Why Ishtar Doesn't Stop Me from Celebrating Easter

3/24/15


Not sure if you've heard (or stepped foot inside a grocery store, mall, Wal-Mart, Target, Hobby Lobby, am I forgetting any?...), but Easter's coming up!

Depending on the circle of Christians (or lack thereof) that you run with, you may or may not be aware of the emerging trend of eschewing the word "Easter" in favor of more specifically Christian terms like "Resurrection Day".  Sometimes this is coupled with a diminishment of Easter celebrations, with perhaps more emphasis on commemorating Passover instead.

(Regarding the last note, I want to say that I find celebrating Passover as Christians to be a powerful thing and am in no way implying it's not worthwhile to do.  But some modern evangelicals may be surprised to hear that liturgical denominations have celebrated- and continue to celebrate- it as Maundy Thursday for centuries as part of Holy Week leading up to Easter.  It doesn't have to be an either/or, and it's definitely not "the new Easter".)

I have several friends whom I respect who find themselves on various places on that spectrum.  To the best of my understanding, their reasons are first and foremost a grievance against the commercialization of the holiday.  Which, yes, I absolutely agree is unfortunate.  The next most common defense I hear is in regards to the alleged relationship between the Easter holiday and the pagan worship of the goddess Ishtar, a bit of a rumor that is best summed up by this meme:

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Something like that.

I have read discrepancies on whether that is even factual, and it seems to me more likely that the English word "Easter" is actually derived from the Germanic pagan goddess Eostre.  But honestly, Ishtar/Eostre, potato/potahto.  

Here's the deal, Christians: our Savior came to redeem the world.  To make the wrong things right. To form beauty out of ashes.  To take the most broken, the most disturbing, the most jacked up of this whole humanity thing, and redeem it.  If that's not worth celebrating on a day that once belonged to darkness and perversion, then I just don't know what is.  If you think about it, it's actually the perfect day to celebrate the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

We don't have to be afraid, you guys.  We don't have to be afraid of inadvertently worshipping pagan goddesses when we celebrate Easter.  We don't have to be afraid of worshipping Satan when we let our kids trick or treat on Halloween.  We don't have to be afraid of the fact that our world has a long, complex history on which our society had been built.  We get to embrace it all and see Christ in all.  But we can't do that if we're too scared to hold out our arms and open our eyes.

Because those pagans out there?  It's not about us against them.  It's just "us", all of us, the one human race that God Himself became part of.  Of course we exercise wisdom and discernment. But honestly, I'm not that worried about most of us accidentally finding ourselves in the middle of an orgy on Easter.  I *am* worried about us separating ourselves so far from the rest of humanity that our neighbors feel judged and weirded out and never get to experience the love of Christ.

And also?  Isn't our precious faith fractured enough?  We probably have more divisions than we have unity, yet Easter Sunday is the one day when every single Christian in the world pauses to remember the one thing we can all agree on, the one thing that it's all about anyway.  Easter is a sweet gift to the Bride of Christ on the earth.  I wouldn't give it up for anything, least of all because I'm intimidated by some forgotten pagan goddess with big boobs.

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Dissenting comments are very welcome and encouraged!  We can disagree on this and still be friends- promise! :)

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)

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