Easter Aesthetic: Undead and a Creme-filled Center

Perhaps no other holiday quite creeps me out as much as Easter. While searching online, I have found few accounts of atheists talking about how unpleasant the holiday makes them feel. Surely, I am not alone in this sentiment though? Last year, I was at the American Atheists convention partaking in what some dotingly called “the war on Easter” in downtown Memphis. This year, I am left to my own observations.

Easter, like many holidays in the US, is a compilation of strange traditions, symbols, and origins—dead Jesus, sex goddess, milk chocolate—that have achieved a widely consumer-based bend. If you were to search for how unnerving the holiday is, you would find Buzzfeed articles with photos of people from the 1950’s dressed as white, wild-eyed rabbits holding inscrutable, and other times screaming, children. The thing of nightmares, certainly. The holiday makes me uncomfortable for more conscientious reasons.

For kicks, let’s review the top 5 creepiest Easter sightings I saw in Tennessee this year:

5. Crosses, crosses… everywhere!

Leading up to Easter, theists and churches publicly decorate their yards with crosses, one of the best-known symbols of Christianity, and large-scale representations of the crucifix. Here’s one:

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People in the south already have crosses all over the place. While driving down the highway or interstate, in between all the fear-mongering religious billboards, it’s not unusual to see a large cross that spans multiple acres of land. The fanaticism of Easter, however, breeds a whole new superfluous countryside scene. In my hometown, I doubt you can drive five miles without seeing such a display, and even that estimate of five miles is likely too generous.

In an attempted fairness, however, the hundreds of crosses dotting the countryside are appropriate for the holiday. An often overlooked line from the New Testament indicates that not only was Jesus “risen” on that day, so too were thousands of others. It was a good ol’ fashioned zombie walk. One theologian estimated that nearly 12,000 people rose up from their graves and walked the earth, which provoked Christopher Hitchens to make the claim that resurrection was, in fact, “commonplace.”

4. Risen (2016)

To celebrate the holiday this year, some Christians watched Risen, the latest biblical drama on the Hollywood market. It’s no secret that I find religious drama as fascinating and prescriptive as I do equal parts disturbing and insane.

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Risen is a film about the resurrection. Some have praised the movie for following a new lead character named Clavius. Spoiler alert: Clavius is a non-believer who gets to see Yeshua’s ascension into heaven. Guess what happens next?

3. Undead Jesus Sings Gospel in Florida

Alongside all the pastel-colored selfies and egg hunt testimonials, I saw several video and audio uploads of Easter church services. (Some churches have sunrise services. That’s dedication!) One of my family friends uploaded a video from his church that featured a congregation of people inside this mega church cathedral. They are watching a musical performance with their arms and hands outstretched above their hands. And the lead of this contemporary gospel group? A dancing Jesus! Baffled by the video, I even messaged this family friend to ask if that was really someone dressed as Jesus dancing on stage and singing into the microphone. His response, unadulterated: “Yes! He HAS Risen!!”

2. Crucified Jesus Cookies

A family favorite?

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To stress the absolute cringe-worthy quality of these cookies, if it isn’t already apparent enough, let me say that I actually made these exact cookies when I was a child. I remember making these cookies, not because of their horror or raspberry-jam shortbread tastiness, but because of the downright annoyance of them. The fingers would stick to the cookie cutter if not properly floured and produce these goblin-like elongated atrocities.

1. Indoctrination of Children

The indoctrination of children is one of the most toxic and necessary elements of Christianity and its survival. In my eyes, all the services and child-friendly activities are but another baited hook and cyclic opportunity.

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Women (and Dogs) in Secularism III

I am finally back from the Women in Secularism III conference. You check out photos from the conference over at Bruce F Press Photography. (I am in the background of several of these shots. See if you can find me!)

When first talking to some of my friends about the Women in Secularism conference, I noted how odd and exciting it was for me to be attending a conference unrelated to literature or creative writing. One friend said, “Well, really, it’s all about finding your people.” To say the least, the women present at this conference were definitely my kind of peIMG_20140522_182447ople.

In addition to thought-provoking panels and discussions, there was unsurprisingly a dog presence at the conference.

Amy Davis Roth, owner of Surly-Ramics, spoke on multiple panels and sold some of her necklaces in the storeroom. She makes ceramic necklaces that feature science-orientated subjects among other topics. I bought a dog necklace (pictured above) and later found out that she even does custom pet designs over at her Etsy shop. Her jewelry features messages like “Think” and “This is what a humanist looks like” or art prints of microscopes, organic matter, fossils, atoms, space, Darwin illustrations, depictions of iconic artists, and more. Her jewelry and ceramics are the perfect gift for the pro-science advocate.

I couldn’t get over Amy’s inviting and vibrant personality. See, here is a photo of Amy measuring her personality:

panel1Source: Bruce F Press Photography (Panelists, left to right)
Melody Hensley, Amy Davis Roth, Amanda Knief, and Debbie Goddard

It’s huge!

Feel free to browse around her Etsy Shop, Surly, to look over her products, talent, and pricing. If you want to check out some of Amy’s paintings, you can read this article at Mad Art Lab that talks about her exhibit at the American Atheist Art Show.

Another inspiring speaker, Amanda Knief, was present at the conference with her dog, Sagan. (Carl Sagan fans, unite!)

Sagan12Source: Amanda Knief’s Twitter Account

Knief and Sagan were championing the table for American Atheists at the conference where Knief works as managing director. Come to find out, the American Atheists’ 2015 National Convention is in my back yard Memphis, Tennessee. The conference is scheduled from April 3-5, 2015 at the Peabody Hotel, and you can bet that I will be in attendance.

I will post more soon about the conference, which was an overload of inspiration. For now, I am going to settle in with a copy of Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich, another speaker present at the conference, and get ready to grill out some steaks. The Women in Secularism III conference was the perfect beginning to my summer.