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“Glorious hope is risen today”? What the hell?

With a tip of the hat to Rod Dreher, I’ll let this piece from the Canadian paper, The Globe and Mail, speak for itself. Mostly.

That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today – Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto’s West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.

But at West Hill on the faith’s holiest day, it will be done with a huge difference. The words “Jesus Christ” will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with “Glorious hope.”

Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected – an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit – but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity’s central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God.

Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill’s Sunday service liturgy.

There is no authoritative Big-Godism, as Rev. Gretta Vosper, West Hill’s minister for the past 10 years, puts it. No petitionary prayers (“Dear God, step into the world and do good things about global warming and the poor”). No miracles-performing magic Jesus given birth by a virgin and coming back to life. No references to salvation, Christianity’s teaching of the final victory over death through belief in Jesus’s death as an atonement for sin and the omnipotent love of God. For that matter, no omnipotent God, or god.

So, this isn’t really Christianity — maybe GoodFeelingsity, WarmFuzziesity, or just Ity?

Ms. Vosper has written a book, published this week – With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe – in which she argues that the Christian church, in the form in which it exists today, has outlived its viability and either it sheds its no-longer credible myths, doctrines and dogmas, or it’s toast.

Uh, Rev. Vosper? John Shelby Spong called. He’d like his atheism back.

I’m reminded of the one time I went to St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle for Easter, ten years ago (sheesh — has it really been that long?). The sermon was really more of a tapdance than anything, with the dean of the cathedral appearing to do anything and everything he could to avoid mentioning the “r” word (that is, resurrection). Since it was, well, the Feast of the Resurrection, it kinda stuck out like a sore thumb, to say the least.

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