• We’re carrying Easter-themed wreaths at the Big Box this spring. They’re floral and pretty in a fake-flowers way, but I don’t care for this idea. Easter wreaths are not and should not be a thing.
Part of the problem with the perennial attempt to turn Easter into a retail money-machine like Christmas or Halloween is that Easter isn’t the final day in a long holiday season. Halloween has taken over most of October, and the ever-expanding Christmas “season” now starts well before Thanksgiving. But there’s no corresponding Easter season during which to sell all the wreaths and rabbit lawn-ornaments and such that we’ve now got displayed out next to the grass-seed and glyphosate.
Or, rather, there is an Easter season, it’s just that it’s Lent. And Lent does not lend itself well to retail indulgence. Granted, Lent isn’t a big deal for most customers, but then neither is Easter which is a sectarian holiday and not even an extra day off of work for most people. If Easter is significant enough to you that marking the occasion with a purple-and-yellow “wreath” on your door seems appealing, then it’s likely Lent is also significant enough to you that you’ll put off buying or hanging such a thing until Easter Sunday, a day you’ll spend more of in church than out shopping for decorations.
Apart from millinery, the most successful retail model for cashing in on Easter seems to be those pop-up parking-lot flower stands, which work because they don’t show up until after Lent has dawned into Easter, and because picking up some flowers there doesn’t quite seem as much like you’re spending the holiest of Sundays going shopping. (It’s not like you’re going to the mall, or even to an actual store … it’s just a tent.)
Also too: Those 3-foot tall Easter Bunny figurines we’re selling are the creepiest rabbits I’ve seen since Donnie Darko. The unintentional creepiness of many Easter bunnies may be another factor in the continuing failure of efforts to commercialize the holiday.
• David Schwartz introduces us to a fascinating figure: “In the early 1920s Christabel Pankhurst proclaimed that the Antichrist was ‘living in the world at this present time.'”
Narrator voice: The Antichrist was not living in the world at that time.
Pankhurst, like every End Times preacher before or since, was completely wrong about the imminent End of the World. But what makes her interesting is that before becoming a “Bible-prophecy scholar,” she was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Britain in the early 20th Century.
Schwartz hasn’t yet posted his Part 2 on Pankhurst, but it seems her shift from progressive reformer to Rapture enthusiast was a result, in part, of World War I. Along with millions of soldiers and civilians, that war also killed off a lot of naively optimistic postmillennial theology, leading many Christians to turn as Pankhurst did toward the grim pessimism of premillennial End-of-the-World religion.
On this side of the pond, I suspect the Great War wasn’t as much of a factor in that shift as the colossal failure of progressive Christian reformers’ greatest success: Prohibition. I wonder if history won’t echo itself when the current prohibition crusade by “Christian reformers” — the effort to outlaw abortion (and, now, birth control) — eventually culminates in an even more disastrous “success.”• Also from the Anxious Bench, Chris Gehrz writes about some of the many, many problems with Jerry Falwell Jr’s fumbling attempts to cite scripture in defense of his Trump-worship: “Render Unto Trump What Is Trump’s.”
Gehrz here does something that is rarely done: He recognizes that the classic texts on “government” must be read differently by the citizens of a democracy than by the subjects of a monarchy. I’ve written about this before — see “Of, by, for” and “Romans 13 and the Gettysburg Address.” Gehrz writes:
If American Christians owe limited allegiance to any secular authority, they owe it to no one person, but to the American people, who govern themselves through elected representatives sworn to protect the Constitution.
That’s the lens through which We, the People need to be considering Romans 13 and “render unto Caesar” and “give the king your justice” and all the other biblical passages that have shaped or failed to shape Christian political thinking.
• I think Jerry Ianelli is right here about what we should conclude from the Florida Republican Who’s Who who have posed for photographs with spy-adjacent access-peddling human-trafficking profiteer Cindy Yang:
Does this mean there was some sort of Florida-wide sex-trafficking coven designed for high-level lawmakers? Almost certainly not. In reality, Yang seems to have simply gotten the same benefits that everyone else in Florida enjoys when they come into wealth: She donated tons of money to Republicans, who then hung out with her. The story appears to be that simple — all it takes to drink watered-down gin and tonics in the vicinity of these ghouls is to dump a few grand into a congressional political action committee somewhere.
That’s correct. But I also can’t rule out the possibility that Yang might have a non-zero number of photos or videos of a few of those influential people in compromising situations. It’s still possible that this story will take a turn that involves blackmail and extortion. (I may even be compromised, myself, because there’s little I wouldn’t do to prevent someone from showing me photos of Rick Scott getting a rub-and-tug at a Florida strip-mall massage parlor.)
• The title of this post is from Gaslight Anthem’s “59 Sound,” because we’ve finally had a couple of those warmer, sunny almost-spring days where you can roll down the windows and play a song like that.
Gaslight Anthem is from Jersey, not far from my hometown, which is part of why Bruce Springsteen has joined them onstage to perform this song — and why Brian Fallon is grinning ear to ear the whole time.