When I was growing up as a Southern Baptist, Good Friday was just a spot on the calendar, usually festooned with a cross. It wasn’t until I went through my atheist phase and headed off to college curious about Christianity that I learned (among many other things concerning non-Baptist observances and beliefs) about the rich devotional history of Good Friday, along with its abuses, particularly the medieval practice of completely perverting the meaning of the Crucifixion by pouring out of the churches and assaulting Jews. I was especially intrigued when in about 1979 I attended a Catholic Good Friday mass in which “The Reproaches”–a litany in which an aggrieved Jesus accosts his people for crucifying him–was performed. This was often the pretext for Good Friday pogroms, so now it’s surrounded with reminders that “Jesus’ people” means today’s Christians, not yesterday’s Jews.
Perhaps the best Good Friday sermon I ever heard was one in which the priest began with these words: “Today we commemorate the victory of absolute evil.” For Christians that is a temporary victory, but a real one, and it’s a sign of some progress towards holiness that many Christians now identify evil with their own sins, not posing as victims of some “Other.”
Here are some midday news/views treats:
* Loretta Lynch picks up 5th Senate Republican vote for confirmation, which should be enough.
* Georgia “religious liberty” bill officially dead for the year. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal says it should only return if it’s modeled on federal law and includes anti-discrimination language. Pretty big shift in two weeks.
* HRC presidential campaign to be based in Brooklyn.
* Little-noted SCOTUS decision this week could undermine Medicaid participation via lower, state-determined reimbursement rates.
* TNR’s Danny Vinik offers a glass-half-full assessment of the March Jobs Report.
And in non-political news:
* Chicago restaurant Alinea rated best eatery in the world
As we break for lunch–or for that matter, a fast–here’s a snippet from Karl Heinrich Graun’s 18th-century choral work, The Death of Jesus.