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Why Good Friday Is Indeed a Good Day

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All over the world Christians are marking the most solemn day in the liturgical calendar. It is the day we observe the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. This brutal form of capital punishment employed by Caesar’s minions was meant to be a very public kind of intimidation, and it was employed against enemies of Rome or anyone else, like Jesus, who got in the way.

The Romans used this barbaric means of execution from the 6th century B.C. until 337, when Emperor Constantine banned the practice as he embraced Christianity. Over that time it is impossible to estimate how many people died the slow, excruciatingly painful death on a cross; however, there is the most famous victim, and on this day we honor Jesus and call the day “good” even if he went through a horrific time that defies comprehension.

During the time called Lent we Christians reenact the Way of the Cross. This marks the journey Jesus took from conviction under Pontius Pilate to the moment he dies on the cross. Many images and films have been made over the years of this event, and the Stations of the Cross are performed in various ways in churches, including full action productions that include people playing the parts of Romans, citizens, and Jesus.

Looking in from the outside, some people may question all this. I know my friends who are not Christian ask, “Why would they call this ‘good’ Friday?” The answer is that it is an inherently good day because of what is to come, not due to what happens on the day itself. The death of Jesus on the cross is a solemn event, but one that has to occur. We cry for the death of the man but realize that nothing could destroy his spirit, which is what makes him ultimately victorious in what seems to be the end of things.

Over the years many films have depicted the torture Jesus went through, and none does it more graphically than Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which chronicles the enormous brutality of the event. Many people protested against the film for its violent nature, but it was far more realistic than many films that show an almost pristine Christ getting nailed to the cross without a hair out of place.

What happened on this day to Jesus was sadistic, barbaric, ugly, and uncivilized. What could we expect from an empire that allowed the gladiators to be the greatest form of entertainment in its capital city? Besides the fact of the cruelty inflicted on Jesus and that he dies in excruciating pain, we Christians still call the day “good” because we know it was not the end but just the beginning. For those who don’t believe, it was just a terrible death of a man and nothing more. Only faith allows us to see the magnificence of the moment.

On Easter Sunday Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead, defeating evil and creating a pathway for everyone to salvation. This is our faith. Otherwise, Easter is just another Sunday: one with a parade of people in silly hats, or maybe it’s a day for finding colorful eggs under the sofa and getting chocolate bunnies for the kids. Like Christmas, Easter can be appropriated for a secular celebration, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am sure Jesus wouldn’t mind, so why should anyone else.

Good Friday is a culmination, one that Christians have been preparing for since they received ashes on their foreheads at the start of the Lenten season. Those ashes are a reminder of our mortality at the start of a time that is haunting in its significance. We are supposed to give up something, help those less fortunate, refrain from eating meat on Fridays, participate in the Stations of the Cross, and go to confession more often. All of this is preparation for Good Friday – a day that changed everything.

So yes, today is a “good” day indeed if you believe. We Christians believe that Good Friday is the day that death no longer had dominion. Death and Satan may have been doing a dance on this day, thinking that they both had won big time; however, we believe on Easter Sunday they both hung their heads and sulked in defeat. Jesus not only defeated them but saved us, and that couldn’t have happened without that Friday that we mark every year as “good.”

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • Joseph S Maresca

    I believe that the Shroud of Turin depicts the re-enactment of the crucifixion on Golgotha very poignantly.

  • Igor

    Maybe. But it was 1000 years newer, as various anachronisms have shown.

  • BaulPlair

    What a silly story! If a god really wanted to open up the gates of heaven and forgive everyone, why didn’t he just do so? He’s a god! Instead, he impregnates a poor girl, then 30 years later conspires to have him killed and then come back to life? Sound like a complicated, unnecessarily confusing plan, considering he’s omnipotent. I call bullshit.

  • Victor Lana

    And I call it faith, Baul.

  • Christopher Rose

    Oh yes, faith, defined as what victims call it when they have been conned into believing something based on a good story rather than verifiable facts.

    Setting aside the mystical mumbo jumbo, Victor, are you also opposed to the various kinds of “barbaric means of execution” practised in the USA?

  • Dr Dreadful

    “barbaric means of execution”

    Isn’t that a tautology?

  • BaulPlair

    Mr. Rose, I don’t find it a good story at all, as it makes no sense. And mr. Lana, I totally agree that only way to believe in such complete bullshit is through faith. Sad, but some folks are foolish like that.

  • Victor Lana

    I respect all points of view, Baul; even those I don’t agree with. It is “sad” you don’t extend that courtesy.

    And Chris, I am opposed to any form of capital punishment because of my faith.

  • BaulPlair

    Mr. Lana, I don’t respect your silly story, which is provably untrue. I don’t know what your “point of view” is, but if it’s based on a stupid fiction, I don’t respect that either.

    If someone thinks pi equals 87, or that people are stubborn because they are Aries, why would I respect those things? I have considered them and find them bullshit. Perhaps you should respect that, too.

  • Christopher Rose

    Victor, it is ridiculous to respect all views as many of them are absurd.

    I would go so far as to say that I respect people’s rights to believe what they want to, but actually automatically respecting their views is simply dishonest and corrupting.

    I take it you are opposed to the Christian church as it doesn’t oppose capital punishment?

  • Victor Lana

    No, Chris, it is not ridiculous to respect someone’s right to an opinion. Not respecting that is ridiculous; however, quite often I don’t necessarily respect the opinion itself.

    Also, I don’t oppose any religion because people have a right to believe whatever they choose to believe or not to have any belief at all.

  • Christopher Rose

    Victor, you need to pay attention.

    I didn’t say it was ridiculous to respect someone’s right to an opinion.

    You said you oppose capital punishment but won’t oppose religions that support it? That’s pretty corrupt…

  • Victor Lana

    No, Chris, you need to pay attention. I said I don’t oppose someone’s right to religious belief. That is an essential right and to deny people that right is corrupt to say the least.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I think Victor and Chris are talking at cross purposes.

    Victor, Chris said nothing about denying anyone’s right to religious belief. He said (and he’s quite correct) that while everyone’s right to have an opinion should be respected, the opinions themselves needn’t be, for example if they are blatantly stupid or obnoxious.

    Chris, one may oppose something an organization does without having to oppose that organization in its entirety. For example, you’ve often been known to criticize the tactics of your favourite team, Manchester United, but that doesn’t mean anyone expects you to give up supporting the club completely.

  • Christopher Rose

    Victor, your brain appears to have gone on holiday ahead of your body.

    In response to your dubious claim that you “respect all opinions”, (which I doubt is true, or else you are saying that you respect fascism, gay hatred and nazism), I wrote that “it is ridiculous to respect all views as many of them are absurd” and “I respect people’s rights to believe what they want”.

    Your response was “it is not ridiculous to respect someone’s right to an opinion”, which is what I said, followed by “I don’t necessarily respect the opinion itself”, which directly contradicts the first thing you said!

    This is why you can never completely trust a faithist, their brains are bent double trying to support the contorted logic they ascribe to.

    Doc, I know you mean well, but I don’t think you’re helping, and to compare football tactics to capital punishment is simply surreal!

  • Dr Dreadful

    No, not really. I was simply illustrating that if you love something you can forgive it a lot.

  • Zingzing

    Everyone knows Man U fans should be slaughtered with the most popular knife in their house. Unless they’re from Manchester and there’s no geographical reason they should go for City. It’s the same with non-Bronx/manhattan NYC residents going for the Yankees. Death. That’s what they deserve. They are subhuman. More than that, they don’t know what sacrifice and pain are, so they should learn it.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Is it just the Yankees and Man U then, zing? What about other “teams everyone loves to hate”, like the Lakers or the Patriots?

    I hope you would at least make an exception for folks who are not residents of the city whose team they support, but nonetheless have some connection with the place. That would let Chris off the hook even though he lives several hundred miles from Manchester.

    It would also absolve me. I wasn’t born in Newcastle, have never lived there, and in fact have only been there three times in my life. Nonetheless, they’re my team because my Dad was born and grew up there and went to St James’ to cheer them on every week as a kid.

    I also still look out for Chelmsford City’s scores for the same reason on my Mum’s side.

    At any rate, it’s a better reason than my brother has for supporting Chelsea because Mum bought him a pair of replica Chelsea shorts from a flea market when he was five.

  • Zingzing

    Duke is another team. Fuck them. I don’t care enough about the nba to damn lakers fans to an eternal pit of hellfire.

    But yes, family-sanctioned fans are okay as well. I’m a Minnesota twins and Vikings fan and have never lived in Minnesota. My parents are from there, and there wasn’t a MLB or nfl team within 500 miles of me at the time of my birth and life-long chaining to loving and hating the teams I love and hate and have passion about. Family is the best reason for non-geographic sports fandom. My dad and I talk Minnesota sports all the time. If I ever have a kid, that kid will love the twins and vikes. Or else.

  • Zingzing

    That said, 1 out of every 100 Man U fans has a right to be. Same with the Yankees. Fuck the 99%. I root for Everton. There’s nobility in that.

    Championships are special to me, not expected. when they happen, which has only happened once in the last 22 years for me (wake forest university, NCAA soccer championship 2007), they are amazing. Must suck for someone whose hopes are championship or bust every year.

  • Zingzing

    When my brother and i got separate rooms around the age of 5 (i’m a twin), my mom bought us trash cans, one with the city’s college (wake forest), and one the main state college (university of North Carolina) emblazoned on the sides. I immediately took the city college trash can, and have suffered through my brother’s team winning 3 national championships during his lifetime. But my team has been #1 several times and we’ve had moments in the sun. And when we do make it, I will burn with an intensity he will never know.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I know exactly what you mean, zing. When Man U score at Old Trafford, you can hear the complacency in the cheering of the crowd. They expect it. There’s no thrill there.

    You used to get the same thing at Anfield back in the eighties when Liverpool were so dominant. And, sad to say, it’s already starting to happen at Man City too.

    When you go to a game and your team scores, you should go berserk and everybody around you should go berserk as well. It’s a moment to be treasured because it happens so relatively seldom.

    The last time Newcastle won anything (1969 Fairs Cup, the predecessor to the predecessor of the Europa League), I was too young to remember it.

    And now there’s all this hand-wringing in the media because Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for 8 years. Boo sodding hoo.

  • Zingzing

    I’m obviously talking about basketball when I say “national championships,” because all other college sports pale.

  • Zingzing

    When I was first following premier league, Newcastle was a power, if only top-4 kind of power. There was also another London team that’s since fallen off the map… Not Chelsea, not arsenal…

  • Zingzing

    Aston villa. They used to be something. And look at Tottenham… Third, currently. It must piss off London to see Manchester dominating (Liverpool is burning…)

  • Zingzing

    Aston villa is in Birmingham? Oi.

  • Zingzing

    West ham and Fulham are london teams, right?

    Right now, the tables go Manchester, Manchester, London, London, London, Liverpool, Liverpool, midlands, wales, London, London.

    How did Swansea and west brom get in the middle of that?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Never mind top four, we were top two there for a few years, under Kevin Keegan. We were known as The Entertainers because we could overwhelm teams with our skill and fast, free-flowing style. Never did quite win the Premier, though. The closest we came was the 95-96 season, when we had a 12-point lead over Man U going into the New Year, and blew it. Ugh.

    Don’t remember Villa ever being consistently good. Back in the pre-Premier League era they did win the league one year, then followed that up by becoming European champions the next season. But that was only a blip in the wall-to-wall Liverpool domination of the era.

    Arsenal and Spurs were always the dominant London teams until very recently. Chelsea are newcomers on the heavyweight scene. West Ham, Fulham, QPR, Crystal Palace and Wimbledon have come and gone (and Wimbledon have now permanently gone), but none of them have had more than occasional moments in the sun.

  • Zingzing

    “Top two,” eh? Rough. I’ve know such sentiments with my Minnesota Vikings, where our offense was the best yet we fell apart at the wrong moments. American football is more forgiving than football football… The Vikings shall rise again, shortly.

  • Zingzing

    I suppose you still follow England in World Cup qualifiers. That draw to Montenegro was rather ugly. In eufa, they have to win their group, right?

  • Zingzing

    And it must piss off Clint Dempsey that Fulham are ahead of his west ham, when he was main point of attack with Fulham, and is now sitting in midfield with west ham. What a bad transfer for him. Couldn’t have gone worse, really. Went from one of the best strikers in the league to just another chump. Take your aggression out on concacaf, I say.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Watching England is hugely frustrating, because they always play as if they’re waiting for their opponents to obligingly step out of the way and let them score. When this doesn’t happen, they start passing the ball pointlessly around among themselves, each outfield player obviously hoping one of the other nine will come up with something clever. This almost never happens either.

    Couple that with the mental trap almost every England manager falls into – the “if I were the England manager I’d…” trap wherein he plays his fantasy eleven rather than eleven players who actually click as a team – and you understand why most English footie fans love their club far more than the national side.

    And yes, they have to win their group to qualify automatically for Brazil. If they finish second they go into a play-off with a second-placed team from one of the other groups. That could be someone like Greece, which would be doable, or it could be someone like France, in which case forget it.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And zing: Dempsey transferred to Tottenham, which was a very good move, not West Ham, which would have been a sideways one that did nothing for his career.

  • Christopher Rose

    Zingzing, you are normally one of my favourite commenters but on your #17 you are way out of line with reality!

    Manchester United fans know more about “sacrifice and pain” than the supporters of most other clubs.

    From the death of almost the entire team in the Munich air crash, to the playing of seasons of football with kids due to that, to the death of their manager and going over 20 years of winning nothing, but still having the highest match attendances in the whole country, we have suffered more than most.

    When I lived there, we used to go to Old Trafford every week; when the first team was playing away, we’d go and watch the reserves.

    It is because of the club’s commitment to playing football in a positive, attacking and creative way that we have succeeded in recent years, never resorting to the negative and ugly tactics used by many teams.

    Our success has been earned the hard way, by sticking to principles of good football over many years and that romantic attacking style is what has carried us to success and fame far beyond our humble Mancunian origins.

    This is in stark contrast to teams like Chelsea and our “noisy neighbours” at Manchester City, both of whom have enjoyed success in recent years for one simple reason, the investment of billions by their unbelievably wealthy owners.

    Clubs like this have never known consistent success or the hard work, commitment and sacrifice that United put in on a regular basis, they have simply bought it.

    Football has become the one true global team sport and it is only natural that our fan base as spread around the world too. It is as ridiculous to argue that only locals should support the club as it would be to argue that only New Yorkers should be fans of Television.

    As to Championships, of course they are special, in football at least, unlike American football, which doesn’t even have relegation, so essentially it is a sterile closed shop.

    When we lost the title to our noisy neighbours last season, especially in the way we did, it really hurt. This season, despite numerous serious injury problems robbing us of several key players for prolonged periods, we have performed at a higher standard than anybody else and fully deserve our current 15 point lead and, hopefully, a record breaking 20th title come season’s end.

  • llort

    …never trust a sportist

  • c

    Happy Easter, Victor.

  • Christopher Rose

    llort – lfor!

  • Zingzing

    Doc–I always get west ham and Tottenham mixed up. No idea why.

    Chris–the airplane crash was tragic for sure. But last year, you saw what money can buy, and that’s championships.

  • Christopher Rose

    That’s right, Zingzing; Manchester Shitty and Chelski bought their success, but Manchester United earned it the hard way, by building a club over time.

  • Zingzing

    And now, RVP.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Man U have built their ongoing success through consistency and canny management. They are and always were one of the biggest and best-supported clubs in the world, and in that light their relative lack of success until about 20-25 years ago really has to be seen as decades of underachieving.

    It’s their prestige that has enabled them consistently to acquire top players, but for some reason it wasn’t until the advent of Sir Alex Ferguson, who I think we can justifiably call the greatest coach the world has ever seen, that they were able to build steadily on what were already rock-solid foundations.

    They’re also rare among top football clubs in that they’ve resisted the temptation to panic and fire the manager every time they have a blip in form.

    Man City and Chelsea fans really ought to stop whining and enjoy what they’ve got now, because it’s only a matter of time before their mega-wealthy owners lose interest and abandon them to resume their places among the ranks of the also-rans.

    All this, of course, doesn’t stop anyone loathing Man U, but you have to respect what they’ve achieved. :-)

    And on a personal note, the greatest compliment Kevin Keegan’s legendary Newcastle team of the mid-90s ever got was after they thrashed United 5-0 at St James’ Park one memorable Sunday.

    At his post-match press conference, Sir Alex (he might not have been Sir Alex then – I don’t recall) was asked for his reaction to the game. He said, “I thought we played quite well.”

    That he felt his team – by far and away the best in England – had put in a good performance and had still been utterly played off the park showed just how well he thought Newcastle had played that day.

  • Zingzing

    “All this, of course, doesn’t stop anyone loathing Man U, but you have to respect what they’ve achieved.”

    It’s not the team I despise so much. It’s the bandwagon-jumping fans. Beyond that, it’s really a symptom of my hatred of the Yankees, who used to combine both strains of ugliness: biggest spenders with bandwagon fans all over. (But now they’re falling apart because of their spending… Over the hill Alex Rodriguez makes more than the entire Houston Astros lineup, and the luxury tax rules aren’t working out for them.)

    As for Chris’ point about relegation, that’s one way to handle things. Another is the salary cap/luxury tax, which creates parity. The salary cap has worked wonders in the nfl, and now that the luxury tax is more punitive in the MLB, I think the disparity between the haves and have nots will shrink. Besides, the sports are different. In baseball, such a thing couldn’t be because the minor leagues are farm systems for the major league teams, and they function well as such. In American football, the cost of playing a game (both in dollars and in the players’ shelf life) is prohibitive to such an idea. I’d love it if we could have relegation in both sports, but it just doesn’t make sense.

  • Zingzing

    Now as to why the mls doesn’t have it… It’s a symptom of the relative lack of profitability of the sport in the us. If the sport could sustain a relegation system, it would be a huge boon to soccer in America. Especially since I see club soccer as just a farm system for international soccer. I’m afraid we’ll never be a proper power until that day comes.

  • Christopher Rose

    If a league based sport doesn’t have relegation, it isn’t a truly competitive sport; ultimately there isn’t anything at stake.

  • Zingzing

    Ultimately, there is nothing at stake even when you do have relegation… Relegation in baseball would dilute the quality of the player pool. Relegation in American football is impossible. And yet they are competitive sports with plenty at stake.

    Your catch-all statement be damned.

  • Zingzing

    And relegation leads to the point where you have the Man Us and man cities and Chelsea’s of the world, which will never be relegated for long, given their fan base and revenue potential. It makes it all about money. There are pitfalls to both systems.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The American pro league system, with small groups of teams playing in regional divisions, does sustain interest because it leaves a lot of teams still in with a chance of making the playoffs for much of the season.

    Contrast this with the English Premier League, where if you’re a fan of a Fulham or a Stoke or some other mid-table team it’s hard to remain excited when you’re two-thirds of the way through a season, you’re out of both cup competitions, and you’re both safe from relegation and out of reach of the European qualifying places.

    Of course, the American system can lead to the situation where an absolutely terrible team makes the playoffs solely because all the other teams in its division happen to be even more terrible. And because the competition moves at this point to sudden death, that terrible team can, with a bit of luck, go on and win the whole thing.

    Bit of a travesty, really. At least with the English league system you can be reasonably confident that after 38 rounds of games, everyone playing everyone else once home and away, the best team has won it all.

    But like zing said, both systems have their pluses and minuses.

  • Christopher Rose

    Zingzing, that’s not really the case in reality. There are many once great clubs that have fallen away despite their support and new teams rise up through the ranks all the time.

    It’s evolution playing out before our very eyes.

    I doubt even Manchester United are beyond being relegated; it’s happened before and may well again when the inevitable post-Fergie wobbles happen.

    It’s a delightfully uncertain game, just like life itself!

  • zingzing

    man u may eventually be relegated, but it won’t last long. what decides their future is the money. if the money remains, so will they. if they make some bad business decisions, which is a possibility, that’s what will really get them. same happens on the other side of the equation. a less well-endowed team might rise up, but if they do, their players will be gobbled up by the teams with money, and they will descend into the muck again. i’m sure it occasionally occurs that a smaller club makes it up to the premiership and stays there, and that a rich club sometimes just can’t get it together enough to stay in the premiership.

    i’ll bet you that rangers fc are back in the scottish highest level before the end of the decade, if they can get their money straight. that’s the overwhelming factor in their future success.

    all that said, i like relegation. it guarantees fresh blood, although it’s more often fresh meat (or angry, humiliated monsters).

  • Dr Dreadful

    Rangers will probably be back in the top division by the end of next season if the proposed league reorganization goes through and they get placed in the division they want to be placed in.

    Money, in this instance, doesn’t so much talk as holler. Rangers’ financial plight is not unique in Scotland. Another Premier League club, Livingston, went through exactly the same thing a few seasons back and were demoted, just like Rangers, to the Third Division. The clamour of people proposing that the league should be reorganized to facilitate a quick return to the top flight for them was deafening in its absence…

    Then again, Scottish football is a special case. It’s in disarray from decades of maladministration and can’t seem to get through more than three or four seasons without a league reorganization. Going from two large divisions to four small ones, as they did in the mid-70s, was a huge mistake as it removed any steady competition that Celtic and Rangers had and transformed the nation from a global football powerhouse to the minnows they are today.

    English football, by contrast, is on far sturdier foundations and can easily survive any hypothetical relegation of a Man U, a Chelsea or a Liverpool.