December 17, 2017

Monday Monkery – Day after Easter Sunday Edition

Bad Easter 1Pastor Dan, who does our weekly iMonk Saturday Ramblings, got Holy Saturday off this past weekend so that he could focus on all the special services he was participating in. I remember those marathon occasions from when I was a pastor and I’ll be very surprised if Dan’s not sleeping in today. And tomorrow. But never fear, he will return renewed and refreshed this coming Saturday to resume rambling.

To feed our readers’ appetite for links and laughter in the meantime, today we’ll engage in a bit of Monday Monkery — post-Easter Sunday style.

We hope you all had a blessed Easter weekend, without any of the terror you can see in the eyes of the children to the right. We’ll show another of these delightful family memory pix in today’s post, but if you want to see a whole set of them in all their glory, check out 17 Nightmare-Inducing Easter Photos You Can’t Unsee. [You can find several “scary Easter sites” like this around the web. They send a chill, huh?]

Here’s a note to help you sync your calendars. You might want to plan for all the upcoming years when Easter falls on April 20, which also happens to be known as Weed Day or 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers. So Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has performed an invaluable service by writing: Here’s how many times Easter will fall on 4/20 in the next 1,000 years. As for me, I have set aside each April 20 to pray, “Remember not the sins of my youth.” These days, I’m inhaling incense at the Easter Vigil.

Zoderer eggHere’s my favorite of the master Easter eggs I missed this year — a true work of art. It pays homage to the metal sculptures of Swiss artist Beat Zoderer by layering multicolored chocolate strips around an 875-gram Brazilian dark chocolate egg. Hermé has made 15 of the eggs, which retail for $290. This is but one example of a number of artistic masterpieces created by France’s top top pâtissiers and chocolatiers. You can see them in all their glory at: The delicate and utterly mouth-watering art of world’s master Easter egg makers.

From highbrow eggs to megachurch madness: Matthew Paul Turner’s article, Can’t Fill the House On Easter? Try Handing Out Gadgets, discusses how “so many churches are going to such great creative and promotional lengths to capture our attention, setting attendance goals, adding services to their schedules, hoping that, if we’re one of the millions of Americans looking for a church to attend on Easter Sunday, we will choose their church as opposed to another church. Because for many churches, in addition to Easter being about Jesus, it’s also about getting you inside their doors.” Pop culture themes seem to be, well, popular, as churches “brand” their special seasons. One example is ACF Church in Eagle River, Alaska, who are basing their Easter services around The Walking Dead, the wildly popular zombie show. Well sure, why not?

Bad Easter 2Maybe they should just invite this guy. Or not.

“And while we’re at it [this bit of background information from Ted Olsen at CT], the Easter Bunny comes from these pagan rites of spring as well, but more from pagan Germany than pagan Britain. Eighteenth-century German settlers brought “Oschter Haws” (never knew he had a name, did you?) to America, where Pennsylvania Dutch settlers prepared nests for him in the garden or barn. On Easter Eve, the rabbit laid his colored eggs in the nests in payment. In Germany, old Oschter lays red eggs on Maundy Thursday. If anyone knows why children in an agrarian society would believe a rabbit lays eggs, please tell us or a historian near you. We’re all dying to know.”

Now this is one Easter tradition I know my boys and I would have enjoyed when they were growing up. On the Greek island of Chios rival parishes mark the evening before Orthodox Easter by firing thousands of rockets at each other’s churches, trying to ring the other congregation’s church bell. No kidding, this is a blast to watch! According the BBC, they spend months making the rockets by hand. Then comes the celebration, known as “rouketopolemos”, when parishioners from Aghios Markos and Panagia Ereithiani fire the handmade fireworks at the other’s church bell towers. The winning village is the one which scores the most direct hits on the other’s church. You can watch a brief BBC News report of the battle here, or this extended YouTube video. Megachurches ain’t got nothin’.

And oh that Luther, always finding new ways for Christians to have fun. According to Lizette Larson-Miller, a Loyola Marymount University theology professor who specializes in the history of religious practices, “Some believe Martin Luther was the first to suggest that the men in the household hide eggs in their gardens–representing the garden of Christ’s tomb–for their wives and children to find.” Wait — the wives got to hunt eggs too?

Finally, Pastor Dan can rest easy knowing the plastic eggs his church will drop by helicopter for their annual Easter egg hunt won’t break on impact. Apparently, creating “indestructible” Easter eggs for helicopter drops is a growing and competitive market. Only in America.

But that’s not the only problem with helicopter drops. Better plan for that crowd, Dan, or you might have to issue an apology like the city of Dunedin, Florida did last year…

 

Comments

  1. We had a similar problem with our church’s helicopter egg drop last year.

    We had all the kids on the lawn and then the pilot dropped thousands of eggs. Unfortunately they were real, uncooked eggs. That’s what you get when you hire a pilot by the name of Al Buumin.

    The yoke was on us.

    This year we used hard boiled eggs. Most of the kids that didn’t have helmets are recovering nicely.

  2. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Weed Day or 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers.

    You DO know there’s already 420 trade shows. I found this article on my homepage newsfeed:
    http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/19/5629264/features-cannabis-cup
    Now THAT”s just BIZARRE.

    One example is ACF Church in Eagle River, Alaska, who are basing their Easter services around The Walking Dead, the wildly popular zombie show. Well sure, why not?

    I was at a comic con today on a one-day, and I can attest from the pop culture subject matter that zombies are BADLY overdone. (Like “Elves, Dwarves, etc” but more so.) Latest zombification: “Lawn of the Dead” zombie lawn gnomes. I wish I was making that up.

    (We also had a Christian presence — sort of — in front of the convention center. Several grim-faced men with picket signs about “Sin merits God’s Wrath” and “Jesus Christ Saves from Sin” with the signature across the bottom reading “Holy Bible”.)

  3. Jenny Brien says:

    “If anyone knows why children in an agrarian society would believe a rabbit lays eggs, please tell us or a historian near you. We’re all dying to know.”

    Not rabbits, hares. Hares don’t have burrows, just ‘nests’ called forms that are slight hollows on open land from where they can see any predator approaching. Hares were thought to be magical because of their apparent ability to appear or disappear in the middle of an open field. Because they are also mostly solitary, the Romans thought they could give birth without intercourse, hence they became a symbol for Mary.

    Some birds, such as plovers, lay their eggs in hare’s forms and – you can guess the rest.

    • Robert F says:

      Interesting. Didn’t know. Thanks.

    • Thanks Jenny. I hereby appoint thee an official iMonk Easter historian.

    • cermak_rd says:

      And suddenly all I can think of is “Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit.”

    • Dana Ames says:

      Didn’t know about the hares’ nests, but do know that “Oschter Haws” is a very rough transliteration (perhaps pronunciation of the words in a German dialect) of Oster Haas, which is German for “Easter Hare.”

      Christ is risen!
      Dana

      • Yep; likely a very rough transliteration from Pennsylvania Dutch (which is a mostly Swiss German dialect).

  4. Robert F says:

    ” One example is ACF Church in Eagle River, Alaska, who are basing their Easter services around The Walking Dead, the wildly popular zombie show.”

    Are you serious?

    • Mule Chewing Briars says:

      They were probably inspired by the nearby Antiochian Orthodox Church‘s Paschal Agape services. After an all-night vigll on Holy Friday, and Midnight Liturgy and Paschal feast on Easter morning (with the first wine in seven weeks), many of our parishoners showed up for the Agape Vespers Easter noon looking like the reanimated.

      • Robert F says:

        I felt sort of like a zombie after eating the carb rich Easter breakfast served between services on Sunday morning. Sitting in choir, I thought I would pass out during the first half of the second service, but I rallied during the sermon. Miracles never cease.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “The difference between fiction and reality is fiction has to make sense.”
      — attr to Mark Twain

    • Ugh, zombie entertainment at church. Where are you, Vincent Price? The modern zombie genre derives from Medieval superstition and Black Plague preoccupation with corpses, which produced the revenant, the demonic roving husk. There are plenty of biblical accounts of risen corpses – Lazarus, Tabitha, and Eutychus, and Matthew’s account of the tombs burst open after Jesus’ resurrection. These are far from monstrous people roaming the earth seeking someone to devour. Malevolent intent plays no part in any of them, and it is a really tragic metaphor. But according to Judah Smith of the City Church in Seattle (presumably writing tongue-in-cheek), “you could call Jesus the ultimate zombie. He was killed, then he came back from the dead, and now he’s coming for you.” I don’t think anybody who honestly believes that has anything to worry about. Because zombies specifically are brain-eaters.

      • “… you could call Jesus the ultimate zombie. He was killed, then he came back from the dead, and now he’s coming for you….”

        In that case the Parousia would be a real zombie apocalypse.

        • Maybe not as a zombie, but there are people looking forward to the day when Jesus comes back as a psychopath

          • Yes, I know. They project their resentment and desire for revenge onto that apocalyptic figure. Nietzsche taught me that about them, and myself. There are strands of that, too, in the New Testament; it’s a perennial human temptation to give our desire for revenge the aura of the divine.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Yeah. Over at Slacktivist, they call that “TurboJesus”.

            It’s all wrapped up with the default in Evangelical Circus Eschatology: Book of Revelation as a Secret Coded Checklist of History Written in Advance with the Ultimate Escape Fantasy/Revenge Fantasy. I got taught that brand of eschatology during the heyday of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and the damage is still there.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          When the subject came up on a comment thread years ago, the best comment read:

          ZOMBIE BEST MONSTER. JESUS SAY “EAT FLESH”. ZOMBIE FOLLOW JESUS.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Zombies are SERIOUSLY overdone these days. Like Elves & Dwarves in fantasy fiction.

        Just last weekend at a comic con dealers room, I ran into the latest thing in Zombie Apocalypse:
        “Lawn of the Dead”, i.e. Zombie Garden Gnomes.
        I am NOT making that up.

  5. David Cornwell says:

    When I was 14 I went into the rabbit business. I learned everything I could about raising rabbits, all the different breeds, how many litters they could have a year (a lot if you timed everything right) and went to rabbit shows. I ended up with about 50 rabbits at one point. My ultimate goal was to raise rabbits for meat.

    Along with learning about rabbits I quickly learned about sexual reproduction. These days teens learn many other ways, but the methods are not so wholesome. And, they did lay little brown things in abundance, but I never saw one egg.

    My business failed because I could not kill them. My brother killed some for me, and I dressed them. But I decided they were better pets than meat.

    Sorry for the side track, but when rabbits are mentioned I cannot help it!

    • Of Rabbits to DwarfHamsters says:

      Oh, that’s okay.
      I think that is lovely…

      fifty rabbits!

      My daughters thought the same with Dwarf Hamsters…
      At one point, a whole wall of her room was stacked 3 – 4 high with glass aquarium hamster homes.
      They were so cute…

      She named each one
      And she learned a lot.

      I think she saw a few of the mothers eat their babies.
      That was traumatic.

      And… there was a litter… well, after a few generations…
      Problems.

    • I had the same problem with chickens, tho in later years. I butchered the roosters for awhile but it bothered me to where I just couldn’t do it any more. Chickens seem to do best when there is about one rooster to eleven hens, but they are hatched in a one to one ratio. If you have never been around a huge overabundance of testosterone-poisoned roosters fighting over the poor bedraggled hens, you have not seen chaos.

  6. CM, the “name” you mention above for the Easter rabbit actually means “Easter rabbit.”

    • Yes that was Ted Olsen at CT who wrote that. Guess he slipped it by his editor, huh?

      • He’s obviously spent no time among actual speakers of German, or PA Dutch (which is likely what he was trying to replicate there – it’s an interesting dialect). 😉

    • I’ve always wondered if the Hungarian surname Esterhazy is really a German borrowing of “easter bunny”

      • Dana Ames says:

        Hungarian bears no relationship to any other European language, except very distantly to Finnish. Ezterhaz was the name of a place in present-day Slovakia, and when the family in question acquired the land, they took the place name as their surname.

        Quick trip to Google Translate reveals that in Hungarian “este” means “night” or “evening” and “haz” means “house.” Not sure how to put that together to make sense as Hungarians would understand it, but there you are.

        There is actually a children’s book called “Esterhazy: The Rabbit Prince” about a rabbit who journeys to Berlin, and among other adventures witnesses the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Sounds like fun!

        Christ is risen!
        Dana

        • Dana – yes, that book is terrific. It has wonderful illustrations and is a fave of mine.

          I also have a lovely indoor rabbit who is my best bud.

  7. Daniel Jepsen says:

    “But that’s not the only problem with helicopter drops. Better plan for that crowd, Dan, or you might have to issue an apology like the city of Dunedin, Florida did last year…”

    Fortunately or unfortunately, I have never had to worry about a crowd 🙂

  8. Randy Thompson says:

    This is the absolute best picture of the Easter Bunny ever, anywhere. (The artist is Michael Sowa, who is an illustrator you really should get to know.)

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WnqoNIkRT7A/TbRd8JbiRYI/AAAAAAAAJH8/fDpTa89EO48/s1600/easter+bunny.jpg

    (If this doesn’t come up as a clickable link, sorry. I’m not sure how to do that.)

  9. Richard Hershberger says:

    Two bits jumped out at me from the piece about churches bribing people to attend on Easter. Well, three: I got the point about the sheer tackiness.

    Then there was the claim that attendance on Easter jumps 25 to 50 percent over the norm. That seems low to me. I’ll have to check the numbers, but my impression from personal observation is that attendance is something like two to three times normal. Similarly with Christmas Eve. I wonder if this is a mainline vs. Evangelical thing. A lot of mainlines have a lot of people with loose ties to the church: typically stuff like they went there as kids but rarely attend as adults. Do Evangelical churches not have their share of Christmas and Easter Christians? Perhaps not, at least for megachurches. They may not have the history to have inherited Christmas and Easter Christians, and so have to go trawling for them.

    The second bit was the guy complaining that preaching about Hell on Easter doesn’t draw them in like it used to. He also observes the heightened competition: “There are far more churches than there once was. It’s hard to stand out.” Presumably this is due to all those church plants. The implication is that churches are routinely planted in areas that already have ample churches in place. I have long wondered about the ideology of church plants. I can see the justification if there is some segment of the population not served by the existing churches, but an awful lot of church plants look to me like a grab for market share, no different from putting another fast food franchise on the same stretch of road as all the others.

    • My mainline congregation sees about twice the amount of people on Easter as on a normal Sunday. Christmas Eve is closer to three times. My parents’ evangelical church gets a very small bump. The churches are only 5 miles apart, so I’m guessing it has something to do with mainline vs. evangelical churches!

  10. Daniel Jepsen says:

    Richard, I can only speak of my own experience. The Sundays before Christmas we see about a 10 percent increase. On Easter Sunday it is more like 20 -25 percent. Most of the increase is not from “Christmas and Easter only” attenders, but because part of the congregation is sporadic in attendance. Some come every week, others 3 out of four, and others about half the time. But at Easter everyone attends.

    In regards to your last paragraph, I think you are partly right about the market share mentality. But other church planters I know have a different reason: they feel that churches are most effective at reaching outsiders when they are new. I’m not sure they are right, but that is their philosophy.

  11. That was fiction, right, about the helicopter? A friend said “we have become a country of rubes.” Nah, I said, you watch too much cable TV. Now I think “Hmm.”

    • Believe it or not, Hanni, my little church here in central Indiana has always featured a helicopter at Easter. They use it to fly in the Easter Bunny for the annual Sat. Egg hunt however, not to drop eggs. Less collateral damage I guess. It’s one of the church activities I’ve avoided during our years there.

  12. Appropos the mega-contortions to pull in new checkbooks attached to people, I don’t know if anybody else caught this. Just substitute the words “golf course”, and voila, you have the same megachurch user-friendly madness:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/19/sports/golf/in-a-hole-golf-considers-digging-a-wider-one.html?hp&_r=3

  13. David Cornwell says:

    I totally fail to get any of the helicopter stuff and what it has to do with proclaiming the gospel on Easter. Must be my aging brain.

    • Robert F says:

      David, never mind the helicopter. We need to be very careful: it’s said that Christian zombies, like the ones discussed in the comments above, especially enjoy the piquant bouquet of an aged brain…

      • David Cornwell says:

        I can hear something howling outside at night recently. I thought it was coyotes, but do zombies do that also?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Classic zombies are silent.

          The movie version of feral zombies moan and groan.

  14. As Mr. Carlson, the station manager at WKRP said, “As God is my witness, I thought plastic Easter eggs could fly.”

  15. I don’t get why some people think picking up eggs scattered all over an open field is an egg hunt. I guess it makes some sense if you live in apartments. But where I grew up, eggs were hidden color matched to blooming flowers, or parked vehicles, under buckets, up high in the crotches of trees, or sneaked in the branches of the dwarf lemon tree. They were never simply placed in the middle of the grass! It’s supposed to be an egg HUNT!