“Red Sox rally past Yankees 9-7 on Opening Night” read the very cheering headline on one of the sports magazines’ websites. It was cheering to see the team that has held onto its traditions, notably continuing to play in its  old-fashioned stadium and resisting the appeal of building yet another souless tradition-rejecting McStadium, defeating Satan’s Team.

New Yorkers might be doomed to pull for the Yankees, out of a not entirely condemnable local patriotism and a respect for the traditions of their fathers, but many of the rest of us feel an instinctive affection for the underdog, in this case the teams that lack the wealth the Yankees have gathered over the years. This reminded me  on this Easter Monday — it really did — of a favorite quotation from Dorothy Sayers. It comes at the end of her short essay The Greatest Drama Ever Staged (this link also includes her “The Triumph of Easter”).

She has just described the Resurrection and the Church’s “essential doctrine” that determines how we understand that event, in an essay in which she is responding, with barely concealed annoyance, to those who find Christianity and Christian doctrine dull and uninteresting, even when they believe it to be true. She concludes:

Now, we may call that doctrine exhilarating, or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God, and find him a better man than himself, is an astonishing drama indeed. Any journalist, hearing of it for the first time, would recognize it as news; those who did hear it for the first time actually called it news, and good news at that; though we are likely to forget that the word Gospel ever meant anything so sensational.

Perhaps the drama is played out now, and Jesus is safely dead and buried. Perhaps. It is ironical and entertaining to consider that at least once in the world’s history those words might have been spoken with complete conviction, and that was upon the eve of the Resurrection.

Articles by David Mills

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