THE PERSISTENCE OF FAITH: Christians reach beyond Easter uproar to find hope
April 14, 2006
Easter, Christianity's cornerstone, is at hand, and nearly 200 million Americans say they plan to go to church.
But the central meaning of the holiday is more hotly debated than at any other time in American history.
Did Jesus really die on the cross? Not in "The Da Vinci Code," the best seller due to hit movie theaters next month.
If he did die, who killed him? Historians say it was Jerusalem's Roman rulers. But last week, the National Geographic Society unveiled a long-lost gospel that claims Jesus stage-managed his own death.
Maybe Easter really was a huge political protest. This spring, Bible scholar Marcus Borg is arguing that Jesus' triumph over his Roman death sentence was a rebuke by God of all imperial leaders.
Such sizzling speculation about Easter is "so confusing to people that there is real danger that it could steal or destroy people's faith," Guy Gailliard of Clinton Township said this week. He has a unique perspective, because tonight he will dress up as Jesus and be crucified in a pageant at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.
"It's very disturbing to hear all these new claims about our faith," Mary Lafter, a member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Troy, said this week. "People need to remember that a lot of these things ... are really fiction, written by people who want to sell books.
"Most Christians know what Easter means. In our church, we say it, 'Christos anesti!' That means 'Christ is risen!' ... That's the real story."
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Contact DAVID CRUMM at 313-223-4526 or email@example.com.