Showing posts with label Easter Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easter Related. Show all posts

5 April 2017

Easter Egg Row Is An Undercooked Mess That Feeds English Nationalism

EPA/Michael Reichel

By David Tollerton, University of Exeter

Some people have dismissed it as a “storm in an egg cup”, but the controversy over Easter eggs has embroiled quintessentially “English” institutions. And unlike most chocolate eggs currently on sale in shops, the story ultimately has rather more inside it than you might imagine. It touches upon issues of fake news, the contested borderlands of secularism and religiosity, and the fluid interplay of state, church and national identity in Brexit Britain.

The Conversation
It started with an article in The Daily Telegraph. This voice of “small c” conservativism (wrongly) accused Cadbury, a venerable confectioner with nearly 200 years of history, and the National Trust, which looks after many of the UK’s finest stately homes, of dropping references to “Easter” from promotional material for their Easter egg hunts and turning a religious festival into a “chocfest”. The article quoted a spokesman for the Church of England saying: “This marketing campaign … highlights the folly in airbrushing faith from Easter.

The events gained momentum with an accusation by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, the second most senior clerical position in the Church of England, that this amounted to “spitting on the grave” of Cadbury’s founder. One of his descendants would later claim that, as a Quaker, John Cadbury didn’t actually celebrate Easter – but the archbishop’s vivid condemnation had made its mark.

The the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, who less than a week after triggering Article 50 might have bigger issues to face, declared that:
The stance they [Cadbury and the National Trust] have taken is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know what they are thinking about frankly. Easter’s very important. It’s important to me.

Predictably, a range of politicians weighed in on the topic, with Nigel Farage declaring that this was part of a battle for Britain’s very soul:

There are a variety of curious features to the story, the first of which is that its central premise, that Cadbury and the National Trust airbrushed out references to Easter, is actually pretty weak. Numerous media commentaries spotted that the word “Easter” is sprinkled liberally across both organisations’ websites. Indeed, if they really were trying to expunge mentions of the Christian festival from their material, they were doing a pretty dire job of it. In the rapid fire age of social media anger and freely-given accusations of “fake news”, this whole affair may seem like a prime candidate for dismissal as a confected nonsense.

Defending the faith
But the controversy intersects with several deep and longstanding tensions. One of these is the question of what is actually meant when Christianity is discussed in England. As several pundits have observed, the religious roots of many Easter traditions are decidedly hazy and, in truth, the precise divisions between pagan inheritance, Christian practice and secular appropriation are all difficult to pin down.

One doesn’t have to spend long pondering the vast disconnect between the number of people who self-identified as Christian in the last census and the number of people who actually go to church to appreciate that religious and secular identities are decidedly fluid.
The Archbishop of York may see the advertising of a chocolate egg hunt as a frontline against secularism to be fought over with passion but, in reality, British society is instead full of tiny and opaque daily skirmishes in which religious language and tradition is expressed or sidelined at varying conscious and unconscious levels.

But what is clear is that for some political figures an appeal to visions of Christianity under siege is more irresistible than any chocolate. This is because “Christianity under siege” can become profoundly bound up in ideas of “Britishness under siege”. Nigel Farage’s declaration that “we must defend our Judeo-Christian culture and that means Easter” is of course an obvious case.

Leaving aside the casual alignment of the “Judeo-Christian” with what is, in effect, simply Christian, the intervention maps neatly onto a longstanding UKIP policy of positioning themselves as the defenders of Christian values (see, for instance, their “Valuing Our Christian Heritage” campaign during the 2015 general election).

Traditionalist: John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. PA/John Giles/Pool, CC BY-SA

But Conservative politicians have found fertile ground here, too. In his 2016 Easter address, David Cameron reflected that “we are a Christian country and we are proud of it”, building on a longstanding rhetorical alignment of “Christian values” and “British values”. Given Theresa May’s history of fiercely asserting the importance of “British values”, her firm defence of British Christians who feel marginalised and her mission, in triggering Article 50, to “restore, as we see it, our national self-determination”, the scene is set for a drama in which actors seen to undermine Christian identity are cast as villains of the piece.

The misfortune for the National Trust and Cadbury (which is now owned by US giant Kraft) was to walk onto the stage at the wrong time – and no doubt they won’t be the last to do so. That the evidence of their misconduct is shaky and the crime’s very theological and sociological coherence is questionable are, in effect, minor details within the greater rhetorical purpose.

The Church of England’s role is more complex, however. The institution has on occasions voiced public unease at the nationalistic and exclusionary potentials of extolling “British values”, and last year’s row between Farage and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made it plain that UKIP and the Church of England’s understandings of “Christian heritage” are far from harmonised.

But as the egg controversy shows, undercooked and hyperbolic church interventions against organisations deemed to undermine Christian tradition may, intentionally or not, ultimately end up providing a feast for nationalists.

About Today's Contributor:
David Tollerton, Lecturer in Jewish Studies and Contemporary Biblical Cultures, University of Exeter

This article was originally published on The Conversation..

19 March 2016

Was Jesus Really Nailed To The Cross?

Peter Gertner Crucifixion Walters.
By Meredith J C Warren, University of Sheffield

Jesus’s crucifixion is probably one of the most familiar images to emerge from Christianity. Good Friday, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marks the event. But what was crucifixion? And why was Jesus killed that way?

Crucifixion was a Roman method of punishment. Suspended from a large cross, a victim would eventually die from asphyxiation or exhaustion – it was long, drawn-out, and painful. It was used to publicly humiliate slaves and criminals (not always to kill them), and as an execution method was usually reserved for individuals of very low status or those whose crime was against the state. This is the reason given in the Gospels for Jesus’s crucifixion: as King of the Jews, Jesus challenged Roman imperial supremacy (Matt 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19–22).

Crucifixion could be carried out in a number of ways. In Christian tradition, nailing the limbs to the wood of the cross is assumed, with debate centring on whether nails would pierce hands or the more structurally sound wrists. But Romans did not always nail crucifixion victims to their crosses, and instead sometimes tied them in place with rope. In fact, the only archaeological evidence for the practice of nailing crucifixion victims is an ankle bone from the tomb of Jehohanan, a man executed in the first century CE.

So was Jesus nailed to the cross?

Gospel accounts
Some early Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, don’t include the narrative of Jesus’s crucifixion, choosing instead to focus on his teaching. But Jesus’s death by crucifixion is one of the things that all four canonical Gospels agree on. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all include the crucifixion event in their own slightly different ways.

None of the Gospels in the New Testament mentions whether Jesus was nailed or tied to the cross. However, the Gospel of John reports wounds in the risen Jesus’s hands. It is this passage, perhaps, that has led to the overwhelming tradition that Jesus’s hands and feet were nailed to the cross, rather than tied to it.

Caravaggio, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. Wikimedia Commons

The Gospel of Peter, a non-canonical gospel from the first or second century CE, specifically describes in verse 21 how after Jesus had died, the nails were removed from his hands. The Gospel of Peter also famously includes the cross itself as an active character in the Passion narrative. In verses 41-42 the cross speaks, responding with its own voice to God: “And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, ‘Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?’ And an obeisance was heard from the cross, ‘Yes.’” Tradition is clearly of paramount importance to this text.

Over the past few years, several people have claimed to have found the actual nails with which Jesus was crucified. Each time, biblical scholars and archaeologists have rightly pointed out the assumptions and misinterpretations of evidence behind these claims. Curiously, this fixation on the nails persists, despite the fact that the earliest gospels make no mention of Jesus being nailed to the cross.

Depictions of the crucifixion
It isn’t surprising that Christians took a while to embrace the image of Christ on the cross, given that crucifixion was a humiliating way to die. What is surprising is what the earliest image of the crucifixion turns out to be. Rather than the devotional icons with which we are familiar – pictures that glorify Jesus’s death – this earliest image appears to be some late second-century graffiti mocking Christians.

Alexamenos Graffito, Vector traced from Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries (1898) by Rodolfo Lanciani Wikimedia Commons

Called the Alexamenos Graffito, the image shows a figure with the head of a donkey on a cross with the words: “Alexamenos worships his God.” This was apparently a common accusation in antiquity, as Minucius Felix (Octavius 9.3; 28.7) and Tertullian (Apology 16.12) both attest. Since the graffito was clearly not made by a Christian, this image suggests that non-Christians were familiar with some core elements of Christian belief as early as the second century.

Gemstones, some used for magical purposes, also provide some of our earliest depictions of the crucified Jesus. This second or third century piece of carved jasper depicts a man on a cross surrounded by magic words.

Magical gem. British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Another very early image of the crucifixion is found carved into the face of a carnelian gemstone made into a ring.

Constanza gemstone with the crucified Christ, surrounded by 12 apostles. British Musem CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Scholars think that the Constanza gemstone, as it is known, dates from the fourth century CE. In this depiction, Jesus’s hands do not appear to be nailed to the cross, since they fall naturally, as if he is tied at the wrists.

Since the evidence from antiquity doesn’t provide a clear answer as to whether Jesus was nailed or tied to his cross, it’s tradition that dictates this common depiction. Those who have seen the film The Passion of the Christ will recall how much time the director, Mel Gibson, devoted just to the act of nailing Jesus onto the cross —- almost five whole minutes.
The Passion of the Christ.
Given the relative silence on the act of crucifixion in the Gospels, this stands out as a graphic expansion. One of the only films that does not assume that crucifixion involved nails is Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which shows multiple crucifixion victims, though not Jesus, tied to their crosses.

Eventually, Emperor Constantine put an end to crucifixion as a method of execution, not for ethical reasons, but out of respect for Jesus. But in the end, it is the enduring image of the cross, and not the matter of whether nails or ropes were used, that most firmly evokes the death of Jesus in art and tradition.
The Conversation

About Today's Contributor 
Meredith J C Warren, Lecturer in Biblical and Religious Studies, University of Sheffield

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

1 April 2015

The Origin Of Easter


The origin of Easter does have a couple of different possibilities. First of all Easter is mainly considered to be a pagan holiday. Most of the old religions have different celebrations for different seasons throughout the year. The origin of Easter plays into the celebrations carried out during or around the spring equinox.

10 January 2015

Story Of The Egg – Who Came First?


While we are on the way to discussing about the EGG, one of the basic and often asked questions is "Who came first: the chicken or the egg?" There is no clear inference towards the history of this wonderful thing called the Egg.According to the Bible, the chicken came first.It has been mentioned as "And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.And God said, 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'" Genesis 1:10-20.

1 April 2013

Breaking News: Hens' Chocolate Flavoured Eggs Will Be Available For Consumption By Next Easter!


Yes, you've read it right, by this time next year, we should be able to eat chocolate flavoured eggs that have been laid by hens!

That was the claim made last week at an international farmers convention by Madame Poisson, a French farmer from Brittany.

Apparently, Madame Avril Poisson has been experimenting for years with various ways that would make hens lay flavoured eggs and it seems that the one on producing hens' chocolate flavoured ones is the one that  was eventually successful.

"All you will need to do, is hard boil the eggs like any other eggs and, once they're ready, put them in the fridge. Then, once they're cold enough, you'll just need to take the shell off and you will have succulent eggs with chocolate flavoured whites and yolks. Simple!"

The hens' chocolate eggs, expected to be on the shelves of various supermarkets all over Europe by the end of February 2014, have already been seen as a serious competition to the traditional (and much more expensive) Easter eggs. Funding from the European Union will help with the setting up costs for the needed massive scale production and its running for the first year.

French Far-Right groups have already publicly criticised the idea of having hens' flavoured chocolate eggs and condemned it as "another attempt from the socialist EU to destroy our Christian traditions."

Madame Avril Poisson said that, if the sale of hens' chocolate flavoured eggs is successful, she'll start working on the production of bacon flavoured ones as soon as possible and that she has already received some very encouraging feedback from major supermarkets in the UK regarding that future venture.

Here, at, we all think that hens' flavoured eggs are an egg-cellent idea.
But, what do you think? let us know in the comments area.

Thanks in advance.

Loup Dargent

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31 March 2013

Ten Facts You Need To Know About Easter [Infographic]


Let's face it, you probably know already quite a lot about Easter thanks to the net and its main search engines, but this infographic from Smack is providing us with ten more obscure facts that you might have missed... and, as today is Easter Sunday and we desperately needed an Easter related post to mark the day, this egg-cellent infographic (found on the site) was like a timely gift from heavens that we decided to share with you guys, with the hope that you'll find something you actually didn't know in it.


Loup Dargent

PS: Happy Easter to all this blog's visitors, readers and supporters!

29 March 2013

Philippines marks Easter with bloody mock crucifixions


Philippines marks Easter with bloody mock crucifixions (via AFP)
Catholic zealots in the Philippines re-enacted the last hours of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, whipping their backs and nailing themselves to crosses in a grisly Easter ritual that persists despite Church disapproval. Foreign and local tourists flocked to the outskirts of the city of San Fernando, a…

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