Easter Thoughts


Then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina washes and kisses the feet of patients of the Hogar de Cristo shelter for drug users, during a Holy Thursday mass in the Parque Patricios neighborhood of Buenos Aires, March 20, 2008. 

I am not a Roman Catholic.  My affiliation is with ECUSA [Episcopal Church USA] although I haven’t attended in nearly a decade.  I am still a person of deep faith, and still have awareness of the religious calendar.  My personal beliefs also include elements of New Age, Hinduism and Tao.  My friends run the gamut from total atheists, to those who have become celibate for their faith, to practitioners of Tantra.  Each of us is on our own path, and each of us has to find answers that work for ourselves for the deep questions of life.  As Y’shua said “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

It is from this background of general goodwill towards the faith of others that I look at Resurrection Sunday [aka Easter, Ishtar, etc.].  As festival of Spring — the world reborn and a pagan fertility celebration, co-opted by the Roman Catholic Church because it coincided with the Passover crucifixion of Yehushua Bin Yosef for running the corrupt bankers out of the Temple.

And all of these threads seem quite relevant today.

We have a new leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who has chosen to honor St. Francis Xavier by taking his first name.  And he has already garnered criticism for walking among the laity, paying his own bills, even for the traditional priestly service of washing feet on Maundy Thursday.  For which I laud him.  These are the things appropriate for a true believer, which I hope he is.  But if he really is a believer, he may go the route of John Paul I, for deep is the treachery in the Vatican.  And the whole world is aware of the problems he faces there.  For the sake of the believing Laity, I hope he gets a handle on their corruption.

A Japanese depiction of Francis Xavier, dated to the 17th century. From the Kobe City Museum collection. Date 17th century

The Bankers are again in the news here in the USA.

The U.S. Justice Department is examining the role financial institutions play in fraud schemes perpetrated by bank customers offering deceptive products, a department official said on Wednesday.

Attorneys and investigators in the DOJ’s Civil Division are examining banks’ possible role in assisting scammers who offer questionable payday loans, false offers of debt relief, fraudulent health care discount cards, and phony government grants, according to Michael Bresnick, who heads the department’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

That task force has been focused on pursuing misconduct that fueled the financial crisis, but the new priorities suggest investigators are looking beyond those cases and at other types of financial misconduct that extends to different industries, from payday lending to auto loans.

And also:

Yeah. I mean, that’s what he [Lanny Breuer, who’s head of the Criminal Justice Division at the Justice Department] made a statement in September of last year in a speech, saying that he was kind of up nights worrying about what would happen to these massive institutions if he indicted some of these senior executives criminally. I think a lot of outsiders would say that’s nonsense, that, you know, you could clearly just put some of the executives in jail—and I think that’s what they were actually expecting—without jeopardizing the institutions themselves.

Maybe some of these institutions deserve to be corporately indicted and made examples of, and maybe the entire—you know, kind of the salutary effect on the banking system would be great enough to justify putting one of them out of its misery because of the effect it would have on all the others.

So I think there’s at least a strong argument that this Justice Department, when it came to large financial institutions, was asleep at the switch. And we have no indictments or prosecutions of any individual senior Wall Street executive in the last four years.

And Occupy Wall Street has come out with “Occupy Debt”.  Seeing that the debt load of the common person is what is enslaving him, Occupy is now collecting money to purchase — and forgive — what is called “zombie debt.  I quote from my friend Jerry Ashton’s article about it:

First, we need to understand the definition of “Zombie Debt” in the collections industry. These are accounts which are extremely aged and likely have been in the hands of agencies and collection attorneys for years but still remain uncollected.

Agencies will buy these accounts from each other and debt sellers for pennies on the dollar, take their best shot at collecting it at full-face value, along with add-on collection fees and interests that bloat the original amount owed. Accounts remaining uncollected are then packaged up and sold off to the next agency or debt buy for even fewer pennies on the dollar.

It becomes debt that only grows, and never dies.

Occupy’s entry into this market and the approach it is taking will evoke a yet unknown degree of shape-shifting in third-party collections… one that is long overdue. At its best, its entry may even bring about corrections that many within their own ranks long have wished for — to rid themselves of “bad apple” debt buyers and agencies whose practices have led to public outrage and increased governmental oversight.

Occupy itself will gain renewed respect, and rightfully so. A major, appreciative article has appeared in The New York Times. A Forbes contributor called it “An Occupy Wall Street Idea We Can All Get Behind.” Thom Hartmann called it “a truly incredible show of mutual aid, by thousands of participants. The Guardian’s Charles Eisenstein termed it “a genius move.”

Somehow, I think Y’shua would have approved.

And of Passover?  The American President visited Israel just before Passover.  And gave a fine speech, in which he told Israel that “America has your back”.  To which Bibi responded with glee.  And how many noticed that Mr. Obama also de facto declared war on the Assad regime in Syria at the same time?

How do most Americans celebrate Easter?  A ham dinner, egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, some go to Church, others to drum circles.  Where do we get the other elements?

Babylon – Ihstar Gate *photo CM, Iraq Summer 2004

Ishtar was the goddess of love and war, above all associated with sexuality: her cult involved sacred prostitution;[2][3] her holy city Uruk was called the “town of the sacred courtesans”; and she herself was the “courtesan of the gods”.[4] Ishtar had many lovers; however, as Guirand notes,
“Woe to him whom Ishtar had honoured! The fickle goddess treated her passing lovers cruelly, and the unhappy wretches usually paid dearly for the favours heaped on them. Animals, enslaved by love, lost their native vigour: they fell into traps laid by men or were domesticated by them. ‘Thou has loved the lion, mighty in strength’, says the hero Gilgamesh to Ishtar, ‘and thou hast dug for him seven and seven pits! Thou hast loved the steed, proud in battle, and destined him for the halter, the goad and the whip.’ Even for the gods Ishtar’s love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and—if one is to believe Gilgamesh —this love caused the death of Tammuz.

[The ancient connection between sex and violence is told here.]

Modern Wiccans explain it thus:

Easter gets its name from the Teutonic goddess of spring and the dawn, whose name is spelled Oestre or Eastre (the origin of the word “east” comes from various Germanic, Austro-Hungarian words for dawn that share the root for the word “aurora” which means ” to shine”). Modern pagans have generally accepted the spelling “Ostara” which honors this goddess as our word for the Vernal Equinox. The 1974 edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary defines Easter thus: “orig., name of pagan vernal festival almost coincident in date with paschal festival of the church; Eastre, dawn goddess; 1. An annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, held on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21.” The Vernal Equinox usually falls somewhere between March 19th and 22nd (note that the dictionary only mentions March 21st, as opposed to the date of the actual Equinox), and depending upon when the first full moon on or after the Equinox occurs, Easter falls sometime between late-March and mid-April.

This article goes on to explain the connections to the symbols.  This is part of the explanation for the eggs:

Try this sometime with your children or a young niece, nephew or cousin: on the day of the Vernal or Autumnal Equinox, just a few moments before the exact moment of the equinox, go outside with a raw egg. Find a reasonably level place on the sidewalk or driveway. For a few moments just before and just after the equinox, you can balance the egg upright (wider end down) by simply setting it down on the ground. No kidding! It will stand up all by itself. Kids love this, and most adults are amazed and delighted, too.

This little “trick” brings together two of the most potent aspects of this holiday: the balancing of the earth’s gravity midway between the extremes of light and dark at Winter and Summer Solstice; and the symbolism of the egg.

I personally think of Easter as the usual end of winter.  A time to bask in the newly restored sunshine and warmth.  Time to reflect on “spring cleaning” and rebirth–and clearing away things that are no longer useful.  To think of the sacrifices of others, and my effect on those around me.

May you have a happy Easter season.

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