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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Monday, April 08, 2013
Easter? Yes or No.
Easter is the modern form of the old English, "Eastre"  - or if you happened to be in Northumbria, "Eostre".  If you look at the months of an old English calendar, you will see that the month of April is called, "Eostre-monath" (Easter month).  It was called that long before the gospel ever came to English (It got there in the sixth century, by the way).

England was celebrating Easter hundreds of years before anyone there ever heard of Jesus.

True story.

That isn't to suggest that the English were celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ hundreds of years before Christ was ever mentioned there.  I means that they were celebrating the coming of spring by worshipping their local version of the prototypical fertility goddess.

In the scriptures, one such fertility goddess was named Ashtoreth, and referred to as the "abomination of the Sidonians".  I don't need to describe what went on during the sort of fertility rites that God describes as abominable, it is enough to ask whether God found only the local flavor (Ashtoreth) abominable, or whether God would have found the worship of Eastre by pagans living in English prior to the coming of the gospel, just as abominable.  I am willing to go on a limb and say that God found Eastre to be just as abominable as Ashtoreth.

When the gospel did come to England, the paschal season retained its pagan name, primarily, I believe, because the month of April had been called "Easter" for hundreds of years, and no one was about to change the name of the month any more than we would (or could) change the name of a month.  Presumably the pagan fertility rites stopped when the country was "Christianized", but some of the pagan stuff has lived on.

So where do the bunnies and colored eggs come in?

Rabbits and eggs have been a symbols of fertility for ages.  Their imagery and usage in pagan fertility celebrations precedes their entrance into the church, such that the question should never be where these things came from - they come from the various pagan traditions associated with the worship and veneration of various fertility goddesses.  We don't know when these things found their way into the church, but they did, few people saw any trouble with that.

The reason we our Passover "Easter" is because the pagan name for their fertility celebration stuck.  The reason we eat chocolate eggs is because the pagan traditions associated with their fertility celebration also stuck somewhere, and eventually spread.

There seems to me to be two schools of thought on this issue:

Some see only a label. They readily admit that while the name "Easter" was lent to the month of April, and eventually insinuated itself into the church through the overlapping of pagan and Christian celebrations, that the name itself was applied equally to both pagan and Christian festivities, but that even as the one began to overtake the other, the label remained, not out of any desire or intention to exalt the name of a false deity, but rather out of long standing habit.

Thus while the name may have once described a specific pagan fertility goddess in England, it also described the month of April which borrowed its name from that pagan deity. Calling the day Easter Sunday, would be about as harmful as calling it "April Sunday" in our modern language. Furthermore, even if it did originally mean something very pagan, as the church began to use the word, the meaning has long since changed. The whole argument then is reduced to: the word has changed its meaning since then, get over it.

The other school of thought reasons that the words meaning has grown to include the Christian celebration, but continues to exalt (by way of remembering) the original usage. That we have no good reason to continue using it, so why not break from this long standing tradition, and begin to use an expression that isn't pre-loaded with pagan sentiment?

I personally accept the argument that prolonged usage has so changed the use of this word that were there no Internet, I think few people would ever have learned the origins of the word, and been offended thereby.  Notwithstanding, the Internet is here, and we can look these things up.  We gain nothing by holding to a tradition that exalts or has the potential to exalt, false divinities, and frankly, the word "Easter" isn't as theologically satisfying as a phrase like, "the day the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the grave!" or more succinctly, "Resurrection Day"

I prefer the latter.  If someone wants to cling to the label "Easter" - I am not going to dispute it with them, though I might share what I know and see if that changes anything.  This was a big thing in some circles, so I didn't bother writing it until the smoke cleared.

posted by Daniel @ 2:25 PM  
  • At 9:27 AM, April 10, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My sentiments exactly. And since the Word of God gives no command to observe the day of our Lord's resurrection, I'm not making any issue about what anyone calls it.

    For lack of better description, with our "weaker" (perhaps "lesser informed") brethren, I have no problem with the word "Easter." Likewise, with others who are sticklers about such terminology, I have no problem using "Resurrection Day." It's the heart of the worshiper that's the issue, and that only God knows.

    It was after that particular Sunday this year that I came across this song I had never heard before, celebrating the fact that Jesus lives. You might enjoy it too. I ordered it to play in my vehicle so my daughter can hear it not only around "Easter," but also throughout the year, because He still lives!


    Incidentally, for what it's worth, most of my earthly family is not saved so I tend to use the word "Easter" out of habit and for common ground. With my saved brethren, I use both appellations interchangeably, depending on the person with whom I'm speaking.

  • At 11:26 AM, April 10, 2013, Blogger Daniel said…

    Our pastor, instead of preaching on Resurrection Day read us a dramatized account of the last supper, Peter's denial, and eventually meeting up with the Lord, at which point a powerpoint rendering of this song was put up, with the words, for us to listen to.

    Some of the distaste I had and still have, for the mixing of God's word with the art of man, no doubt informs my preference for Don Francisco's rendering of this tune. In other words, because the first time I heard this version it was framed as the emotional climax for an emotional drama, some of the "Yuck" factor injured my ability to appreciate Phelps' version. Also, having grown up, as it were, on the original (Don Fransisco) version, I felt that the remake lacked the infectious joy and spirit of the original. But that could just be personal preference.

  • At 7:55 AM, April 11, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Actually, I had a similar response to the opening of this song. I had never before heard Phelps or this particular song, and initially, I didn't care for the singer's emoting in the lyrics before the refrain. (It seemed dramatized and "acted," although that may not be the case.)

    Similarly, I shudder a bit when I hear men putting Scripture into their own words, adding to the account by what they imagine it might have been like. It causes no small amount of fear in my heart because of the likelihood of adding to God's Word or altering the meaning of it.

    When the refrain came, however, tears sprung to my eyes. I think it was because usually I hear "He is risen" or "He lives." (Alternately: "He lives in me, or "He's in my heart," which just rubs against the grain with me due to contemporary "Ask Him into your heart" and "How do I know He lives? He lives within my heart" - the worst apologetic).

    There was something about hearing it phrased differently ("He's alive") and the exuberance of the music and singer in the refrain of the version I linked that grabbed me.

    However, I look forward to hearing the Don Fransisco version now. Thank you for the reference.

    (Sidenote: Many in our church took offense at a recent "History channel's" airing of a program titled "The Bible," a 10-hour "docu-drama" of the account from Genesis to Revelation. I managed to see an hour or more of the program at my mother's house, since we don't have TV in our own home. It was indeed overly dramatized and sadly not accurate against the written Biblical accounts. I find it distressing that several Christian friends really took to it and discouraged any comments regarding its inaccuracy, so as not to offend those who enjoyed it.)

  • At 2:37 PM, April 11, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Quick clarification: I ought not have written or suggested "acting" on the part of Phelps. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity or legitimacy of his faith. Better stated would be to say that there was an appearance to me of "playing to the audience," which is something inherent to the role of a performer - something not unexpected.

    I just don't care for over-dramatization and would rather sense the veracity of one's faith without the heaviness of dramatics; Understated is my preference.

    Likewise with "The Bible" docu-drama that I mentioned. I'm not against rendering the Bible in drama; I just wish producers and directors would stick to the actual script given via Holy Spiri, thereby not risking "adding to" or "taking from" Scripture.

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