1. A truly remarkable piece by James Martin over at Slate entitled, “How Easter Stubbornly Resists Commercialization”. A few notable excerpts (ht AZ):

“What enables Easter to maintain its religious purity and not devolve into the consumerist nightmare that is Christmas? Well, for one thing, it’s hard to make a palatable consumerist holiday out of Easter when its back story is, at least in part, so gruesome. 

The Christmas story, with its friendly resonances of marriage, family, babies, animals, angels, and—thanks to the wise men—gifts, is eminently marketable to popular culture. It’s a Thomas Kinkade painting come to life.

On the other hand, a card bearing the image of a near-naked man being stripped, beaten, tortured, and nailed through his hands and feet onto a wooden crucifix is a markedly less pleasant piece of mail. 

To his followers, therefore, [Christ’s] execution was not only tragic and terrifying but shameful. It is difficult not to wonder what the Apostles would have thought of a crucifix as a fashion accessory. Imagine wearing an image of a hooded Abu Ghraib victim around your neck as holiday bling.

Easter is an event that demands a “yes” or a “no.” There is no “whatever.” 

2. Along those lines, if you can overlook the continued nepotism, one doozie of a Good Friday sermon is PZ’s 2003 “The Thin Line Between Realism And Suicide”:

3. While we’re on the heavy stuff – it’s a heavy day after all – I’m not sure it gets more Good Friday-intense than the National Review’s recent “Getting Serious About Pornography”. It’s a deeply personal look at the social cost of the internet, and it is jarring to say the least. But also a must-read (ht DB).

4. Considerably lighter, two sides of the same Grace In Practice coin: “Letting Students Choose Books Could Make Them Better Readers” and “Small Soda Taxes Don’t Dent Obesity” (ht JD and AZ).

5. Approaching weightlessness – in the best possible way – another in a series of wonderful lists over at The A/V Club, this one on “Childhood Entertainment We Still Love”. Not surprisingly, Calvin and Hobbes wins the race. Roald Dahl and Charles Shultz also get their due, as does Marty McFly (aka the son of the one-armed bellhop in Hot Tub Time Machine). What would you include? I’m very surprised no one mentioned The Beach Boys…

6. USA Today ran a pithy rundown of the biblical themes being explored on LOST.

7. Finally, I give you the Fat Albert Easter Special:

Bonus Track: A moving little reflection on “Human Failing and Easter Grace” that takes a 1976 interview with Jimmy Carter as its starting point.

And don’t forget to register for our upcoming conference – now only two weeks away! We’ve worked really hard to make this the best one yet. Trust us when we say you won’t want to miss it. Wink wink nudge nudge.