Archive for April 1st, 2012

April 1, 2012

Former Mormon: What Americans Need to Know About Mormonism

Brigham Young's 12 widows lament. Caricature i...

Brigham Young's 12 widows lament. Caricature in a newspaper about Mormon polygamy. Text:"In memoriam Brigham Young. And the place which knew him once shall know him no more" It references the apocryphal "long bed" story (and illustration) found in chapter 15 of 's 1872 book '. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How might Mitt Romney’s faith affect his social, economic or diplomatic priorities?
March 26, 2012  |

Photo Credit: AFP

This post originally appeared in Away Point. 

When religious minorities run for public office, people get worried about whether loyalty to their creed or religious hierarchy may affect their ability to perform elected duties. How might Mitt Romney’s faith affect his social, economic or diplomatic priorities? Should Americans be wary at the prospect of a devout Mormon president? Garrett Amini is a Seattle web developer, a past leader in the secular student movement, and former Mormon. He studied the Mormon religion first as an insider and then as a skeptic.

Valerie Tarico: You grew up Mormon, but left the faith as a young adult.

Garrett  Amini: I did. I was raised in a devout Mormon family and was highly active in the church in my youth. I began to doubt after going to the temple prior to serving a mission for the church, and spent the next year studying every aspect of the faith I could, eventually concluding that it was false. I still find it fascinating, however, and spend a significant amount of time reading and researching about the faith.

Tarico: How would you describe Mormonism briefly to your average American who has grown up surrounded by Protestant or Catholic Christianity?

Amini: It helps to know a little history. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s in upstate New York. As the teachings go, Smith prayed and asked which branch of Christianity was the right one, receiving a vision telling him that none of them were true to God’s plan and that he should start a new denomination. He was also visited by the angel Moroni, who directed him to find a buried record of a lost ancient civilization of Christians living in the Americas. The records were written on golden plates in what Smith described as “reformed Egyptian,” and Smith was given the ability to translate the records into what we now know as the Book of Mormon.

Mormons believe that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are scriptures from God, and focus upon the atonement of Jesus Christ. They are not trinitarian, and believe Christ and the Holy Ghost to be distinct individuals separate from Heavenly Father. They also believe that there is a living prophet on Earth who continues to receive revelation from God.

The early history of the church is tumultuous – the church moved several times in the eastern states to avoid persecution. Eventually, Smith was killed by a mob at Carthage Jail in Illinois in 1844, and Brigham Young led the church westward to Utah Territory. In part because of the early isolation in Utah, they tend to form close knit communities and extended family networks. The Church places a lot of emphasis on service and on proselytizing, and young Mormons often dedicate two years to serve as missionaries.

Tarico: Do Mormons think of themselves as Christians?

Amini: Yes, absolutely. In fact, it may even be offensive to a Mormon to say that they are not Christians. Mormons define their gospel and teachings to be centered around Jesus.

Tarico: How is Mormonism different than Protestant or Catholic Christianity?

Amini: Mormonism was initially very similar to other protestant faiths – the Book of Mormon itself contains little (doctrinally) that would contradict most forms of Christianity. As Mormonism developed, through ongoing revelation through Joseph Smith, the church became increasingly doctrinally unique. Brigham Young’s presidency in Utah near the end of the 19th Century saw some of the most distinctive doctrines take shape.

Since Mormonism has become less isolated in the past 80 years or so, the doctrine has drifted away from some of the more unique doctrines. Modern Mormon leaders now emphasize doctrinal points that are not far from other Protestant Christian views.

One key difference between Mormonism and other forms of Christianity is that Mormonism is highly bureaucratic and centralized in its authority. Modern Mormon teachings are shaped by a group called the Correlation Committee, consisting of the leaders of the church. All written or taught materials are run through the committee, which takes great care to craft the message and tone. These materials have significantly de-emphasized the more controversial doctrines in recent years.

Tarico: So what Mormon teachings would be controversial to other Christians?

Amini: One example is a doctrine known as the God cycle, which was put as a couplet by past Mormon prophet and president Lorenzo Snow: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” In short, God once had a body on an Earth, was tested, and became edified and the God of our world. If we are righteous, we may also be able to fulfill that divine potential. Interestingly enough, while this doctrine was taught and re-taught by Joseph Smith and later prophets, the church has begun to de-emphasize this doctrine. Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet and president of the church last decade, was asked about this doctrine on an interview with Larry King, and replied “I don’t know that we teach that; I don’t know that we emphasize it.”

There are other doctrines that are controversial that are no longer taught, such as polygamy. Polygamy was practiced by Joseph Smith in secret, and Brigham Young solidified the doctrine and made it public, even going so far as to declare that having multiple wives is a prerequisite to attaining the highest level of paradise in the next life, and to become a god.

Young taught a number of unique doctrines, including one called the Adam-God theory. Young taught that God Himself came down to Earth in the form of Adam and started the human race. Christian opponents of Mormonism will often bring up doctrines such as the Adam-God theory, but that hasn’t really been taught since the time of Brigham Young.

The church also officially discriminated against anyone who had “even one drop of Negro blood” until 1979. Prior to that, black men were not allowed to have any authority within the church, interracial marriages were not permitted in the temple, and black people could not lead a prayer in church, among other things.

Tarico: How did it come to be OK to be Black and Mormon?

Amini: In 1979, it was overturned according to a revelation to Spencer Kimball, who was president of the church at that time. I’m actually rather surprised it took place that early – Ezra Taft Benson, who later became president of the church, once said over the pulpit at a church General Conference that the Civil Rights movement was a communist plot.

Tarico: From the outside the beliefs you listed sound strange.

Amini: They do, but I don’t think they’re really that much stranger than any other faith – we’re just used to our own flavors of strange. Mormonism even resolves and answers some of the odder quandaries of Christianity, such as why God would create the world in the first place, what happens in the next life, the issue of hell, and the concept of the Trinity.

Tarico: When we talk about Romney in the presidency, it brings up some of the same fears Kennedy faced—that his first loyalty will be to the Church authorities.

Amini: It is reminiscent of the Kennedy election, but since Mormonism is less well-known than Catholicism, that fear is reinforced by ignorance.

We have a bit of interesting history regarding the Romneys and the authority of the church. George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, was governor of Michigan in the 1960s, and supported the civil rights movement. He received a letter from Delbert Stapley, a member of the Mormon twelve apostles, asking him to withdraw his support from the movement in accordance with Mormon teachings regarding race. Romney actually defied Stapley, and continued to support the Civil Rights Act.

I think that Mitt Romney is much more in-line with the positions of the church on social issues than his father was, but it does go to show that you can’t predict how an individual would govern merely based on their religious affiliation. Take Rick Santorum and John F. Kennedy, for example. They’re both Catholic, but where JFK said that he believes the separation of church and state to be absolute, Santorum said that the thought of it makes him “want to vomit.”

Tarico: What are the most important things to Americans to understand about the Mormon religion and how it might affect a Romney presidency?

Amini: In the temple ceremony, Mormons do make a covenant to obey the church absolutely if they were ever asked, essentially giving the church veto power over your life. That possibility is scary to people who are looking at Romney as a president, but Roman Catholics essentially give the papacy the same power; and Evangelicals give the Bible (as interpreted by some leaders) the same power.

Many kinds of Christians have managed to govern according to the laws of the land in spite of religious commitments and covenants. At the same time, religious people are definitely influenced by their beliefs. We could ask, for example, whether George Bush’s Evangelical beliefs about the Middle East adversely affected our policies there – or whether a Santorum presidency might adversely affect the health of American families if men and women are less able to choose when to have children.

Tarico: How might the Church leadership seek to affect a Romney presidency?

Turn of the century photograph of the entire f...

Turn of the century photograph of the entire family of Joseph F. Smith, a known polygamist. This picture depicts members of his family, including his sons and daughters, as well as their spouses and children. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amini: Well, again, many kinds of churches seek to influence the presidency. The Catholic Bishops have regular meetings with U.S. presidents, and the Evangelical community is allowed to hold an annual prayer breakfast with the President. The Mormon church, however, rarely takes political stands. They did strongly oppose (and may have caused the defeat of) the ERA, opposed the Civil Rights Act, and now fight against Gay Marriage, but otherwise, the Church is largely silent. The people of the church are generally strongly conservative, though.

Tarico: Why is the culture so conservative?

Amini: The philosophy is in line with a conservative way of thinking. If you are not a Mormon, you must either be ignorant of the faith, or have some personal issue preventing you from belief. There’s no such thing as an honest intellectual disagreement with the Church. It’s a very insular community, and those on the outside aren’t trusted like those on the inside. That kind of hierarchical thinking and tribalism is very resonant with the conservative world view.

It’s also difficult to question the church, or have a nuanced view of its truth claims. Believers encourage education but decry people who “trust to their own understanding” as learned fools. They discourage critical questioning of the Church to the point that any materials that might challenge the truth claims of the church are labeled “anti-Mormon,” and regarded as “spiritual pornography.”

Mormons also have a historical impetus toward patriotism. Having establishing what was nearly an independent country in Utah, they eventually needed to reintegrate to the United States around the turn of the previous century. At this time, they began abandoning some of their distinctive doctrines, and took great steps to portray themselves as deeply patriotic.

Tarico: How about Mormon doctrines and internationalism?

Amini: Mormonism is an American religion, and lends itself strongly to American exceptionalism. The Book of Mormon teaches that the land the United States now occupies was designated a sacred and blessed land from the creation of the Earth. Mormons also believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri, and that when Christ returns, Zion will be established there. Mormons see the Founding Fathers as divinely inspired, and the U.S. Constitution as an inspired document nearly to the point of scripture.

Interestingly, the church recently reported that it counts more members outside the U.S. than within.

Tarico: Talk to me about women and reproductive rights.

Amini: Mormons teach that the greatest thing a woman can aspire to be is a loving housewife and mother. It is a divine role to care for children. At the same time, because of the Correlation Committee, these teachings are carefully worded.

The church abhors abortion, but doesn’t take a firm stance on birth control. Most couples I have talked to were not forbidden to use any form. However, Mormons believe that we existed before this life, and that there are souls waiting to come down. Growing up, I often heard stories told by mothers who claimed to see their unborn children in visions, waiting to come down to earth. Also, Adam was told to multiply and replenish the Earth. So while Mormons aren’t instructed directly to have lots of children, it is implicit in the theology and culture.

Tarico: Will the Church continue to resist gay rights or will Mormons adapt?

Amini: That’s hard to speculate on, but we could look at what the church has done in the past. It was inconceivable in the 60’s that the Church would ever allow black people to become full members, but that was reversed. Homosexuality will likely prove more difficult due to the Mormon doctrine of eternal marriage and how heterosexual norms are fundamental to Mormon eschatology. I think it is possible that over time Mormons, will adopt an attitude that is more like mainline Christians. The generation in charge of the church right now still thinks that homosexuality is a choice. Perhaps by the time my generation runs the church, things will change.

Tarico: But right now the Church is actively opposing gay marriage.

Amini: Gay marriage is in more direct conflict with Mormon doctrine than perhaps any other Christian denomination, due to the role gender will play in the Mormon afterlife. Still–this may be a little cynical of me–the Church runs itself like a business, and I believe that the stance they have taken on gay marriage is less of a moral one, and more of a political strategy to ingratiate themselves with the broader Christian community.

Tarico: How would former Mormons tend to look at a Mormon presidency?

Amini: Most ex-Mormons I know are politically liberal. I can’t conceive of a democratic Mormon president. Harry Reid is a paradox – he’s part of the team, but not part of the team. I would bet that a Romney presidency would not be looked at favorably by most ex-Mormons because they’ve rejected the criteria by which he makes decisions.

Tarico: Is the “I’m a Mormon” marketing blitz timed in support of the Mormon Presidency?

Amini: Well, I think the Church leaders recognize that if Romney does well, they will do well. They recognize that they are perceived as odd and that having a mainstream candidate will do good things for their image. My guess is that they’d be pleased if he won, but I don’t believe they are trying to orchestrate it.

I think that the Church is concerned primarily with its own survival. They have a growing problem with what I call ‘evaporative cooling’: as access to a wide variety of information becomes more and more ubiquitous, it becomes harder to isolate the members from information that conflicts the official history and teachings of the church. The more inquisitive, critical, and passionate a member is, the more likely that person is to encounter this information, and that often results in a faith crisis.

For example, most Mormons know that Brigham Young had multiple wives, but far fewer know that Joseph Smith did as well. When a young Mormon discovers through the internet that Joseph Smith had thirty-three wives, some as young as fourteen, and about a dozen who were already married, his or her faith may never recover. The church is just starting to recognize the problem, and some leaders are starting to talk about being more open and honest about church history.

Tarico: Anything else?

Amini: If there is something to fear about a Mitt Romney presidency, I don’t think it’s his faith. He is not going to nudge us toward a Mormon theocracy. If anything, I think the Mormon church would follow Mitt Romney’s lead on political questions before Romney would be led by the church.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.
April 1, 2012

FOUR BIG MYTHS OF THE BOOK OF REVELATIOn

The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders ...

The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

by John Blake, CNN

CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

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“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way hisown world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos in present-day Turkey.

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“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satanwho would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

Evangelist John of Patmos writes the Book of R...

Evangelist John of Patmos writes the Book of Revelation. Painting by Hieronymus Bosch (1505). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

This is fairly consistent with the course on Revelation which I took as a Baptist seminary student and pastor in the 1970’s.  Revelation is NOT a futuristic blueprint; and those who profit or peddle fear by saying that it is, are at best full of shit, and at worse just enriching themselves from such nonsense (Tim LaHaye included).  -HFS

April 1, 2012

Easter, 2400 B.C.E.?

And I always thought it was just Zombie Jesus Day. Re-blogged from Truth Be Known

The following article is excerpted from:

Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled

suns of god cover image

Contrary to popular belief, Easter does not represent the “historical” crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In reality, the gospel tale reflects the annual “crossification” of the sun through the vernal equinox (Spring), at which time the sun is “resurrected,” as the day begins to become longer than the night.

Rather than being a “Christian” holiday, Easter celebrations date back into remotest antiquity and are found around the world, as the blossoming of spring did not escape the notice of the ancients, who revered this life-renewing time of the year, when winter had passed and the sun was “born again.” The “Pagan” Easter is also the Passover, and Jesus Christ represents not only the sun but also the Passover Lamb ritually sacrificed every year by a number of cultures, including the Egyptians, possibly as early as 4,000 years ago and continuing to this day in some places.

Easter Around the World

'The goddess Ēostre/*Ostara flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic peoples look up at the goddess from the realm below.' Easter is “Pessach” in Hebrew, “Pascha” in Greek, “Pachons” in Latin and “Pa-Khonsu” in Egyptian, “Khonsu” being an epithet for the sun god Horus. In Anglo-Saxon, Easter or Eostre is goddess of the dawn, corresponding to Ishtar, Astarte, Astoreth and Isis. The word “Easter” shares the same root with “east” and “eastern,” the direction of the rising sun.

“The Phrygian sun and fertility god Attis was annually hung on a tree, dying and rising on March 24th and 25th, an ‘Easter celebration’ that occurred at Rome as well.”

The principal Mexican solar festival was held at the vernal equinox, i.e., Easter, when sacrifices were made to sustain the sun. In India, the vernal equinox festival is called “Holi” and is especially sacred to the god Krishna. The Phrygian sun and fertility god Attis was annually hung on a tree, dying and rising on March 24th and 25th, an “Easter celebration” that occurred at Rome as well. The March dates were later applied to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ: “Thus,” says Sir Frazer, “the tradition which placed the death of Christ on the twenty-fifth of March was ancient and deeply rooted. It is all the more remarkable because astronomical considerations prove that it can have had no historical foundation….” This “coincidence” between the deaths and resurrections of Christ and the older Attis was not lost on early Christians, whom it distressed and caused to use the “devil got there first” excuse for the motif’s presence in pre-Christian paganism.

The rites of the “crucified Adonis,” another dying and rising savior god, were also celebrated in Syria at Easter time. As Frazer states:

“When we reflect how often the Church has skillfully contrived to plant the seeds of the new faith on the old stock of paganism, we may surmise that the Easter celebration of the dead and risen Christ was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and risen Adonis, which, as we have seen reason to believe, was celebrated in Syria at the same season.”

The salvific death and resurrection at Easter of the god, the initiation as remover of sin, and the notion of becoming “born again,” are all ages-old Pagan motifs or mysteries rehashed in the later Christianity. The all-important death-and-resurrection motif is exemplified in the “Parisian magical papyrus,” a Pagan text ostensibly unaffected by Christianity:

“Lord, being born again I perish in that I am being exalted, and having been exalted I die; from a life-giving birth being born into death I was thus freed and go the way which Thou has founded, as Thou hast ordained and hast made the mystery.”

Easter’s Roving Date is Astrotheological

CrossificationIn the gospel tale, there are two dates for the crucifixion: the 14th and the 15th of the month of Nisan, and within Christianity the date for Easter was debated for centuries. There continue to be two dates for Easter: the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, thus demonstrating that this holiday is not the historical date of the actual crucifixion of a particular man. The dates are, in fact, astronomical, astrological and astrotheological.

In explaining this roving date, one “distinguished churchman,” as Catholic Church historian Eusebius called him, Anatolius, revealed the meaning of Easter and of Christ, as well as the fact that astrology was a known and respected science used in Christianity. Said Anatolius:

“On this day [March 22] the sun is found not only to have reached the first sign of the Zodiac, but to be already passing through the fourth day within it. This sign is generally known as the first of the twelve, the equinoctial sign, the beginning of months, head of the cycle, and start of the planetary course…. Aristobolus adds that it is necessary at the Passover Festival that not only the sun but the moon as well should be passing through an equinoctial sign. There are two of these signs, one in spring, one in autumn, diametrically opposed to each other….”

In establishing the “Paschal festival,” Church father Anatolius thus based his calculations on the positions of the sun and moon during the vernal equinox.

Christ as the Solar Hero

Jesus as the Sun God throughout HistoryThe need to time the Easter celebration – or resurrection – to coincide with the vernal equinox demonstrates that “Christ” is not an historical personage but the sun. This fact of Easter being the resurrection of the Sun has been well known for centuries, just as “the Savior’s” birth at the winter solstice has been recognized as another solar motif. Another obvious clue as to Christ’s nature is the fact that the “Lord’s Day” is Sunday.

“Christ is the Sun of Righteousness, with ‘divine beams.'”

Concerning Easter, in his “Letter I. for 329″ Bishop of Alexandria Athanasius (c. 293-373) remarks, “Again, ‘the Sun of Righteousness,’ causing His divine beams to rise upon us, proclaims beforehand the time of the feast, in which, obeying Him, we ought to celebrate it…” Christ is thus the Sun of Righteousness, with “divine beams.”

The Paschal Chronicle

The Easter calculations were recomputed in the seventh century by the Christian author(s) of the Paschal Chronicle or Alexandria Chronicle, which seeks to establish a Christian chronology from “creation” to the year 628. The Paschal Chronicle determines the proper date for Easter as March 21st and the date of Christ’s resurrection as March 25th (or, midnight, March 24, three days after the beginning of the equinox). In his various calculations, the Chronicle author discusses solar and lunar cycles, including the 19-year lunar cycle, by which he reckons the crucifixion and resurrection, concluding: “This is consistent with the prior determinations of reputable men in the calculation of the heavenly bodies.” To wit, Christ’s death and resurrection are based on astrotheology.

The Chronicle author further confirms that Christianity is a continuation of the ancient “Pagan” astrotheological religion when he states that the “Annunciation of our Lady,” i.e., the conception of Christ by the Virgin Mary, likewise occurred on March 25th, the vernal equinox, exactly nine months prior to the December 25th birthdate, the annual rebirth of the sun.

For more information, including citations, see Suns of God.
See also Easter: The Resurrection of Spring.

April 1, 2012

uglicoyote:

Great pictures

Originally posted on Advgrrl Motorcycle Adventures :

THE PICTURE TITLED “WAIT FOR IT” IS SO FREAKING COOL AND THE “BEST SIDE CAR” IS TOO!  I HAVE NO IDEA HOW SOME OF THESE PICTURES COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN!

Every day at 5pm the Sifter posts the Picture of the Day. Below you will find a collection of the Sifter’s Top 50 from 2011. It’s hard to imagine the year is almost over, time seems to fly faster each successive year so it’s fun to take a moment and look back at the year that was. Click any of the pictures below to be taken to the individual post to learn more about the photographer and picture taken. Enjoy and stay sifty my friends!

Shanghai 1990 vs 2010

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