Gather ’round, children. It’s time for the tale of why it’s not fucking okay to call Good Friday “good” and why this name bothers me so much.
As I rant about this particular tragedy in some way every year, you should have anticipated this. Now, before I begin, let’s establish that for the purpose of this post, we will assume that the traditional story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection are legitimate. If you don’t believe in the story or God or whatever, then that’s fine. This isn’t me endorsing or promoting Christianity, so don’t get angsty. And if you’re an evangelical or conservative Christian, you might not enjoy this, so go do something else if this offends you.
Okay. Where were we?
About 1984 years ago, there was this Middle Eastern dude who got killed by a European dude for practicing the wrong religion.1
Anyway, three days later, which would be a Monday not a Sunday, the dead dude popped up & scared the shit out of everyone. We eat chocolate on Easter to commemorate the shit being scared out of people.2
Anyway, supposedly, Good Friday is “good” because the guy who died was dying to help save the world.3 His death is supposed to be symbolic, but what people don’t realize is that his death should still be considered awful. Suggesting it was good despite its horrific nature does a grotesque disservice to its victims.
Crucifixion was used by various empires, but the Romans were big fans of it. That may be because typically Roman citizens weren’t crucified. Their slaves were, as were pirates and enemies of the state. Crucifixion was meant for the lowest of the low. It was the most dishonorable death you could have. It was meant to humiliate. Death by crucifixion could take days and Roman guards couldn’t leave the site until it occurred. Since they had other shit to do, they would “hasten” death by asphyxiation, stabbing, flogging, breaking bones, and other equally pleasant measures.
Crucifixion was abolished in 337 by Constantine because of his feels for Jesus. Not because at one point 500 people per day were executed by it. No, it was because he loved Jesus. The Crucifixion is now celebrated through the symbol of the cross.4
But Good Friday is not just bad because of the evils of capital punishment, atrocities committed by the Romans, the libel perpetrated against one of the closest friends of Jesus,5 or the death and humiliation of any victims of crucifixion. Good Friday was a big player in the antisemitism that grew over the next two thousand years. You see, because it was supposedly Jews who encouraged the punishment and death of Jesus, all Jews were seen as Christ killers. They were accused of well poisoning and starting the Black Death. They were accused of greed. They were placed in ghettos as early as the 16th century. They were exiled/deported from countries for hundreds of years. They were discriminated against throughout Europe and America. They were murdered, tortured, and enslaved en masse during the Holocaust. And the big thing used to justify mass murder was the Crucifixion. So, as you talk about how “good” Good Friday is, remember millions of people died for that goodness.
As Good Friday comes around every year, I begin to feel this sense of dread and annoyance. I remember the carnage associated with it & I just feel like we missed the bigger picture. But not to worry, I’ll get over it. For a year. Of course I’ll get a little annoyed on Sunday as people commemorate the resurrection of a Jewish dude by eating ham. That’s tacky. Of course, so is eating lamb as the commemorate the resurrection of the Lamb of God. Yeah, I’m so judging y’all.
Photo via VisualHunt.com
Okay, that’s a pointed summary meant to show you how little things have changed in almost two thousand years. ↩
No, we don’t. But if that grosses you out & leaves more chocolate for me, then I have no regrets. ↩
Who the fuck did this guy think he is? He’s not Buffy. ↩
Basically, people wear little electric chairs around their necks because they think it makes them better—and more fashionable—people. ↩
Judas is remembered as a villain for ratting out Jesus. If the stories are true, then he actually fulfilled the requisite action that would eventually lead to the resurrection. That should make him a hero and the people who denied Jesus the villains, but they were the ones who wrote the books, so they did a little revisionist history. Typical. ↩