Holy days

FI-EditorialDo you believe in miracles?

Beyond the sports cliché that question has become associated with, it’s something to ponder as many of Greenwich’s faithful mark important holy days. Naturally, any religious observance requires faith; otherwise what you are doing is just empty words and meaningless motions. But this weekend in particular, faith is critical for those who believe.

If you haven’t noticed by the displays of candy that have been in the stores since mid-January or so, this weekend is Easter. And while marketing cranks up the use of the big basket-carrying-bunny and enough chocolate to satisfy the strongest of cravings, the significance to Christians of this day cannot be minimized. After all, from Good Friday to Easter, it’s a time to mark the eternal life of their savior and the redemption that is promised to all of them.

But it’s not just Christians who are marking a time of significant observance. The Jewish holiday of Passover began this past Monday at sundown and will continue until this coming Tuesday evening. This holiday is more than the eight-day period where Jews aren’t supposed to eat bread. It’s the story of deliverance from slavery, as Moses, acting on instructions from above, freed his brothers and sisters from Egyptian slavery. While this has story has been immortalized Charlton Heston-style, it, too is an observance of great importance to the faithful.

After all, the thinking goes, if you do not remember and appreciate the significance of a time of great suffering and bondage, how can you move forward as a people?

Both the holidays being marked this week ask a great deal of belief in the eyes of the faithful and the acceptance of miracles. What else can you call a man risen from the dead or the parting of the Red Sea and the deliverance of plagues of suffering to those keeping a people in slavery? But it’s harder than ever to believe in miracles today.

We have become more cynical about religion, and understandably so. The fallacies of people in all religions, the hucksters who prey on those eager to believe, the ability of guilty people to hide under the guise of righteousness and forgiveness and the natural questions and contradictions that occur in any study of moral questions make it difficult for the faithful and easy for the cynical. We are asked to accept on faith that what we cannot see and therefore cannot know as well as what seems impossible.

But that’s the basis of any religion or of the ability to place faith in anything. We have to trust. We have to believe. If we don’t, then what do we place our faith in? Just ourselves?

This is a time of great celebration for many, but these holidays certainly don’t apply to all religious people nor do they mean much to those who find it difficult to believe for so many valid reasons. So we must make this not just a time to celebrate but to also ask ourselves where we are going and what we want to be.

Is it possible for miracles to take place? Can we be moral and righteous without riding a high horse? Have we lost our way in our religions as those turning a profit on belief continue to exploit? Can we be who we need to be as a society in order to not just survive but thrive?

These are not just empty questions. These are what we need to ask ourselves, whether we are among the faithful or not. It’s a conversation that need not take place this week, but there’s really no time like the present to have it.

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