Actually, Jesus only saves some people.  Any people who doubt that Jesus was God are forced to go to hell, a place where they are cursed with eternal suffering rather than being allowed to die.   I told her that I’m one of those people because I don’t understand why God had to allow his son to be killed in order to save us, even though we didn’t commit “original sin.”  What’s hard for Martian anthropologists to grasp is that good-hearted people who doubt that Jesus was God also go to hell, despite being good-hearted, which is the core teaching of Jesus.

The Martian Anthropologist, hearing of this powerful and sometimes sadistic God, told me that she didn’t want to have anything to do with churches.  Getting to close to anything religious just sounded much too dangerous to her.   I told her that religion was important to humans because it scares them too, and keeps them from hurting each other except when they start wars where they argue about things like whether the mother of Jesus ever had sex.   She told me that human societies were “interesting.”   Then she asked why humans don’t simply try harder to be nice to one another rather than believe in life after death, and other forms of magic.  I told her that I didn’t know. 

Then she asked me to tell her about eggs and marshmallow chickens.  I immediately recognized that she wanted to know what Americans really believed rather than what they said they believed.  Therefore, off we went to Walgreen’s to fully understand the florescent American holiday of Easter.

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She asked what Jesus had to do with Easter baskets and whether God the Father was named “Disney.”   I told her that I just didn’t know either of these things.  She asked whether there were bunnies at the manger or at the crucifixion.  I didn’t know.   Does the Bible talk about coloring eggs 2,000?  I didn’t know.

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She asked why the bunnies were made out of chocolate and whether Jesus purportedly ate chocolate.  I didn’t know.

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She asked why the children didn’t receive gifts of stuffed replicas of Jesus dying on the cross rather than stuffed rabbits and lambs or horses.  I didn’t know.

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 She asked whether there could still be an Easter if someone managed to steal all of the candy and toys.  I told her “No,” not in modern America.  It’s just like Christmas (and see here ) and almost every other holiday.   In American, we celebrate holy days by purchasing things we don’t need.

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The Martian anthropologist then asked whether I would show her how to celebrate an authentic American Easter with her.   Absolutely, I said.  So I bought her a big basket of jelly beans and malted mik eggs and we sat down and overate.

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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (9)

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  1. Soviet Bear says:

    I feel the same way regarding the consumption of a host wafer on Fridays. I asked my fiancee (a Catholic) about it, and we decided that Jesus must have been like Aquaman, who we determined, without Biblical consultation, to be edible on Fridays.

    OTOH, I do want to create a BBQ-flavored wafer called 'JC Masterpiece' and market it to southern churches.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Actually, The eggs and the bunnies are Pagan symbols of fertility. It seems that before the burden of Christianity, most of Europe was burdened by other religions, and most of them had some sort of rites regarding springtime. These rituals were presumably to please what ever powers that presided of the fields, to encourage them to reward the people with bountiful crops and plentiful wildlife for food through the winter. Similar harvest festivals were held in the fall as a way of saying "Thank You".

    The pagan rituals were, unlike the solemn and staid affairs of formalized Christianity, major parties, featuring orgies, consumption of drugs and alcohol (dependent on what pagan religion you followed), and large quantities of food. This traditiion is carried on under the name of "Spring break".

    Like most paganistic rituals that the Christians tried to wipe out, instead of replacing the non-christian ritual with a christian one, the different beliefs sort of fused together, and became something else.

    BTW, ask a Christian if they have ever heard of an international religious group that practices ritualistic cannibalism, I see if they realize your talking about them.

  3. Ben says:

    I hope she took it well when you informed her that Mars was created by God.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Ben: I would be tempted to tell her that the Christian God created the Pagan gods. I don't think that any of the world's holy books specifically mention the creation of Mars or whether Martians are "saved."

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    "She asked why the bunnies were made out of chocolate and whether Jesus purportedly ate chocolate. I didn’t know."

    The cacao tree, from which chocolate comes, did not grow in Europe until Spanish conquistadors brought the seeds back from Central America in the 16th-century. Accordingly, Jesus would never have eaten chocolate…unless you happen to ask: (1) a Mormon, who believes that Jesus visited the pre-Columbian Americas and, thus, might have eaten it; or (2) a chocoloholic, who believes chocolate must have originated in heaven.

  6. Edgar Montrose says:

    "… a chocoloholic, who believes chocolate must have originated in heaven …"

    http://www.cartoonbank.com/product_details.asp?si

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    <img width="480" src="http://dangerousintersection.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/hollow-easter.jpg&quot; alt="Hollow Easter.jpg" height="330" style="width: 480px; height: 380px" />

    Over- Commercialized Easter, by Jeff Parker, Florida Today (2008) [Published at DI with full permission, granted by Cagle Cartoons.

  8. grumpypilgrim says:

    "…I don’t understand why God had to allow his son to be killed in order to save us, even though we didn’t commit “original sin.”"

    I struggle with this question, too. It sure seems like a lot of unnecessary work to conceive a son, raise him through the terrible twos, potty training, adolescence, etc., all for the sake of killing him to achieve something that the god-of-the-Bible should have been able to achieve without any of that work at all. Why not just part the heavens and yell down, "Hey, humans, obey me or you'll burn in hell!" Think of all those unfortunate humans who went to eternal damnation just because they died before Jesus got old enough to be crucified, when the god-of-the-Bible might have saved them with just a yell.

    Seems to me the reason why Jesus had to be killed was because of the ancient practice of sacrificing living things to appease invisible gods. This method of appeasement seems to play well with large mobs of superstitious humans, who apparently are relatively easy to impress with such displays.

    As regards Christianity's use of pagan fertility symbols, we don't just have bunnies and eggs at Easter; we also have things like fir trees, evergreen boughs and mistletoe at Christmas; and rice-throwing and cake-eating at weddings. What amazes me is that so few Christians seem aware that nearly all of what they think of as "Christian" worship symbols actually have roots in ancient pagan worship practices — practices that early Christians undoubtedly were eager to co-opt specifically to exploit the power that pagans had already infused into them.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    I just gotta know: where are all the historical accounts of all of those dead people that rose out of their graves and mingled with normal living people on Good Friday? Bible literalists claim that everything in the Bible is literally true. Then why aren't there any historical (non-Christian accounts of all of the incredible things that happened at the moment Jesus allegedly died? Supposedly there were earthquakes. Supposedly, dead people became alive again and crawled out of their graves, then "they began to walk around, appearing to many in Jerusalem." Nothing like this has happened before or since (except on zombie movies). Why, then the absolute silence? Why don't the Gospel writers other than Matthew even mention these incredible "events"? This silence is proof that these events never happened. This is yet more proof that the Bible is not literally true.

    Here's the passage from Matthew:

    27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

    27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

    27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

    27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

    I talked to one Bible literalist recently, and he claimed that these amazing events were obvious to everyone back then and they simply passed them off by word of mouth. I don't buy that for a second. If a man's crucifixion led to earthquakes and many people walking around, there would be many (Christian and non-Christian) books written about these extraodinary events.

    <img width="480" src="http://dangerousintersection.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/cemetery.jpg&quot; alt="cemetery.jpg" height="330" style="width: 480px; height: 380px" />

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