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Is resurrection the ‘theme’ of 2022?

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Politicians want to resurrect the fortunes of CBD cafes, film studios are resurrecting old movie franchises, and we’re all doing our best to revive flagging spirits after two years (at least?) of bad news. And here we are at Easter weekend, the resurrection story: Jesus crucified and buried on Good Friday, raised from the dead come Easter Sunday.

Of course, we fudge Easter celebrations a bit here in the southern hemisphere. Instead of fluffy ducklings and green shoots heralding new life: winter is coming. Australia’s first Deltacron cases have been confirmed, we’re bracing ourselves for a potentially ugly election campaign, and the world order isn’t exactly looking stable right now. Resurrection 2022 is off to a rocky start. 

Still, those green shoots take root in the unlikeliest places. In the depths of the Tasmanian winter, the annual Dark Mofo festival defiantly celebrates the darkness. This year’s theme, though? You guessed it — resurrection. 

‘Nature is constantly moving toward death, and resurrection,’ reads the curatorial statement, released last week. ‘As the world re-emerges from the Covid lockdowns, we are all experiencing a rebirth of sorts. The forced isolation gave rise to a re-evaluation of what matters, to new ideas, new dreams.’

Creative director Leigh Carmichael explains that the darkness offers ‘a rich vein of inspiration … it’s associated with the subconscious, and being underwater — there’s all these beautiful metaphors that are linked with the darkness.’ But Dark Mofo, he tells me, also explores the flip side: ‘The moment of the solstice has always been linked with new life and the birth of the new year.’


'Resurrection is not resuscitation: it doesn’t just restore the status quo. What many of us are longing for, in 2022, is a love that says yes to our pain, and carries us beyond it to something genuinely new.' 


While Dark Mofo and the churches have found themselves at odds on some counts, this light-shining-in-the-darkness motif is textbook Easter. The night is darkest just before the dawn. Before Sunday’s glorious resurrection comes the holy horror of Good Friday. The prelude — the prerequisite, even — to new life is a crucifixion.

Also on theme here is the new Matrix film: The Matrix Resurrections, released at the end of last year after a hiatus for the franchise of nearly twenty years. It’s been a long Easter Saturday for Keanu Reeves’ character Neo, who in the conclusion of the trilogy in 2003 submitted to his own form of crucifixion, sacrificing his life to save humanity from destruction by their enemy, the machines. 

This rebirth of the world of The Matrix is slick and thoughtful and (perhaps surprisingly) extremely enjoyable. It makes fun of itself for being a reboot, and revels in self-referential detail — a café called Simulatte, a cat called Deja Vu. But in the context of Neo’s ‘resurrection’, it also re-opens some of the questions that made the original film a classic: what is really real? If life is to continue, at what cost, and to what end?

‘I know you said the story was over for you,’ one character says to Neo. ‘But that’s the thing about stories … they never really end, do they? We’re still telling the same stories we’ve always told.’ 

This Easter weekend, in churches around the country and all over our fractious world, people will re-tell the story of a first-century Jewish man who was misunderstood and despised, and brutally killed for it, and whose tomb was found empty on the third day. They will proclaim his death and resurrection as an invitation to everyone to new life, to rebirth. 

Easter speaks to the same yearnings for renewal that Dark Mofo and The Matrix Resurrections are tapping into, the same intuition that there’s more to the story. That in spite of appearances, the best may be yet to come. 

Without giving too many spoilers, what’s most interesting to me about The Matrix as reloaded for 2022 is that it’s actually, essentially, a love story. In this, too, it’s like the archetypal death-and-resurrection story.

‘I don’t identify as Christian but I do understand the mythology and it resonates really deeply with me,’ says Leigh Carmichael. ‘I’m most interested in Jesus as a symbol of dying and paying the ultimate sacrifice for the hope of new life and rebirth … how he embraced the suffering and sorrows of the world, and said yes to them.’

Resurrection is not resuscitation: it doesn’t just restore the status quo. What many of us are longing for, in 2022, is a love that says yes to our pain, and carries us beyond it to something genuinely new. 





Natasha Moore is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity and the author of The Pleasures of Pessimism

Main image: Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Resurrections. (Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc)

Topic tags: Natasha Moore, Easter, Resurrection, Matrix Resurrections, Good Friday



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Existing comments

Reading your excellent, jampacked article, Natasha, I was reminded of the song 'Everybody's talking at me'. Everybody seems to have gotten their two bob's worth in this Easter. Has 'the real Jesus', the one that Albert Schweitzer sought, slipped gently away? I think so, only to be found in quiet, uncluttered places by those who 'become as little children'. Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga would be a good place. It is remote enough from, but also close enough to, modern civilisation. Russia is again becoming very much like the brutal Roman Empire Jesus was born. lived, died and rose again in. Christians were persecuted and martyred there until very recently. The fact that many modern Western Christians, especially many of the learned dons in the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge and similar do not believe in the Resurrection, that tremendous event Karl Barth said Christianity depends on for its ultimate validity, tells me a lot.

Edward Fido | 14 April 2022  

‘Resurrection is not resuscitation: it doesn’t just restore the status quo. What many of us are longing for, in 2022, is … something genuinely new.’

Sometimes, the status quo bears keeping, if only for the humour of irony (another word for the ability of humans to look strange to God). What’s unity, the fraternity felt for Ukraine by the Western Church which believes Christ was, in memory, resurrected this morning, or the common belief between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches that Christ, in memory, won’t even have died until next Friday?

roy chen yee | 17 April 2022  

Natasha, its lovely and welcoming to have you feature in a Jesuit publication. And Thank You, ES, for putting Natasha on!

The traditional divide between the Evangelical Biblical Christ and Catholic Faith in Action that the Jesuits privilege pales into insignificance in appreciating that He is the Same Jesus that we encounter in the Resurrection.

I have long thought that the stereotypes on both sides, a product of a different age and culture and quintessentially to do with Good Works must surely pale in importance in the context of a World and global culture that, while searching, knows little or nothing of Scripture.

Only yesterday I was part of a class in which the idiom 'forbidden fruit' came up for discussion. I was gobsmacked that no one knew its origins, and wished that Roy, who represents the conservative evangelical wing on our Catholic side of the Great Divide as it used to be, had spent his hyperbolic skills in reflecting on it, something he is usually very good at doing!

Would that fabulous Roy doesn't lose his conservative touch and learns a bit from you, principally in keeping jaundice at bay and finding room for the expression of kerygmatic Christianity.

Michael Furtado | 30 April 2022  
Show Responses

'forbidden fruit' 'kerygmatic'

Forbidden fruit is anything delectable to human reasoning which should be nailed to the Cross to be forsaken.

While the idea of a female priesthood is delectable, thanks to the winsome Vicar of Dibley, in the absence of knowing why God, the organic source of all those priestly faculties which are supernatural, is male, it is risking a disjunctive kerygma not to nail that popular aspiration to the Cross as a delectability to be forsaken, at least until Revelation (which is always conjunctive) provides us with the relevant information.

roy chen yee | 03 May 2022  

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