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Deep calling on deep

  • 13 April 2022
  Some years ago there was a campaign to put Christ back into Christmas, and to a lesser extent into Easter. The Infant Jesus in the crib and the Risen Jesus were being overwhelmed by Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. That battle has been lost. Christmas and Easter have become secular celebrations in society, though with a sizeable minority recognizing their religious significance.

The important question raised now by Easter is whether the meanings of Australian Easter, and indeed those available to our secular society, have the depth needed to handle our present predicaments. 

In our culture Easter celebrates the benignity of the ordinary. It is a time for getting together with family, for going away to bush or beach, and in southern states a time of mild weather ideal for watching big football matches and other sport. Easter reassures us that all is well with the world and will continue to be well. In the great Australian phrase, she’ll be right, mate. There is no crisis to face, no need to do anything dramatic, we can keep on steady as she goes. We can trust in entropy and in technological solutions to all problems that therefore need not affect our lives. We can be assured that coming Easters will require as little of us as this Easter. The sea is flat, storms are manageable, and the journey safe.

If that description of the Australian Easter is accurate the shape of the emerging election campaign is exactly calibrated to match it. Both parties are a one in assuring us that life can continue as at present with gifts from the government to smooth over bumps, reliance on mining to provide economic growth, and no need for aid to people who are disadvantaged, or for changes in policy that might disadvantage the highly advantaged. Like Easter, election time promises to be party time.

We shall be very fortunate indeed if the assumptions on which the flat Australian Easter and the steady as she goes election campaign rest are based in reality. That, however, seems increasingly unlikely. We may face a series of interlocking crises that will force us to choose between an increasingly dystopian future and radical social change to mitigate its harm.

'In its beginnings Easter was not a celebration of the continuity of good times but of the happy disruption of bad times. Life and hope flared out from where death and darkness had