Living at the beach, which, by the way, I highly recommend, is a bit much when it comes to the holidays. In terms of this nation-state’s liturgical holy days (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day) I steer clear of the wandering masses that make their way to that mystical place where the water meets the land. I just really loathe the traffic (and the d-bags with their rented 8 foot long molded plastic Bic surfboards–I know, I know . . . I’m such an elitist). I’m finding it curiously odd these days, that is, the manner by which Christian vacationers have found a lovely reason to sunbathe. Perhaps it’s some subtle wordplay off of the Son of God/sun god, though I’m sure it has more to do with people getting an extended weekend. Work sucks, I know. More so for some than others, so I get the whole ‘trip to the beach’ thing. I honestly can’t even say much without being a raving hypocrite. When I was working in a Methodist church many moons ago, our church planned an incredibly expensive vacation to Disney World for its youth during Easter. The plans were well in motion when I started working there, and I even declined, initially, to go. The pastor, however, could not go so my participation was required (it was our first argument in his office–I protested, but the idea of losing my paycheck won). We left after our Easter morning service. We spent a week in the Magic Kingdom where dreams come true and all innocence is restored. When we returned, I immediately made my way to an Episopalian church where I happened to be good friends with the rector. I confessed my sins. I told him that I was surely ‘going to hell for this one’.
He said, “Tripp, you have this incredible gift for making . . . well . . . for hyperbole. You’re quite full of exaggerated concerns. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but, it’s just for you, everything is either the greatest virtue or the most deadly vice. Yes, going to Disney on the day of our Lord’s resurrection was certainly tacky, if nothing else, but I don’t know that God, as you seem to think, hates you for it.”
I then told him that we raised more than $40,000 to send half of our very small congregation on a trip to see Herr Rodent.
He paused, a bit taken back.
“The money just went to the trip? No mission or charity work was involved?” he asked.
“Nope,” I said. “Just a bunch of self-indulgent Christians who found a way to raise money through auctions, car washes, and selling Christian bracelets so we could spend a week with Mickey.”
He looked at me. His jaw dropped in disbelief. This otherwise warm, caring and roll-with-the-punches kind of guy was suddenly concerned about my eventual eternal residency. He stuttered as he asked, “And you . . . and . . . you, oh, Tripp . . . and you went anyway? Tell me you didn’t. Tell me you didn’t or that, you know, you guys built a house or something while you were there. Did you build a house? You didn’t, did you? Why didn’t you build a house? Did you feed the homeless or, you know, a homeless person? No? You didn’t? Oh, you . . . your church . . . oh no . . . ah, that’s no good. No good at all. Let’s pray, shall we? Let’s pray hard.”
Let’s pray hard.
I gotta tell ya’, when an Episcopalian thinks you’ve sinned you can damn well bet you have majorly screwed up.
In other related news, the Pope donates a huge chocolate egg to a juvy hall, and five years later South Park’s Fantastic Easter Special remains the GREATEST THEOLOGICAL PIECE OF WORK ON EASTER since the release of Han Urs von Balthasar’s Mysterium Paschale.
How’s that for a hyperbole?
(Except, I’m being serious. Totally serious.)
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.