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Good Catholic Rabbit

IN 1989, I didn’t know how to say no graciously, or even rudely, and Auntie Nancy got me to be the Easter Bunny at my nephew Devon’s Montessori school.

It involved wearing a thick, hot (very hot), pink (really hot-pink) rabbit suit, with rabbit gloves and feet and a hideous, buck-toothed, floppy eared, stifling rabbit head. The only ventilation was the rabbit’s mouth, a hole I know to be the size of a small child’s fist because I was cuffed through it many times by the little monsters, sorry, tykes.

For two hours, I stood in the dark, in the hot sun, buckets of sweat running down my body and pooling in my rabbit feet and rabbit gloves. It was nearly impossible to see out from below the rabbit’s buck teeth to discern which child was going to launch himself at me next. They came flying through the air at a speed and with a force you have to absorb to appreciate, the ones who loved me generally doing more damage than the hostile ones, like most of the women I’ve known.

God and Auntie Nancy alone know why I couldn’t share Easter eggs in the front porch instead of the front lawn. At noon! My Easter eggs melted and stuck to my fur. The smarter children tried to get my rabbit gloves or feet off, the more wicked ones threw stones at me from a distance. I kept walking into things (chuckling if it was a child, cackling aloud if it was a mother, falling over if it was a chair).

And, every five minutes, a different mother hissed, “Why aren’t you hopping?”

My nightmare was fun for the little Lords of the Flies & Their Parents’ Manors. They would have torn me limb from furry limb, like a walking piñata, if I didn’t swing my basket at them occasionally. The only consolation was thinking I was touching sensitive children magically, like Santa Claus – until the smallest ambulant child in the party tugged my paw. “Mister,” he said, “you have any more chocolate egg?”

But what penetrated that thick rabbit head – and the even thicker human skull within – was that the mothers were more impressed by my Easter Bunny than their children.

It was the first time I realised children were more rational than adults.

Children can be remarkably stupid but only through inexperience. A three-year-old believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny because he loves goodness itself; a five-year-old believes in them because he wants presents and free chocolate.

Why, between the ages of two and 52, does a person become rational about the Easter Bunny but remain superstitious about God? Grownups know it is silly to believe literally in Santa Claus, a fat man who climbs down skinny chimneys after flying from the North Pole in a sleigh pulled by wingless flying reindeer, or the Easter Bunny, a male rabbit who somehow manages to lay eggs.

But this is small beer, compared with turning water into wine.

The least irrational religion requires us to accept chains of nonsense, hand over fist. Resurrection? Four wives for men, hijab for women? Sacred cows and unclean pigs? Say one word aloud just once and you die, but chant this other one repeatedly and you go to Heaven? Thou shalt not kill except in My name?

Without faith, believers would reject it all.

A sensible world would move towards ecumenism, and away from manmade differences in manmade religions. Can anyone sincerely believe in God and argue whether She is male? Eastern or Western? Can compassionate humans truly accept the notion of an angry unforgiving God. Surely God is more like a super Easter Bunny?

I accept the coldness of the indifferent universe and trust the inherent goodness of womankind. I believe it is respect for all life, and clear, honest thinking about it, not prayer, that will stop murders and unnecessary births – but it can’t hurt to pray for fewer murders and babies.

It is Good Friday, and I thank God for that, though I thank God for every common or garden Friday, anyway. If you are over 18 and believe in one God, instead of all available on the market, you’re missing the point. I believe in Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Jehovah, Allah, Shiva, Jah and Ronald McDonald. Happy Easter. If you’re divorced, and can’t have the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, get some Chicken McNuggets, and remember that Christ died so you might have everlasting life, theoretically, but the Easter Bunny brings you real chocolate eggs.

BC Pires is a good Catholic agnostic. A version of this column appeared in 2002

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