As I was scrolling through my social media feed earlier today I ran across this hilarious article from a satirical site: Zoo Staff Finds Harambe’s Tomb Empty! I nearly blew hot coffee through my nose.
The faux news report goes on to say: “Staff at the Cincinnati Zoo have issued a statement in which they confirm that the tomb holding the remains of the slain gorilla has been found empty, with huge speculation as to whether or not he has risen from the dead.” If you enjoy a good chuckle you can read the full story here.
Once in awhile a satirical article makes me laugh out loud and think out loud at the same time. I’m quite sure they are poking fun at the Christian resurrection narrative more than they are highlighting it. However, I think cheeky articles like this provide us as Christians an open opportunity to talk about the cornerstone of our belief system which is Jesus and His resurrection.
Humor me a little and play along. For fun, let’s say that in the not too distant future Harambe’s closest friends spread the “good news” of Harambe’s resurrection far and wide. Let’s say they become known as “Harambeans” and “Harambeanity” becomes a genuine religious movement. What are some common sense inferences we could make about this gorilla’s alleged resurrection if it followed closely the details of Christ’s resurrection?
Here are a five inferences we could make:
1. If Harambe’s followers claim to have had literal encounters with the risen gorilla and they are willing to die as martyrs for this belief, they probably didn’t steal the body and make up a story. Why would they? Sure, some people are willing to die for something they believe to be true. However, few, if any, will die for something they know is a lie.
2. If the zookeepers have the body and aren’t producing it, they probably didn’t steal the body either. Why would they? The last thing they want is more attention to be drawn to this already scandalous event and the religious momentum following it.
3. If Harambe’s once skeptical brother claims to have had a literal encounter with the risen gorilla, becomes a mega church pastor next door to the zoo, and is willing to die as a martyr for this belief, he’s probably not making it up. Why would he? If ever there was an unlikely conspirator it’s definitely Harambe’s skeptical (and probably jealous) little brother.
4. If an anti-Harambe zealot (Let’s call him Paul) claims to have had a literal encounter with the risen gorilla, becomes a traveling church planter, writes 2/3 of the circulating sacred Harambeanity texts, and is willing to suffer imprisonment, stoning, and death as a martyr, he’s probably not making it up. Why would he? If ever there was an even more unlikely conspirator than Harambe’s brother it’s gotta be this anti-Harambe zealot.
5. If the earliest preaching of “Harambe’s gospel” includes the resurrection account and if the earliest church of Harambeanity includes, as its chief tenant, the resurrection of Harambe, the resurrection accounts are probably not a late addition to the narrative.
Does any of this prove with absolute certainty Harambe’s resurrection? Of course not. It’s possible that Harambe’s followers stole the body and made up the resurrection story without an obvious motive. It’s possible the zoo keepers stole the body and let the resurrection story slide without an obvious motive too. It’s also possible Harambe’s once skeptical brother and the Anti-Harambe zealot made up their resurrection stories without obvious motives as well. It’s even possible that all these Harambeans made up their stories and suffered humiliation, imprisonment, and, for some, even death without any obvious motives. The question is not whether or not it’s possible. Anything is possible. The question is whether or not it’s probable.
Of course, we need to make room for other questions and theories too. Did all those who claimed to have literal encounters with the risen gorilla, in different times and places, simply hallucinate the same visions? Did Harambe really die at the hands of the gunman or did he just swoon only to revive later in his tomb? Did Harambe have a twin brother and conspire with him in advance to mislead his followers? These too are possibilities, I guess.
Here’s a final possibility for your consideration. Maybe, just maybe the simplest solution to this mystery is to take the eyewitness accounts coupled with the available evidence at face value. Maybe Harambe did rise from the dead. Wow, wouldn’t that be something?