Earth Day meets Easter
A Sign of Our Times?
by Berit Kjos, March 1991
Click on this detail to see the painting by Bruegel. Its message fits our times.
“The emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously throughout the world… has spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilization’s responsibility for the earth is concerned. Native American religions, for instance, offer a rich tapestry of ideas about our relationship to the earth.” Al Gore, Earth in the Balance
"We should... help in the development of a global consciousness... to change the world for the better." Mikhail Gorbachev, founder of Green Cross International
"We commit ourselves to... a civil society which respects environmental and social justice." UNESCO's Declaration on the Role of Religion in a Culture of Peace
On Earth Day, April 22 (Lenin's birthday), 1990, I sat near the altar in a mainline Presbyterian church watching a strange ceremony. At one point, the members of the youth group stepped forward to present their offerings:
“I bring to our Mother, the Earth, the gift of a new beginning…”
“I bring to our Mother , the Earth, the birth of a new consciousness.”
“I bring to our Mother, the Earth, the gift of immortality that you may live forever cherished by your beloved children.”
The congregation responded to this pagan ritual with a standing ovation.
Earlier in the program, a young woman minister had danced her interpretation of the Creation story. Throughout the graceful performance, a voice narrated the creative acts of a female deity. At one point, “she” gave birth to earthly life -- here the dancer crouched on stage and "birthed" an inflated globe.
Nature worship in the church? A Mother Goddess in Place of God our Father? Could this be happening in a supposedly conservative Presbyterian church?
Grieved, I thought about the spreading delusion prophesied in the Bible, when lawlessness would soar and people would reject sound doctrine and follow teachers who tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Might this be such a time?
The National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) would say no. This umbrella organization for various religious groups, including World Vision and other members of the Evangelical Environmental Network, would most likely approve such nature worship. Its mission statement calls for more of the same spiritual blend:
"We seek to weave the mission of care for God’s creation across all areas of organized religion, and to do so in such a way as to contribute scope of vision, moral perspective, breadth of constituency, and endurance of struggle for all efforts to protect the natural world and human well-being within it."
ONENESS IN THE MILLENNIAL CHURCH
The National Religious Partnership shares the basic principles outlined in UNESCO's Declaration on the Role of Religion in a Culture of Peace. Funded by globalist leaders such as Ted Turner, it joins Al Gore and Gorbachev in a worldwide effort to implement a global management system that would control the world's natural and human resources according to socialist principles.
Keep in mind, God calls us to enjoy and care for His creation as He would. As steward of His magnificent creation, we need to follow His guidelines which rule out waste and abuse. But to Gorbachev and others, environmental regulations serve as a practical means to manipulate behavior and mold beliefs that fit UN standards for collective thinking and exclude Biblical Christianity. At the "end of the cold war," the futuristic minds of The Club of Rome summarized the strategy:
"In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill...."
In this context, it makes sense to celebrate Earth Day on Lenin’s birthday. After all, the green movement was born through a merger of radical environmentalists, feminists, Marxists, and peaceniks in the sixties. Many saw Buddhism, Native American spirituality and witchcraft as inspiring models for their green agenda. In a classroom video titled Spaceship Earth: Our Global Environment, Rock singer Sting summarized their reasoning:
"The Indians believe that the spirits live in the trees, that the spirits live in the river, that the spirit is in the air. I think we used to believe that in the past... and... if there's a spirit in a tree, you don't just chop it down and burn it."
It also seems strangely fitting that Easter and Earth Day share the same busy weekend in this millennial year. Many "evangelical environmentalists" have already redefined the gospel, implying that Jesus died on the cross to redeem the planet, trees and wolves as well as people. They encourage their followers to confess sins against the earth, not disobedience against God, and they conform the significance of the cross to fit the new multicultural consciousness of our changing culture.
In other words, the "old rugged cross, so despised by the world" doesn't fit. A cross that not only joins believers to Christ, but also severs His followers from the rest of the world would offend the global community. Such "separatism" clashes with the envisioned solidarity.
In fact, many would find the yin-yang a far more fitting symbol for today's spirited quest for planetary consensus and sustainable communities. Around the world, opposites are merging and old absolutes are recycled. Young and old envision peace on earth, unity in diversity, social equality, and a global bio-family sharing resources equally on a finite planet. They demand that the Church walk hand in hand with their brave new world into the sunrise of the new millennium.
It’s an alluring vision to people trained to dream, imagine, flow with the crowd, and reject all contrary facts. But it's not reality. Human nature hasn’t changed. And God has not revoked His Old Testament warnings concerning climate, rain, and a healthy planet. He still tells us that sin, especially spiritual compromise, reaps drought, famine and war, not peace and prosperity.
PAGANISM BLENDS WITH EASTER
But liberal church leaders ignore such offensive truths. Seeking a more popular image, a United Methodist Church in our neighborhood advertised an "Interfaith Holiday Fair" on Palm Sunday a few years ago. Troubled, I stopped by to see the show. The throbbing drum beat of the multicultural band greeted me in the crowded parking lot. A table at the entrance displayed various books promoting the United Nations, peace education, and earth-centered religions. Beyond this propaganda for world unity, stretched a large hall with tables dedicated to the world's religious traditions.
Judging by the crowd around its table, the Baha’i display seemed most popular. I recognized some of its books and earth-centered literature from UN and global conferences I had attended. The leader’s missionary zeal drew surrounding spectators into enthusiastic dialogues that emphasized the unity, relevance and earth-saving power of the Baha’i faith.
The Buddhist table offered more children’s stories on peace-making and conflict resolution. I scanned some of them:
Learning the Skills of Peacemaking, a classroom book on "communicating, cooperating, and resolving conflict," had repackaged the pantheistic view of spiritual unity into a popular lesson on global activism for elementary age children. How the Children Stopped the Wars amplified the same message: Adults had created wars and conflict. Now it was up to the children to envision peace. Buddhism would prepare the way.
Towering over the Hindu display stood a large poster inviting interest in the Hindu mantra "OM Sweet OM." Below it, stacks of books invited browsers. Titles such as The Journey of a Master, Swami Chinmayanda, In the Footsteps of Ghandi, and the Bhagavad Gita, left little doubt what world view they taught.
"Hinduism is not a religion," explained a woman wearing the traditional Indian sari. "It is a way of life."
ANCIENT SYMBOLS FOR A CROSS-LESS EASTER
I found the “Christian” display a distance away from the center of activity. Near it, a group of children sat in a circle threading yarn around two sticks forming a cross. Each was making an “Eye of God”—a popular craft representing the eye of the Egyptian god Horus. Two other children were petting a living Easter bunny crouching in a cardboard box. The table itself was decorated with Easter eggs, and among them I saw five children's books. But titles like And God Created Squash and Did Jesus Wear Blue Jeans seemed as trivial and unholy as the colored eggs that surrounded them.
I looked in vain for a Bible, and found only a picture book that mentioned the resurrection. The Easter Story did show that Jesus was crucified and rose from the grave. But the real purpose of His death—to deal with sin—was ignored. It ended with this incomplete, and therefore misleading, message, “This is why Christians celebrate Easter. We remember that Jesus gave us His life because He loved us.”
I picked up another picture book, An Easter Celebration: Traditional customs from Around the World, and began to read: “Long before Jesus walked on the earth, people celebrated when spring arrived. In ancient times, people thought the times of the season were guided by spirits or gods and goddess.” Apparently, the author wanted to show the children that “the ancient Celts, Persians, and Greeks” preceded God's hand in history and should be considered more credible than the Bible.
Two years later, Al Gore, who calls himself a Baptist, wrote a similar message in Earth in the Balance. Notice how he chastises Christians for their uncompromising faith and blames them for the demise of goddess worship:
“The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief.
“The spiritual sense of our place in nature . . . can be traced to the origins of human civilization. A growing number of anthropologists and archeo-mythologists... argue that the prevailing ideology of belief in prehistoric Europe and much of the world was based on the worship of a single earth goddess, who was assumed to be the fount of all life and who radiated harmony among all living things....
"[Ceremonial sites] seem to confirm the notion that a goddess religion was ubiquitous throughout much of the world until the antecedents of today's religions---most of which still have a distinctly masculine orientation--swept out of India and the Near East, almost obliterating belief in the goddess. The last vestige of organized goddess worship was eliminated by Christianity.... [I]t seems obvious that a better understanding of a religious heritage preceding our own by so many thousands of years could offer us new insights...." (Emphasis added)
Al Gore was wrong. No "religious heritage" preceded God's sovereign reign over the affairs of man. He gave people the freedom to rebel and worship other gods but didn't stop judging their sin or withholding rain when their faith turned from their Maker to idols.
Throughout history, spiritual compromise has been a constant temptation, and our Easter traditions show the timeless trend toward unholy alliances. While the constant pressure of persecution kept the early Church pure in faith, the shift to cultural acceptance in the Roman empire brought compromise. Then as now, the Christian's goal changed from pleasing God to pleasing man. Soon, the politically correct church had traded purity for popularity and adopted the "abominable" practices of its pagan neighbors. Take a look at some of them:
Easter, the name: According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "the 8th century derived it from that of the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre," whose name, in turn, might have come from "eastre," meaning spring. Once again, pagans honor her as the "goddess of dawn," one of many fertility goddesses celebrated during their spring equinox.
Easter bunny and eggs: According to The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects, "The Goddess' totem, the Moon-hare, would lay eggs for good children to eat. ... Eostre's hare was the shape that Celts imaged on the surface of the full moon, derived from old Indo-European sources." While the historical record is too sparse to provide factual details, the Pagan Home Website offers the following description:
"Eostre, a Germanic Goddess, is associated with both spring and sunrise. Tradition has it that Eostre, saved a bird whose wings were frozen from the harsh winter by turning it into a magickal, egg laying hare. Eostre was a maiden whose aspects of renewal and rebirth brought about the reappearance of bright spring flowers, baby chickens fresh from the shell, baby bunnies from their winter dens and the reoccurrence of the plow in the field. In some European traditions flowers grew from her footprints.
"Pagans lit new fires at dawn to cure ills, renew life and protect the new crops. In some cultures this sacred day included the ringing of bells, singing of songs, and decorating of hard boiled eggs. Eggs were a symbol of both the sun god (the golden yolk) and fertility (the white shell symbolizing the White Goddess) and were used both as talismans and eaten in ritual. The eggs of wild birds were gathered and these eggs are recreated today with the dyes used in Easter celebrations. The weaving of Easter baskets harks back to the weaving of birds' nests, a necessity prior to egg laying and the continuation of the life cycle."
Hot Cross buns: Some link them to the goddess Eostre, and suggest that the distinctive crossed lines on top represent "Wotan's cross," not the cross of Christ. Others simply attribute the symbol to the Wiccan "quartered circle:" four equal lines pointing from the center to the spirits of the north, east, south, and west -- or to the basic element: earth, water, air (or wind), and fire. In Native American traditions, it forms the basic pattern of the medicine wheel and plays a vital part in major rituals. (see Circle in Symbols and their meanings)
Countless pagan sites add mythical details that bring life to the bare bones of history. Their stories may tickle the imagination, but they will never bring the wisdom and understanding needed to follow God in a world that has traded truth for myth. The apostle Paul's letter seems as relevant today as ever:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions...." 2 Timothy 4:2-5
SEEING THE CREATOR
Biblical watchfulness comes by seeing everything else -- good and evil, beauty and corruption -- through His eyes. That's only possible when we have recognized our need for His redemption, have trusted in the victory of His cross over sin and death, have received His life, and have given our lives over to Him. Then, as we follow Him, He shows us the wonders of the exchanged life: His strong and wonderful life for our weak and failing life. For God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21) Looking at Him in the light of the cross, we have the wisdom and strength to follow His way, care for His planet, and love one another with His eternal love. "Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord!"
When I survey the wondrous
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
Were the whole realm of nature
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
See also The Cross: Feared, Banned, Trivialized... yet Triumphant
The Triumph of the Cross | Do you believe in Easter?
Facts about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Images of the Cross in God's Creation
Gore, Earth in the Balance; Ecology and
the Human Spirit (Houghton Mifflin, 1992) , pages 258-259.
, pages 258-259.
 Michail Gorbachev, Plenary speech at the 1996 State of the World Forum in San Francisco.
Alexander King & Bertrand Schneider, The
First Global Revolution (New York: Pantheon Books, 1991), 115.
 Gore, page, 258, 260.
 Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 7 (Chicago: William Benton, 1968), page 865b.
Barbara G. Walker, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects (San Francisco: Harper, 1998), 377.
Ibid., page 64.
Home | Preparing for Victory | Persecution | Symbols | Cultural Christianity