Since my last visit to Tanzania, in December 2016, I’ve become a regular and passionate attendee of my local Baptist church.
That shocks some people, including my older daughter who’s very politically aware, because of what `the Christian Church’ has done in Africa and what it’s doing right now in the USA – all the racism and homophobia and sexism that’s somehow being sold to people as having something to do with Jesus. But I think Jesus would be appalled by the misuse of his name, because he was a genuine revolutionary. He was someone who touched lepers and invited prostitutes to his house for dinner, and then went into the Temple and overturned the tables of the people who were making money off the backs of the poor, and criticised them in the strongest terms possible, and that’s why the religious leaders of the day insisted that he had to be crucified – because he was a threat to their power.
And whatever you think of the Resurrection of Christ, whether you see it as a physical resurrection in the body – and I believe there’s a lot about the human body that scientists are still trying to get their heads around, this whole emerging belief that in the end we’re all just energy, and we still don’t know what we don’t know – or as a phenomenon that occurred in the disciples’ consciousness, a sort of collective shamanic experience, I think what matters most is the message behind it. It’s an overwhelming message of “the truth of Love transcending death”, as I express it in The Song of the Lovers.
It’s not just Love transcending death in a physical sense that matters, but also – in fact, all the more – in a spiritual sense. It’s about the ability of Love to break through depression, anxiety, apathy, overwork, overwhelm, addictions, and that awful sense of emptiness that symbolises the ‘dark night of the soul’. It’s the idea that individually and collectively, we can come through even the most horrific of circumstances and be reborn: we can make a fresh start at any moment, full of hope and passion and joy. It’s that sense of “Lord, when I thought all hope was lost, you rose again to set me free” that bubbles up in the second verse of the Song of the Maiden.