After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.
When I was a baby dyke there was this craze for coming-out stories. I owned two volumes which I think were just called Coming Out Stories, I & II, probably from Alyson Press, and I remember people trading coming-out stories as an ordinary way of getting to know one another. My impression is that this isn’t as ubiquitous nowadays–there are just way more openly gay people, and so the subculture has fragmented, and it’s perhaps harder for me to immediately see the relevance of any random gay person’s story to my own.
But one thing which struck me when I became Catholic was that Catholics treated conversion stories exactly like we ’90s queers treated coming-out stories. We loved them. They’re the religion equivalent of asking a married couple, “So how did you two meet?”; they make of human catastrophe and relapse an intelligible narrative with a heartwarming climax.
We like it when converts (or reverts) are marked by their experiences out in the big bad world. We like the tattoos, the street smarts, the hard-earned wisdom. The camp humor, the Jewish jokes, the war stories. Chicks dig scars, man.
We romanticize the “edgy” convert. We forget that after we are restored to new life in Christ, some of the markers of our old life may include: suspicion and mistrust born of intense pain; self-righteousness and belief that we understand other gay/atheist/addicted/intellectual/whatever people a lot more than we really do; hair-trigger anger; overconfidence in the myth of ourselves, the myth of the Edgy Redeemed Tattooed Christian (I am not tattooed (yet) but you know what I mean, don’t you?); heretical beliefs, inability to trust even trustworthy authorities, bouts of despair, “everything is suddenly the worst thing ever!” catastrophizing, snobbery toward those who didn’t suffer or sin as much as we did, addiction to advice-giving, etc etc etc.
Was Lazarus awful at funerals? Did he hang around the mourners and say, “Don’t cry, your dad is in a better place now–I know!“? I’d like to think he didn’t–I’d like to think some people really do figure out how to be resurrected humbly–but my personal experience of resurrection and my experience with other walking dead folk suggest that he may have been a difficult friend.