Easter Contemplation

Being an outsider in all matters religious I must confess to a certain unease with the concept of Easter. It is a period of observance that, laying it all out on the table for you, kind of gives me the willies. The joy that springs from death, and not only death but a savage, grisly, barbarous death at that, unsettles me.

Yes, yes, I do understand that this is the serious meat and potatoes of Christian faith. Death and resurrection and one must die in order to live eternally and that Jesus was put up on the cross for our sins but couldn’t he He have taken the whole Socratic route and insisted on drinking a cup of poisoned hemlock instead? Too suicidal for you? How about just one to the back of the head then? Clean, simple and we’re all off for the rest of the weekend to wait for his miraculous, heaven-bound reappearance.

It’s the reveling in the gory details of the death – the Gibsonian Passion of the Christ – that seems so unnecessary, so full of life denouncing abnegation. Existence is nasty but we must bear it devotedly in order to live again gloriously in the presence of our Lord and Saviour. Just putting in time, probably miserably, until I can shrug off this mortal coil and kick back to enjoy eternity without a care in the world. Far too much stake in the future for my liking.

In addition to which, if the whole Easter holiday is so important to Christians, why did I get a phone call from a friend in the U.S. yesterday who expressed surprise that I wasn’t working? It’s Good Friday, dude. The whole place is closed up almost as tightly as it would be at Christmas. Apparently not so much Stateside. Aren’t they supposed to be the most religious country in the western world? If the whole Easter commemoration isn’t that important to them, are they practicing their religion incorrectly? Should someone explain it to them?

And another thing. If the death and resurrection of Jesus is so integral to Christian doctrine, what’s with all the Christian based anti-Semitism? If he He had to die in order that we all shall live again, shouldn’t we be thanking our Jewish friends for setting the Romans on Him? Judas should be celebrated rather than reviled for betraying Jesus. If he’d done the honourable thing and not sold Jesus down the river for a few pieces of silver, history, as they say, might have been entirely different.

Still, I’m not going to turn down the prospect of a couple days off for the sake of a theological quibble. Especially not this weekend given that it seems we’ve skipped the whole spring thing and plunged right into summer. I slip into my sockless shoes, pull out the old straw fedora and head out for a mid-afternoon promenade along College Street.

Only to be stopped up by crowds of people that can only be described as nothing less than a throng. It’s as if taking a cue from the weather, the street festival season has just decided to start. Cars are parked everywhere. Huge packs of families meander, ice creams in hand. It’s a holiday, sure, with exceptionally good weather but.. all of Toronto has descended onto College Street? The Eaton Centre must be closed.

Then the music kicks off, a dreary funeral dirge, and I suddenly come to my senses. The Good Friday Easter Procession making its way through the heart of Little Italy. You think I would’ve remembered, what with all the previous talk about this particular religious festival. So I step up onto a restaurant doorway to watch the passing of the parade.

Almost immediately, The Godfather or, more precisely, The Godfather Part II springs to mind. Robert DeNiro’s young Vito Corleone stalks the white suited local mobster, Don Fanucci, during a similar religious procession in New York and kills him in the darkened hallway of a tenement walkup. Another Easter. Another execution. There seems to be no escaping it.

The procession participants are mainly older expect for those having to do anything at all overly physical. Like the Jesus who’s getting beaten up by Roman soldiers. Outside of that, the numbers skew heavily toward the elderly. I wonder if their children, down visiting from places like Woodbridge and now watching from the sidelines, will step up and fill the void when this generation dwindles. There’s that whole death and rebirth symbolism at work again. It’s hard to imagine. Rather than occupying a central spot in the lives of the younger folks, religion is merely observed, thought of only during the holiest of days and on monumental occasions like weddings and funerals.

There it is again. Funerals. Death. No escaping it, it seems when Easter comes around. A funny thing to design a life around if you ask me.

Politicians on Parade

No wonder they came up with the whole bunny angle. Sure, sure. Life is full of pain and misery. Death awaits us all. But it’ll all be worth it when we go to heaven (if we go to heaven… otherwise… well, just get to heaven) and live forever in blissful contentment. Not sold? OK, so there’s this bunny and he brings you chocolate…

religiously submitted by Urban Sophisticat

Meet A Mayoral Candidate — Part VII

Good Friday. A good Friday for another installment of Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

In the spotlight this week… Wendell Brereton For Mayor!

With the 1st unofficial mayoral debate officially behind us and nothing much gleaned from it aside from the fact that none of the candidates who have been mysteriously tapped as “serious” contenders have given us any reason to vote for them (and plenty why we shouldn’t), it is timely that we present to you the Wendell Brereton candidacy. One of the 19 registered candidates uninvited to Monday’s Summit of Giants®™©, even a cursory glance at Mr. Brereton’s website reveals the omission to be a glaring gaffe on the part of debate organizer, Councillor Mike Del Grande. Candidate Brereton possesses a platform packed with details in such depth that puts the front running campaigns to shame.

A 12 year veteran of the OPP, Mr. Brereton calls himself an entrepreneur and activist. Many of his approaches reflect that dual sensibility, with a heavy emphasis on promoting public-private enterprises in areas ranging from transit to waste and energy management while showing a Keynesian predilection for government spending during a recession on things like child care. He is for road tolls albeit much more modest than the $5 proposed by Sarah Thomson. Brereton would also introduce fees for bike permits as part of a very interesting approach to dealing with cyclists and traffic that is worth further exploration. His thoughts on the matter underline just how empty the bike lane debate that’s been going on between the “serious” candidates has been. Nothing but pure puffery.

This is true of almost every aspect of Wendell Brereton’s candidacy. After reading through his platform and watching his announcement video, we asked for some further details of his campaign and were almost immediately presented with 7 pages! Unlike his higher profile rivals, Mr. Brereton is not merely sloganeering. He appears to be slowly putting together a… what you call that?…  A vision thing. A vision for the city. A vision for how a Mayor Brereton would lead.

What stops us up of a full fledged embrace of Wendell Brereton for Mayor is his overt and enthusiastic public embrace of his religious beliefs. A Pastor at the Glorious Church-Faith Temple, there is no doubting the importance religion plays in Mr. Brereton’s life. To a bunch of godless heathens like we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, this makes us supremely uncomfortable especially when it manifests itself in an anti-gay pride position as it does in Mr. Brereton’s platform. He will have to explain himself much better than he did to us about the matter if he wants to speak to a wider audience.

On every other issue, however, Wendell Brereton deserves a fair hearing. Although excluded from Monday’s debate, he was in attendance and passed along a number of interesting points about what the candidates didn’t talk about. Waste and energy alternatives. Day care. Infrastructure. Serious plans about transit in the face of the provincial governments $4 billion renege delay. All important matters Mr. Brereton has views on and ideas for implementing.

How we ensure that he secures a place on stage at the next all candidates debate is in and of itself a matter for debate. Better civic minds than ours are at work devising a formula to allow serious candidates like Wendell Brereton in the door. Although at this still early stage in the campaign, there is little reason to exclude anyone from the fray and arbitrarily handicap the race. The time for winnowing comes later after we’ve had an opportunity to look at and assess all the candidates. Yes, that paves the way for the true fringe candidates, the cranks and crackpots (as if a few of those haven’t already slipped past the gatekeepers) to let loose. But we do live in a democracy last I heard. Everyone’s voice must be heard. It will be worth the effort for the exposure it would bring to viable and significant candidates like Wendell Brereton.

When asked our requisite question, If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor Brereton like to see his legacy written?, he responded: Mayor Brereton, the Innovator.  That hardly does him justice in our opinion. A little too prosaic. So let us supply our own answer to the question: Mayor Brereton, bringing 22nd-century thinking to 21st-century problems.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr