Posts Tagged ‘easter’

I love spring. There is so much going on at this time of the year that makes spring such a fun time; for both the body and the soul.
When the first of March begins to pull us out of the doldrums of winter there is an internal clock that tells me it is time to roll out of the slumber that I have been in for the last several months, look up at the bright sky, breath in the pollen that assures us that the plants are repopulating and feel the warmth of the life giving sun as the earth performs the yearly swing toward the life giving star that gives life to this beautiful blue planet.
By the end of March spring has officially arrived and we are being reinforced with the knowledge that life continues. The warmth from the sun has heated the soil and the grass peeks its’ head up and magically photosynthesis takes place; chlorophyll is produced and the brown and drab of winter becomes a bright and inwardly pleasing green. Flowers bloom, trees bear fruit and the soul is refreshed. The animal kingdom brings forth life. Unlike humans, the animal kingdom is on a reproduction schedule and spring ushers in life and a reassurance that a species will continue to survive.
Human history has a way of mimicking nature. John Locke, the religious writer that predated the founding fathers, influenced the writers of the Constitution. He wrote of the State of Nature and the 3rd Treatise of Government and thus his writings helped to guide the writers of our Constitution. For those that are of the Christian faith, a major aspect of our belief structure centers around birth, death and rebirth and it is this rebirth that we are about to celebrate.
Just as winter brings death, gloom and doom to our planet; so did the death of Jesus do the same for the believers of Christianity. Jesus’s presence had provided hope to a people that had been oppressed by Roman rule while his teachings promised everlasting life. At his death the winter of the religion took place. Certainly, there was great anguish as the realization that Jesus was dead swept across the Christian enclaves. Then just as Spring follows Winter and life renews itself, the Christian religion sprang back to life with the rebirth, the resurrection, of Jesus. Imagine the excitement and the renewal in the Christian belief as the religion regained its’ leading light. Spring had sprung and just as new bright green sprouts emerge around the yard ushering in a new year and refortifying our belief that there is truly a future, the prophets and other religious teachers sprouted around the world and continued to grow and spread the new religion.
If a person wants to truly experience the rejuvenation of nature and the good feelings that spring ushers in, go out to a sunrise service that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and the assurance that life continues. Happy Easter everyone.

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This will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice Louisiana, the week of 3/27/2016.

I love spring and I love Easter.  The little children with Easter baskets filled with Easter eggs or dragging around a stuffed bunny by its ears are priceless.  Easter dresses in pastel colors, bright green grass and flowers erupting from a dormant stem are all part of the holiday.  As beautiful as the holiday period is there is a far more significant aspect to Easter.  For Christians it is a period in time, not just a day, where Jesus died and following two days of sorrow and darkness he was resurrected and among cheers of rejoicing and light reaffirmed that life does go on.  How fitting that Easter falls during the spring period of our calendar.  Just as Easter reinforces our optimism in continued life despite the obstacles placed in front of us as we travel through our journey of life; Spring likewise assures man that re-birth takes place yearly.  An optimist embraces spring, a pessimist does not understand it.  A Christian understand the meaning, an atheist misses much of the beauty and true meaning.

Spring has had a significant place in the daily lives of cultures around the world.  Observing Spring from a natural aspect, the days get noticeably longer.  The first day of spring is also known as the Spring solstice.  Days and nights are the same length and each day gets longer until the first day of summer is reached in June.  New growth “springs” out giving the season its’ name.  One requisite of new birth signified by the blossoming of flora is water and spring is a time of year that usually sees the highest level of rain.  Unfortunately for us living in North Louisiana, mother nature has provided a higher level of moisture this spring than our streams and lakes can handle and we are living the effects of the flooded waterways.

Spring has had a religious significance since before recorded time.  Today this significance is celebrated in countries around the world.  Albania began a national holiday in 2004 to commemorate Spring while Australia holds a carnival of horse racing.  The Jewish Passover is also known as the Spring Holiday while spring was celebrated in ancient Mesopotamia as the cutting of the barley.  Many other countries celebrate this holiday and appears to be a part of life that is rooted in the psyche of the world since primeval times.

The one thing that spring gives all of us is the assurance that life continues.  Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.  Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA, week of 4/6/2015.

When I was in elementary school I had heard the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. The body of Jesus, nailed to a cross, looking down with blood flowing from a crown of thorns was branded into ones brain.
Crucifixion is a very painful and slow method of execution. It not only tortures the person being executed but it also has a psychological impact on the local population. The public display of a human hanging from a cross while fighting to live sends shock and terror to the civilians that are intended to be oppressed.
The universal belief of crucifixion depicts a person on a cross with nails driven through the hands and feet. This in fact is an incorrect image. If nails are driven through the hands the flesh would tear and not support the weight of the body. Many may say that this contradicts the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus. In fact it does not. The Greek word for hand actually means the forearm and the hand together. When translating from one language to another and then from an ancient language to a modern language much can be lost in translation. It is most likely the nails were driven into the wrists and this would be referred to as the hand.
As horrific as driving nails through the body is, that is not the cause of death unless a person would suffer a heart attack. After a person is hoisted upon the cross the punished will remain alive for several hours to several days. When a human has the arms spread and the body is hung from the arms it is extremely difficult to inhale. The unfortunate person on the cross must try to lift himself to breath. Eventually exhaustion takes over and the condemned dies of asphyxiation within a few minutes. The fight to live is over. On occasion they would break the legs of the crucified person to prevent them from lifting themselves and thus hasten death. There was nothing humane nor forgiving about this method of execution. There is a story of Spartacus, a Roman slave that led a slave rebellion that threatened the future of mighty Rome. He was camped near a Roman legion and dared them to attack which the Romans refused to do. Spartacus crucified a physically fit Roman soldier in front of the Roman Legion. For days the Romans watched their soldier suffer in agony as he died in front of them.
Crucifixion began hundreds of years before the Romans began the practice. Persians, now Iran; and Carthaginians, now Tunisia; used crucifixion prior to the Romans but it was the Romans that took it to a new level. Carthage would even crucify its’ own generals if they would lose a major battle. Alexander the Great, conqueror of the majority of the known world, crucified 2,000 survivors from the Phoenician city of Tyre.
The Romans took a leaf from the book of crucifixion as a psychological weapon. Crucifixion was supposedly a death to be used for lower classed citizens and slaves. When Spartacus’s army of slaves was finally defeated the Romans took the 6,000 captives and crucified all of them along the Appian Way, the road leading into Rome. When Jesus was crucified the fact that this type of execution was to be used for the lowest of Rome’s population displays the contempt felt toward the religious leader. It was considered to be a disgraceful manner of death.
The Romans took joy in the executions and turned the concept into an art. Many times the convicted would be beaten in a method known as scourge. This beating would tear deep gashes in the back and the prisoner would be near total shock. So good were the Romans that they knew when to stop the beating less the prisoner would. Contrary to popular belief, the entire cross was not taken to the execution location. Instead the prisoner would carry the horizontal piece to the execution location. A four-man specialized execution team carried out the grizzly final parts of the crucifixion to include attaching the horizontal arm of the cross to the vertical member. Rome’s Constantine, the first Christin Emperor abolished crucifixion in Rome in AD 335 due to Jesus’s death by that manner.
When the person died the remains were brought down and the nails removed for future use. The body usually decayed on the cross before the nails were removed. Until 1968 no archeological evidence existed proving crucifying existed. That year the foot bone of a man that had been buried by his family was found with a nail through the bone and attached to a part of a cross.
Unfortunately Crucifixion has now returned to our planet. ISIS has been reported as crucifying Christians in certain parts of Iraq and Syria.

When I was in elementary I had heard the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. Being Cristian this was a paramount part of my religion. The body of Jesus, nailed to a cross, looking down with blood flowing from a crown of thorns was branded into ones brain. This method of death was common for those accused and found guilty in ancient Rome. Then one day during the Easter season I heard the story of the Dogwood. This was one of those fun stories that a person relives with enjoyment during special times of the year. Unlike the stories within the Bible the story of the dogwood is not based on religious scholar but is one of those stories that reinforces ones belief in his religion, but in a fun way.
When I first heard the story I had not examined a living dogwood but I did go out to find one. It was a mesmerizing experience as I marveled at how a plant could so closely resemble the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and so many other thousands around the world. The following is the story of the dogwood. The actual author has been lost intime.
In Jesus time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong & firm it’s branches interwoven
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so
Slender & twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown
The blossom’s center wears a throny crown.
All who see it will remember me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected this tree shall be
A reminder to all of my agony.”

These are the fun stories that become a part of our countries fiber. The little pieces of our lives that make up the customs and traditions of our great country. It is important that we keep these stories as a part of our heritage to be passed from generation to generation.

This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana USA, week of 3/30/2015.

When the founders of our country sat down and performed tyranny against the home country England, they knew that they could possibly be signing their own death warrants. Still they raised themselves above personal value, signed one of the greatest documents ever penned and became sons of anarchy. This pivotal moment in history began a journey of a fledgling country to become the most powerful country in the history of the world. The country, The United States of America, was founded on Christian values that had been influenced by the writings of John Locke a century earlier but with one distinct difference from earlier countries’ beginnings that were based on a specific religion. Instead of having a state government religion such as the Church of England in the United Kingdom or the Catholic religion in the Holy Roman Empire, the United States build its government in a manner that would allow everyone to practice their own religion without interference by the federal government. Also, the Constitution was amended to insure this right and guarantee that there would be no state sponsored religion.
For two hundred years different religions lived side by side. There were times that some religious persecution did occur but it was not universal and it was eventually suppressed by laws of the land. We would celebrate holidays that were present since the early days of the country and had become a part of the norms of a great nation. Then over the past twenty years individuals felt that the customs of America were not in line with what the country should be. The ability for one person to complain that they were being oppressed was the root cause for many of our holidays to change in appearance. Christmas took on a new meaning and to many is nothing more than a big party filled with lights, glitz and glamour. Some stores were founded by individuals who were well grounded in religious values. These stores turned their backs on what made America great. Instead of allowing the true definition of Christmas being the focal point of the holiday many stores have turned it into a marketing campaign with no religious significance.
This attempt for America to be religiously tolerant by ignoring all aspects of any Christian identity had consequences that were not expected. When a person or a group feels threatened, the person or group takes a defensive posture to protect itself. If the threat continues and the life or identity is in jeopardy, the group transitions to an offensive position. That is what has happened to the attack on Christianity. Instead of living in peace and in tolerance of all religions, we have witnessed more negative rhetoric aimed at the Muslims and other religions living in our country, rhetoric that was not heard several decades ago. Instead of being identified as American, citizens are being segregated according to religious belief. This was not the original intent but the consequences are apparent. Alas, the pendulum of tolerance is finally swinging in the opposite direction.
Easter is my second most favorite holiday. Not only does it hold a great religious significance but it also signals a new beginning as springs brings a reassurance that life continues. This year is even more significant for our country. In the past the majority of our television networks shunned shows of religious significance during the Easter period. Many schools now refer to the Easter holiday as the Spring Break with little or no true meaning to the origin of the holiday. Despite this snub of the religious significance of Easter, we are now witnessing a change in the direction taken by some major networks in their behavior toward the holiday.
Bill O’Reily has written four books based on individuals that died before their time but had a major impact on world History. He takes an historical view of the person and all actions in the book must have some type of historical backup. O’Reily’s third book was Killing Jesus. The National Geographic channel took the story and has made a television movie of it with the same name. To prove the tolerance of our great country and how the pendulum is truly swinging toward a more open-minded society, the actor playing Jesus is a Muslim.
NBC has provided the biggest surprise of the Easter season. It will air a mini-series called A.D. the Bible Continues. It is produced by the husband and wife that presented the Bible on the History Channel two years ago. The series starts right after the crucifixion. This is a major undertaking for NBC.
CNN is in the middle of an historical documentary called Finding Jesus and is leading the charge of religious documentaries into the Easter season this year.
While this Easter Season is experiencing a renaissance in America there are still some that snub their noses at American values. ABC will be airing a show based on a book of the same name, “Good Christian Bitches”. Perhaps they will have a somewhat better selection for the next Easter season.
Happy Easter everyone.

NOTE: This will be a published article next week in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA.
Our world is made up of unique individuals, unique groups and sects, and unique governments that are connected by one planet. This individuality allows the world to develop different sets of values and norms that are geographically concentrated. This is easily observed in our modern world of fast communications when two unique core beliefs clash and we instantaneously hear of American SEALS killing Osama Bin Laden or that four Americans are killed by an organized terror plot in Libya. These clashes are not new to the world; only the reporting and documentation of these incidents have become common to our current generation.
America was founded by a combination of religious individuals searching for a land to freely practice their beliefs such as the Pilgrims at Plymouth; groups that were searching for wealth and commerce such as the settlement at Jamestown; and groups that were looking to explore and raid the land with little regard to the inhabitants such as the Spanish conquistadors in the southern United States. Eventually diverse groups were pulled together and formed into what is now our United States. Our founding fathers took noble and controversial steps to insure that citizens of a newly formed country could practice their religions without persecution nor would individuals live under a state imposed religion such as was present in England at the time of the writing of the Constitution.
America did not impose a state run religion, but it was founded on Judeo Christian values and as such several Holidays that are associated with religion are a part of our official government holidays. Two of my favorite holidays are religious based. These two, Christmas and Easter, are feel good holidays that provide an inner feeling of peace. The third, Independence Day, makes me proud of a country that I am so blessed to live in.
Recently I heard of several attacks on Easter that seem preposterous for several reasons. One school banned the use of the name Easter Bunny and another would not allow the use of the term Easter Egg Hunt. The school leaders sighted that the use of the term Easter could offend some people that are not part of the Christian Religion. The biggest problem with this is that the holiday is officially called Easter and the Federal Government has proclaimed this as a federal holiday. It is not mandatory that anyone must celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus at Easter and that is the beauty of our great country but to say that we cannot use the word Easter is trampling on the beliefs of the majority while ignoring established norms that have been with us since the founding of our nation.
The first thing that is so ridiculous with the Easter Bunny situation is that the bunny has no religious significance. This is an invention of early times to celebrate the holiday and make it a fun festival for the youth. The use of the word Easter when used with the bunny or the decorated eggs in n way displays the true meaning of the holiday nor is the bunny a religious relic.
The second issue I have with the deletion of Easter from the public vocabulary is that a school event that is void of religious demands is not mandating that a person participate in a religious observance. Instead the school is providing an event that has been ongoing for generations and it is a part of the Easter Holiday.
The part of this Easter Story that is most disturbing is not that the Easter Bunny is under attack, it is that the story of Easter is continually loosing is significance and for many the story is no longer known nor understood. While the vision of a bunny rabbit and numerous brightly colored eggs surrounded by chocolate goodies really does no justice to the vision of a man hanging from a cross after undergoing unmerciful torture at the hands of the great Roman government.
If the use of the word Easter is offensive and a person has a legitimate concern with the Holiday I would recommend that this individual declare that he or she does not want to participate in the Holiday and instead go to work on the federally proclaimed day off.