Monday, 14 April 2014

Nisan - not a Japanese Car

Gary Leonard has a not-so starry-eyed recollection of the Church of God celebration of Passover up on his blog. To which I would only want to add that it was remarkable how many ministers in that movement managed to so determinedly ignore the very advice and counsel they passed on to others at that season...

Meantime, are these the worst Christianized Passover hymn lyrics ever? Hint: they weren't written by Dwight Armstrong.

The Lord's Evening Meal 
Jehovah, our father in heaven,
Oh, this is a most sacred night!
It was Nisan fourteen when your glory was seen,
Your love, justice, wisdom, and might.
The Passover lamb was then eaten,
And Israel's tribes went forth free.
Cen-t'ries later our Lord his own life blood out-poured
To ful-fill this divine prophecy.

There's another verse, but I'll spare you. The writer is anonymous, but you'll find it in the Watchtower publication "Songs of Jehovah". Thanks to Sam for passing it on. The purple hymnal has nothing like it. Does anyone know if there's anything similar in the Church of God (Seventh Day) hymnal?


  1. No one has been reading Exodus 12 and Ezekiel 45:21, I see. Apparently, no one has been keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread technically correctly since the beginning.

    The most insulting part of the "Passover" (which is NOT The Lord's Supper) is singing Psalm 51 afterward when you know YOU haven't committed adultery, but your minister conducting the service has (and even worse when Herbert Armstrong conducted the "service").

    No wonder the whole thing is stressful.

    Things get really hairy when you try to mix Bronze Age religion with Iron Age religion, relying on pure physical ritual to pretend you're some how spiritual.

    1. I've got to agree with Mikey about mixing Bronze Age religion with Iron Age religion.

      And what does "spiritual" exactly mean, anyway? I'll bet it means something different to every single person I've asked. And every definition is VERY nebulous.

      My definition? "Spiritual" = "Let's pretend something that's not real exists"

    2. As far as I know, gods and god-lets don't have physical bodies and blood to be represented by bread and wine. To be 100% man and 100% god at the same time is an impossible thing, an unsolvable conundrum that makes absolutely no sense. But then, you have to have the "spirit" to understand such like things - or otherwise, just don't question it.

  2. Leonard's account brings back memories. A point worth adding is that while Passover preparations on the AC campus back in the Seventies had theological implications, these preparations also had a very incisive subtext. Armstrongism was, of course, full of incisive subtexts intended to indoctrinate.

    On the approach to Passover, ministers would prescribe that lay members should fast and spend time in meditation in order to prepare for the Passover. It was not to be approached lightly and the right state of contrition needed to be achieved. But as a 1-W working for the custodial department, life just before the Passover became almost unbearable. Our work schedule shifted and this induced a major case of jet lag. Our responsibilities and tasks greatly increased. Exhaustion quickly set in. Our situation might have been extreme but I also saw the toll taken on students and lay members.

    The one class of people who cruised through this period unperturbed was the ministry. They did not do the things that mere mortals had to do. I recall taking van loads of AC girls out to faculty row to clean and unleaven the houses of prominent ministers. (Apparently the instructive element of de-leavening was lost on these ministers; for them it was just a physical act of cleaning with no symbolic content that pertained to them.)

    But all this had a symbolic meaning for the rest of us. It did not have to do only with leaven representing sin. That was the more obvious lesson. It had to do with the subtle and indoctrinating message that these high ranking ministers were a class apart from the rest of us. They had the time to do conveniently the extensive preparation they prescribed for everyone because they were exempted from the mundane. The rest of us lived the tawdry life of the lower castes and dealt in the mundane and in servitude. Just as God made a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians on Passover evening on the night described in Exodus, God, apparently, also made a distinction between the ministry and the lay membership on that same evening in modern times in Big Sandy. The subtext underscored the fact that we, as lay members arrayed in our many lower layers of the caste system, were not important and existed as servants to the upper class.

    While I call this the subtext, it might have been actually the principal meaning. I know the spiritual message, the supposed primary message, never really worked. The Big Guy would mount the podium in the Field House on the First Day of Unleavened Bread and start off by asking "Why are we here?" This would be followed by some rambling and lengthy preachments, or at least they seemed rambling because everyone in the audience was on the verge of dozing. I remember seeing the yawns and the tired faces. I used to pinch myself to try to stay awake in the Texas heat. After all of this, I don't remember what the Big Guy said. But I do remember that I was not in his class. The subtext trumped the text.

    -- Neo

    1. That "subtext" WAS the leavening that was to be put out so as to not be like the Pharisees who say and do not. It has nothing to do with putting sin out of your house - symbolically or otherwise. IOW, the things, doctrines, instructions etc that had been added to "the word" by the religious leaders of Jesus' day was the leavening that Jesus was talking about. A lot of leavening has been added to the NT word too, making up rules to follow that were not commanded. And, wow, just look at all the made up rules: make-up, hem lines, color of shirts, color of cars to drive, how to dry off with a Turkish towel, how to have sex with your mate, how to discipline your children and on and on and on - it's everywhere and in every christian church organization in the world.

  3. Spiritual = moral / ethical -- something Armstrongists could never understand, having been tied to Bronze Age religious physical rituals devoid of spiritual content, but having much of unleavened bread, animal sacrifices and the occasional eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

    Hint: Don't let those sorts of people have ascendancy or you will discover the true meaning of Olde Testament Christianity (Worse: Islam or Armstrongism ruling the world? Discuss among yourselves).