Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eating The Chocolate Bunny: No Profound Easter Message Inside

It's Tastier Than A Fortune Cookie, 
But Still Leaves You Hungry 
For Something More Meaningful

The triumph of Madison Avenue (advertising) is in its ability to take something so frivolous, so inane, so inconsequential and make it into something universally loved and, therefore, marketable.

Easter is neither frivolous nor inane. And while the concept of a dying-and-rising god has been used before, it is not inconsequential to those who believe it. No, Easter is a joyous, but solemn event, one that affirms a very strong set of beliefs. It is a time of hope and love through God, man and nature.

A rabbit that magically sh*ts colored eggs is frivolous. It is ludicrous. It is totally inconsequential. It is a totally fake, pastel, rendition of spring without even redeeming pagan qualities. With the exception that he represents the Holy Grail of marketing, the Easter Bunny and his milieu do not serve as anything else but icing on a cake that does not exist. He reigns in chocolaty goodness over self-indulgence while sitting on a golden throne of greed. His history as the symbol of fertility has long given way to second-rate graphics illustrators and Beatrice Potter. In meaning, Santa far surpasses this ill-bred hare.

According to historians, the concept of an Easter Bunny originated in the Alsace part of upper Germany. The tradition of children making "nests" for the Spring Equinox (Easter) whereupon the next day they would find brightly colored eggs was brought over by German settlers to the Pennsylvania Dutch settlements and the nests became "baskets" over time. The parallels to Kris Kringle were not lost to the earliest of Madison Avenue habitues: jolly ole' elf and warm fuzzy bunny, both bear gifts to kids (although it may not be wise to ask where the eggs were previously). The retail season also needs a boost at that time, it being after Valentine's Day in that lull before Mother's Day. And the world loves pastels, so dry goods sales can get rid of those awful cottons nixed by current fashionistas.

So even with all the cardboard fakery isn't it fun to indulge in a little innocence? The operative word here is, I believe, indulge. Easter indulgence actually puts Christmas indulgence to shame: the gifts are mostly superfluous and there never seems to be enough sugar-coating. Once I tried to bring some actual creativity into our family's egg-coloring by purchasing large (very large) blown goose eggs and batiking them so that they could be displayed year round, maybe even on the Christmas tree. The result: some unusual eggs by disinterested artists who didn't want to see another batiked egg for a long time... and the Christmas tree never saw an egg.

"Alright, give us a break, it's just a stupid holiday." That's the point: holidays (as in Holy Days) are meant to commemorate, illuminate, and drench us with meanings we are too busy or too distracted to entertain. They exist to give us visions of our lives, magnify them, understand them. Thanksgiving gives us pause to think about our joys. Valentine's Day helps us to consider those around us. St. Patrick's Day instills ethnic pride whatever the background. Mother's and Father's Days bring us closer to parents. Fourth of July engenders not only patriotism, but pride in our national individuality. Memorial Day helps us remember and New Years' Day helps us forget. Labor Day signals the end of summer and the terror of another school year. And speaking of terrors, Halloween helps us laugh at them.

The Easter Bunny holiday not only detracts from the religious holiday, it sucks the meaning out of it like some candied black hole. The image of Christ on the cross being offered a colored egg by the Easter Bunny is funny and shocking at the same time (yes, there is a card for it) but commercialism will always strive for a new low with that fuzzy/furry/white/pink/yellow/lime-green rodent. Maybe the real meaning of Easter and its Bunny is to show us just how off-the-mark we can be with things like holidays.

Then again, maybe there is no meaning to the Easter Bunny because there never was a meaning intended in the first place.

You gonna eat those chocolate ears?

What Will Come (Again) From One Pastor's Insanity? Terry Jones' Plan For Good Friday And The Largest Mosque In America


Pastor Terry Jones has had the longest-running 15 minutes of fame in history, and he won't let up: his plans to protest in front of the country's largest mosque this Friday has re-ignited alarms throughout the country. And nowhere in the country is there more cause for alarm than Dearborn, MI:
DEARBORN, Mich., April 19 (UPI) -- Terry Jones, the Koran-burning Florida pastor, says Detroit-area police and prosecutors are trying to silence him by demanding a $100,000 bond.
Jones plans to visit Dearborn, Mich., which has one of the biggest Muslim populations in the country, on Good Friday, The Detroit News reported. Prosecutors filed a motion Friday requesting he put up a "peace bond" and saying he could cause a riot "complete with discharge of firearms."
The Dearborn police said he should put up $100,000 to cover the cost of overtime, Jones said. He called the move unconstitutional and said he does not plan to pay.
So it has come to this: Jones will have his day come hell or ...

The irony of Jones' latest attempt at publicity has not gone unnoticed simply because Jones intended it to be a rather twisted way of declaring Christianity to be superior to Islam: Good Friday is a day for remembering the ultimate sacrifice. Jones has been disillusioned into thinking that HE is making some kind of sacrifice: his taste of power, coupled with death threats made against him, have goaded him into a self-image as a savior of sorts. No matter that even the group that initially enabled him in his efforts pulled out of the event at the last minute: a group called the Order of the Dragon planned to protest at Dearborn's City Hall on Friday, but canceled after they met with city officials. The group is dedicated to protecting "our country from the rise of radical Islam." They withdrew their request to protest after being told that Dearborn did not in any way practice Sharia Law.

Jones certainly cannot take any comfort in the fact that his planned protest has actually brought religious leaders together:

Metro Detroit religious leaders plan prayer vigils Thursday and Friday to show solidarity against Jones. A prayer event is planned Thursday at the mosque, while another vigil is planned at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn on Friday before Jones' protest.
It is indeed rare when Christian communities come together to chastise one who is seemingly their own: The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit has collected almost 1000 signatures on a petition condemning Jones. The petition reads in part:
We, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith. Instead we call on people to carry out the best traditions of all religious faiths, embodied in the idea of doing to others as we would have them do to us.
Too Little Too Late?

The sentiments of the petition, although sincere, serve to point out the fact that religious groups rarely, if ever, police their own. In this case, it may have been because no one has come to think of Terry Jones as one of their own. The outcry by the rest of America last September came well after Jones and Fred Phelps had announced that they were burning Qurans. The meme of "he's not one of us" was such a poor slap on the wrist to Jones that he must have perceived - in his arrogant righteousness - that God was surely on his side. 

And he continues to think that way. Remember, Jones is a man who, with an honorary doctorate (from an unaccredited college) parlayed a stay in Germany into a cult which eventually kicked him out because of his un-Christian, dictatorial and arrogant ways, a man who "made himself the center of everything." By now, his self-image is virtually impregnable. 

It may seem disingenuous at this time to place responsibility on anyone else besides Jones. Or moot. But I really must point out that the Joneses and Phelpses of the country are home-grown by the very culture that allows its religious leaders to do whatever they want without sanction. Or, I should say, without REAL sanction. Any form of effective excommunication is considered a sin. 

Now, Jones has the nation once again trembling in fear as to what he will do, when he will do it and how he will do it. He evinced little remorse at the mayhem and deaths related to his last incident. His righteous arrogance has him entrenched and immutable. Jones has been entreated by world leaders before and brushed them aside. Jones has determined if and when people will be hurt and killed. 
"Nothing has changed. Nothing will change," Jones said. "We will definitely be there." 
So what do we do now? 

A "Demon-Buster" Who Thinks She's A Democrat: Kimberly Daniels Runs For Jacksonville Seat

Not satisfied with the Republican Party, it seems the Christian Right is trying to infiltrate the enemy!

Kimberly Daniels, the "Ghost Behind Pat Robertson's Rant About Demonic Halloween Candy" (OpEdNews, Oct. 31, 2009) is running for Jacksonville, FL City Council - AS A DEMOCRAT! This was reported by Wayne Besen (Truth Wins Out):
For the unacquainted, Daniels is a former drug dealer, prostitute and military veteran turned preacher who is now running for Jacksonville City Council as a Democrat. (Yeah, that’s not a typo – she plays on the Donkey team).
For all intents and purposes, however, Daniels looks more like a far right Republican ala Michele Bachmann:

From her campaign website
The people of Jacksonville need a fresh breath. They need to know who they are voting for. I am not going to play the political games of pretending to be someone or something else to get elected and then having to spend four years living a lie. 
Very interesting, indeed. Yes, lying is a sin, but so is the sin of omission: the website fluffs over Daniels' "ministry" (for the record: she did not receive a "Doctor of Divinity, her "Doctorate" was in "Christian Counseling" from an as-yet-unknown school) and avoids her anti-Semitic statements ("You can talk about the Holocaust, but Jews own everything.") and her statements about liberals:
Just as antichrist spirits rule in their arenas with programs such as the View and CNN News, we will rule in the dominion Christ has called us to reign in.People calls these news liberal"we call them antichrist.
It might behoove the Democratic Party to look into this, unless they need the votes so badly that they are willing to run a "demon-buster" for the City Council. Then there was, of course, her famous statement about demonic Halloween candy which Pat Robertson so dutifully recounted on the 700 Club: "Most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches." 

The most frightening thing about Daniels, however, is her militaristic, promotional rhetoric which was even pointed at President Obama immediately after his occupation of the Oval Office. She chides him about his scriptural reference concerning homosexuality:
He claims to be a Christian, but in his book The Audacity of Hope he calls the first chapter of Romans an "obscure" passage of Scripture. God's admonition about the sin of homosexuality is hardly obscure. It is very clear! 
So the question remains: how could someone like that run under the Democratic banner?

It's just possible that Democrats themselves don't know: go to Democratic candidate for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's campaign website. There is no mention of Kimberly Daniels. Then go to Duval County's Democratic website: same thing. Huh? Yet she has gone on record as a running Democratic candidate for Jacksonville City Council. A little digging in local print coverage of Daniels clearly points out her past and even some chicanery going on within her own "ministry.":
Daniels and her 400-member church are deeply intertwined, so much so that Spoken Word provides her with a 4,800-square-foot house where she lives free of property taxes. "We have a small church and most of my income goes to the church," she said.
Building up a public persona is a difficult thing to do: you have to make sure that ALL of your past statements must be clarified, and not swept under the rug. The video below, put together by Bruce Wilson for TWO, shows how Daniels is lionized by Rightwingers like Cindy Jacobs and "Bishop" Harry Jackson while at the same time, professes how she hates homosexuals, is thankful for slavery ("If it weren't for slavery, I'd be back in Africa somewhere worshippin' a tree!") and shows her anti-semitic bent (to an almost empty audience).

Oh, and one more thing: her church paid for her swimming pool. 

Sounds Republican to me!