Adventus

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

How do I turn this thing off?

I don't get it.  At all.

According to FoxNews and Bill O'Reilly, there is now a "War on Easter."  What I don't get is how what they complain of has anything to do with "Judeo-Christian traditions."  For example, this is O'Reilly's summation of the "War on Christmas":

More evidence that Judeo-Christian tradition is under attack in America....  A few years ago some American companies ordered their employees not to say "Merry Christmas." Remember that? We presented the facts to you, you told the stores you wouldn't buy there. The crazy edict was quickly rescinded. Power to the people.
Now, what does something said to people in stores in December have to do with religion, or "Judeo-Christian traditions"?  Yes, Virginia, there's nothing "Judeo" about Christmas, but move along.  What does "Merry Christmas" have to do with religion at all?  Or tradition, for that matter?  It was Irving Berlin who taught Bing Crosby to sing "Happy Holidays" on one of the most popular Christmas albums ever released,  Why didn't that offend "Judeo-Christian traditions"?

And now?  Now it's because public schools aren't holding Easter egg hunts.  No, seriously:

In 10 days it will be Easter Sunday. But in some schools you are not allowed to say the word "Easter." On Long Island, the East Meadow school district, holding a Spring egg hunt -- not Easter eggs, Spring eggs. Same thing in Prospect Heights, Illinois. Manhattan Beach, California. Flat Rock Elementary School in South Carolina, and a school district in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. No Easter. They are having Spring egg events. Moderated by a Spring bunny, at least in San Diego. I know it's stupid. You know it's stupid. But it's happening, and there is a reason why it's happening. Secular progressives are running wild with President Obama in the White House. They feel unchained, liberated and they are trying to diminish any form of religion. The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs. 
Um, no, it's stupid because the Easter bunny and Easter eggs have bugger all to do with Christianity or the observance of Easter.  Yes, many a Christian church will have an Easter egg hunt for the children on Easter Sunday morning.  But no, no Christian church that I know of will have an Easter Bunny parade down the aisles of the nave during the worship service distributing eggs, chicken or chocolate, to the children.  At least, I hope not.  It certainly isn't a "Judeo-Christian tradition."  And yes, again, there's nothing remotely Jewish about Easter.

How is removing "Easter" as a modifier for "eggs" or "bunny" in any way diminishing any form of religion, except the American secular religion of commercialism?  I mean really, I just....

Really.

By the way, "Easter" is not taken from a "pagan" ritual, holiday, or anything else.  The term, according to the Venerable Bede, comes into English from  "Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring."  However, there is no other attribution of "Estre" in any Teutonic literature or other sources; we only have Bede's word for it.  The Greek word for the day, after all, is pasch, which relates to the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word for "passover."  Once again, just because it's a word in English doesn't mean it's the only term possible, or that the entire Christian church spoke English, beginning with Peter and Paul.  Easter eggs and bunnies have a rather obvious connection to spring time and new beginnings (both symbols of fecundity, if nothing else), but they aren't religious symbols.  I've seen more than a few commenters around the web try to link these secular images to Christianity and thus to trying to "win pagan converts."

Bunk.  Really.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

Reading the unedited thoughts of people with educational credentials over the past twelve or so years has convinced me that we are in the midst of a secular dark age, one in which so much of the cultural baggage of the educated class is based in myth, often of an ideological nature. And that same educated class isn't especially interested in the truth. I don't think we've really progressed beyond the standards of authoritative myth that the "enlightenment" allegedly overcame, we've just improved the technology for spreading that stuff and allowing the already ignorant to reinforce their preexisting prejudices. And there is no class of people more prone to that than the highly sciencey.

If you want to see the fur fly, bring up the literary and archaeological evidence of human sacrifice among the Pagans well into historical times. I definitively broke with a whole wave of those at E....n when I pointed out the Odinic practices, including murdering slave girls to accompany the chieftain thugs when they died. I speculated those in the groups from which Pagans chose sacrificial victims probably welcomed the conversion to Christianity which, whatever its shortcomings, didn't incorporate human sacrifice.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Been turning this over and over in my mind. In a nutshell:

a) the claim that "Christianity" "stole" holidays, etc., from "Pagans" in order to convert them, is not scholarship or 19th century insight (a la the "quest for the historical Jesus"). It's Puritan anti-Papist propaganda. It started with the Puritans, IOW, not with skeptical German scholars, and it was aimed solely at the "whore of Babylon," and has since expanded to all of Christianity. There's no historical basis for it whatsoever, and those who repeat it think themselves clever but are really woefully ignorant.

I've seen, for example, that the date of Easter is connected to the Vernal Equinox, nudge nudge wink wink. It is, of course, connected to the Jewish passover. The word "Easter" is supposedly stolen from Old English worshipers of a Goddess unattested outside the source of that idea, the Venerable Bede. That was in the 8th century, quite a few years after the observance of "Easter" had begun. If the name did come from pagan worshipers, it was they who supplied it, not the Church. Such incorporation of traditions was not uncommon, but it was seldom enforced by the Church hierarchy.

The veneration of the Virgin is an example. That began among the laity, and was only finally recognized by the hierarchy. It wasn't the Church adopting "Goddess worship" in order to convert non-Xians. It was the other way around, if anything. The idea that Xianity can't adopt such things without being "impure" is precisely the argument of: Puritans.

Where do these people think the word "Puritan" came from?

The same applies to all the arguments about Christmas trees, or Saturnalia and Xmas, etc., etc., etc. Puritan propaganda, not modern scholarship.

It shouldn't bug me, but stupidity, that is, ignorance parading itself as knowledge, always gets under my skin.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Adding: If I'd just read further down in the entry for "Easter" (link above) at New Advent:

The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains...and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction....this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires.... but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies.....

It's this kind of incorporation Puritans objected to, and more often than not it was done because the people wouldn't drop the practice, not because wily bishops were co-opting worthy pagans.

Anyway, it seems "Easter eggs" came from the denial of eggs during Lent (which is why Shrove Tuesday involves eating pancakes; to get rid of the eggs before Lent starts), and the Easter Bunny was just a symbol of fertility.

And as for the computation of the date of Easter: that has a very old history to it.

8:21 AM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

As someone who has kept laying hens and has had to deal with a huge surplus of eggs, after 40 days there must have been a whole lot of eggs to be eaten. I never thought about that before but it could explain things like the Russian Easter "Cheese" recipes I've seen that use huge numbers of eggs some of them are a lot more egg than cheese. I recall reading an article in the newspaper about a Russian-American who said she used four dozen eggs in hers.

Were the continental Calvinists as fanatical about it as the ones in Britain? I've had the impression that the Puritans kept the extreme anti-Catholic attitude of the Anglicans for largely political-economic reasons, as well as religious ones.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Dunno. The American anti-Catholic attitude so closely mirrors the English that I hadn't considered the Continent.

12:33 PM  

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