I am not a fan of fancy jewelry or of designer clothes, fitting for a star or a celebrity that poses. Neither am I a lover of first class and VIP pass or special made cars that go fast. My friends and family think I am too ordinary and simple while some less charitable folks think it is a situation of “fox calling the grape sour because it cannot get it”. Don’t get me wrong. There are things I fuss about and will kick a tantrum or even cuss about.
For example, food and drink. I am crazy about what I eat and drink. You are what you eat so I try to avoid eating carcass or anything that had a face or brain. I also try to follow the wheat and rice motto: “If it white it not right”. Therefore, I try and avoid white bread, white rice and white sugar. For beverage, I do crave natural juices over mixed drinks.
Yeah. I love natural juices. Imagine 100% juice caressing your taste buds as it gushes down your throat and soothe your thirst. While I won’t pay large sums of money for designer jeans, I don’t mind paying mega bucks for quality juice.
In short, I try to eat healthy but it seems the best things in life are not free and are more for the wealthy. So, you can imagine my chagrin when a poor chap like me buys expensive things and get substitutes. Buying leather and getting leatherette or faux. Buying Juice and getting drinks. It is akin to passing off a harlot as a lady.
Here is what happened. I went into a reputable supermarket in Upper St. Andrew, Jamaica. I bought a bottle of 100% juice made by a reputable juice company. Needless to mention, the brand also had a reputation for high price. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I was sold mixed drinks as 100% juice. Are you surprised that I was surprised? Don’t laugh. Chances are you got shafted too.
You see, many times we are misled and even taken advantage of by people and organizations that we would not, even for a minute, expect such behaviour from. The painful part is not that we got shafted as in life we can expect to get used, abused and refused. The hurtful part is when we are taken advantage of by someone or something that we loved, respected and trusted. Yet, it is now so common to be ripped off that regrettably, uncommon is now common and abnormal has become normal.
Yes. It has become such a sport to “exploit” people that many individuals and organizations delve into the art and science of persuading and confusing. It is fun for some to get much from none. They make exaggerated claims and argue it is legal and it is called “puffery” or advertisement. In Jamaica, we say it is “tricks in trade and mischievous in business” or simply, bamboozled. Regardless of what they want to call it, an apple by any other name is still an apple. It’s deception.
Fooling some people sometimes
By the way, did I tell you which brand product it was that I bought in a reputable supermarket in a reputable area in upper St. Andrew Jamaica and also in Walmart and in Publix in USA. It is Mott’s: 100% Apple Juice.
Seriously now, who does that? It is more like, who doesn’t do that. A growing number of food and drink companies are labeling their products “all natural” or “100% juice” to attract health-concerned customers in order to improve their bottom line and get in the black. Do you feel deceived though?
Facts Vs Figures
Look at the picture and as they taught us in law course, “res ipsa loquitor’ – the thing speaks for itself.
Yes, as you can see the #100%juice is noticeable, big, pronounced, bold, standing tall. It is conspicuously placed at the front of the bottle and can be seen from far away. However, in smaller print, at the back of the bottle, is a list of the contents stating water, apple juice concentrate and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Wait a minute. The first ingredient is water in a bottle of 100% Apple Juice? The second ingredient is Apple Juice from concentrate. The third is ascorbic acid. What does this mean? Where is the 100% juice?
Let me quickly share a legal packaging requirement with you: Ingredients for a product should be listed in descending order with the ingredient that is the most, in terms of volume, weight and size, being listed first. Simply put, put the most first. If water is listed first it means that water is the majority of the content. In a bottle of a 100% apple juice, the only ingredient to be listed is apple juice.
If not, then we need to find a creative way of explaining it such that a child can understand that 100% doesn’t mean ALL, anymore. Please bear in mind that the label clearly stated, “contains 100% Apple Juice” and elementary school kids know that a 100% of something mean there is nothing else.
Not saying Mott’s, is telling lies. Mott’s did say CONTAIN 100% juice, not that the entire content of the bottle is 100% apple juice. Just that the statement is misleading if not false.
Let’s look at it this way: if Mott’s pour 100% apple juice in the bottle to say a ¼ full and then pour in water for the other ¾, it would not have lied. The bottle does contain 100% juice, albeit, the entire content of the bottle is not 100% juice. This should cover all legal requirements? Right? Tricks in trade and mischievous in business. Figures don’t lie but liars can figure. Sigh. False or misleading? Well. Hmmm.
Technically, the jury could still be out on this one and in the mean time this “façade” is seemingly being complicity given the green light by regulatory bodies, distributors and even us, as customers. I can understand businesses being crafty to make profits and i know how easy it is to deceive people. What I can’t appreciate is how the regulatory bodies and the distributors seems oblivious or even complicit to this deceptive act.
You see, when I was in college, they taught us Latin terms such as caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) and caveat venditor (let the seller beware). They told us that in the 18th and 19th century, buyers had to be on their Ps and Qs as producers were taking disadvantage of them. In short, ripping them off. Hence the term caveat emptor. Then they taught us that in the 20th century the table turned as sellers now had to be aware of how they produce and sold goods (caveat venditor). We were taught that legislation such as the Sales of Goods Act, Fair Trade Commission etc. would protect the unsuspecting and maybe “naïve” customers from the power and duplicity of big business. What morons we were.
Of course, there are some Mott’s drinks that are more juice than some but none is 100% juice. As mentioned, many other drinks company are also passing off mixed drinks as Juices. See photo.
The blatant way in which this deception is done makes the devil blush. While many devilish things are done in the dark, these companies exploit us in broad daylight after luring us with advertisements in our own home on television, online and in newspaper.
We know the bottom line for many businesses is profit and it is important to be in the black, but not by fraud and deception. (By the way, being in the black or making a profit is one of the few times the word “black” is use in a positive sense.If you are making a loss, then you are said to be in the red).
Of course, there are some companies that do have morals and value Honesty, Integrity and Trust. As such, they not only say it, but make it. In Jamaica, one such company is Orijin, which as we say in Jamaica , “a the real thing”. Their label says 100% juice and their list of ingredients back up the claim. No water.
In the USA, Naked Juice is also a really fruity juice. They too are 100% juice but I need to tell you the naked truth about what happened to them back in 2011. Naked Juice is made by Pepsi Co Inc and they were sued for claiming there juice was All Natural.
Guilty as charged.
Here is the facts of the “real news”. In 2011, Naked Juice was forced to retract their claim that their Naked juice was “100% fruit” and “all natural.” The juice company was actually including ascorbic acid (vitamin c) and synthetic sources of fiber in its beverages — proving that “all natural” and #100% juice can be fairly meaningless buzzwords. The complaint points out that the “front-of-package promises that the product is ‘ALL NATURAL’ and ‘100% JUICE.’ (Sounds familiar?)
It was held by the Court that a reasonable consumer would not assume that defendants were being deceptive and would not know to read the very-fine-print ingredient label.
PepsiCo Inc. agreed to settle for a $9 million lawsuit where each customer could receive up to US$75 in accordance to the company’s false, misleading and deceptive advertisements. They also dropped the “ALL NATURAL” claim from their labels.
Other companies, such as Kashi and General Mills Inc. faced identical disputes for using GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, while claiming to be #100percent natural and containing no artificial ingredients.
Facing the music
As Albert Einstein once said, The world is a dangerous place; not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
I must agree, there have been changes in the ways that businesses operate today and we are and should be thankful for the Fair Trade Commissions and other legislation. However, it is hard to accept a bottle of ¼ juice and ¾ water being sold as a bottle of 100% juice.
If Pepsi was forced to change their labels and advertising for their Naked Juice, this precedent could and should be applied to other companies that are passing off mixed drinks as 100% juice. Just change the label…. and the price.
You know what they also taught in college. The customer is king and is always right. Fortunately, I was going through my recurring moments of truancy and had missed class that day so I didn’t learned it. I am glad I didn’t. Which King? Consumers are vagabonds.
If consumers are vagabonds, what are big businesses that exploit vagabonds? There is no winner.
I now hope that you are faced with the dilemma of keeping quiet, not rocking the boat and continue enjoying a “watery” bottle of 100% Apple Juice or kicking a tantrum like a spoil child whose parents are not giving him or her juice after he or she had asked for it.
Not that one should be distrustful of companies, supermarkets and government and become ardent advocate and #startamovement against false and misleading advertisement, but ignorance is not bliss nor is it an excuse at law.
As you have seen, reputable organizations do tell “lies” and call it advertisement and marketing. That prompted this blong as I am very uncomfortable of big business or people taking advantage of the poor and meek, because I am poor. I also detest the idea of so call advertisers making false or misleading claims and calling it marketing as I am a chartered marketer.
In fact, marketers are sworn to a strict code of ethics that prohibit them from lying and making false claims. We embrace the values of Honesty, Integrity and Trust (HIT). We become substandard and unworthy to be called marketers if we do deceptive practices.
For the fun of it, put the first letter in substandard (S) in front of the elements of good value (HIT) and you will find out the messy position you can be in if you lie.
It is true that figures don’t lie but liars can figure and it is easy to deceive but there is no real winner. Indeed, in 1983, I had a book of my poems published titled “VIEW” and one of the poems in it is called SOUL FREE. One verse goes like this:
If 6 was the same as 9, we would not need to choose. You may trick me and win, when you trick love you lose.
February 14, 2018 is very very special as Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday will be sharing centre stage on that day. Makes for great drama and intrigue. Romance vs Penance. No doubt, Valentine Day and Ash Wednesdays are not jokes and silly notions, however they have set up a climax with Easter Sunday falling on April 1, All Fools’ Day. Hoping no one gets fooled.
Chances are, this is the first time you are experiencing this unusual occurrence as the last time it happened was in 1945. Most of us know February 14 as the day when we deck out our red and white outfits; send poems and buy gifts; express love and romance and of course a lot of sex, lewdness and at times even debauchery.
Well, this year, Ash Wednesday finds itself on February 14 and is threatening to temper this aura of romance with its insistence on penitence, repentance, sadness, and mourning. What a contrast. Imagine mourning and fun and frolicking on the same day. Is this a choice?
Of course, you might be wondering which of the two rituals will win. Which will get more recognition? Valentine’s Day or Ash Wednesday? Will there be romance or penance? Maybe, there could be a draw with no clear winner. A bit of romance and a bit of penance. Hmmm, now that is complicated.
Then again it might not matter which one wins because they both serve the same purpose: they both are agrarian/pastoral attempts to get the favours of the gods to ensure a great Spring and farming. One does it with lewdness and one does it with shrewdness. The winner is the seasons or more simply, nature.
The Origins of Valentine’s Day (February 13 – 15)
(Februarius) February got its name from the thongs (known as februa) cut from the flayed skin of sacrificial male goats and dogs which were killed to favour the agricultural gods during that time of the year. Most of the observances in this month concerned the dead or closure, reflecting the month’s original position at the end of the year. It must be noted that the calendar had February at the end of the year but Julius Caesar decided in 46 BC to move the start of the calendar from the traditionally beginning of March to the beginning of January.
The spring cleansing ritual of Februa (February 13 – 15) involved sacrifices, lewdness and eroticism. It evolved into the Lupercalia as called by the Romans or Pan as called by the Greeks. The Lupercus (god of the flocks) was nude, save for a goatskin girdle.
At the Lupercal altar, a male goat (or goats) and a dog were sacrificed under the supervision of the chief priest. Goats and dogs were chosen as they are animals remarkable for their strong sexual instinct, and thus most appropriate sacrifices to the god of fertility.
An offering was also made of salted mealcakes, prepared by the vestal virgins. After the blood sacrifice, two Luperci (priests) approached the altar. Their foreheads were anointed with blood from the sacrificial knife, then wiped clean with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and/or laugh. (Red and White on February 14?).
The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs (known as februa) from the flayed skin of the victim, and ran with these, naked or near-naked, up and down through the streets, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. Many women purposely get in their way, hoping to be struck, believing that the if they are pregnant it would help with delivery and if they were are barren they would get pregnant. (Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday?).
The rituals also included a matchmaking kind of pixie draw, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then have sex for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
Note that the Lupercali festivals and worship were practiced before the birth and death of Christ and was quite acceptable among the common folks and gentry. However, it was considered abominable by Jehovah and the Jews. With the conversion of Rome to Christianity in AD 326, attempts were made to “reposition” the idol worships of the ancient fathers into a frame of mind that would be palatable and more becoming for purists and folks who were “trying to serve Jehovah”.
Fortunately, by coincident or design, a priest named St. Valentine, was imprisoned by the emperor of Rome, Claudius II for assisting persecuted Christians and secretly marrying Christian couples in love. As the story goes, during Valentine’s imprisonment he tried converting Claudius to Christianity. Claudius became enraged and ordered Valentine to reject his faith or be killed. He refused to forsake his faith, so Valentine was beheaded on February 14.
The story also included an account that happened during Valentine’s imprisonment after he tutored a girl named Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer. The legend states God restored Julia’s sight after she and Valentine prayed together. On the eve of his execution, Valentine supposedly penned a note to Julia and signed it, “From your Valentine.”
The Catholic Church declared him a saint and listed him in Roman Martyrology as being martyred on February 14. In the late 5th century A.D., Pope Gelasius I eliminated the pagan celebration of Lupercalia and declared February 14 a day to celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine.
Interestingly, many of the traditions of Februa and Lupercalia were usurped or continued under the banner of Valentine’s Day. As mentioned, use of red represented the blood sacrifice during Lupercalia and the color white signified the milk used to wipe the blood clean and represents new life and procreation. The sex, promiscuity and romance were done to enhance fertility.
As seen, the rebranding of February 14 and Lupercalia worship as Valentine’s Day is an easier sell to get converts. Today’s discerning population will prefer to buy a product packaged with a chubby priest than the use of that horrible looking half naked man dressed in goat clothing. Of course, we know an apple called by any other name is still an apple.
Such is the story of Valentine’s Day origin. Let’s look at the seemingly contradictory approach to fertility, called Ash Wednesday, that suggests penance and abstinence.
The worship of Lent is a fore runner to Ash Wednesday. Similar to how Lupercalia became Valentine’s Day. The term Lent is a shortened form of Lenten, which derives from the Old English term lencten, which means spring. This word is from the Old English root word lang which means long. Lent thus refers to the Spring because it is the season when the days begin to lengthen.
In biblical times, Lent was a period of penance and abstinence for forty (40) days to mourn the death of Tammuz (a day for each year of his life as he was killed at age 40). At the end of the mourning, on a Sunday near the Spring Equinox, Tammuz would come back to life and the agriculture would flourish and the animals fertile. The 40 day mourning and penance had to end on the Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 to coincide with the worship of Easter, the goddess of fertility.
You may be curious as to who was Tammuz. As we will soon realize, man also made gods in his own image and likeness. Tammuz, the god of fertility, was one such god. He was paraded as the immaculate conceived son of a great woman called Semiramis who, some legend has it, later became the Queen of Heaven, Easter or Ashtoreth as Isaiah and Ezekiel called her. (see below for more information on this mother/child relationship).
Lent was accepted into the beliefs of the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The council also settled upon the 40-day fast period as the standard length to celebrate Lent. During this time period Constantine’s (emperor of Rome) goal was to combine pagans and Christians into a peaceable unit within the Roman kingdom.
In 601, Pope Gregory moved the beginning of Lent from the fourth Sunday of the year to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter. This changed allowed for 40 days of fasting with six Sundays counted as feast days, for a total of 46 days for Lent.
The interesting thing about Lent or Ash Wednesday is that it is attached to Easter. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is determined after the date of Easter has been designated. Easter begins on the Friday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which is March 21. By ecclesiastical rules, which fixes the date of the equinox to March 21, the earliest possible date for Easter is March 22 and the latest possible is April 25.
Accordingly, Ash Wednesday can be as earl y as February 4 and as late as March 11. It all depends on when the moon fulls after March 21 and counting backwards for 46 days from Easter Sunday to determine the beginning of Lent.
Wait a minute. I am sure if you were brought up in a nice Christian home like I did, you will be getting a bit puzzled now. What does the full moon, and beginning of Spring (March 21) got to do with Lent and Easter? The answer is everything. They both depends on the full moon after the spring equinox.
To fully appreciate the origins of Lent and Easter we must look back at where it all started. Thousands of years ago, man was very dependent on nature and its predictable yet uncertain behaviour. They quickly realized that the Sun, Moon and stars had a far-reaching impact and influence on harvests and live stocks.
As reasonable folks or better yet, as shrewd folks, they tried to give reverence and recognition to this profound fact. Common sense would dictate that the reverence be given to the Creator of the sun and moon but guess what, so far, no one has seen the maker of the sun and moon.
So man, being as creative as he is, decided to make gods in his own image, likeness and understanding. A god for everything of great importance. The sun was called the god of life and the moon was the goddess of fertility. Venus and Cupid took care of Love and Thor took care of war. You get the drift.
The greatest thing about this multi theism was that these gods were not jealous of each other. Each had his or her own affair and actually worked together. (Contrast this with Jehovah who is said to be so Jealous that he is biased and prejudiced in that he will destroy those who serve other gods and take care of those who serve him).
Sentiments aside, let’s look at how the myths and legends explain the rituals and practices surrounding the worshipping of Lent and Easter.
According to the original and genuine Easter story, Ashtoreth/Easter (the goddess of fertility) was worshipped as the provider and re-starter of all life at Spring (March 21). She is also believed to be the deification of the infamous Semiramis, the wife of Nimrod, of bible fame. Recall the tower of babel great hunter. We learnt about him at Sunday School and how he was against Jehovah.
It is unclear how Nimrod died as in in the Book of Jasher it is said that Esau, son of Isaac) killed him; while Josephus states that Shem, the son of Noah, killed nimrod. However, after his death, Nimrod body ascended into the heavens and became the sun god himself. A bit horrifying but here comes the romantic part. Nimrod, the sun god, became rays of light and implanted his seed into his wife, Semiramis now a widow, and impregnate her. (Virgin mother and child?).
The myth further stated that the child was called Tammuz , son of the sun god. He was responsible for bringing light into the world and to fight darkness. Can you guess when Tammuz was born? If you said at the Winter Solstice (December 22 – 25) you are correct. For those steeped in religious studies, you will recall that Invictus Sol (the unconquerable sun) was born on the shortest day of the year or the Saturnalia (December 22 -25) and we worship him today every December 25. That is Tammuz. Some customs called him Baal, or Mithra and more recently Jesus Christ, to legitimize its worship. Again, an apple by any other name is still an apple. Click here to See my blog on December 25 worship
The myth climaxed with the idea that Tammuz, at age 40, went hunting and was killed by a boar (hog, pig..same thing….how fitting). In order to bring back her son (Tammuz) to life an elaborate scheme was devised. The idea required forty (40) days of mourning for Tammuz (a day for each year of his life). At the end of 40 day mourning, Tammuz returns to life on the Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. Abstinence from meat, self and lust was the order of the day for the 40 days of Lent. At the end of Lent, a boar is killed and ham is eaten. Sweet revenge on the pig that killed Tammuz.
As the myth would have it, Tammuz mother, Semiramis died and the gods looked favorably on her as she was the mother of the son of the sun god. She was sent back to earth as the Spring fertility goddess, Ashtoreth/Easter, always shown as a well endowed bare breasted queen of fertility. According to the myth, she emerged from a giant egg that landed in the Euphrates river at sunrise on the Sunday after the full moon after the Spring equinox.
Semiramis, the queen of heaven, was “born again” as the goddess Easter (Ashtarte). To prove her divine authority, Semiramis, now Ashtoreth/Easter, changed a bird into an egg laying rabbit. Decorated eggs and stories about rabbits are still part of today’s Easter ritual.
As the cult of Ishtar developed, the priests would impregnate young virgins on the altar of the goddess of fertility at sunrise on Easter Sunday. A year later the priests of Easter would sacrifice these three-month old babies on the altar at the front of the sanctuary and dye Easter eggs in the blood of the sacrificed infants.
You must be saying wow. You knew Easter was bloody but it was suppose to be the blood of Jesus, that was shed to save the sins of the world.
Indeed, Christians are quick and proud to recognized Good Friday and Easter Sunday as Christ’s death and resurrection day. It is with good intentions that they do such acts of passion but the evidence show that the crucifixion of Christ was only attached to Easter, 300 years after Christ died. Furthermore, the math and prophecies suggest that a Friday death and Sunday resurrection would not fit in with the “three days and three nights” requirement for the Christ to be dead and then resurrected. (Friday evening to Sunday morning is one day and two nights).
Interestingly, it should be noted that the new testament even mention Easter by name and being around at the time of Christ and the Peter the disciple. Acts 12: 4 state that 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (Seems the Romans were already worhsipping Easter).
So the true meaning of Easter Sunday is originally for the day Tammuz was resurrected and neatly too the day when his mother, Semiramis, was returned to earth as Ashtoreth/Easter/Ishtar the goddess of fertility.
The major contention that many people have with the Friday and Sunday idea of Christ’s death and resurrection has to do with the fact that the Gospels mentioned Christ as being killed the day before the Sabbath. Of course we all know that Friday is the day before the weekly Saturday Sabbath. However, most elementary school students will let you know that if Christ was killed on “Good Friday” evening and raised from the dead on Easter Sunday morning, he would be lying or his math poor as this is only one day and two nights.
Why is this contentious? Well, if we are to believe the scriptures and Christ, then Christ must be dead for three days and three nights. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40).
WHICH DAY DID CHRIST DIED?
If according to the “new” Easter story Christ died on a Friday and raised on a Sunday then we have a problem. Are the gospels wrong? The answer is no. Christ was actually killed on a Wednesday, the day before a Sabbath but it was not the regular weekly Saturday Sabbath. Many of us do not know that the Jews had annual Sabbaths. As a matter of fact, two extra Sabbaths called High Sabbaths are observed every year in Nissan 14 (March or April). As a result, there are two Sabbaths every year in March/April.
These High Sabbaths don’t have to be on a Saturday as they are dates not days. They are celebrated to recognize the Passover and Israel’s miraculous exodus from Pharaoh’s Egypt.
Recall the Exodus story and the Passover? Well, before I graduated from Sunday School, I was taught the Passover story of how Moses got the Hebrew people out of the land of Egypt after being enslaved for years. Of course, the Hebrews were only set free after Jehovah killed all first born in Egypt. During the slaughter, the Hebrews who had killed animals for the last meal in Egypt, use the blood to smear the posts of their houses and the Lord passed over them and none was killed. Exodus 11:4-5.
Hence the creation of the Passover and the two High Sabbaths which were required to be commemorated annually by the Israelite. Leviticus 23:5-8. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is Yahweh’s Passover. 6 ‘Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 ‘On the first day of the 7 days you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'”
As mentioned, these two holy convocation or High Sabbath sometimes fall in the same week of Easter and sometimes they are not. The year when Christ was killed, the week of Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened bread fell in Easter week, Wednesday (High Sabbath) and on Saturday, normal Sabbath.
For example, this year Passover 2018 will begin in the evening of Friday, 30 March and ends in the evening of Saturday, 7 April. As such this year we will see two Sabbaths in one. The High Sabbath and the weekly Saturday Sabbath will both occur on Friday evening March 30, to Saturday evening March 31. On the other hand Easter is Sunday April 1. Noticed how Easter is always a Sunday while the High Sabbath and Passover can be week days or even the Saturday Sabbath.
Summarily, the bible mentioned two Sabbaths during the week of Christ’s death. The annual High Sabbath which occurred the Wednesday Christ was killed and the weekly Saturday Sabbath, the evening he rose.
Still a bit fuzzy? Let’s use the Gospels as our guide to get a clear idea of the timeline for Christ’s death.
For the fun of it, let’s take a quick look at Easter, as it was in the time of the prophets such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, thousands of years before Jesus Christ was born. Yeah,as we noted, Easter was around long before Christ was even born. Ashtoreth/Easter is mentioned in the old testament and in every instance that Easter is mentioned, Jehovah, the god of the Hebrews/Isrealites is pretty much annoyed, and in vengeance mode. A top flight Jamaican DJ, Bounti Killer, would say.. “cross, angry and miserable”.
Ezek 8:14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. (Lent)
2 Ki 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
1 Kings 11:5-6. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of Yahweh; he did not follow Yahweh completely, as David his father had done.
1 Kings 11:33. I will do this (split the nation) because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians…., , and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon’s father did.
So the people of Israel removed the Baals and images of Ashtoreth. They served only Yahuwah. (1 Samuel 7:3,4)
These “images” are referring to the idols and statues of Ishtar, the fertility goddess of the Philistines, who is depicted with large, bare breasts. (Some say she is now the Statue of Liberty).
Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday have both been dear to our hearts for years. The romance associated with Valentine’s Day has allowed us to express love in many ways. The penance shown during Lent starting at Ash Wednesday, reminds us of our mortality and dependence on nature.
History, however is muddling this rosy picture of Valentine’s Day and is suggesting that Valentine’s Day is a mere continuation of Lupercalia, an ancient agrarian erotic fertility festival that was held near the Ides of February (February 13-15). The festival involved shedding the blood of a sacrificial goat and then dipping a piece of its skin in its blood after which it was used to smear the priests and then wiped clean with milk. (Is this the red and white).
Ash Wednesday has not escaped the glare of history. Many myths and legends suggest that Lent was also an ancient pagan festival devoted to Tammuz, the god of fertility who was the son of the infamous Semiramis who became Easter, on the Sunday after the full moon at the Spring Equinox. . The horrifying stories of three month old children being killed to appease these gods at Easter might make Satan blush. Then again, they might just be his proxies.
With this in mind, it seems that although both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday have served us well and seems to be good for us, they can be poisonous. Hmmm, Poisoning. Poison, but you are good for me?
Can’t resist the temptation to share a song done by my daughter, Aneil, called Poison. It’s quite befitting for Valentine’s Day. It tells of a heart that is being motivated and being made special albeit by something that is already “owned”. This dilemma is profound as it provides the choice of running away or staying and fighting and ruling the world with it. Seems, it can be poisoning but also good for you. Verse 1 lyrics are below. Please watch the video on YouTube by clicking here… ANEIL – POISON (Official Lyrics Video)
Your love is poison
But oh baby I want it
And oh baby I’m ‘on it’ (ye ey ey ey ey)
Ya take my mind on a roadtrip
My mind can’t behold it
All the tantalizing things that you say
You do for me what sanity won’t
And that is to be your only girl
In reality it’s so wrong
Because you are already ‘owned’
Your love’s like that drug; can’t get enough
ECG shows my heart all over the charts
You make me wanna ru-u-un, sta-a-ay, fight and rule the world (x2) with you
You’re poison, but you good for me
Do check out the song on YouTube by clicking on the Poison logo.
Maybe, this February 14, we can make it special with love and penance by sharing our time and resources with the less fortunate. That is godly and requires no ritual such as those on Valentine or Ash Wednesday. Just natural out-flowing love and sorrow that should be shown 365 days a year and 366 days in a leap year. Oh what a lovely world it would be.
Being poor is not nice, is inhumane and it should be a crime, illegal and punishable at law. Yet, poverty is such a part of our society that we take it for a given. It is institutionalized and common place. Actually, being poor, for some, is so much a lot in life that many have resigned themselves to being poor. Adding to this resignation, is the fact that poverty can create a vicious cycle of persistent poverty. Indeed, poverty is so ingrained in the society that sociologists even have measurement for it. First class, second class and third class “poverty”.
Sadly, many people benefit from the existence of poverty as many great nations are built and structured with poverty as a main stay feature. Then again, some people are afraid that if the poor is no longer poor it might affect the current status quo. Others also find that when there are poor people around, they feel motivated because they can say they are better than “them”. Yes, for some the existence of the poor makes them feel adequate and fulfilled? Some even believe that if there are no poor people the world would be in disarray?
So it begs questions: “Do we really want to see a change where poverty is discredited and everyone is living like “human beings?”
POVERTY: TO BE OR NOT TO BE
Is poverty really a state of mind as suggested by Ben Carson, who believed that people with the wrong mind-set, will be poor. According to Ben, “you can give them everything in the world — they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.” He added that helping people may not better their lives.
Interestingly, Mr. Carson then credited his mother for helping him focus on his education and rise out of poverty. “If everybody had a mother like mine, nobody would be in poverty,” This aspect of Mr. Carson’s speech has not been underscored. WITHOUT ASSISTANCE HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN A BUM.
Then again, is it that the poor is a part of life and will always be with us as implied by Jesus Christ and as such it is fruitless to try and eradicate poverty? Matthew 26:11, Thepooryou will always havewithyou,butyou will notalwayshaveMe.We must however hastily add that Jesus did suggest a fix for poverty when he advised his disciples to “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Luke 12:33).
Unlike Mr. Carson, many people such as Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro believed poverty was “created” and is real. Folks such as Marx and Lenin believed poverty is real and blamed Capitalism and market economies as the main contributor to poverty.
WHAT IS POVERTY AND ITS CAUSES?
Everyone knows poverty. You are either in poverty or trying to keep out of poverty. However, the United Nations definition: “Fundamentally, poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation”.
The causes of poverty have been cited to include the inability of poor households to invest in property and education; limited access to credit; production of more poverty via inherited poverty and discrimination.
War and violence due to politics, religion or commerce are also some of the primary causes of poverty. Unemployment also contributes.
How could we leave out Colonialism and slavery. Emancipation in 1838 saw the Blacks having their feet unshackled but their minds fettered. After years of forced labour, Blacks were set free with only their brawn and brain as their sole worldly possessions. Contrast the lot of the Africans vs their brothers, Whites, Indians and Chinese who all came over as free men and are the owners of the main factors of production.
Misanthropy is not a commonly used word but unfortunately its meaning is common among people, race,class and creed. Having bad will towards fellow human beings is unmistakably and sadly prevalent in today’s society. Even the blind can see that with the level of knowledge, development and resource in the world there is no excuse for poverty. Yet poverty abound amidst much wealth.
Maybe the time has come for us to think about outlawing poverty. Poverty should become persona non grata. Government would put in the relevant structures, resources and policies to ensure that poverty is eradicated. Education and schools would be used to kill ignorance while tolerance, goodwill and understanding will be used to convert misanthropy into philanthropy.
Seriously, for just a moment, imagine if there was a law that made it illegal to be poor. Each person in poverty would be arrested along with the heads of government for the town or community in which the poor was found. In other words, if a person is found living in poverty, he or she would first be determined for fitness and if found fit then to the penitentiary at hard labour. The respective members of parliament or congress men would also be taken through the same process. If the reason for the poverty is government oriented then the politician would be arrested.
On a more palatable note, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is also concerned about curbing poverty but is calling for a universal basic income to boost personal potential and build economic growth. He is touting the idea of a universal basic income – where the government unconditionally pays all citizens a small amount of money to cover basic needs and to cushion them to try new things.”
Supporters of a universal basic income argue that people might decide to acquire more education or change their career, to make themselves more attractive to the labour market. Others might start a business. Finland and a few other countries are experimenting with the idea.
However, there is always the chance that it could be used as an excuse to work as little as possible and as such poverty should be outlawed.
IMPLICATIONS OF OUTLAWING POVERTY
One of the first implications of outlawing poverty is the need for a Paradigm shift in terms of our values and measurement of success. The usual “guns vs butter” economical decision will need revisiting and maybe empowerment could be the key motivator.
Full employment of human resources, and an educated and healthy nation supported by government could lead to the development of more innovation and technology. For example, Zuckerman admitted “If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, I wouldn’t be standing here today” (as a billionaire and owner of Facebook).
Of course there are some scary and unsettling implications for the outlawing of poverty. Just the thought of eliminating poverty by outlawing it, is a careless reckless idea conjured only by people smoking Champagne and drinking Havana cigars. There are no guarantees that crime and violence, diseases, and inhumane living conditions would be drastically reduced if poverty is outlawed.
Furthermore, being rich is motivational and who doesn’t want to be rich? Think of the displacement it could cause a few rich folks. (According to the 80/20 rule, 80% of the wealth of the world is owned by 20% of the population.) Wouldn’t this border on communism and authoritarian rule. Many will point out that it will even create a military police state which will deprive citizens of basic human rights and democratic freedom. Cuba is seen as an example.
Advocates of capitalism will let you know,that any attempt to interfere with the market structure will result in inefficiencies and bureaucracy. Of course, Cuba’s trump card would include the inequalities, inefficiencies and human rights violations that are traits and characteristic of capitalism and imperialism.
Ben Carson feels that poverty can be a state of mind and this is true. There are instances where the individual level of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation can help determine a life of poverty or wealth. Some misled folks also believe that some races are by characteristic lazy and not enterprising. Fortunately, we need not pay attention to such poppycock as the evidence shows that there are bums in all races. What is real is that poverty is an institution created by man and anything that man created can be destroyed. So far Apartheid and Slavery have been toppled and any effort to discredit and remove poverty should be welcomed.
Of course, outlawing poverty may see changes in the existing status quo and might require a paradigm shift. There will definitely be winners and losers to an extent but the glory will go towards humanity. There are no guarantees that a poverty free world will eliminate crime, violence and injustice but just imagine. Indeed, we may just be changing the types of crimes and ills but why stick to the evil we know when we can venture into a new and exciting world. Just imagine such nonsense. Poverty is illegal.
Clifton Neil is a university lecturer in marketing and a lover of history and literature. Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter. @cliftongneil
Do you believe in heaven? Do you want to get there? Will going to church, tithing, praying, fasting and calling upon the Lord’s name get you to heaven?
Of course it depends on what you call heaven. Is it a place where God dwells or do you see it as a place or state of peace and harmony in body or mind, right here on earth?
The fact is that many people, captors and captives alike, see heaven as a place to be but how to get there has been a big debate resulting in many isms and schisms, religions, politics, commercial pursuits and even genocide. Many a books have been written about it but this weekend I found out how we can all get to heaven smartly. No joke.
I can assure you it doesn’t require yoga, nor therapy, or religious creeds or any obsessions. It doesn’t matter your creed, religion, political views and or no views. No science nor chemical formulas and equations are needed. It does however require an element of selflessness and a love for self and others.
WHO CAN BE IN HEAVEN
Anyone, race, class or creed, can experience heaven but the requirements to get in make it difficult and restrict heaven to a selected few. Indeed, many will be called but few chosen. To make this worse, the normalcy of our abnormal lives make us fit somewhere among the inadmissible to heaven.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states: Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Do the maths and you will noticed that only a few people will be qualified for heaven, on earth or in the sky.
To make it more intriguing, it is possible that even if we are none of the above we are still not guaranteed a space in heaven.Seriously now? Yeah, serious as a sun without heat.
As Proverbs 16:25 reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” and “No one is good – except God alone” (Mark 10:18. So it is possible our understanding could send us to doom.
Also, check out this verse in the bible about heaven and who will be let into the kingdom, according to Jesus Christ.
Mat. 25:34 – 46 “Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ “And I, the King, will tell them, ‘When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!’
Then I will turn to those on my left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry and you wouldn’t feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn’t give me anything to drink; a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me. “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And I will answer, ‘When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.’ “And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life.”
Read that again. This is a very important thing to note: it does appear that if we go to church regularly, give our tithes and offerings and pray every day, we are not guaranteed a space into Jesus’ heaven, UNLESS we help the poor.
SO GOING TO CHURCH WON’T GET YOU TO HEAVEN? NO GUARANTEES.
The temple and the priest have played their important role as the link between god and man. However this arrangement was only necessary until Shiloh (Jesus) comes. We should also add that not only is the priest (church or law giver) redundant and unnecessary but also the king/president and prime minister (scepter). Indeed, if Christ has come, then the church and the priest have become redundant because Jesus is now both King and High Priest..
Genesis 49:10: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
In short, there is no middle man between god and man since Christ is now the redeemer and forgiver of sins. No church can forgive sins anymore.
Another take on the now personal, no middle man ‘relationship” can be seen in
John 14 : 5 – 7- “Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
This is reinforced in Matthew6: 5 – 7: Jesus said, And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
CAN TITHES AND OFFERINGS GET YOU INTO HEAVENS? NO GUARANTEE.
So what about if tithes and offerings are paid regularly. Doesn’t that help? And didn’t Malachi say that when we don’t pay our tithes and offerings we rob the Lord. True, it should help back then but as seen above, I am not sure if it is applicable today. Jesus paid our debts.
You see, back then, a tithe (1/10th of earnings) was given to the church because the high priest had to be “paid” as he could own no property and or do mundane work otherwise. A reasonable gesture since the priest was god’s representative on earth at the time. However with the advent of Christ, this job become redundant as Christ is now God’s representative on earth. (Ooops, there goes the pastor’s job)
Offerings are different from tithes and were done based on the situation. The popular ones were Burnt, Sin, Peace, Meal and Trespass Offerings. All had to do with the sacrifice of animals and birds. A bloody endeavor that makes one wonder why the Lord wants to smell burnt blood and flesh. However let us see what Isaiah had to say in regards to offering, (Isaiah 66:1-4): Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, Even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an Oblation, as if he offereth swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes and chose that in which I delighteth not .
The question to ask is, if Christ’s death and resurrection washed away our sins and paid for our iniquities, are we free and no longer need to pay tithe and offerings? If we are free, and tithes and offering are no guarantee, does that make it wrong to give tithe and offerings at church?
HOW NOT TO GET TO HEAVEN
The Bible seems to have contempt for those who can help the poor and do not help.
Prov. 21:13 He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need.
1 John 3:17- 19. But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him ? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God’s side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord. (Action speaks LOUD).
1 John 4:20 – If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (For God is LOVE).
James 2:14 Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all–it is dead and useless. But someone may well argue, “You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too--so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to?Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.
Prov. 28:27 If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty.
Prov. 14:31 Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN: A GUARANTEE
Although common sense is uncommon, it should be clear that both the captive and the captors are in captivity and need to be set free. The captors spend their lives in captivity keeping the captives in check, while the captives spend their lives in captivity trying to overcome the captors. Neither will experience heaven without love. since without love heaven, peace and freedom are afar and apart.
Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Prov. 19:17 When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord–and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!
James 1:27 The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father’s point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord–not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world.
Psalm. 82:3-4 Give fair judgment to the poor man, the afflicted, the fatherless, the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless from the grasp of evil men.
Prov. 22:9 Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.
Even Saul (Paul) who was killing Christians thinking he is doing God a favour, had this to say after being converted:
1 Tim. 6:17 – 19 Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven–it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.
Luke 6:38 For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give–large or small–will be used to measure what is given back to you.”
Isa. 58:4 – 11 “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will thou call this a fast? And an acceptable day to the lord?
No, the kind of fast I want is that you stop oppressing those who work for you and treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help. “If you do these things, God will shed his own glorious light upon you. He will heal you; your godliness will lead you forward, goodness will be a shield before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then, when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! “Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Love one another.
That is how you get to heaven, whether you think heaven is right here, right now while living on earth or up in the sky after judgment day.Love one another.