Sunday, March 31, 2013

The War on Easter

I'm generally in the tolerant camp -- I'm an atheist, but if you're religious, that's cool with me.

And I'm not just saying that.  I have good friends who are religious, just as I have good friends who are agnostic, and good friends who are atheist.  My husband is Jewish, though he's a reform Jew.  We've raised our kid Jewish -- she started out as a theist, but now (like me) she's an atheist.

I didn't make her into an atheist.  In fact, I always did what I could to present all sides of the issue to her.  We taught her Jewish law and Jewish traditions, and as I said we raised her in the Jewish faith; she also, when she was visiting her Christian grandparents, went to church with them and learned some things about Christianity.  And I did my best to explain Christian theology to her.  I also had her take my Bible as Lit class a few years ago.  When she asked me questions about my atheism, I answered them.  When she asked her father questions about Judaism, he answered them.

I also always have taught her that it's important to respect other people's religions, and their faiths.

Sadly, too often, in today's political climate, that respect is not returned.  We see it, for instance, with the Right's insistence that extending civil rights to LGBT people will (somehow) destroy their civil rights -- because their religion opposes homosexuality.

We see it with the attempt to deny women control over their fertility, because (some) religions say their religions oppose contraception and abortion -- never mind that many of us don't belong to their religions, and don't (therefore) share those beliefs.

And we are seeing a fine example of it today, with Far-Right Conservatives getting all spun up over Google's daily doodle being a picture of Cesar Chavez instead of an Easter Egg: because this is a War on Easter.

Because everyone in America, nay, the world, must celebrate the Christian holiday, or we are attacking Christians.

I have nothing against Easter.  In fact, I'm a big fan of those little malted milk eggs that get sold around this time of year.  Plus the kids in their Easter clothes are really cute.  And when the kid was little, we always dyed eggs and let her hunt for them, even though we're not really Christian.  Because it was fun, and I like fun.  And also (I argued, and Dr. Skull looked pained) Easter eggs aren't really Christian, they're pagan, so.

But on the other hand, here's the probably with shoving your holiday on the public at large:

We went out to buy food today, since finally I got paid (we've been broke for about a week, living on scraps and canned goods, a task made harder because it is Passover, which means our usual tactic of living on rice and peas or beans and rice cannot be resorted to).  Every place we went, the clerks greeted us with some variation of, "How's your Easter going?"

Well, what do we do then?

Your choices are this:

(1) Lie, basically.  Smile and say, Oh lovely, and yours?

(2) Be a dick.  Smile and say, We're Jewish, we don't celebrate Easter.  This embarrasses a poor minimum wage clerk who is only trying to get through a holiday on which she has to work, when she probably wants to be home with her kids.

(3) Be rude.  Pretend not to have heard.  Say something like, How ya doing?

(4) Be even ruder.  Say, how's your Passover going?

I pretty much picked number 3 each time, but it felt very awkward and each time the clerk looked confused and rattled. But seriously, we were buying matzoh.  You would think they'd get a clue.

Not in Fort Smith, Arkansas, though, obviously.  I doubt the clerks here even know what matzoh is, much less Passover.


Anonymous said...

I don't think #2 is being a dick. That would be my preference! (And I'm technically Christian.) Maybe even a little education, "Oh, we're Jewish, so this is our Passover." We learned about Passover and Hanukkah in K-4. :) If you say it cheerfully there's no reason it should embarrass anyone.

delagar said...

I've actually tried #2 before, and the clerks here always look mortified.

Maybe I'm not saying it cheerfully enough, though -- I'll try that!

Or it might be that they don't know what Passover is. I know when I taught Jewish Lit in Lit of Diverse Cultures (about five years ago) most of my students had never heard of it. But Arkansas has come some way since then.

J. Otto Pohl said...

This is rude. The US is about 75% Christian and 2% Jewish. Ghana is about 80% Christian and 20% Muslim. No Muslim here has ever had a problem here with the fact that it is a majority Christian country and on Christian holidays people will say have a Merry Christmas or Happy Easter. In the US, however, the 75% Christian population is supposed to recognize the 2% Jewish population as having the same weight as the majority and the country as being Judeo-Christian and therefore suppress all public recognition of Christian holidays? When I lived in a majority Muslim country (Kyrgyzstan) I did not have a problem with people wishing me a Happy Eid. I still do not. It seems only in the US that people that this is a problem.

Anonymous said...

I have the most wonderful haroset recipe made with plum wine.

I feel your pain, and will typically say something like, "It's Easter?" as if I had no idea and am surprised to hear it. Then, "Well, it's definitely time for some chocolate!" And that's all I have to say about that with the churchy among us. --L

delagar said...

I like your suggestion, L! I'm going to try that.

delagar said...

Also, any chance I can get you to share you haroset recipe? I've tried about fifteen recipes over the years, and none of them have set me afire.

Anonymous said...

My haroset is really nothing special, just chopped apples, chopped nuts, cinnamon, sugar, and plum wine instead of "maneshaygetz." But every year it's the thing I look forward to (along with my Hillel sandwich, of course) the most. --L

delagar said...

Yeah, that's pretty much my basic recipe except the plum wine. (I did make mine with rum this year. I don't recommend that.)

I'll try plum wine next year! Any special sort?

Anonymous said...

I never find the same plum wine twice in our local liquor stores, but I look for one that has some color to it. It seems more color in the wine, the plummier it is. Caveat that I'm not an expert on plum wine. I just like it. It's possible that anything fruity tasting is more successful and that I'd be as well off using any decent wine and a couple of chopped plums. --L

delagar said...

Ooo! Chopped plums.

Maybe plum wine & chopped plums.

Gotta be better than the year I tried a recipe involving orange juice and cayenne pepper.

Anonymous said...

Cayenne pepper in haroset? That is a bold choice, my friend! --L