Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Defense of Easter

Ok, I know I said that I would be MIA for a while, but I've seen and heard things pertaining to Easter over the past few days that were really hurtful to me. They mainly come from some Messianic acquaintances that I have, and the story goes something like this: Why do you celebrate Easter? Easter was made up by a man who hated Jews. Jesus was a Jew who celebrated Passover. If you celebrate Easter and not Passover you hate the Jews and you hate Jesus. That's an oversimplification, and not all people who hold to celebrating Passover over Easter would go nearly that far, but some do. So, I guess this is my response to those who wonder why most Christians celebrate Easter and not Passover.

I see and hear more and more about this, particularly around Christmas and Easter. Why do you celebrate those holidays and not the traditional Jewish feasts? Jesus celebrated Passover, are you better than Jesus? Why do you celebrate Easter and not Passover? Did you know that Christmas and Easter were pagan holidays? These questions, and this whole attitude really mystifies and saddens me, and I have very simple answers for all of these questions. My main response is this: Because I am not a Jew, and no, I don't think I'm better than them, or better than my savior.

I heard a messianic rabbi preach once, and he said something that really stuck with me. He was explaining how strange he finds it that the church considers itself to be the new Israel. It’s not. Not even metaphorically. To be considered a part of Israel one must establish a lineage not just from Abraham and Isaac, but also, and most importantly, from Jacob. It’s a very literal requirement and one that I, and most people I know do not meet. Now, I respect the Jews immensely. I know that they are God’s chosen people, and I believe that they were meant to lead the new Church (which obviously didn't happen since the church is now mostly Gentile), but all that being said, I’m still not a Jew.

Paul dealt a lot with this issue. How Jewish was the church meant to be? And I believe, from studying his writings, that we were given a lot of leeway in that regard. True Christianity is not instantiated in a particular culture, which is a good thing. Our faith is trans-cultural, and the worst mistake we can make is to try and tie it definitively to human practices. Now, I realize that celebrations like Passover and the other Jewish feasts came from God and not from man, but I believe that there is Biblical precedent for Gentile believers to have freedom, not only to not celebrate these feasts, but to create celebrations of their own. One example comes from Circumcision. The Jews were commanded to be circumcised, but when they began making that a requirement for conversion, Paul repudiated them, and even called them preachers of a false Gospel. This is a big deal. He’s clearly stating that true faith is not found in any practice, and he even encourages Greek believers to remain uncircumcised (all of this is extrapolated particularly from 1 Corinthians 7: 17-21, although there are many more instances of this opinion  even dating back to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15). Similarly, feast days and holidays are not required to be kept. Celebrations like that are for man. They help us to remember and celebrate the important things in our lives.

This brings me to my final point. Celebrations are both an outpouring and an expression of particular culture. The Jewish feasts are for the Jews. They hold special significance and meaning for this particular people that I could never begin to fully understand and participate in. Passover, for example, does contain many typological references to Christ and His ministry, but even if I were to intellectually comprehend this I would not be as fully able to appreciate it as a Jew would. My people weren't led out of captivity, my people aren't God’s chosen ones. My people were poor Mexican farmers and European peasants. But do you know what I can relate to, what I can comprehend on both a deeply intellectual, spiritual, and emotion level? The holiday of Easter. It is an expression of my culture, it is for people like me, one who was called out of a mass of a lost lonely people, who had no claim to salvation, but was offered Grace anyways. So, I fully support our Messianic brothers and sisters who celebrate Passover. I think they should, and would be wrong not to. But I also ask that they would express the same tolerance and understanding to the Gentile Church. It’s not that we think we’re better than Jesus, that we don’t want to celebrate the things he celebrated. It comes from a humble acknowledgement that we are not part of God’s chosen nation, and we do not want to trivialize their celebrations by participating in things that have no historical or cultural connection to us. That being said, we have right as human beings to celebrate and commemorate the saving work of Christ in a way that allows us to rejoice in the fact that we were ‘grafted on’, as it were, to the Olive Tree of Faith.

*Just a note to say that I'm not against Gentile Christians partaking in the Passover celebration, if they do it in good faith. This is more about why I celebrate Easter over Passover, because I personally have a tendency to break things I'm not familiar with into little intellectual puzzles, which would not be fair to the celebration itself. I also think most Christians would be the same way. They could understand it, but not appreciate it. Also, I added some Biblical references in, because those are a good thing to have in a post where you make a case for a certain Biblical interpretation right? Also... I added a picture, because pictures make everything more interesting. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just a Note

    To say that I will be leaving the blogging world for a period of about 6 weeks. I have to write eleven papers in the next six weeks, not little papers either, big long ones. In order to minimize my distractions and encourage timely craftsmanship, I am putting a parent block on my computer, and blocking all such distracting internet websites, such as facebook, pinterest, blogger, deviant art, etc. So, I bid you all a very fond farewell. I shall return as soon as I've survived the freaking hardest semester I've ever had in my life. (e.l.e.v.e.n. p.a.p.e.r.s.). I'll even have things to write about, and all summer to write about them!

So true!  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Can you Hear the People Sing?

    "Can you hear the people sing, singing the song of the French Enlightenment?" That's not exactly how it goes, but that's not really important. What's really important is that this is a song about the French Enlightenment (and so are several other songs throughout the play). 'Well, what's wrong with that?' you might ask. Well, nothing and everything. It is a play that has a great deal to do with the June Rebellion, so you would, of course expect such songs. However, the French Enlightenment in general was an incredibly problematic philosophical movement on nearly every level. It has very little to redeem it (although the good things it said were very important, just misunderstood and misapplied). Which is why I think it's kind of funny that this is one of everyone's favorite songs, when it represents such a horrible thought movement.

     Ok, ok, what was so horrible about the French Enlightenment then? Well... pretty much everything, actually. It started out well enough. The people of Paris (and France in general) are miserable. The aristocrats are just absolutely ridiculous in terms of their lavishness and licentiousness while everyone else is starving and dying. So, in response to this the Enlightenment does make sense. But let me back up, and do a little background work.The Enlightenment, the French Enlightenment in particular, is a philosophical movement that began in the seventeenth century, right after the Baroque and Rococo periods, if anyone wants to place it artistically. It stemmed/ was inspired by the writings of Rene Descartes (although I'm not nearly as sure as they were that he would have completely supported their undertaking). The French Enlightenment was basically an attempt to free the world from the trapping and superstitions of the previous age (which they regarded as the Medieval Era, lumping the Renaissance in with themselves, which was completely revisionist and not really accurate). They, then, wanted to start over and build a new world founded entirely on human reason. If your idea could be rationally supported then it was completely ok. This had several not so surprising results. Christianity, the faith that France was built on? Superstition! The government? Well, since we rejected Christianity we have no need to respect those in authority over us. Rebel! Everything, and I literally mean everything, that people wanted to keep they were now scrambling to find rationalistic reasons for. There was no room for emotion (the stoic philosophies made a huge comeback), there was no room for God, no room for humanity really. This is clearly an incredibly truncated and simplified version of Enlightenment philosophy and effects. Clearly it was much more complicated than this, but I already wrote a report on it, and I'm not doing it again.

   So anyways, yes. The Enlightenment was bad. By cutting all ties with both their historical and religious past the French people (because this became a people's philosophy) started to make some pretty terrible decisions. Things escalated quickly. At one point, and this is a true story to show you how much they elevated human reason during the Enlightenment, Notre Dame was taken over and where the altar was, they placed the goddess Reason who was personified by a whore. And basically all of this came to a horrific conclusion in the French Revolution. The Revolution was like the monster baby child of the Enlightenment, and so was the reign of terror that followed. Human beings can rationalize terrible things if they strip reason of its proper confines. Social Contract theory? Well, they tried that, and guess what it led to. Thank you Enlightenment!

Now anyways, this has become incredibly rambley  I didn't mean for this to be an incoherent history/philosophy lesson. I really just wanted to say that 'Can you Hear the People Sing' is a song about Enlightenment Philosophy, and that, just like the French Revolution, the June Rebellion was a terrible idea. We may admire those bight eyed idealists like Enjorlas, but they were incredibly dangerous people. Nobody really wanted a second Revolution, at least not most of the people who could remember the first one. And also, the Middle Ages were awesome, and not Dark at all. Who started calling them the Dark Ages? Enlightenment thinkers. Boom. I'm not very good at streaming my thoughts into a coherent structure. To be fair I wrote a twelve page paper today, so I'm not that coherent right now, but hey, this is one more thing to check off my Spring Break to-do list. And, for the record, I do like this song, and I love this story. Just so people know. I only hate the Enlightenment, but there are plenty of reasons to hate it.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Active Dinner: or just basically a good week

Every year for my sorority the actives get pledges (which I spoke about before). We get them a bunch of presents and love them and it's super fun. Then all of the pledges will put on a dinner for the active and give their 'bigs' a paddle so that we can beat them when they get out of line (lol, jk). This year our dinner's theme was Masquerade Ball. Above you see the mask that I made. I was going for a Robin theme (like Batman and Robin) so I used the design for Tim Drake's mask in Young Justice and fancified it a bit :) The dinner was good, my only complaint was that every sauce was spicy. I don't mind spicy things, but I was not expecting spicy barbecue sauce... that's all I'm saying. The pledges all did a fantastic job with limited funds, and the net was result was really fun!

Here is my beautiful little presenting me with my paddle!

Here is my intense excitement!

My little and me... let the mass picture tacking begin.

Hayleigh, Me, Lauren, and her little Cora :)

All the actives with their paddles. Let me tell you what. We were all opening our paddles and everyone was watching and all the actives were like.... 'well, this is embarrassing. I hope my big never looks at the paddle I made her again because we all sucked compared to this pledge class!'

Here's my paddle, proudly displayed on my wall. It was definitely one of the best. I was ecstatic. I think it's gorgeous :) 

Oh, and to top off a great couple of days my co-worker gave me this puppy on Wednesday. so yeah.... and I got books in the mail. That makes this essay writing weekend a bit better. If I can get through this week I can sleep in and read books over break! That's really all I had to say :/