The Resurrection Difference
by George W Rutler, Crisis Magazine:
At the Yorktown surrender in 1781, the British band played a tune traditional to the ballad “The World Turned Upside Down.” In the 1640s the ballad had been written as a broadside against the suppression of Christmas festivities by the Puritan parliament. In some ways, the world had indeed been turned upside down, at least in the civil order. Sir Edward Grey was right in a way, too, when he saw the lamps going out all over Europe at the start of World War I. President Nixon’s unmeasured hyperbole had a measure of logic at least for physics, when he called the days of the Apollo 11 moon landing “the greatest week in the history of the world since Creation.” There are seminal moments that rattle the course of history and, as in James Russell Lowell’s hymn, “New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth.” No event approaches the Resurrection of Christ in its effect on the world. It turned the world upside down or, given the Fall of Man, it turned the world right side up again. A flaccid B.C.E/C.E. instead of B.C./A.D. anesthetizes consciousness of its importance.
When witnesses to the Resurrection, and their followers, became conspicuous in Rome, having found a name for themselves in Antioch as “Christians,” the imperial establishment scorned them for contemptissima inertia, which “most disgusting laziness” was in fact modesty, rejection of divorce, indifference to public honors and celebrity, failure to attend the gross entertainments of the circus, and refusal to abort babies. It was inconceivable to the Roman culture, expressed by its temple cults, that religion should have anything to do with morals. There was a complex system of priests with flamines leading the worship of particular gods, pontifices supervising the whole system and preserving the pax deorum or religious order, and a rex sacrorum who supervised the feasts.