Opinion: Sweet Jesus, Save Us From Your Chocolate Clutches This Easter
"The Easter Bunny did not die for your sins."
My son looked at me quizzically as we passed the church reader board. "What does that mean?" he asked.
I explained that bunnies can be awfully accommodating when it comes to doling out candy and hiding brightly colored eggs. But asked to sacrifice themselves for human salvation (or even a really good bowl of hasenpfeffer), they act like they don't even know you and scamper in the opposite direction.
Church reader boards need to remind people of the fundamentally selfish nature of rabbits during Holy Week, lest people abandon their Christian faith and take up with one of the world's many bunny-themed cults. (I understand Hugh Hefner is behind one of them.)
Nonetheless, I told the lad, the Easter Bunny plays a pivotal role in the Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sweet treats being a big part. Biting the head off of a chocolate Jesus would just be tacky.
Once again, I underestimated (or overestimated) the human species. You can find absolutely anything online -- including, yes, a chocolate Jesus. There is a chocolate Jesus mold available on the Internet that comes with a similar mold for a chocolate Virgin Mary. You also can get a chocolate Last Supper, so you can not only bite the head off Jesus, but also all 12 of his apostles. (Dibs on Judas!)
If that's not enough, you can get a chocolate cross, too. Bear in mind these are crosses, not crucifixes. A crucifix actually depicts Jesus dying on the cross. Apparently, no one wants to go that far.
However, some parents apparently have no problem with their children waking up on Easter morning and chowing down on chocolate versions of an ancient method of death and torture.
I'm not one of these parents.
To me, it would be like eating a chocolate electric chair or iron maiden. I can't see making a sweet candy confection out of something that was used to send people to unbelievably cruel deaths.
Jewish children can receive a slightly more benign chocolate 10 Commandments for Passover. But even that strikes me as sacrilegious.
I know why people buy this stuff. Actually, I know why two different kinds of people buy this stuff. First, there are the people who love the absurdity and irony of chocolate religious symbols. These are the same people who buy boxing-nun puppets and other such irreverent gag items.
Then there are the people who fear the bunny. They worry Easter, like Christmas, is in danger of becoming too secular. They want to remind their children that Easter is about Jesus. I can appreciate that. But there are better ways of going about it than eating a chocolate version of the guy who died for our sins.
Jesus and the Easter Bunny can peacefully coexist. Trying to make the bunny like Jesus leads us to weird places we just don't want to go. Trying to make Jesus like the bunny trivializes the profound concepts of love, sacrifice and redemption -- ultimately what Holy Week is all about.
As for the chocolatey 10 Commandments, doesn't one of the commandments specifically address idolatry and graven images?
If you think chocolate and colored eggs sully Easter, ignore them. Stick to the gospels. Don't try to blend the two. I firmly believe there is room for both secular and religious traditions during this holiday season.
"When the weather gets rough and it's whiskey in the shade, it's best to wrap your savior up in cellophane," songwriter Tom Waits tells us in the song "Chocolate Jesus."
Nah, I'll take the bunny.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.