Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easter Symbols

A little perspective is needed on some pagan traditions that have entered Christian traditions.  On a day that is set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I have often wondered why there are eggs and bunnies.  I could never really figure out the connection.  The truth is:  there is no connection.  Some say the egg represents the resurrection, but the egg is hard boiled and therefore dead.  And even if the chick were allowed to come out of the shell, it’s a birth, not a rebirth. 


So, what is the real symbolism?  As we’ve seen with other Christian traditions, as Christianity spread people still hung on to some of their pagan symbols.  Even the word “Easter” is pagan.  Easter, or Esther, is another name for Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility.  She’s also the guardian of prostitutes and probably had priestess-prostitutes in her temples.  The egg is the symbol for fertility and the animal symbol for fertility is the rabbit.  Now you know why there is a rabbit delivering eggs.


So, in the spring of the year when everything is coming back to life, Ishtar is worshipped, and her symbols are seen everywhere.  So what do eggs and rabbits have to do with Jesus dying on the cross and rising three days later?  Absolutely nothing.  Also, the Persians (Babylonians) painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the Spring Equinox.


So, should I still hide eggs and let my children find them?  It’s something they look forward to at this time of the year.  They also like to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny at the mall.  And I can’t leave out getting their baskets on Easter morning.  The Easter bunny always visited me when I was younger and I’m not worshipping Ishtar today.  So, is it okay or not, and I don’t buy the argument that it’s up to each person.  Either it’s right or it’s wrong, perception doesn’t matter.  Or is it the emphasis that matters?  My children know the true reasons for our celebrations.  They know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  I don’t know, but now that I have a deeper understanding of the symbols, I do feel convicted for it.


What’s your conviction?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Never Miss Topics

In continuing my notes from a writer’s conference, the following comes from Dr. Dennis Hensley about non-fiction writing.  He gives 7 Never Miss Topics and 4 Fairly Safe Categories.


Never Miss Topics

  1. Lifestyles:  People what to know how and why people live the way they do.  For example, why do people give up careers to do missions?
  2. Money:  How to make it, collect it, invest it, handle it etc.
  3. Personal advancement ideas and plans:  telling people how to get ahead in life.
  4. Activities:  individual, family, group.  People don’t know what to do without a TV.  What to do on trips.
  5. Physical Fitness:  Exercise, diet, living longer, how to look and feel better.
  6. Mental health and emotional fitness:  how to deal with stress, find peace
  7. Entertainment:  the cheaper the better, how do you have a good time without spending much money?  What to do with your family.


Fairly safe categories

  1. Profiles:  people enjoy reading about people, has to be someone interesting, not necessarily famous
  2. Unusual events:  get an angle
  3. Crime:  people are worried about crime.  How can they prevent it?
  4. Schooling and schooling innovations:  why are there big movements in dealing with public school?  How do parents help students with homework?


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pearl S Buck Day 1

I also read Pearl S. Buck:  A Biography by Theodore F. Harris in consultation with Pearl S. Buck.  I love reading author biographies and catch little snippits that ring true to my life and my writing.  There were a lot of great quotes from Pearl Buck that I think all writers could benefit from. 


At one point Harris asks, “Are you conscious of style?”  She replies, “I hear word clearly, as though they were spoken to me, and I write down what I hear.  People who knew me in college never thought I would write prose, they thought I would write poetry.  I very nearly didn’t write prose, but thank God for my pocketbook’s sake, I did.”


Harris talks about how Buck is as a writer, which I find to be a truth in my life.  “She is a woman different from the world around her and no matter how she resents these differences, they exist, nonetheless, and she has had to learn how to live with herself.  Being different from others is not easy, for then one is never completely close to other human beings.  No matter how intimate may be some of her external relationships, she still has that inner place where she lives alone with her people - the people she has created.  She experiences their likes and dislikes, their loves and hates, their lives, and while this creation is going on she must not have a life of her own, for if she does, it influences the writing. . . . She cannot share the creative process with anyone.  I suppose one could say that she experiences much vicariously - if on can create and then experience vicariously from creation!


“Her people!  She knows them all.  They were there in her inner being, ready for her to bring them to life.  Were they to live?  She saw the possibility of her life’s ending in Nanking with her people never having lived.  She knew she must write.  She bought that desk and put it in an attic room of the house wehre she could go and be alone with her people.”


How true is that for the writer?  People think we’re strange, perhaps aloof, when we are really dealing with the characters begging for attention, asking for their stories to be told.  And if we don’t write, we explode and over time the characters fade away and die.  They beg for life on the page that only the writer can create, and if it’s done correctly, and with honesty and creativity, then that character has the chance of living forever.  And even if no one ever reads the story, you have still given birth to a new creation and that leads to even more, and often better, creations. 



Published Again

“The Overpass” was reprinted in the winter quarter of The Vision.  That was lucky number 13.  Praise God for all he has done.