New Testament Facts on Easter in Dispute

Yokosuka ChapelThis article originated from Father Dan's Blog

(Chapel in Yokosuka, Japan where I attended and studied the Bible when 15 and 16)

I was going to save this until Sunday but then I started thinking - "Gee, this could be fun to discuss in church, after church at brunch - maybe Friday night during family fun time. . . ." After all, the Bible is the infallible, divinely-inspired word of God, right? The entire Christian religion is based on the resurrection of the Christ - so we know that part of the Good Book will be very accurate! The very crux of the argument for Christianity being the one true religion is that it is the only religion in which the Savior actually rose from the dead to fulfill prophecy- so let's look closer to see if there were any conflicts in the observations recorded in the Holy Book:

Father Dan's Easter Quiz:

1. Who first came to the tomb on Sunday morning? a. one woman (John 20:1) b. two women (Matt. 28:1) c. three women (Mark 16:1) d. more than three women (Luke 23:55-56; 24:1,10)

2. She (they) came a. while it was still dark (Matt. 28:1; John 20:1) b. after the sun had risen (Mark 16:2)

3. The woman (women) came to the tomb a. to anoint the body of Jesus with spices (Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1) b. just to look at it (Matt. 28:1; John 20:1)

4. The women had obtained the spices a. on Friday before sunset (Luke 23:54-56; 24:1) a. after sunset on Saturday (Mark 16:1)

5. The first visitor(s) was/were greeted by a. an angel (Matt. 28:2-5) b. a young man (Mark 16:5) c. two men (Luke 24:4) d. no one (John 20:1-2)

6. The greeter(s) a. was sitting on the stone outside the tomb (Matt 28:2) b. was sitting inside the tomb (Mark 16:5) c. were standing inside the tomb (Luke 24:3-4)

7. After finding the tomb empty, the woman/women a. ran to tell the disciples (Matt. 28:7-8; Mark 16:10; Luke 24:9; John 20:2) b. ran away and said nothing to anyone (Mark 16:8)

8. The risen Jesus first appeared to a. Mary Magdalene alone (John 20:14; Mark 16:9) b. Cleopas and another disciple (Luke 24:13,15,18) c. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matt. 28:1,9) d. Cephas (Peter) alone (1 Cor. 15:4-5; Luke 24:34)

9. Jesus first appeared a. somewhere between the tomb and Jerusalem (Matt. 28:8-9) b. Just outside the tomb (John 20:11-14) c. in Galilee - some 80 miles (130 Km) north of Jerusalem (Mark 16:6-7) d. on the road to Emmaus - Miles (11 Km) west of Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-15) e. we are not told where (Mark 16:9; 1 Cor. 15:4-5)

10. The disciples were to see Jesus first a. in Galilee (Mark 16:7; Matt. 28:7,10,16) b. in Jerusalem (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33,36; John 20:19; Acts 1:4)

11. the disciples were told that they would meet the risen Jesus in Galilee a. by the women, who had been told by an angel of the Lord, then by Jesus himself after the resurrection (Matt. 28:7-10; Mark 16:7) b. by Jesus himself, before the crucifiction (Mark 26:32)

12. The risen Jesus a. wanted to be touched (John 20:27) b. did not want to be touched (John 20:17) c. did not mind being touched (Matt. 28:9-10)

13. Jesus ascended to Heaven a. the same day that he was resurrected (Mark 16:9,19; Luke 24:13,28-36,50-51) b. forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3,9) c. we are not told that he ascended to Heaven at all (Matt. 28:10, 16-20; John 21:25; the original Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8)

14. The disciples received the Holy Spirit a. 50 days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3,9) b. in the evening of the same day as the resurrection (John 20:19-22)

15. The risen Jesus a. was recognized by those who saw him (Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:9-10) b. was not always recognizable (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:15-16,31,36-37; John 20:14-15)

16. The risen Jesus a. was physical (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:41-43; John 20:27) b. was not physical (Mark 16:9,12,14; Luke 24:15-16,31,36-37; John 20:19,26; 1 Cor. 15:5-8)

17. The risen Jesus was seen by the disciples a. presumably only once (Matt. 28:16-17) b. first by two of them, later by all eleven (Mark 16:12-14; Luke 24:13-15,33,36-51) c. three times (John 20:19,26; 21:1,14) d. many times (Acts 1:3)

18. When Jesus appeared to the disciples a. there were eleven of them (Matt. 28:16-17; Luke 24:33,36) b. twelve of them (1 Cor. 15:5)

Hey, when has religion ever let facts or figures get in the way of a good quote. If this quiz has in any way shaken your faith, simply open the Bible and pull out sentences at random that make you feel good or (completely out of context) reaffirm any belief you want to hold.

Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one Judeo-Christian and the other Pagan. Both Christians and Pagans have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the Spring Equinox for millennia. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier Pagan celebrations.

The equinox occurs each year on March 20, 21 or 22. Both Neopagans and Christians continue to celebration religious rituals in the present day. Wiccans and other Neopagans usually hold their celebrations on the day or eve of the equinox. Western Christians wait until the Sunday on or after the next full moon. The Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian Calendar, so that their celebration is generally many weeks after that of the Western churches.

The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similar "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [were] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." 1 Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:

Aphrodite from Cyprus Astarte, from Phoenicia Demeter, from Mycenae Hathor from Egypt Ishtar from Assyria Kali, from India Ostara, a Norse Goddess of fertility.

But WAIT! Various early church writers, such as Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons; circa 120 to ?) Justin Martyr (Christian apologist; 100 to 165), Tertullian (Christian theologian; circa 160 to 220 +) concluded that the Pagan/Christian similarities were a Satanic attempt at "diabolical mimicry." Satan was said to have use "plagiarism by anticipation." That is, the Devil replicated the life experiences of Jesus, centuries before his birth. The reason was to confuse the public into thinking that Jesus was merely a copy of previous godmen.

cropped-Sepulveda-Unitarian-Universalist-Society-Onion.jpg (Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society structure known as the "Onion" where Liberal Services, weddings, concerts, poetry and book signings, open mike and other activities are held that are non-denominational and children friendly)

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Goodbye Skittle Our Old Purring Gentle Friend

                           Goodbye Skittle Our Old Purring Gentle Friend


After nineteen years on this planet Earth

 We said goodbye to you today, Skittle.

Our fingers felt bones and clumps when petting you.

Scarcely able to raise your head I scratched.

You always loved that and still calmly purred,

Curled and reclined on cushioned cream couch top.

My son chose you in San Diego

 When you were a lively frisky kitten.

 When he went to med-school he left you here.

 We grew to love your energetic way:

 Mercurial with orange, brown and white fur.

 Strangers heard your hissy-fits and feared you.

 We grew to love our new-found feline friend.

 You succeeded pretty fluffy Snowball

 With an unrivaled personality.

 Our retrievers knew to keep their distance.

 We sensed you were aware your time drew near.

Gentle wide green yellow eyes revealed love.

 Showed no fear and hid your deep inner pain.

Our family spent precious time with you

 Before you slipped away with your last breath.

Finding your spot where you laid down for good

 At the place where your constant companion

 Put her feet while teaching her fifth graders

 To problem solve and write creatively.

 Your chosen space honored your closest friend

 Who had made a comfortable home with view

 Of a fountain where birds rested and drank

 Surrounded by blue and white hibiscus,

 Rabbits, squirrels, and colorful flowers

 Wafting fragrance through an open window.

 We weren't sure that you were gone while you slept

 But knew that you had left us forever

 When we felt your rigid figure today.

 Our once bouncy blazing cat is now stilled

But your fiery spirit lingers on.

We each prepared your final resting place

 Prominent before our flower garden,

 With yellow roses at your meadow bed,

 And statue honoring the joy you brought.

 We will always feel your warmth, life, love and

See your gentle eyes, and hear your purring.


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Baby Boy in My Arms

Baby Boy in my arms

Hot and sweating from crying

Alone and feeling sorry

Parents at formal party

Took him to flowing ribbons

Translucent colors shimmer

Glinting as light reflected

Blue eyes brighten in wonder

We move through color curtain

Elated boy smiles and coos

Enthralled by the here and now

Tiny fingers on curtain

Brush away tears on his face

Grampa hums, whistles and sings

Connected in love-embrace

Ages so different yet close

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Mediterranean Sparkle

(Click on pictures to expand)
While in Barcelona as a Merchant Marine, I noticed many tourists gathered at an old ship docked near the walkways on my way back to the USS Rose. A sign identified it as Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria, fully refurbished like the fourteenth century ship. Only seventy-four feet long, twenty-five feet wide, she had a compliment of forty men with a draught of seven feet. Columbus' crew worked in four-hour shifts. Their duties included pumping bilge, cleaning the deck, working the sails, checking the ropes, and inspecting the cargo. When they were off duty, they slept anywhere they could find space. Columbus spent days without sleep. Only the captain had private quarters. The sailors' lives were hard, and they often died from disease, hunger, and thirst. Religion was the focus of their lives. Every day began with prayers and hymns and ended with religious services. The crew received one hot meal a day cooked over an open fire in a sandbox on deck. Their diet consisted of ship's biscuit, pickled or salted meat, dried peas, cheese, wine, and fresh-caught fish. They lived in cramped quarters that made the voyage rough. It had a single deck and three masts. The slowest of Columbus's vessels performed well in crossing the Atlantic, but ran aground off present-day site of Cap Haitien, Haiti on December 25, 1492, and was lost.
Our voyage to Naples took us past white homes with orange or red shingle roofs splattered on hilltops and on perches with three hundred and sixty-degree views of the beaches from cliffs that tapered off gradually below, or in a steep incline. Ramshackle multi-storey apartments decorated with fluttering laundry, scrawled with graffiti, their balconies cluttered with furniture, dotted winding streets leading downward to the beaches choked with traffic and bathers. Naples stunk so bad I decided to wander out of the dirty dusty confines of the city.
Some of the friendliest people I found anywhere on my trip resided at this busy city. At a small restaurant I had to try pizza assuming the genuine Italian fare would dwarf anything I had sunk my teeth into back home. However, the dough tasted flat and spongy, covered with cheap cheese, far inferior to what I loved at home. When I mentioned this to a few of the experienced messmen, they made it clear that Italian chefs made pizza much differently from, and often better than, the way the chefs at American pizza parlors do—what did I expect from a tiny roadside shop? Surprisingly, our ship warned us about gangs of youngsters who had a reputation for shoplifting, fighting and stealing wallets and merchandise from tourists. They jumped onto buses to get a free ride if unnoticed by the driver. If the driver observed them, he yelled in Italian a warning or he chased them down. They roamed the streets at all hours and survived in squalor anyway they could.
A boat from Naples drove through splashing waves to the famous Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri a few miles away. Sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, created a blue reflection that illuminated the cavern. The view of the bright coastline scattered with white homes, dazzled under the bright sky, while sail and motor craft left their white wake behind. The turquoise sea shimmered with the flashes of sunlight on wind driven curls rippling the surface. Myths the tour guide shared with us attached to the Grotto predicted good luck to those who swam here. When we departed from Naples, Mount Vesuvius sent plumes of smoke skyward that reminded me of the eruption we studied in Latin class at Jordan High.
A bus to Pompeii dropped me where I walked amongst its ruins. My textbook displayed pictures of statues made from people caught in a river of volcanic lava that buried homes, buildings, and inhabitants. Archeologists and historians had cleared away the rubble and reconstructed the city as it looked before the devastation. Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. destroying Pompeii with a population of twenty thousand, and Herculaneum, with five thousand. Our guide took us to erotic frescos in the ancient city. He led us to an intersection and pointed downward, “Have any of you noticed these raised carved stones on each of the paths we have walked?”
Rock shaped penises were in plain view in the walkways. “Carved penises pointed in the direction to the nearest house of pleasure.” He took us to many houses where he showed us wall paintings of various sexual positions Pompeii’s prostitutes and their customers enjoyed. “Erotic images lured the Roman soldiers into entanglements with the sensuous Pompeian women, mostly slaves, who plied their trade inside these walls.” At the entrance of the excavation the shop owners sold necklaces that had a winged penis on a chain. Many elderly women tourists purchased these trinkets and placed them around their necks that created a humorous moment for the guide; “Do you suppose they know what they have around their necks?”he said laughing.
Local Pompeiians caught in the lava flow from the force and speed of the volcanic eruption appeared at various places throughout the city in the position their bodies had taken when they performed routine tasks. The lava preserved them, “frozen” for antiquity when they took their last breath. For example, the swift flowing lava caught a woman who had just finished baking bread, which excavators had carefully sculpted away. The ancient city, so close to Mount Vesuvius, had the haunting specter that another eruption could happen at any time while we casually ambled through ruins where nature locked so many lives in lava tombs. The guide said, “The people here are willing to take the chance of the volcano eruption to live in such a stunning area.”
On the way to Tripoli, North Africa, the Rose passed near an active volcano,the Island of Stromboli, puffing smoke and ash into the atmosphere. We cruised by rolling hills planted with gold wheat framed by grape vines and olive trees at the island of Sicily. Rock towers circled by seagulls nesting in the crevices jutted from the water and enormous rocky formations hurled up by the sea guarded glistening bays beyond.
A radio played Arabic music as we arrived at the North African city of Tripoli. The flute and obo wailed repetitious sounds followed by a high pitched voice in a prayer to Allah. Sonny and Chris joined me for a walk from the ship. A vendor sold me a ring of a many-scaled silver snake that wrapped around my ring finger. The brutal heat and dryness drew me to a bar where cold Lebanese beer quenched my thirst.
Piraeus, Greece, the port closest to Athens, had an obnoxious odor as awful as Naples near the wharf and ships. A tour bus to Athens’ stunning beauty and historic wonders rewarded my persistence to the birthplace of the arts,democracy, and western philosophy. Socrates, Sophocles, and Pericles, helped ancient Athens achieve the status of a powerful city-state. The guide pointed out the Parthenon on the Acropolis where we spent an hour dazzled by stories of Plato and Socrates. The heritage of the classical age flourished with ancient monuments, Greek sculpture, and art.
Roman ruins in Istanbul told of former powerful forces in this city that had undergone many changes and was once called Constantinople when Constantine ruled Rome. Catholic and Muslim structures housing different religions stood next to each other. At the bazaar vendors wore turbans with flowing robes. In a narrow alley a tobacco shop merchant sold me a yellow-stemmed meerschaum pipe whose whale-bone bowl was a turban man’s head that caught my fancy.The huge and decorative Blue Mosque, a spiritual place where people stopped to pray after washing themselves in fountains outside, with its beautiful domes and semidomes, courtyards, and six slender minarets, breathtaking interior chandeliers and blue tiles, enchanted me. I  enjoyed the acoustics of this ancient landmark. Immediately across from it rested the Hagia “Divine” Sophia “Wisdom” Church from the Golden Age of Byzantium. It became a mosque when the Turks invaded. Converted eventually into a museum, the huge red structure stood 150 feet high and 72 feet in diameter. Adding to its ambience were green and purple columns.
At Izmir, Turkey, ancient Greeks settled this central and strategic city on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Once it had an acropolis on a steep peak about 1250 feet high overhanging the northeast extremity of the gulf known as the “crown of Smyrna,” but it lay in ruins. It rested partly on the slopes of a rounded hill near the southeast end of the gulf, and partly on the low ground between the hill and the sea. Ancient coins depicted the beauty of Izmir, clustering on the low ground and rising tier over tier on the tranquil hillside.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac

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