Monday, March 28, 2005I like to think of myself as a modern guy. I dress well. I like good movies. I'm well read. I have a growing jazz collection. I know about John Coltrane and WB Yeats and Jack Kerouac and Joe Namath and Truman Capote. I have a small collection of Banana Republic bags behind my dresser. I even know a healthy portion of the Smiths' back catalog. I can read the Metrosexual Guide to Style and find just enough of a reflection of myself to make me uncomfortable. All in all, I'm not what you'd call old-fashioned.
Or am I? I attend an Old South university. I'm not a part of a fraternity, but I find myself admiring the adherence to tradition that is seen in a lot of the fraternities and sororities here at the University of Alabama. I like to dress nice when I go to football games. I no longer wear jeans or flip-flops to church on Sundays. I like hymns. I find the occasional liturgical church service to be refreshing. I think ritual is important in any society, and I believe that we as Americans are dangerously close to losing part of our heritage as we abandon our rituals and traditions.
I spent the Easter weekend at home with my family, eating a lot of wonderful food and watching a lot of great college basketball. At one point over the weekend, I made a comment to my father, wherein I expressed my admiration for some traditions that still take place in a lot of small Southern communities. My dad wisely replied that while he can respect tradition, he can't respect getting into a rut. We should be on guard against routine and unconscious ritual.
I thought of this on Easter Sunday. It's a big day for the Church. We dress a little nicer. The music is a bit more focused. The preachers work a little harder on their outlines. And why? Not for a ritual. Not for mere symbolism or metaphor or allegory. Not for Church tradition, however important all those things are. No, Easter, like Christmas a few months before it, is huge and vast and joyous and loud and orchestrated and well-dressed and flowery and full of good food and dear friends and family because Christ is alive! Because we need not fear the grave; we can indeed go up home to live in green pastures. Because there is freedom from the bondage of sin; Christ has conquered Hell and death. Our sins have been forgiven and indeed forgotten. There is new life, there is Truth and Freedom and Hope. This is why our traditions and rituals have life. This is why we celebrate.