Letter: Holy Week is not just for Christians

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From Ms Isabel Ridout

Sir: Margaret Hebblethwaite ("Today is the ultimate Remembrance Day", 15 April) argues that there can be no (Easter) festivity without mourning, and pleads for the secular world to respect Christians' grief and to spare them the "holiday noise and clatter".

I would like to say something in support of the many for whom the Easter holiday is a break from their usual routine, the first of the year, and a marking of the transition from winter to summer. There is nothing odd about this celebration - these people are not celebrating Easter as Christians understand it, but a renewal of the spring symbolised by the gifts of eggs and flowers; for them there is no reason to mourn. They may be ignorant of the Christian message (a condition for the Christians themselves to remedy) or, as is increasingly the case in this country, belong to other faiths. There is no reason why they should not entertain themselves with fairs or parties if that is what they like.

For some of us, though, of whom I am now one, Good Friday is a day of grief and pain without the Christian hope of the Resurrection. It is now nearly a year since I began to see my beliefs of over 50 years melt away, as I found my mind viewing things from a different perspective. There must be many like me who can no longer accept the Christian tenets as set out in the Creed, but who still hold to the teachings and example of Jesus as the best way in which to live life.

For us, the events of Good Friday are an unmitigated tragedy, and the assumption on the part of Christians that we are careless of them because we are not in church during Holy Week or on Easter Day is hurtful. Many of us will have attended performances of Passion plays or Passion music during this period. This is not "festivity without mourning"; these are not comfortable events.

Those of us who have looked at the Christian message and decided that we cannot subscribe to it are perhaps more concerned about the persecution and misery in the world than we would be were we Christians, because we believe that this is the only life we have to live. Ms Hebblethwaite is right to say that only by a sober reflection of these things can we all, Christians and others, be brought to a determination that the world must be ordered more justly.

Yours faithfully,

ISABEL RIDOUT

Cheltenham,

Gloucestershire

17 April

From Mr Richard Schotieis

Sir: Margaret Hebblethwaite's "Arguments for Easter" (24 April) is a heedful admonition. Christians should celebrate Holy Week as well as Easter because Christ, crucified and risen, enables men, as never before, not only to rise above their own wickedness, but also, risen, in love and compassion to lament and oppose the wickedness or the world, which Good Friday exemplifies.

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD SCHOTIEIS

Ipswich

16 April

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