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Guy in Chicken Suit

tr.v. co-opt·edco-opt·ingco-opts

1. To take or assume for one’s own use; appropriate: co-opted the criticism by embracing it.  2. To neutralize or win over (an independent minority, for example) through assimilation into an established group or culture.

“Happy Easter” the salesperson chirped as I left with my purchases.

I feel like Andy Rooney in my curmudgeon-ness.  However, I have to take exception to “happy Easter.”  Happy is too shallow a word.  It does insult as an adjective to a word that is so huge it can’t be measured.  Happy is too laughy and vulgar and common.  Happy is how you feel when you go to the water park but not when you contemplate God becoming man.   Not what you feel when you contemplate a person dying for you.

I would never say I am “happy” about Jesus’ death, even though he conquered death and the grave.  I would never say “happy” when I think about how badly I mess things up and what it took God to straighten that all out.

No word exactly does the trick for me, most especially happy.  Maybe blessed or awesome or unbelievable or un-repayable.  I’m left to inventing words, and even those don’t work.  How do you talk about Jesus turning himself over to humans for execution?

Part of the problem is the co-opting of Easter by our culture.  So that it becomes part of the sales strategy of the newest perfume line or a clothing line.  Christmas turns into Valentine’s Day which turns into Easter.  Just another sales holiday.

Easter should stir emotions of gratitude, optimism, generosity, and nobility.  But in too many cases it is just another excuse for consumption and shallowness.

I’ll continue to respond positively to any recognition of Easter.  But I can’t help but wonder if the speaker has any inkling of what they’re saying.

Annie Dillard, in her book “Teaching a Stone to Talk,” once wrote, “Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?.”  She said, “It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets….For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”  Page 52.

That is how I feel about using the word “happy” to modify Jesus’ blitz into hell to seize death and the grave straight out of Satan’s hands.  Awesome?  Yes.  Indescribable?  Yes.  Defiant?  Yes.

Happy?  No.

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