A Happy Hypocritical Easter!

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Easter is a tradition celebrated across the world, which Christians believe to be in honour of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary.

Secularists and atheists, will instead celebrate the spring equinox, taking advantage of the fantastic range of delicious chocolate eggs and cakes, that modern day Easter commercialism presents so wonderfully to us.

“Hypocrisy”, some may cry. However, the Christians amongst you may be surprised to learn that Easter, is in fact, a Pagan festival, and is not really about Jesus at all. Has it never struck Christians as being somewhat odd, that rabbits and chocolate eggs are associated with Christ’s Resurrection?

It would appear that the bible has caused Christians some confusion with the following passage from Act 12:3: ‘This was during the days of Unleavened Bread’, which is where The New Testament Church observes the feast days described in Leviticus 23. Acts 12:4 states: “And when he [Herrod] had seized him [Peter], he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.” Some translations of the bible, such as this 21st Century King James edition, have translated the word ‘Passover’ to ‘Easter’.

However, the mistranslation of the word Easter has come from the Greek word ‘pascha’ – derived from the Hebrew word pesach. As there is no original Greek word for Passover, for this reason, a Hebrew word is used in the Greek New Testament. The word has only one meaning: Passover (Account found at Exodus 12). It does not mean Easter.  Thus, the verse does not endorse Easter, and is instead an indication that the Christian Church observed the Jewish Passover ten years after the supposed death of Christ. More importantly, there is no other mention of the word Easter anywhere else in the bible. There are no verses anywhere in the Bible, that authorize or endorse the keeping of Easter celebration. The Bible also makes no mention of Lent, eggs, egg hunts, Easter bunnies, etc. It does, however, mention hot cross buns and sunrise services as abominations, which God condemns.

It would appear that the mistranslation of Acts 12:4 may have been an attempt to insert a Pagan festival into biblical scripture for the purpose of authorising it as a Christian tradition. Verse 14 goes on to state that the Passover ceremony was commanded by God to be an annual memorial feast to be kept by Israel “forever”. This command is repeated in Leviticus 23:5. Exodus 12:15 introduces the seven-day festival called the Days of Unleavened Bread (also repeated in Leviticus 23:6-8), which was to immediately follow the Passover feast each year. This is why Acts 12:3 states, “This was during the days of unleavened bread”, before mentioning the Passover in the next verse.

Despite the biblical command listed in Leviticus 23, that Passover should still be kept by Christians today (Acts 2:1; 12:3; 18:21; 20:6; I Cor. 5:7-8; 16:8), how ironic that almost no Christian who professes to worship Jesus Christ, observes the Passover as commanded.

Thus, as there is no specific instruction to observe Easter in the Bible (although the permanent command to observe Passover, is), from where did Easter originate?

Origins

Easter has most likely originated from before the Hebrew feast of Passover. The earliest reference to a similar holiday comes from Babylon, 2400 BCE. Ancient Babylonians would mark the beginning of Spring with a gala celebration honoring the resurrection of the god, Tammuz, who was killed by a wild boar. Tammuz was returned to life by his mother/wife, Ishtar with her tears. Ishtar was actually pronounced “Easter”.

Celebrating the beginning of spring may be among the oldest holidays in human culture; a tradition that would occur every year during the spring equinox. Biologically and culturally, it represents for northern climates the end of a “dead” (winter) season and the rebirth of life (spring), as well as the importance of fertility and reproduction.

The city of Ur also had a celebration dedicated to the moon and the spring equinox, which was held during our months of March or April. On the spring equinox, Zoroastrians continue to celebrate “No Ruz”, the new day or New Year. This date is commemorated by the last remaining Zoroastrians, and probably constitutes the oldest celebration in the history of the world.

Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures. Hot cross buns are also very ancient, and the Old Testament mentions Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking Pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead. Jeremiah 7:18: ‘The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead dough to make sacrificial cakes for the queen of heaven. And to offend me all the more, they pour out drink offerings to foreign gods’.

It is interesting that Christians seem to have adopted all the fun things about Easter from Paganism, including the tradition of Easter Bunnies, which are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare.

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Spring festivals honouring Eostre, the great mother goddess of the Saxons, were also held hundreds of years before the documented birth of Christ. The name Eostre was fashioned after the ancient word for spring, Eastre. The goddess Ostara was the Norse equivalent whose symbols were the hare and the egg, which began the modern tradition of celebrating Easter with eggs and bunnies. Several goddesses were associated with the practice:

  • Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus
  • Ashtoreth from ancient Israel
  • Astarte from ancient Greece
  • Demeter from Mycenae
  • Hathor from ancient Egypt
  • Ishtar from Assyria
  • Kali, from India
  • Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertilityphoto(6)

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    Goddess Ishtar

In the Mediterranean region, there was a pre-Christian spring celebration centered around the vernal equinox that honoured Cybele, the Phrygian goddess of fertility. Cybele’s consort, Attis, was considered born of a virgin and was believed to have died and been resurrected three days later. Attis derived his mythology from even earlier gods, Osiris, Dionysus, and Orpheus, who also were supposed to have been born of a virgin and suffered death and resurrection as long as 500 years before Christ was born. The death of Attis was commemorated on a Friday and the resurrection was celebrated three days later on Sunday. (Does this story not sound familiar…?)

It would thus appear that the name of Easter and the traditions surrounding it are deeply rooted in Pagan religion.

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A Pagan march through the streets…

Other “borrowed” Easter traditions, that are Pagan in origin, include Easter lilies being revered by the ancients as symbols of fertility and representative of the male genitalia, whilst the ancient Babylonian religions had rituals involving dyed eggs, as did the ancient Egyptians. Note that the origin of the Easter egg is based on the fertility lore of the Indo-European races, with the egg being a symbol of spring. Conversely, in Christian times, the egg became a symbol of religious interpretation, which symbolised the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged to the new life of his resurrection. Thus, another example of a pagan custom being “Christianised”, to deceive—as well as making Christians feel better about why they are following a custom that is not in the Bible.

Ironically, Christians seem to believe the sunrise services (yet another ancient pagan practice, which welcomes the sun on the morning of the spring equinox) is a “beautiful”, “moving”, and “religious” tradition. Yet, the Bible at Ezek. 8:13-18 states something very different: 

‘There, at the entrance to the Lord’s temple, between the porch and the altar, were twenty-five men facing toward the east with their backs to the Lord’s temple. They were bowing to the sun in the east… Isn’t it enough that the house of Judah has observed here all these detestable things? They have filled the land with violence, and they continue to provoke my fury. Look at them! They even put the branch to their noses!  I will certainly respond with wrath. I won’t spare or pity anyone. Even though they call out loudly to me in my hearing, I won’t listen to them.’

Thus, observing sunrise services is so serious, Ezek. 9 documents that God would ultimately destroy all who persisted in it.

Nice.

Deuteronomy 12:28-32 also confirms that Christians should never mix Pagan traditions with God’s commands. The Passover was commanded; not Easter.

Christians: Do bear in mind the following as quoted from Matt. 15:6-7: ‘So you do away with God’s Law for the sake of the rules that have been handed down to you. Hypocrites!…’

Therefore, if Christians continuously choose to disregard the wishes of their beloved God, year after year, then why should atheists, such as myself, feel “left out” of the loop? Atheists also enjoy celebrating what has now become a commercialised festival, and the opportunity to devour a substantial amount of chocolate. Surely, that can only be good for the economy…? Mass public spending within the food industry, subsequently followed by mass public spending in the diet and pharmaceutical industries…

obese_woman_eating_cup_cake

Happy Easter, everyone!

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“You’ve Got Mail!”

Ah … I just received a private message from someone named “Stuart”! How exciting!

Except … I actually receive a number of private messages from the same online dating site every single day. That may very well make me sound popular, and maybe even “drop-dead-gorgeous”, but funnily enough, despite all the private messages I receive, I don’t have an active profile!

You see, despite my skepticism regarding online dating, one cold evening when feeling a little downhearted and dangerously close to old (as we all feel sometimes), I decided, “Oh, what the hell!”, and signed up to a dating website that is supposedly for busy professionals. However, after the initial sign-up, I decided that I had no interest in filling in one of those long-winded online profiles about who I am, and who I’m looking for.  I soon realised that I am just too busy to have the time for a relationship, nor do I even want one at the moment. If I did, I would have surely taken the time to fill in the profile. More to the point, if I had spent quality time in writing a full profile to ensure others know who I am, to attract a potential mate based upon my personality and mutual interests, etc., how many people would actually take the time to really read all of my (or any other person’s) profile, anyway…?

Generally speaking, most people will see a pretty face and it will prompt them to send a message to that person. After a bit of online tittle-tattle and abbreviated messages (“hw bout we go 2 pub sum time”), they will go on a date with someone who is probably highly incompatible with them, never having actually read the person’s profile properly in the first place. But, maybe I am being completely unfair. Whilst I always take the time to read another person’s words carefully, I do get the impression that not everyone is quite so thorough.

The fact that I am receiving so many messages from people like “Stuart”, when my profile has bugger all on it (not even a photo!), may perhaps, go some way in substantiating my suspicion.

On the other hand, it certainly seems to corroborate the reports on the increasing number of fraudulent profiles circulating the web, and serves as a reminder as to how we should remain vigilant where our online security is concerned.

I, for one, will be sticking to the old-fashioned method of meeting potential partners via real-life interaction.

As for Stuart… Perhaps he is an online rogue of some description, or an escort touting for business, or maybe he genuinely is a very lonely and desperate man, whom I should give the benefit of the doubt. After all, he does seem compelled to message people regardless of whether they actually have a profile or not. Poor guy.

Let us hope that “Stuart”, “James”, “Will”, “Tom”, et al, will all find true love one day.

Is Chivalry Dead? – If only!

Since blogging on WordPress, I have encountered a number of interesting blogs written by fellow bloggers. One post that provoked some disagreement was ‘Chivalry – it’s not just for knights’, written by author, Stephen Liddell. Whilst I respect Stephen’s views on the matter, I must confess that my views do not coincide. Why should one gender be treated differently to the other when it comes down to something that, essentially, should be nothing other than good manners and common courtesy?

From a female perspective, the underlying patriarchy of chivalry has always sat uneasily with me: The implication that men are the strong protectors, who tend to the perceived weaker gender, like a knight in shining armour. Feminists argue that chivalry is, therefore, misogynistic, but I disagree with this view entirely.

Misogyny is defined as being a “hatred, dislike, or distrust of women”, and even if men really are chivalrous as a result of their inherent beliefs that women are weak (as the feminists claim), I fail to see the correlation between the belief that someone is frail, and hating them. A newborn baby is more fragile than a fully-grown adult; does that mean that we nurture and protect a child who is so precious to us, purely out of hatred? Such feminist theories are preposterous, and as such, do not stand any validity in forming a well constructed argument or reason. Chivalry may very well be patriarchal, and exasperating for women such as myself, but it is surely not a feature of misogyny.

 

On average, men are only about 15-percent larger than women, although the average male is usually physically stronger than most women, because of greater muscle mass. Of course, there are exceptions, and even if a woman is physically weaker than her male suitor, that does not make her too frail to open a door for herself, or to stand during a train journey. Women such as the suffragette, Emily Davison, died in the fight for female equality in our history; so what a kick in the teeth to the memories of women who fought for equality, when there are still some instances of women being perceived as the “weaker” gender, so many years on. Perhaps such patriarchy is the result of modern women demanding they be “treated like queens”, just as much as men are at fault for bestowing it upon women whilst, quite hypocritically, failing to treat their fellow men with such good manners.

When a sports injury necessitated the use of crutches last year, I was admittedly, very grateful when a seat was offered on public transport, and was genuinely touched by the number of kind people who would stop and offer to help – both men and women. Usually it was men who offered to help, and I could not help but wonder how many of them would have been so helpful had I been male. No doubt the men who stopped to offer help, believed they were just being kind, and maybe they really would have been as helpful towards a male as they were towards a female. But, as Steven Liddle wrote in his blog, “I do it for me” –  Is such a statement not a form of moral superiority, whereby the person is rather egotistically making the gesture, merely to make himself believe he is the “good guy”? I cannot help but object to, what is essentially a patriarchical moral high ground, particularly as good social etiquette dictates the obligation that I should graciously say thank you for something I neither wanted, nor asked for, but was imposed upon me nonetheless.

Being a humanist (as opposed to a feminist), I advocate equality between both genders. Men should be treated the same as women, with good manners bestowed upon both genders – and not forgetting the transgendered, too. When a man runs to hold a door open a door for a woman, or offers to carry her bags, then he should offer the same to a fellow male. If a woman is genuinely in a position where she appears to be in need of help, such as being on crutches and struggling to carry heavy bags, or may need a seat; then yes, by all means offer her help – but also offer the same assistance to a man on crutches. I certainly would, and very often have, much to the surprise of the men in question. With regards pregnant or elderly ladies (and elderly men!) unsteady on their feet; yes, a physically healthy man should give up his seat – but so should other women who are not pregnant, elderly, or less physically able to stand (I.e. on crutches or recovering from surgery, etc.) It is a matter of priority and common courtesy.

My message to all the “Knights in Shining Armour” out there: Instead of behaving in a chivalrous manner, try being an all-round decent human being instead. People will respect you for it more.

My little anti-feminist joke of the day!

Do “Too Many Tweets Make A Tw*t”?

Public opinion of the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has just about reached an all-time low, but it appears that our dear Mr CamWrong may have been “right” about one thing …

Twitter.

During an interview on Absolute Radio, back in 2009, David Cameron was asked by presenter Christian O’Connell whether he used Twitter.

“Politicians do have to think about what we say,” Mr Cameron stated, seemingly without irony, before bestowing the following howler upon us: “The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it – too many twits might make a twat.”

Despite the absurd irony of Mr Cameron’s ineptness, his statement is made all the more ironic by the fact the Conservative Party had a twitter account, and not to mention that Mr Cameron now also has a Twitter account for No. 10 Downing Street. Therefore, it would seem that one “twit” in particular, really can “make a tw*t”.

As a user of Twitter, my opinion about the site is somewhat mixed. I am often bemused by the sheer ludicrousness that some people manage to incorporate into just 140 characters. Because of the 140 character limit, one can often be subjected to a long list of multiple tweets from the same person(s); full of ridiculously abbreviated words, and depending on who one is following, may result in a trail of absolute nonsense trawling up the newsfeed.

Whilst I like to think I am a little more selective about who I follow, one does come across some real “gems” retweeted by others, sometimes retweeted purely for comedy value.

Just take a look at some of these examples:

Let us not forget the way Twitter was used to incite the London Riots, whilst bystanders tweeted their riot “observations”, or riot warnings to others. Quite often, it emerged that a ridiculous number of tweets provided nothing other than false information. Yet, the false information spread like wildfire, such as rumours about the streets of a West London borough apparently being set in flames, only for nervous residents to later discover that the worst event to have actually occurred in that particular area, was a brick thrown through a shop window! What a kick in the teeth to the people who genuinely were affected by the Riots, and who lost their homes in the fires in Croydon, Tottenham, Hackney, etc. However, it must also be pointed out that Twitter also played an important role in the post-riots clean-up, which gave the police a means of tracing those who incited and recruited other rioters.

One disturbing aspect of Twitter is that regulating the site is virtually impossible because of the massive volume of messages and tweets that are sent every second. On the subject of immediacy, as also mentioned by Mr. Cameron, it can only take so much as one misinformed tweet for a false rumour to become a worldwide trend in minutes, as we have seen in the past, ranging from the apparent “death” of a celebrity, down to their so-called sordid affairs. There is a great deal of misinformation and sometimes sheer nastiness. But none of this is a special feature of Twitter, as it is a feature of people generally. Furthermore, it is very difficult to pick up on humour and sarcasm via Twitter (and, indeed, other social media sites), leading to many misunderstandings and quarrels. One careless or false tweet has the potential of giving information capable of ruining lives and relationships. But, on a more positive note, celebrities and high-profile people have utilised  Twitter’s immediacy as a way of “setting the record straight” about a rumour,  and to engage with their fans, and even form more of a following.

I must confess that I do love Twitter as a means of keeping up-to-date with current affairs. Twitter is a fantastic forum for learning of any errors in news reporting and for academics to promote general public understanding of their research. It is also a wonderful forum for lawyers, politicians, and and journalists to share information such as links, viewpoints, and to receive instant feedback. It is now becoming common for interesting legal trials to be live-tweeted and debated by legal scholars, and for the mainstream media to subsequently try and catch-up! Whilst one may have to sift through some rather trivial tweets, there are so many high-profile academics who are happy to share a fresh insight and engage in very interesting topical debates. As a result of instant tweeting and academic blogging, newspaper reports are now becoming old news that contribute little additional value to what one has already learned “straight from the horses’ mouths” on Twitter.

Some university departments are also increasingly using Twitter as a teaching resource, and whilst it may seen that nothing of value could possibly be written in only 140 characters; for all the bizarre tweets full of abbreviations that I sometimes think only the person who tweeted it could possibly understand,  I have also very often been pleasantly surprised. The restriction in communicating with just 140 characters can be a very useful learning method: It teaches one how to be more succinct by forcing one to stick with the facts, and not swaying off topic, which would result in a long series of multiple tweets. That, after all, might lead to a mass exodus of followers, as they become increasingly more frustrated with having to sift through the vast number of irrelevant tweets on their news-feed.

Taking the latter into account, maybe too many tweets really do make a “twat”. However, too many tweets might actually rid you of some, too!

Cheerio, chaps!