Easter April 5, 2015

EasterEggsby Jerry Richardson3/27/15
As a kid growing up, I loved Easter.  I loved hunting and then peeling and eating Easter eggs.  There have been numerous grumps around the world that have complained that such innocent activity besmirches the real meaning of Easter.  Lighten-up grumps.  My parents spent plenty of time teaching me the real meaning of Easter.  Of course, many modern parents don’t do that, and the world is not a better place because of that ignorance.

I still remember one of my favorite Easters.  During one day of the school week, several of the elementary teachers took their classes, one of which I was in, to a pre-arranged semi-wooded area for an all-day (yes, all the school day) Easter-egg hunt, along with plenty of chase, tag, and rough-housing for the boys.  Can you even imagine that?  I suspect that you cannot.  What a row that would raise in today’s world.  NO!  Of course you can’t do anything like that in our multicultural society.

Our multicultural society has frowned upon much more than school sponsored Easter-egg hunts.  Even speaking the name of Jesus in a public setting is highly offensive to some people.

I realize there are many people who do not believe that Jesus was who he said he was: God incarnate.  I realize there are numerous people who do not like Jesus, whoever they believe he was.  But whoever or whatever you believe He was, He cannot logically be called just a “good man” or a “great moral teacher.”

That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse… Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. —C. S. Lewis

Yes, Easter is a wonderful time for Easter-baskets, Easter-eggs, and Easter-bunnies; but most of all, Easter is about Jesus.

Have a blessed Easter!

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APPENDIX: EASTER-DAY FACTS (or in Brad Nelson’s terminology: Esoterica)
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This year Easter falls on April 5, 2015.  Several billion Christians around the world will “celebrate” Easter.  But why do so many people use the term “Easter Celebration”?

Since Easter honors Jesus Christ, Why isn’t Easter the anniversary of the Resurrection?  Of course Easter is always on Sunday, but the actual date varies from year to year; so it cannot correctly be called an “anniversary.”

The exact date of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection has been a topic of much scholarly speculation for many years.  I tend to believe the timeline offered by Harold Hoehner in his book CHRONOLOGICAL ASPECT OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST. In his well-argued approach, Hoehner concludes that the Crucifixion occurred on Friday 3 April 33 and the Resurrection occurred on Sunday 5 April 33.

It is interesting that this year, 2015, Good Friday (April 3rd) and Easter (April 5th) fall on the same dates as they do on Hoehner’s estimated date of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. If Hoehner’ timeline is true, then this year is an “anniversary” for Jesus’ Crucifixion and Ressurection.

Since the date varies for the occurrence of Easter, when can it occur?  There are 35 possible Easter dates are of which occur in the months of March and April.  The earliest possible date for Easter-day is March 22th and the latest possible date is April 25th. These possible dates are due to the rules established by the Roman Catholic Church for the calculation of Easter.

The current Gregorian ecclesiastical rules that determine the date of Easter trace back to 325 CE at the First Council of Nicaea convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
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The Council decided to keep Easter on a Sunday, the same Sunday throughout the world. To fix incontrovertibly the date for Easter, and to make it determinable indefinitely in advance, the Council constructed special tables to compute the date.
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In 1582 Gregory XIII (Pope of the Roman Catholic Church) completed a reconstruction of the Julian calendar and produced new Easter tables.
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The usual statement, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical [church] rules. The full moon involved is not the astronomical Full Moon but an ecclesiastical moon (determined from tables) that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical Moon. The ecclesiastical [church] rules are:

  • Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox;
  • this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and
  • the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.”
    REFERENCE 

As peculiar as these rules seem to be, there were purposes behind them.  The original primary purpose of the early Christians, as eventually canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, was to fix the week-day of Easter to always be on a Sunday.  This was in opposition to another concurrent practice, of many early Christians, of celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ on the same month-date as the Jewish Passover Seder (which begins on the evening of 14th of Nisan) regardless of what week-day it fell on. Those Christians who practiced the celebration on this schedule were designated as Quartodecimans (from the Latin word quartadecima (14) taken from the Latin Vulgate Bible, Leviticus 23:5 ).

Note that though the sacrifice of the Passover lamb occurred on the afternoon Nisan 14, the ceremonial eating of the meal, or the “seder,” would begin later, just before sundown and continue throughout the night.
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And since the Jewish day begins after sundown (when three stars are visible in the night sky), the traditional Passover Seder would begin just before sundown on Nisan 14 but would continue into the new day of Nisan 15, which is also the start of the seven-day festival of chag ha-matzot, the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” (Lev. 23:6). —When Does Passover Begin

There are some obvious, but often little known, results of the Easter calculation rules; for one thing, the rules dictate what can be the earliest and latest possible dates for Easter Sunday.

The earliest date that Easter can occur is March 22th.  If a calculated full-moon happens to occur on March 21st (the ecclesiastically fixed vernal equinox), and if the next day (22nd) is Sunday, that day will be Easter.

The latest date that Easter can occur is April 25th.  If a calculated full-moon occurs on March 20th (1 day before the required March 21st) then we must wait 29.5 days (approximately one full lunation) for the next full moon.  This takes us to April 18th (March 20th plus 29.5 days = April 18th).  If the April 18th full moon happens to be on Sunday, then we must wait another 7 days for the Sunday after the full-moon which will be April 25th.

The church’s rules, stated in the referenced quote above, have some interesting consequences.

The first consequence is that the calculating rules preclude Easter from falling on the Gregorian date that coincides with 14 Nisan on the Jewish calendar; which is the beginning of the Jewish Passover Seder.  So if anyone says that Easter never falls on the Passover, they mean that the Gregorian date of Easter will never coincide with the Jewish date of 14 Nisan—Jewish Passover celebration lasts for 7 days (Nisan 15-21) in Israel.  Easter will and does coincide with the first full-day of Passover, 15 Nisan, although not very frequently.

In the calendar period from 1583-2015 there has been 8 times that the Gregorian date of Easter has coincided with the corresponding date of the first full-day of the Jewish Passover, 15 Nisan.  The last such occurrence was 19 April 1981.  The next occurrence will be 11 April 2123. (Note: The reason for using 1583 is that it was the first full-year on the Gregorian Calendar for countries who had converted from the older Julian calendar; Great Britain and the American Colonies did not convert until 1752 (first full-year 1753.)

The rule that produces perhaps the most surprising results for Easter dates is the first rule: “Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox.” This rule can result in the Gregorian date of Easter occurring before the corresponding date of Jewish Passover (14 Nisan).

The reason for this is that the vernal equinox does not always occur during the Jewish month of Nisan because of Jewish leap years.  For example in 2016, Easter will fall on March 27th and Passover Sedar will begin as always on the evening of Nisan 14th.  The actual vernal equinox will occur on March 20th (UT) Gregorian calendar, and on Adar II 10 on the Jewish Calendar; Nisan 14, 5776 coincides with April 22, 2016.  Hence, Easter will occur before Passover next year (2016).

In the calendar period from 1583-2015 there has been 62 times that the date of Easter Sunday has occurred before the corresponding date of the Jewish Passover.  The last such occurrence was Easter: 23 March 2008; Passover: 19 April 2008/14 Nisan 5768.  As already stated, the next occurrence will be Easter: 27 March 2016; Passover: 22 April 2016/14 Nisan 5776.

The reasons these numbers are of interest is that we know that the Resurrection of Jesus occurred, after the first day of Jewish Passover (Nisan 14) and on the first day of the week (Sunday) not on the same day or before the Passover.

Part of the reason for the specific Easter-calculation rules, developed under the auspices of the Catholic Church, was to preclude the possibility of Easter-day falling on Nisan 14th and to minimize Easter falling before Nisan 14th.  They did minimize the before-Passover occurrences, but they did not prevent them.

In the period 1583-5000 there are 91 dates where Easter-day falls on the same day as the first full-day of Jewish Passover (Nisan 15th ), and 946 dates where Easter-day falls on a date before Jewish Passover (before Nisan 14th).

Since there are 3418 years in the  period 1583-5000; that means that about 30 percent of Easter-day Dates fall on (Nisan 15th) or before (Nisan 14th) Jewish Passover, (946+91)/3418 ≈ .30 (30 Percent).

Frankly the coincidence of these dates does not bother me in the least, but I cannot help thinking how simple it would have been to set Easter-day as the first Sunday following the first full-day of Jewish Passover (Nisan 15). That would have easily achieved the objective of Easter-day falling after Jewish Passover.  But, at some point, early Christians wanted to completely disconnect the calculation of the date of Easter-day from the date of Jewish Passover.

© 2015, Jerry Richardson • (3371 views)

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37 Responses to Easter April 5, 2015

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve always thought that C.S. Lewis’ apologetic on this point was a little smug and flippant. It’s not a particularly convincing tactic to say that the only alternative to someone saying they are the Son of God is that, if not true, they must be insane. Perhaps other people said these things about him. Perhaps we are all sons of god in some sense. And in the whole catalogue of religious assertions throughout history, there have been plenty. Do we use this same metric then? They’re either true or a mark of insanity? Is there no room for just the blur of time past, myths, false assertions, misunderstandings, misquotes, manipulated texts, wishful thinking, or some other cause?

    To claim that one is the Son of God is no small assertion. And to simply say that large assertions are themselves a sign of their truth (for such an assertion is either true or a mark of insanity) is way too zealous for my taste. Maybe Lewis saw it that way, but an assertion of someone being the Son of God logically would require at least a little proof. The default does not lie with the assertion.

    Maybe that’s the way the universe works though. God has to sacrifice himself to provide humans a way out of their quagmire. (One wishes that Justice Roberts would have provided the same function in his ruling on the Constitutionality of Obamacare.) Still, it’s a bold assertion and skepticism is not just the domain of the irrevocably curmudgeonly.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    It’s interesting that the Church defines the spring equinox as a specific date. This would explain why the Orthodox churches (at least those that haven’t accepted the Gregorian calendar for official purposes).

    One interesting aspect of the dating of Easter and Christmas is that there was an early Christmas tradition that the various holy people (including Jesus) died exactly on the day of the year in which they had been conceived, which was presumed as exactly 9 months before they were born. Someone then computed that Jesus was crucified on March 25 (which would make the original Easter March 27), hence the December 25 date for Christmas.

  3. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    To claim that one is the Son of God is no small assertion.—Brad Nelson

    I think that is a major part of Lewis’ argument. His argument comes from his book, Mere Christianity , and of course it’s taken by many people, including you, to be a false dilemma—in fact it is known as Lewis’s trilemma:

    Jesus is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic.

    C.S. Lewis was a brilliant scholar and is renown for his literature scholarship, for his authorship, and for his logical argumentation. I’m certainly not trying to defend C.S. Lewis; he doesn’t need my puny defense.

    I feel sure that Lewis knew quite well what logical attacks, such as yours, would be raised against his statement; he was too good a logician not to. However, I think his goals were quite understandable. I know he grew tired of too many people trying to paint Jesus as just another religious figure. He wanted to point-out just how unusual the claims of Jesus were (and are). Lewis’ primary goal was to argue against the liberal theological view of Jesus just being a “great human teacher.”

    Remember that this was a man who was an atheist, and a very articulate atheist, before he became a very committed Christian and Christian apologist. With his rather confrontational approach, Lewis was giving argumentation to the most divisive point of Christianity: Its exclusiveness. Jesus himself laid the foundation for it when he said:

    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    —John 14:6 KJV

    From the time of Jesus, this was a foundational belief of Christians; until of course in later years when numerous liberal theologians begin the “many paths to God” arguments.

    This exclusive belief about the nature of Jesus was why the Christians were not accepted by the early Roman Empire; and why they were fed to lions, burned on stakes and killed by other hideous methods; they refused to worship Roman gods such as the emperor himself.

    For these refusals they were actually treated as atheists by the Roman state—the venom hurled against them then is no different in kind than the venom hurled against modern Christians who refuse to accept many of the current ungodly, politically-correct beliefs.

    I’m not criticizing you, Brad, for finding C.S. Lewis’ and Jesus’ opinions difficult; I’d be astounded if you didn’t. But, probably a few billion Christians have confronted the same difficulty in their own mind and have come to the same conclusion that Lewis did. Does that make you wrong? No. But perhaps it should give you pause to reflect on why so many have held such beliefs in the face of mistreatment and death.

    I would point-out that if Christians are misdirected in their Christian beliefs, it is not a case of Willful Blindness; and this is partially due to confrontational apologetics such as that of C.S. Lewis who dramatically pointed-out the difficulty and the seriousness of the core Christian belief: Jesus is God incarnate. It is not a theoretical game with Christians; and we can’t simply turn it on and off.

    I am reminded very much of a quote attributed to Niels Bohr (one of the fathers of quantum theory): “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

    In that vein I would paraphrase: “Anyone who is not shocked by real Christianity has not understood it.”

    Numerous aspects concerning Jesus are permanently shocking:

    Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would he nothing very odd about it.

    But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that. you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

    One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic.

    We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money?

    Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences.

    This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

    Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

    Deciding About Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord

    C.S. Lewis’ statement was rhetorical; but it was rhetoric with a purpose. The purpose, in my mind, was not to try to force agreement with a rather obviously weak logical syllogism; the purpose was to dramatically highlight the real difficulty of the belief that was being examined. Christians do not turn their back on the difficulty of reality; and make no mistake; C.S. Lewis did not sanction milk-toast Christianity.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Jerry, I think it’s one thing to believe in Jesus as the Redeemer. I think it’s quite another to try to prove it with a syllogism of sorts. Given that all this happened 2000 years ago, and especially because it deals with the matter of religion wherein all kinds of things easily get sucked in, I find it difficult to see Lewis’ argument as air-tight. Jesus needn’t have been lying. Maybe words were put into this mouth by later writers.

      And rather than liar or lunatic, it is possible for people to be honestly mistaken. I’ve always found Lewis’ concoction to be a bit disingenuous. And, yes, I’ve read Mere Christianity.

      And Lewis’ conversion from atheist to theist doesn’t give him any special knowledge, per se, although it could give him a much wider perspective on the whole matter, which I think he obviously did have. But arguing toward God via authority isn’t going to get anyone there.

      People talk of making a “leap of faith” and yet get a little bothered if the particulars of their reasoning don’t take one concretely from point A to point B.

      The claims of Christianity are extraordinary. This ultimately is a faith issue unless and until more concrete evidence arises. At the end of it, where else are ya gonna go? So I don’t heckle the faithful just for being faithful. There really is no other game in town unless one desires the 72 virgins.

      My life, being unique as everyone else’s is, has led me to value perhaps more concrete types of evidence. And I’ll stand by that. It suits me. It’s not hard-nosed, per se. But I think what we can say with reasonable certainty about these kinds of issues are, at best, very general…suggestive of larger realities, but not painting in the lines of those realities.

      So religion, as a practice, doesn’t do much for me. If it works for you and others, more power to you. But of the hundreds of really smart things C.S. Lewis has said, I don’t count this amongst them.

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Brad,

        As always, I respect you and your opinions even when we disagree. And beyond that, thank you again, very much, for freely allowing a discussion like this on your website. Not everyone would do that, and this demonstrates the caliber of person that you are.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          You bet, Jerry. And right back at ya.

          Can one think of any topic more important than this one? Bugs the hell out of me when I see the sissy humanists, atheists, and others run for cover, scared to death to talk about anything “spooky.” They are impoverishing themselves when they do so.

      • ronlsb says:

        “The claims of Christianity are extraordinary.”

        Indeed they are, Brad. And what better time to look at the most extraordinary of them all–the resurrection. The entire religion stands or falls on this extraordinary claim. As the Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” Much has been written about the reality of the resurrection and the facts (not conjecture) that bear witness to it. Anyone who is curious can examine them and if he is intellectually honest must conclude them to be true. The stumbling block for most is there rejection of the supernatural. Sadly, even they will one day see their error as the Scripture says that when this Jesus returns, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord”. Lee Strobel, a legal editor for the Chicago Tribune, wrote an exceptional book on this whole topic, called “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.” I would commend it to anyone who would like to examine the evidence from a legal perspective.

        Enjoy the website a great deal by the way!

        • Jerry Richardson says:

          Ronlsb,

          “The claims of Christianity are extraordinary.”

          Indeed they are, Brad. And what better time to look at the most extraordinary of them all–the resurrection. The entire religion stands or falls on this extraordinary claim. As the Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
          —Ronlsb

          I think that Easter (Resurrection Day as per Rosalys) is perhaps the most appropriate time to examine “the extraordinary claim” upon which the “entire religion stands or falls.”

          The Apostle Paul does not flinch from underscoring the centrality of this claim. To paraphrase him he says that if Jesus was not resurrected then we can scrap the entire Christian notion: “Your faith is worthless.” Here are Paul’s own words:

          For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
          —-
          Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
          —1 Corinthians 15:3-8;12-17 KJV

          I think Christianity is done a disservice when well-meaning but half-hearted, advocates of Christianity attempt to soft-peddle or avoid the factual-occurrence of the Resurrection that stands, mandatorily, at the heart of the Christian faith.

          What is not understood about this, apparently by some Christians, is that we don’t concoct a “belief” that Jesus was resurrected. Christians accept the Resurrection as a historical eye-witnessed event—a fact—based upon the same sort of evidence that is presented in a court of law: Creditable eye-witness accounts plus reasonable circumstantial evidence.

          Serveral writers have done an excellent job discussing this topic. The book mentioned above by Ronlsb, Lee Strobel’s, is one of those books:

          A Case For Christ

          Truthful Christians are perfectly willing to state, along with Paul the Apostle, that without the fact of the resurrection, we have nothing to base Christianity upon.

          Our Christian “faith” is not based upon some ethereal-conjecture or upon some “belief-absent-of-fact” event; our “faith” is simply our confidence in the power of the one who was and is resurrected; and our “religion”—which is not a very good term for it —is our personal trust and confidence in Him and His righteousness and power; not in our own.

          Although Brad Nelson does not agree with our (mine and your) viewpoint on Christianity—and he is open and honest about that, which I respect—I think he made a very apt statement concerning those who default on the tough issues concerning faith; although we would probably wish to substitute the term “spiritual” for his term “spooky.”

          Can one think of any topic more important than this one? Bugs the hell out of me when I see the sissy humanists, atheists, and others run for cover, scared to death to talk about anything “spooky.” They are impoverishing themselves when they do so.
          —Brad Nelson

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Much has been written about the reality of the resurrection and the facts (not conjecture) that bear witness to it. Anyone who is curious can examine them and if he is intellectually honest must conclude them to be true. The stumbling block for most is there rejection of the supernatural.

          First off, I’m not here to rain on anyone’s Easter Parade. That’s not my function. I guess we could have a designated Dawkinsian atheist on salary for just that. But we don’t. My objections are my own.

          Ron, I don’t reject the Resurrection because it is supernatural. Not being a materialist or reductionist, I realize that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. But not all things are surely true. And not all things are surely true because they are widely believed. And not all things are true because they have been written about by many.

          The atheistic crowd would dismiss the idea of God as “believing in one less god than you do.” That’s all well and good if we were talking about Zeus or any of the gods in nature, not one who created nature. And that would be all well and good if the atheistic crowd didn’t then jump to absurdities such as the multiverse (wherein matter has all the supernatural powers of a god) in order to avoid a Prime Creator.

          So, as you know, my thoughts and arguments (I hope) are not grounded in the equivalent of a political metaphysics of no more depth than one could expect to find in a box of Cracker Jacks. But as Dawkins and his ilk have found, it pays good money.

          But because one side is stupendously wrong does not mean that any old theistic metaphysics is automatically correct just because someone says so. I like what Nancy Pearcey has to say in the opening of Finding Truth:

          For we must also say that a confirmed faith, or better, a well-grounded trust, is well worth embracing by the whole person. In fact, the word “trust,” rather than the now-privatized words “faith” or “belief,” better captures the understanding of commitment set forth in the Bible. The New Testament Greek word often translated as “believe” is more accurately rendered as “trust” (from the word pistis, “trust” or “believe,” rooted in the word peitho, “I persuade”). The biblical attitude is one of persuasion, a will to verify and know what is true and to respond accordingly.

          And in the opening to the free part of the Kindle sample, she stresses the idea of idols:

          In this book you will be equipped to critically examine secularism and other idols of our day as they are advanced in the garb of politics, science, entertainment, or religion.

          And.

          Materialists thereby deny the reality of mind (while they use their minds to advance materialism), determinists deny the reality of human choice (while they choose determinism), and relativists deny the fact of right and wrong (while they judge you if you disagree).

          These unfortunate theories do more harm than good. They undercut mind and reasoning, choice and freedom, truth and moral ideals. Inevitably, then, people who place their trust in such solutions begin to order their lives in in ways that are less than humane. Likewise, cultures in the grip of inadequate worldviews begin to actualize societies that are less than humane. Ideologues may advance their idols under politically correct banners of tolerance, diversity, and fairness, but the actual impact is regress, not progress, fragmentation, not wholeness. People are crushed. The human being necessarily revolts against gods that fail.

          This quote is particularly terrific:

          An idol is anything we want more than God, anything we rely on more than God, anything we look to for greater fulfillment than God. Idolatry is thus the hidden sin driving all other sins.

          For example, why do we lie? Because we fear the disapproval of people more than we want the approval of God. Or because we value our reputation more than we value our relationship with God. Or we are trying to manipulate someone into giving us something we think we need more than we need God . The more visible sin (lying) is driven by an invisible turn of our hearts toward something other than God as the ultimate source of security and happiness.

          I’ll have to keep that last one in mind when we come to writing about the Second Commandment. Here’s more about idols:

          In the New Testament, Paul treats idolatry with the same penetrating psychological insight. Writing to members of the church in Ephesus, he urges them not to be sexually immoral, impure, or covetous— then adds what may seem a surprising twist: For that “person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world” (Eph. 5: 5 NLT). The hidden sin beneath the others is the tendency to make an idol of “the things of this sworld” (Eph. 5: 5 NLT). We sin because we want something in the created world more than we want the Creator.

          With all due respect to everyone here, or who will be here in the future, that’s a very powerful statement. That’s going all-in on the idea of a Creator and the Creator’s relevance to one’s life. In some respects, even craving for Redemption seems a bit like idol worshipping to me. “What’s in it for me?” instead of just picking up one’s cross and bearing it.

          Of course, that’s an unreasonably difficult standard. Here’s another good quote from the book about idols:

          We tend to equate idols with things that are forbidden or intrinsically evil. But things that are intrinsically good can also become idols— if we allow them to take over any of God’s functions in our lives. “The trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol,” writes Martin Luther. “That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God.”

          If God used the method of Jesus dying on the cross to Redeem mankind, then fine. Could be. Who really knows for sure? It’s a trust issue (as the author said) probably more than anything else. Or, as a friend of mine would often say (citing libtard Hans Kung…not to be confused with Mr. Kung): It’s about having a “fundamental trust in uncertain reality.”

          What does all this mean? Why did I write what and wrote above and include the quotes that I did? What synthesis am I trying to achieve? Well, for me much of religious observance is idolatry of a kind. What’s in it for me? Eternal life? Forgiveness? Heaven? And on and on. Would the idea of Jesus matter if these things were not in the periphery? Everyone can alway say, “No, that doesn’t apply to me.” But to actually pick up that cross, in my opinion, is much more than about citing the Bible.

          I’m not saying I’m capable of picking up that cross. It scares the hell out of me. But then I don’t tend to do things in half measures. So for me there’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo surrounding religion. It will never go away. Perhaps it should never go away. But if, as they say, there is a veil hiding the deeper aspects of reality, I think sometimes we contribute to adding to the opacity of the veil.

          I could say, “Yeah, I believe in Jesus as my Redeemer” but I wouldn’t believe it. And because I do think there is a Creator of some type, I would not presume I could pass a lie past that Creator any more than I could with Lt. Columbo.

          So we’re talking potentially about the most extraordinarily things in the world. And some speak of them with a certainty that I’m not at all comfortable with. And I don’t think it’s wrong, at least in my case, to be uncomfortable with that kind of certainty. I think for, lack of better words, there is a fuzzy realism that is ontologically richer than our more concrete mythologies and religious ideas. For better or for worse, I’m more attuned to the fuzzy realism. And I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.

          • Jerry Richardson says:

            Brad,

            If God used the method of Jesus dying on the cross to Redeem mankind, then fine. Could be. Who really knows for sure? It’s a trust issue (as the author said) probably more than anything else. Or, as a friend of mine would often say (citing libtard Hans Kung…not to be confused with Mr. Kung): It’s about having a “fundamental trust in uncertain reality.”
            —Brad Nelson

            Brad, you have quoted from one of my favorite theologians. But as you can see in the quote below written by her, the Christian faith is not just about a “trust” issue; and it certainly isn’t about “…trust in uncertain reality.”

            Yes, trust is necessary, but who a person places their trust in is the most essential. Trusting in someone or something false will get you nowhere; so the truth of who and what you trust in is essential in the Christian faith.

            Nancy Pearcey obviously believes strongly in the Christian truth of the New Testament as you can tell from the quote below. I have highlighted some of the more pertinent passages where Pearcey deals with the importance of truth in our faith.

            The secular view of values is common among adults as well as teenagers. A neighbor I’ll call Vickie is active in her church and teaches Sunday school. Yet she has been taken in by the same subjectivism. In a conversation I once happened to mention a mutual friend who was outspoken in expressing secular views. Surprisingly, Vickie’s response was, “Whatever works for you.” She refused to assert that her own commitment to Christianity was rooted in truth. It worked for her. It might not work for others.

            Vickie affirmed the major biblical doctrines: the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection, and so on. But she did not recognize that in addition to individual truths, the Bible also teaches a view of the nature of truth. Because all things were created by a single divine mind, all truth forms a single, coherent, mutually consistent system. Truth is unified and universal. In New Testament times, the Greeks had a term for the underlying principle that unifies the world into an orderly cosmos, as opposed to randomness and chaos. They called it the Logos. The Stoic philosophers conceived it as a pantheistic mind pervading the universe. But the apostle John applied the term to Christ. “In the beginning was the Word”—Logos (John 1:1). Every Greek who heard John’s gospel understood that he was claiming that Christ himself is the source of the order and coherence of the universe. As Paul put it, “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Creation has a rational, intelligible order that reflects God’s creative plan.

            From the beginning, however, this New Testament concept of truth came under fire. The Roman Empire did not regard religion as the search for truth about reality. That was the province of philosophers, not priests. The Romans defined religion solely in terms of ritual, ceremony, and cult practices. The empire was perfectly willing to accept Christianity if it would take its place as just another set of religious practices.

            What the empire would not accept, says Catholic theologian Lorenzo Albacete, was Christianity “as a source of truth about this world.”

            How did the early church respond? It resolutely refused to reduce Christianity to Rome’s relativistic definition of religion. As Albacete writes, Christianity “would not accept a place with the religions of the empire” as merely another set of rituals and practices. It “saw itself as a philosophy, as a path to knowledge about reality, and not primarily as a source of spiritual or ethical inspiration.”

            The message of Christ’s resurrection—in a physical body, in historical time—did not allow for any dualism that shoved religion off into a separate sphere of life concerned only with spiritual rules and rituals. The early church insisted that biblical truth is a comprehensive unity, encompassing the realms of both priest and philosopher. Truth is a unified whole. Today Christians have largely lost that conviction. When they read verses like “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10), they interpret it to mean only spiritual wisdom. When they read that Christ is the one “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), they limit the term to spiritual knowledge. Yet these verses do not restrict their range.

            True wisdom consists in seeing every field of knowledge through the lens of God’s truth—government, economics, science, business, and the arts. When Christians speak of a worldview, they are simply using modern terminology to restate the Bible’s comprehensive claim.

            —Pearcey, Nancy (2010-09-01). Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning (p. 25-26). Kindle Edition.

            So we’re talking potentially about the most extraordinarily things in the world. And some speak of them with a certainty that I’m not at all comfortable with. And I don’t think it’s wrong, at least in my case, to be uncomfortable with that kind of certainty.
            —Brad Nelson

            No Christian, certainly not me, would encourage you to simply attempt to override or throw you doubts aside. I think honest doubts are healthy; I believe they indicate that we are sincere seekers of truth. My God is a God of truth. God does not punish doubt.

            One of my favorite characters in the New Testament is the disciple Thomas—and it is because I see in him a reflection of myself and quite possibly you. Here is the story of his famous episode of honest doubt and how Jesus dealt with that:

            But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord.

            But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

            And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

            Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

            And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

            Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

            —John 20:24-29 KJV

            I believe that if anyone with honest doubts seeks the truth about Jesus, they will find it.

  4. Jerry Richardson says:

    Timothy,

    You bring up interesting points. Thanks.

    It’s interesting that the Church defines the spring equinox as a specific date. This would explain why the Orthodox churches (at least those that haven’t accepted the Gregorian calendar for official purposes).
    —Timothy Lane

    The primary reason for specifically fixing the date of spring equinox was for standardization across the Christian congregations of the world. If scattered congregations were doing their own determination of spring equinox, different answers and different Easter dates where sure to result. And, as a matter of fact, the fixed date of March 21st is not a bad approximation.

    For instance: From 2015-2999 the equinox (UT) occurs on March 19th 100 times; occurs on March 20th 709 times; and occurs on March 21th 176 times. We could conclude that March 20th might have been the best approximation, but March 21th isn’t bad.

    Eastern Christianity (as opposed to Western) bases its Easter calculation on the Julian calendar which of course causes Easter to fall on different days than Western Easter. In addition, the Easter Church sets the date of Easter according to the ”astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem.” Confusion abounds between the two systems.

    One interesting aspect of the dating…
    —Timothy Lane

    Yes, it is well recognized that even the standard BC and AD division which is based on the assumed date of Jesus’ birth is incorrect.

    …later research indicated that the latest year for Herod’s death was 750 A.U.C. and Christ’s birth, according to Matthew, occurred before Herod’s death.1 Hence, today it is generally recognized that the birth of Christ did not occur in A.D. 1 but some time before that.
    —-
    According to Josephus, an eclipse of the moon occurred shortly before Herod’s death. It is the only eclipse ever mentioned by Josephus and this occurred on March 12/13, 4 B.C.
    —-
    Therefore, for these reasons, Christ could not have been born later than March/April of 4 B.C.

    —Hoehner, Harold W. (2010-06-29). Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Kindle Locations 51-74). Kindle Edition.

  5. GHG says:

    There is no doubt that Jesus claimed that He was the Son of God – not merely a son of God, but The Son of God. The Hebrew officials understood quite clearly what Jesus was saying when he proclaimed to them in John Chapter 8, verses 58 and 59:

    “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

    So either He was/is the Son of God, or he was a liar or he was crazy. It seems those are the only three choices.

    • Jerry Richardson says:

      GHG,

      So either He was/is the Son of God, or he was a liar or he was crazy. It seems those are the only three choices.—GHG

      That’s certainly the way C.S. Lewis viewed it. Pretty straight forward.

    • Rosalys says:

      Let’s say I tell everyone that I am Rosalys Smith. Now that may in fact be the name I was given by my parents at birth (it isn’t) or a name I have adopted for other purposes such as online identity, a character I play in a game, or perhaps if I decide someday to write books it would serve as a pen name. In that case I am indeed Rosalys Smith and I am telling the truth. If this is in fact a name which I have taken from someone else (probably along with their birthdate, SS#, and address) and use it for nefarious purposes, then I would be a thief, a liar, and a willful practitioner of evil. Let’s suppose that for argument’s sake that there is a very beautiful, rich, and famous actress named (or stage named) Rosalys Smith. I am an ugly, poor nobody, who, not being able to bear my own pitiable existence, dwells within a fantasy world of my own making. I have removed all the mirrors in my house and have convinced myself that I am really the glamorous Rosalys Smith. I think that moon bat crazy would be a fair diagnosis.

      So there you have it. Either I am Rosalys Smith, or I am a liar, or I am a lunatic. Why could not the same be said of One calling Himself the Son of God?

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Rosalys,

        So there you have it. Either I am Rosalys Smith, or I am a liar, or I am a lunatic. Why could not the same be said of One calling Himself the Son of God?
        —Rosalys

        I think that’s a pretty-good summary of the way C.S. Lewis viewed it.

  6. Jerry Richardson says:

    As I have already posted elsewhere there will be a total lunar eclipse on April 4, 2015; the day before Easter. This eclipse is one of the so-called four blood moons.

    The eclipse will be visible from many parts of the USA.

    Here’s a quick thumb-nail for visibility from Houston, TX:

    Global Type: Total Lunar Eclipse
    Houston: Partial Lunar Eclipse

    Begins: Sat, Apr 4, 2015 at 4:01 AM
    Maximum: Sat, Apr 4, 2015 at 7:00 AM
    Ends: Sat, Apr 4, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Duration: 5 hours, 58 minutes

    The total phase of this lunar eclipse is not visible in Houston, but it can be observed there as a partial lunar eclipse. The Earth’s shadow covers a large portion of the Moon, so this is still a nice sight. Check the weather for Houston.

    You can get the eclipse details, including an animation for your location at:

    Eclipses…in USA

  7. Jerry Richardson says:

    Here’s a page that has some Easter messages that you might like to send to some of your friends. My favorite among them is number 15:

    It doesn’t matter whether the glass is half full (or) half empty, But the tomb is empty. He is risen, Happy Easter.

    Easter Messages

  8. Rosalys says:

    I always thought that Easter (I do prefer Resurrection Sunday since Easter comes from “Ishtar,” a Babylonian pagan fertility goddess and has nothing to do with the Day we celebrate) should occur around the time of Passover because Passover was both picture and prophesy of the Ultimate Passover Lamb. It was neither mistake nor coincidence that Christ was crucified on that particular date! But it is important also that the Day be celebrated on a Sunday because He arose on a Sunday and that is why Sunday is also called the Lord’s Day. There is a sense in which we Christians celebrate “Easter” every single week on Sunday.

    The “leap of faith” is not the same as leaping into the darkness hoping that God will be there to catch you. Faith is simply believing God.

  9. Jerry Richardson says:

    Rosalys,

    The “leap of faith” is not the same as leaping into the darkness hoping that God will be there to catch you. Faith is simply believing God.—Rosalys

    Bless you for this wonderful statement!

    The confusion concerning the meaning of the term “leap of faith” got started when the Danish Christian Existentialist Søren Kierkegaard coined the term in his writings. It has been a long-term irritation of mine that so many people want to make the term “leap of faith” synonymous with “blind faith.

    The notion of a leap signifies the necessity for a personal commitment in the matter of our faith in God. It has nothing to do with “blind faith.” Your statement puts it correctly. Thanks!

  10. Jerry Richardson says:

    This coming Sunday (March 29, 2015) is known as Palm Sunday. It is the Sunday that Jesus made a public entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (a symbol of humbleness not of conquest). The people scattered palm branches in his paths and they were shouting “Hosanna!” Possibly some of the same people who would soon be screaming “Crucify Him!”

    There are things that annoy us, and there are things that make us angry. There is even a place for righteous anger. But what we don’t want is sinful anger. The Bible tells us, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 NIV).

    It may surprise you to know that even Jesus was angry (but he never sinned). The Bible gives us a rare glimpse into the very human emotion of Jesus as he made his way into Jerusalem for the last time, on a Sunday. It was the final week in the earthly life and ministry of Christ. As the crowd laid down palm branches before him, there was a sense of expectancy that something big was about to happen.

    The perception was that Jesus was about to take control. The people thought Jesus was about to overthrow the Romans, who were occupying the land of Israel, and that he would be their king, their Messiah. They didn’t understand the scriptural teaching about the role of the Messiah. They failed to see that the Messiah would first suffer before he would reign. Before the throne there would be the cross. And the same ones who were crying “Hosanna!” on Sunday would be crying “Crucify Him!” on Friday. He was king, but only for a day.

    King For a Day

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I can remember once hearing a lecture (I think it was at a Boy Scouts meeting) on Holy Week which detailed the events of every day. Note that on one of the days, Jesus did show anger by cursing a barren fig tree. On another occasion, of course, occurred his attack on the money-changers in the temple, another example of righteous rage.

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Timothy,

        Note that on one of the days, Jesus did show anger by cursing a barren fig tree. On another occasion, of course, occurred his attack on the money-changers in the temple, another example of righteous rage. —Timothy Lane

        I haven’t thought about juxtaposing those two events as examples of Jesus’ non-sinful anger. Good thought.

        I have read a commenter or two who suggested that Jesus was being peevish, because he was hungry for figs, when he cursed the barren fig-tree.

        I don’t think for a minute that was what was happening; Jesus was always the master teacher, and I believe he was teaching a symbolic lesson to his disciples; and to us, that non-productivity especially in the spiritual realm is not pleasing to God.

        Pretty obvious what Jesus was doing when he ran-out the money-changers; He told us: Some things are sacred and are to be treated as sacred.

        A more difficult verse that I think impinges upon the same subject is:

        Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
        —Matthew 7:6 KJV

  11. Jerry Richardson says:

    Rosalys,

    Passover was both picture and prophesy of the Ultimate Passover Lamb. It was neither mistake nor coincidence that Christ was crucified on that particular date!
    —Rosalys

    The Apostle Paul certainly believed that:

    Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
    —1 Corinthians 5:7 KJV

    Many Christians, including myself, believe that Jesus was crucified on the evening of 14 Nisan (when many of the Hebrews would be killing their paschal lamb)—hence Paul’s reference to Christ as “our Passover”; furthermore the day was Friday (which we now call “good” Friday).

    This year, Friday 14 Nisan 5775 (Jewish calendar) coincides with Friday 3 April 2015 (Gregorian Calendar).

  12. Jerry Richardson says:

    Rosalys,

    I always thought that Easter (I do prefer Resurrection Sunday since Easter comes from “Ishtar,” a Babylonian pagan fertility goddess and has nothing to do with the Day we celebrate)…
    —Rosalys

    I have no criticism of your preference. My pastor and many other pastors I have known prefer and use the term Resurrection Sunday. There is no question that is what the day is intended to commemorate and celebrate. No Bible-believing Christian would dispute that. On the other hand, the use of the term “Easter” as a label for the day does not offend me; and I think it is useful because most of the civilized world, including non-believers, understand how the name is used by Christians; and they might not readily know what you are talking about if you say “Resurrection Day.” I have pretty-much the same view concerning the names of our week days.

    All of the English names for week-days come from pagan-gods and mythological figures. Even our day of worship, Sunday (in English) had a very pagan origin:

    “Sunday: …English, like most of the Germanic languages, preserves the original pagan/sun associations of the day. Many other European languages, including all of the Romance languages, have changed its name to the equivalent of “the Lord’s day” (based on Ecclesiastical Latin dies Dominica).”

    For example, the Spanish word for Sunday is domingo. Which of course is derived from the Latin for “the Lord’s day.”

    I would never minimize the importance of the etymology (history and source) of words; however, I think current-meaning is always more important. In other words I believe that semantics trumps etymology. 🙂

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The French for Sunday is Dimanche, which is very much degenerated from the original Latin to the point that it’s no longer possible to figure out the origin. (By contrast, Spanish still uses Domingo as a religious term, as in Santo Domingo.)

    • Rosalys says:

      I am not offended by the use of the name Easter, because, as you say, that is what the Western world calls it and understands it to mean. I don’t usually say, “Happy Resurrection Day!” to people because again, as you say, they won’t know what I’m talking about. I may on occasion use Resurrection Day if I’ve the time or the inclination to explain it. It is a preference and I wouldn’t mind it replacing Easter among the general population, but if it ever happens it’s probably a long ways off. Another possibility, which considering the way things are going is far more likely, is that we will be forced to use Resurrection Day to distinguish it from the Easter that an increasingly pagan society will have fought to reclaim.

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Rosalys,

        I am not offended by the use of the name Easter, because, as you say, that is what the Western world calls it and understands it to mean.—Rosalys

        No, I didn’t get the impression from what you wrote that you were. I wanted to make sure that no one thought that I was offended and also I wanted to hopefully convey that I would not necessarily stump for the term ‘Easter’ if we were starting the naming of the day from scratch. I personally like some term akin to Resurrection Day or Lord’s Day.

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Rosalys,

        Another possibility, which considering the way things are going is far more likely, is that we will be forced to use Resurrection Day to distinguish it from the Easter that an increasingly pagan society will have fought to reclaim.—Rosalys

        Unfortunately that possibility cannot be ruled out.

  13. Jerry Richardson says:

    What are the most elaborate and expensive Easter eggs that you can find?

    Answer: The famous Fabergé eggs.

    You have seen these eggs in movies, such as Octopussy and Ocean’s Twelve, but what is the historical story behind such opulence?

    FOR RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, no date in the religious calendar was more important than Easter day. The long fast of Lent would have been strictly observed—no meat, milk, butter, or eggs for more than seven weeks—until the solemn celebrations of Holy Week built steadily to their joyful climax at a midnight service finishing early on Easter morning.

    Throughout the day itself, friends and family greeted each other with the traditional three kisses, and responded to the jubilant “Christ is risen!” with a reply of equal certainty: “He is risen indeed!” And then, in a ritual whose symbolism stretches back to pagan spring festivals, they would exchange eggs.

    So Czar Alexander III was simply following tradition when, in 1885, he gave his beloved czarina, the popular Marie Fedorovna, an apparently unexciting white enameled egg. About two and a half inches high, it had the size and appearance of a large duck egg, but with a gold band around its middle.

    Only when the empress opened the czar’s present did it reveal its true nature: like an elaborate matryoshka doll it contained a perfect yolk, made of gold; within that was a golden hen, sitting on a nest of golden straw; and inside the hen was a diamond miniature of the imperial crown, concealing a tiny ruby pendant.

    Every detail was exquisitely rendered—the craftsmanship unparalleled, the creativity inspired. It was the first egg made by Carl Fabergé for the Russian court.

    Faber, Toby (2008-09-27). Faberge’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire (Kindle Locations 123-135). Kindle Edition.

    As might be expected you can buy your own replica of a Fabergé egg from Amazon.

  14. Jerry Richardson says:

    What are the most elaborate and expensive Easter eggs that you can find?

    Answer: The famous Fabergé eggs.

    The Fabergé egg that fascinates me the most is the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg.

    …1900 marked an appropriate year for Nicholas to give his wife an Easter present that was both a piece of art and a celebration of Russia’s growing industrial power: the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg.

    The greatest engineering project that the country had yet undertaken, financed largely with French loans, the Trans-Siberian Railway both symbolized Russia’s economic development and had done much to kick-start it.
    —-
    The project…had been the brainchild of Sergius Witte… the finance minister Nicholas had inherited from his father.

    The egg captures much of Witte’s triumph. On a broad silver band around its middle is an engraved map showing the four-thousand-mile route of the railway, from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok, with each station between these termini marked by a precious stone. The base of the egg rests on three griffins, and it is topped by a Romanov eagle, symbolizing the czar’s own oversight of the project.

    Its green enamel lid opens to reveal one of Fabergé’s most elaborate surprises: a miniature clockwork model of the Trans-Siberian Express, wound with a golden key. Three sections come together to make an entire train one foot long.

    The platinum locomotive has diamond headlights and a ruby lantern on its tender. It pulls five gold coaches—“mail,” “for ladies only,” “smoking,” “non-smoking,” and finally a chapel, complete with miniature bells. The egg is both a delightful ensemble and a potent symbol of growing industrial power.

    —Faber, Toby (2008-09-27). Faberge’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire (Kindle Locations 864-883). Kindle Edition.

    Link to an online index of the Faberge’s Eggs:

    Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs – Index

    Link to picture and description of the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg :

    Imperial Trans-Siberian Railway Egg

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Elizabeth and I visited an art museum in Richmond back around 2001 which had a room of Faberge eggs that I was eager to visit. Unfortunately, it was temporarily closed down.

  15. Jerry Richardson says:

    The Hope: Consider Easter

    Good Friday is only good because we know the rest of the story. Even the darkest day can be called good when you see from God’s perspective. The power of God raised Jesus to life again, defeating the power of sin, defeating the power of death itself. God dealt a decisive blow to our enemy, and we reap the benefits of his victory. Without Easter, there would be no Christianity, so let us consider the story again and learn what we can from it.

    A group of women went to visit the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, as was customary in the day. But when they arrived, an angel greeted them and showed them the tomb was empty. “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day” (Luke 24:5-7).

    They rushed back to tell everyone what had happened, “but the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it” (Luke 24:11). The disciples were so consumed by their disappointment and hurt that they couldn’t believe the good news. It wasn’t until Jesus appeared to them and showed them his wounds that they finally believed.

    Have you ever thought about how strange it is that God raised Jesus from the dead but didn’t heal his wounds in the process? In her book, Feed My Shepherds, Flora Slosson Wuellner addresses this anomaly:

    Why did Jesus still have wounds on His risen body? The traditional answer is that the wounds proved it was really he…But I believe the wounds had a deeper meaning with radically transforming implications that affect us through the ages. I believe the wounds were the sure sign that the eternal God through Jesus has never and will never ignore, negate, minimize, or transcend the significance of human woundedness. The risen Jesus is not so swallowed up in glory that he is beyond our reach, beyond our cries.

    Again, it wasn’t until after many of the disciples saw Jesus’ wounds that they finally believed. These disciples were so wounded themselves that they were blind to the glory, closed off to the good news that was standing in front of them. Their personal hurt weakened their faith and they couldn’t bring themselves to believe.

    Jesus didn’t condemn them for their lack of faith. Instead, he showed them his wounds. He even invited Thomas to touch the nail piercings in his hands and side—to not only see, but also touch so he could believe. Jesus knew that wounded people have a hard time moving past their hurt to accept healing.

    What’s Good about Good Friday?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Yes, that was an interesting article. I read Town Hall every day (unless I’m not available to go on line at all, which will probably happen this Saturday due to ConGlomeration, and even then I’ll probably read the articles the next day), so I’d already read this. Rebecca Hagelin regularly does such articles.

  16. Jerry Richardson says:

    This Easter, it’s time to stand up for Christ

    On the first Easter nearly 2,000 years ago, the followers of Christ were terrified. A powerful government had just put to death their leader, not for any crime he had committed but because of his beliefs.

    Today, as we celebrate Easter, Christians should also be terrified of a powerful government that seeks to restrict their freedom and limit their ability to act upon their beliefs.

    You know what I’m talking about — this absurd notion that “freedom of religion” is somehow accomplished by forcing people to do what their religion forbids. This idea was first advanced as part of the Affordable Care Act when employers were told they had to pay insurance for contraceptives and even abortion. It appeared then that the rights of individual employees trumped the rights of employers. Why? Because the government said so.

    And now that judges have ordered almost all the sovereign states to recognize same-sex marriage against the wishes of their own people, the government is once again demanding that individual citizens set aside their own conscience and religious faith and bow to the decree of these judges that same-sex marriage is the same as heterosexual marriage.

    In other words, the government is not only allowing gay marriage, it is forcing people who consider gay marriage to be a violation of God’s law to participate in those weddings — as florists, bakers or photographers, and sooner or later even as officiants.
    —-
    Now, make no mistake, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution already says plainly that Congress “shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise” of religion “or abridging the freedom of speech.”

    But like the rest of the Constitution, the First Amendment’s protections have now been reduced to suggestions rather than a mandate. Pretending we still have freedom of religion is the equivalent of the Soviet Union pretending it was a democracy because they held one-party elections.

    This Easter, It’s time to stand up for Christ

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The real key to this is the concept that you can’t discriminate on the basis of sexual preference. Although in theory this means not discriminating on the basis of what someone is (which is morally correct, and no worse legally for sexual preference than for any other category), in practice it means not discriminating on the basis of behavior — a truly unconscionable demand.

  17. Jerry Richardson says:

    The tomb is empty because He is risen!’

    On George Washington’s tomb is engraved the Scripture, John 11:25, where Jesus told Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; sayeth the Lord. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”

    Martin Luther remarked: “Our Lord has written the promise of the Resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in the springtime.

    Sir Lionel Alfred Luckhoo was the ambassador of Barbados and Guyana, the only person to have been an ambassador for two sovereign nations simultaneously. He was knighted twice by the queen of England, served as lord mayor of Georgetown, Guyana, and presided as judge of the Supreme Court of Guyana.

    Sir Lionel Luckhoo was acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most successful criminal attorney. He had spoken at the United Nations, to presidents, kings, parliaments, bar associations and cabinets all over the world.

    After studying world religions, Sir Lionel accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior on Nov. 7, 1978. He stated: “The bones of Muhammad are in Medina, the bones of Confucius are in Shantung, the cremated bones of Buddha are in Nepal. Thousands pay pilgrimages to worship at their tombs which contain their bones. But in Jerusalem there is a cave cut into the rock. This is the tomb of Jesus. IT IS EMPTY! YES, EMPTY! BECAUSE HE IS RISEN! He died, physically and historically. He arose from the dead, and now sits at the right hand of God.”

    On April 2, 1983, in a radio address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan stated: “This week Jewish families and friends have been celebrating Passover. … Its observance reminds all of us that the struggle for freedom and the battle against oppression waged by the Jews since ancient times is one shared by people everywhere. And Christians have been commemorating the last momentous days leading to the crucifixion of Jesus 1,950 years ago. Tomorrow, as morning spreads around the planet, we’ll celebrate the triumph of life over death, the Resurrection of Jesus.”

    The Tomb is Empty because He is Risen

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