A large procession of pious Hondurans, curious tourists, and men haphazardly dressed up in impromptu biblical getup moved through the cobble stone streets of Copan Ruinas today. They clogged the thoroughfares of the town with celebration and good cheer. For it is Good Friday across the Christian world, and the Stations of the Cross are remembered and honored with words of remembrance, faith, and . . . politics?
I find it truly amazing how Latin Americans can somehow manage to inveigle and interweave political rants into every aspect of life, conversation, and, yes, even worship.
Street art for the Easter celebration in Copan Ruinas. The above was made from colored sawdust and white rice. The people who made it worked all night long so that nobody would try to walk through their creation.
As I watched the procession, I became nostalgic for the days of my youth when my mother would suit me up in uncomfortable ‘church clothes,’ warn be to be on my best behavior, and, as added incentive I am sure, fastened the top button of my shirt so that I was slightly choked. But once this chastening suit was fought over me – I, being a child of normal temperament, would of course try to reject these uncomfortable clothes – I became resigned to the day, and even began to enjoy it. I also knew that the Easter Bunny would be coming soon, and I was sure to be a good child on this holiest of holidays. I wanted my chocolate.
I remembered that the Easter season near the Great Lakes was always cloudy and wet. But there was something about this brisk air that I loved. I walked to church hand in hand with my little sister, who was probably still teary-eyed from having also just survived another outfitting of ‘church clothes,’ and I quickly forgot the tightly fastened top button of my starched and ironed new shirt. At this point, I probably thought that I looked good, and wanted all of the other little church girls to notice me.
This is how this street was decorated for the Copan Ruinas Easter celebration. They just poured on the different colors and then watered them down to get it all to stick together.
This Good Friday in Honduras was also cloudy and brisk. I was reminded of scenes of my youth as I watched a wig-wearing Jesus bear a big plastic cross with a crown of sticks about his head. I stood watch, trying hard to figure out what station of the cross was being acted out. The ‘Roman Soldiers’ had just handed Jesus the cross and were pointing and laughing at him in ignorant mockery. I remembered this scene well, as it was carved upon the walls of my hometown church in Upstate NY – as well as into my childhood repository of memories. But my Sunday school education failed me, and I gave way to listening to the woman who was speaking resolutely into a microphone. I thought that her words would bring back to memory all of the stories that I have heard in my childhood about Good Friday, Jesus, and the Easter season. But they did not.
Her words were not about the Stations of the Cross, or even of Jesus and his followers. In fact, what she was saying did not have anything that had to do with this holy Christian holiday. The troupe of men who were dressed up as characters from the Bible, the pall-bearers carry multiple statues of Mother Mary, and some guy in his underwear (I am not sure how he fit into the story) stood in the streets enduring a sermon about nothing other than politics. The connection between politics and Good Friday escapes me. I do not think that Jesus, on his arduous walk with his cross, was subjected to such an incredulous lecture. Were he, then maybe he would have abandoned his cross for good on the shoulders of that helpful fellow who shared his burden and beat it on over to Kashmir (like the Kashmiris say he did).
In the sermon that followed, the USA was condemned, foreigners were condemned, and fast-food was condemned. Not even sunglasses could sneak away from the chopping block without being condemned. The crowd listened to a sermon about how fast-food, American products, and foreign music are all bad, as they stood there munching away on what appeared to be Chips-Ahoy cookies and drinking what I could only conceive as being Coca-Cola and Sprite. Certainly, I must have been deceived by theses item’s shear likenesses to ‘American products.’ Surely, a crowd that was so against the USA would not dare bear public witness to the fact that they consume, and enjoy, the handiworks of such a condemnable culture.
But we listened as the Coca-Cola quenched multitude was urged on to not, in any form, support the USA. That is fine with me. But I don’t understand why they stopped there with such a superficial offing of American influence. Why not keep this going and stop using the automobile, throw away the computers, cancel all internet subscriptions, dig up the television cables, throw the cell-phones into a public burning pile, close down the airports, and remove every vestige of US influence past and present. And, in the process, knock Honduras right back into the stick and stone-age?
This sounds good to me. I kind of like where this is going.
But alas, it seems as if the same people who stood on this Good Friday afternoon condemning the globalized world, cannot let go of its goodies. I do not really believe that anybody here will be the one to cast the first stone. Even as a be-costumed Jesus watches on. From all outward appearances, the people here seem to like Coca-Cola. Why would they want to stop drinking something that tastes good? They also seem to like cellular telephones and American movies. I was momentarily excited by these anti-USA propositions, as I too would like to do away with US global influence. Why would I want to travel the world to only experience stale recreations of my own culture? I don’t even like American movies in America, I certainly do not want to watch them while abroad. I also really do not like Coca-Cola. But it seems as if the very culture that people are so quick to condemn is the one that they want the most.
The speaker then continued to attack the USA, because, she said, that they do not given away enough money to Honduras. At this point, I could not fathom why someone would expect money from that which they say is condemnable. But oh well. I looked at Jesus, standing in the middle of the crowd, cross bearing and be-robed. He seemed bored. So, too, was I. So I walked away to a place where I, as a wicked foreigner whose money is daily falling into the pockets of Hondurans, would not be condemned. I went home. Maybe I would have hitched up with Jesus and took the long road to Kashmir if I could have thought up a way to break him out of the readily condemning mob. I once read that in Christian art Jesus has to appear as if he had suffered more than his followers. I think today it was my responsibility to leave the poor reenacted Jesus to bear the suffering of a drawn-out, humor lacking, Latin-American political lecture.
Maybe next time we will make a break for the hills of Kashmir together, where, I am sure, I could think about Jesus, Good Friday, the Easter season, and put my thoughts towards trying to remember the order of those elusive Stations of the Cross.
I would go to church tonight, but I fear another sermon.
I think that I want to eat ice-cream today.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Honduras March 21, 2008