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Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter – Its origins and relationship to Pagans and Passover

I’m confused about Easter, how about you? There seems to be much scholarly discourse that links the Christian tradition of Easter to the Jewish tradition of Passover and to certain Pagan rituals and beliefs that came before them. There is even some dispute over the actual date of Christ’s death and resurrection, but the faith that each of us hold in our hearts cannot be in dispute. This I believe.

The name Easter may have first been associated with an ancient Goddess, The Venerable Bede, (672-735). She was the mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe who was known as Eastra.

Many Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration following the Spring Equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess had a fictional consort named Attis who was believed to have been born in a virgin birth and to have died and been resurrected each year during the March 22 to March 25th period around 200 B.C. Wherever Christian worship of Jesus and Pagan worship of Attis were active in the same area at around the same time, Christians and Pagans used to quarrel about which of their gods was the true one.

Some religious historians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis many centuries before the birth of Christ. One theory is that they were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus’ in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to Pagans.

My own opinion is that we shouldn’t worry too much about what the experts say. I think its what you feel in your heart and soul that counts at this holy time of year. I think it’s your family traditions, your personal beliefs, and the religious rituals you have grown up with that really matter.

Easter has Judeo-Christian origins. The life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospels includes the Christian version of this theme. Good Friday is observed in remembrance of Jesus’ execution by an occupying Roman army, and his burial in a cave. Easter Sunday is the date when a group of his female followers first noticed that the tomb was empty, and concluded that he had been resurrected.

The timing of the Christian celebration of Easter is linked to the Jewish celebration of Passover. The name Passover was derived from the angel of death passing over homes of Jews, which were marked, with the blood of a lamb thus sparing the first born of such homes. Liberal Theologians link Passover to ancient pre-Israelite Pagan rituals practiced by wandering Semitic shepherds in celebration of an agricultural harvest using unleavened bread.

Passover was the most important feast of the Jewish calendar, celebrated around the 22nd of March. The Synoptic gospels of Mark, Mathew, and Luke stated that Jesus’ last supper was a Seder or Passover celebration.

Most Christians believe that Jesus Christ was executed and buried just before the beginning of Passover on Friday evening. A minority believes that the execution occurred on a Wednesday or Thursday. Some liberal Christians have suggested that the early Christian Church arbitrarily selected Passover as the time thus allowing them to link the most important religious days in Judaism and Christianity.

Whatever your personal beliefs are, whatever the actual dates are, don’t let the skeptics amongst us deter you from celebrating your religious beliefs and traditions. Don’t let those of little faith keep you from believing.

Easter is a Christian Festival, which celebrates Christ’s Resurrection. Today eggs are decorated and exchanged with friends and family to commemorate the unification of all God’s children. In ancient times eggs were exchanged to symbolize the continuance of life after death. Early Christianity is thought to have adopted the idea and incorporated it into their Easter celebration. Let the celebration continue.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our Spirits Will Dance Together

What ever happened to the new America we were going to build together? What ever happened to our promise? Have we been lulled to sleep with a false sense of security? Have we forgotten the quest for freedom that our forefathers passioned for, and died for? What happened to our traditions?

Where is our merit? Did it evaporate in our greed for material accomplishment? Have we sacrificed our souls for meaningless benefits?

One might ask why all the questions? Have we nothing better to do than speculate on what could have been? Why can’t we relish in the here and now, and forget about the consequences the future has in store for us?

Why can’t we have some peace of mind?

Is it because our vision is distorted by false pride, and false promises? Why are we willing to believe in economic and political promises and compromises that we know in our hearts are not true or worthwhile? What are we so scared of? Is it the truth?

I think the problem is that we are not well grounded in that which we know in our hearts to be true. We know we can be more than we have been. We know that we can do more than we have done. We know we can care more than we have allowed ourselves to, but then why don’t we? Why don’t we bother? Why don’t we make the effort?

I think we have to try again. I think we have to force ourselves to do what we know is right. I think we have to find our satisfaction in fulfilling our promise, and in having something to believe in again. I think we have to start having faith in ourselves and in God again. That’s what’s missing – it is the faith of our forefathers.

Let’s come together in a new alliance of the possible. Let’s feel the ecstasy of working with one goal in mind. Let’s forsake petty prejudices and concentrate on organizing the intellectual wealth of our true intentions. Let’s make the world a better place for you and I and our families and our children.

Come; let our spirits dance together as the music of a new beginning pleasures our ears. There is no better time to follow the rhythmic beat of a better future. There is no better time to fulfill our promise.

Can you hear the music? The melody of compassion is calling to us. Can you hear the tap, tap beat of the true desire of our hearts? Come; let our spirits dance together. We will float across a new horizon as the music moves us to a better mood.

Hi this is Arthur Levine the author of the novel Johnny Oops. Please join us to read more articles about Johnny Oops at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I’m Listening As Hard As I Can

I’m listening as hard as I can, but the silence is deafening. Why won’t you talk to me? Don’t you have something to say to me?

Every once in a while I hear a tiny whisper; a little murmur, as if you were trying to say something, trying to communicate, trying to form a union or meeting of our minds, but I can’t understand you.

Won’t you please speak up?

I know you have vast knowledge and important things to say. I know you mean well and have my best interests at heart. I know you love me, but why can’t I hear you.

Won’t you please speak up?

In my mind I imagine we are talking and smiling and laughing together, but I can’t quite catch your drift. What are you saying that is making me laugh? Why are you smiling? Your thoughts are not clear to me.

Won’t you please speak up?

Sometimes I feel as if we are passing in separate canoes down a raging river shouting something at each other, but the roar of the rushing waters keeps me from hearing you, and it keeps us apart.

Won’t you please speak up?

Sometimes I feel like we are strangers passing each other on our way home from work at night without a word or a nod of greeting. I know you know me, and I know you. Why won’t you recognize my virtue? Why don’t you say what is in your heart?

Won’t you please speak up?

There are times when I feel all alone, yet in the back of my mind I know you are there. Can’t you feel my desire? Don’t you know I want to embrace? Where are you? Don’t leave me here all alone. I need to know you are there.

Won’t you please speak up?

Is this the way it is always to be between us? Will out petty prejudices and hang-ups keep us apart? Are we never to know the beautiful music we could make together as we interact? Have you no mercy?

Won’t you please speak up?

Sometimes when I am asleep, I dream that we are together; gathered in a beautiful field of nature’s grand design. And we are holding hands, and talking to each other and singing sweet songs of happiness.

In my dreams I can hear you. I can hear what you are shouting to me. I agree. It’s time we came together. It’s time we made love, not war. It’s time we stopped our petty squabbling about different traditions we do not even remember the reason for. It’s time we remembered how we started, and that in the beginning we were of one desire. Together we can make a difference. Together we can change the world. Together we can make something wonderful happen.

It’s time we both spoke up and made a new beginning.

Can you hear me?