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He Is Risen

I’ve been out walking
I don’t do too much talking these days – Jackson Browne

Shouldn’t it be “He has risen” ? Best not to question such things on Easter Eve. But I am calling bullshit on Jackson Browne, who supposedly wrote that tune at sixteen. “Don’t confront me with my failures / I had not forgotten them” ? “Had not”  forgotten them? Some straight-up “He is risen” stuff, right down to the past participle (or whatever .. I was an English major but nobody actually knows this shit) and the futility of earthly redemption. We’re supposed to buy that he sat down with a piece of binder paper and pen, and let rip with some stream of consciousness shortly after hitting the DMV for his first driver’s license? I think not.

Anyway, it’s a good tune and an increasingly relevant holiday. Lost in the rain in Juarez etc. My brother’s kids are likely going through some solemn Jackson Browne reflection this weekend too, as it’s the fourth Easter in their grandmother’s absence. She’d always hold an egg hunt at her house, with about a thousand dollars for each of them tucked away in plastic eggs in the backyard. Toward the end of her life and amid the kind of confusion this can bring, I happened upon her in the kitchen with a bunch of halved plastic eggs on the table and stacks of tens, twenties, and a few fifties (those fifties were the good eggs.) She was in a state, realizing that she couldn’t do the math to make sure each kid got the same amount and that the egg locations were properly mapped out. So I stepped in to take over and fully expect this noted on my epitaph. Though, in the spirit of full disclosure, Uncle Rick made out OK that Easter too. The point here is that it’s a good thing Jackson Browne never penned a song about my mother, because it would be the final nail (apologies) for me.

I can’t say that I’ve become more religious in old age, but I have become more annoyed with the vehemently anti-religious. To clarify, I have no problem with atheism or any other theism, but it seems non-believers go the extra mile when it comes to reminding you where they stand. Ricky Gervais should perhaps consult God about boasting on his atheism along with the tendency to dip into the maudlin with his episodic efforts. Just sayin’. Jesus Is Just Alright, to quote the Byrds and the Doobie Brothers  (neither of them authored this one .. maybe Jackson Browne had some spare time that afternoon.) “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” It’s a nice sentiment and, if Jesus did in fact say it, he’s alright with me, too. (hashtag.) Everybody is always saying “he’s no Jackson Browne” but there was much else to cover (like where He’d put all those eggs.)

That may be the single most incomprehensible paragraph I’ve ever written, but I’m sticking with it. Faith matters. You gotta have it, to quote George Michael. And I did show up that afternoon to hide the loot so my mother’s in me paid off. Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) rises from the dead in final scene of The Verdict, and for my money it’s one of the best written scenes in any film. (No huge coincidence, as it was written by David Mamet.) He reminds the jurors that, on that day, “you are the law.” And that the law itself is just words and the “trappings of the court” … a “fervent and frightened prayer.” New Testament indeed. “In my religion it says ‘act as though you have faith, and faith will be given to you.’ ”  Quite the ask, particularly if you’re Ricky Gervais. But we’ve all got our rows to hoe.

The economist Thomas Sowell says that one of the three questions you must ask yourself is “compared to what?” and I’d offer it to anyone debating the virtues of faith. You have to believe in something or else your ears really start to ring. Happy Easter.

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