The Easter story can be read in two quite different ways. Either as a drama in two acts: in the first act a just and innocent man is sentenced to death and executed, and then, in the second act, is resurrected and accepted by God. Or as a drama in one act in which both versions of the story take place at the same time.
In the first interpretation the "Resurrection" is the happy ending, and the entire story is a typical myth or optimistic fairy tale. I can hear a story like that and think to myself that that was more or less the way it happened (which people confuse with "faith"), or I can conclude that it didn't happen like that - or at all (which people confuse with "lack of faith").
Nevertheless it is the second interpretation, the "parallel" one, that is actually reading with the eyes of faith. Faith here means two things, however: on the one hand, the realization that the story is paradoxical (that the other aspect of the story, "the resurrection," is a reinterpretation of the first, not its subsequent happy outcome); and on the other, the determination to link that story to the story of one's own life. That means "to enter into the story" and in the light of it to understand and live one's life afresh, to be capable of bearing its paradoxical character, and not to fear the paradoxes that life presents.
The second interpretation of the Easter story does not involve "optimism" (the opinion that everything will somehow turn out all right), but rather hope - the ability to "reinterpret" even things that "don't turn out all right" (after all, life as a whole can be regarded as "an incurable disease necessarily ending in death") so that we may accept reality and its burden, persist in this situation, and stand the test, and where possible be useful to others also.
The mystery of the Resurrection is not a feel-good happy ending, cancelling and annulling the mystery of the cross. One of the great theologians of the twentieth century, J.B. Metz, emphasized that when we proclaim the message of Resurrection "we must not silence the cry of the Crucified" - otherwise instead of a Christian theology of Resurrection we offer a shallow "myth of victory."
Belief in the Resurrection is not intended to make light of the tragic aspects of human life; it does not enable us to avoid the burden of mystery (including the mystery of suffering and death), or not to take seriously those who wrestle strenuously with hope, who "bear the burden and the heat of the day" of the external and internal deserts of our world. It does not assert some "religious ideology" and facile belief in place of following in the path of the crucified Christ.
Thomas Halik's essay at Religion and Ethics on two ways of reading the relationship between the Crucifixion and Easter, an argument he makes in his recent book The Night of the Confessor: