Letters to the Editor

Jesus asked followers to commemorate His death not His birth

Fr Patrick McCafferty writes (November 23) about the suitability of December 25 to celebrate the nativity of Jesus/Yeshua, and I am aware of some reasons why this particular date was chosen some three centuries after the event, including the convergence/confusion with Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication that Yeshua attended in Jerusalem in John 10:22 (‘Hanukkah’ means ‘dedication’ in Hebrew). This eight-day holiday recalling the wresting of control of the Temple from the Syrian-Greeks under Antiochus Epiphanes IV c 165 BC falls on Kislev 25 which is in December. There was only enough holy oil for one day to light the golden menorah, or seven-branched candelabrum, in the desecrated Temple where pigs had been offered to false gods on the Holy Altar of the Lord, but the Hasmonean Jews, known as the Maccabees, lit the menorah and it stayed miraculously alight for eight days, enough time for more holy oil to be made in the prescribed manner. It seems some early Christians may have emulated this ‘holiday of light’ in the winter months and took the ‘25th’ date from the Hebrew calendar and transferred it to the new calendrical system they were devising that would now begin from Yeshua’s birth, even though He never commanded anyone to observe it. Rather He asked His followers to commemorate His death, not His birth, at Passover each Nisan 14th, the annual date of the crucifixion. This has been somewhat blurred by the imposition of ‘Easter’ in the fourth century as commemorating His death at Passover was too uncomfortably ‘Jewish’ for some of the early Church fathers, so a new ‘holy day’ was chosen that is rather unfortunately named after a pagan fertility goddess, Ishtar.
The Venerable Bede in Medieval England mentions the feast linked to Eastre/Eostre from where we get the word ‘oestrogen,’ the rabbits and eggs all being pagan fertility smbols.
A strange choice for the Christian Church which chose the ‘venerable Day of the Sun’ [Sunday] in deference to the Resurrection, cited as the first day of the week to replace the Sabbath which was on the seventh day as it was also too Jewish.

The alarming thing is how much pagan revelry and symbolism is in our modern celebration of ‘Xmas’ – I doubt if they are ‘baptised’ as Fr McCafferty tries to assert. I’m not sure if God approves of this compromise known as syncretism. ‘Yeshua’ as a word/name means ‘salvation’ in Hebrew, but ‘Jesus’ does not mean ‘salvation’ in English.
All the transmogrified names for Yeshua (Iesus, Isa, Jesu etc) do not link to the word ‘salvation’ in those languages. One needs to inform of its original meaning, but in Hebrew the meaning is direct and was given by God. 

COLIN NEVIN
Bangor, Co Down

 

Brexit debate is turning into a fiasco for Tories

The whole Brexit debate it appears is turning into a right fiasco as far as the Tories are concerned. As they try to bully and badger the European negotiators to accept solutions on their terms they are ignoring obvious factors which were brought about by their decision to hold a referendum to pull out of the EU – a referendum that saw a majority in the north vote to stay in Europe.  Included in these factors is the issue of Ireland, north and south, where instead of a more conciliatory and modest negotiating strategy ensuring a successful conclusion to the question of a hard or soft border on the island they want to park this crucial aspect to move on to the next stage of talks. This uneasily carries the strong aroma of the DUP and their star negotiator. During the negotiations that led up to the Good Friday Agreement, which the DUP boycotted, and the subsequent endless talks since they begrudgingly joined the process. Any issue which didn’t meet their raison d’etre for existing was flatly objected.  

However, the process was parked on their insistence, to be discussed and implemented at a later date. In an attempt to move things forward all other parties acquiesced to the demands and placated the DUP. Unsatisfied they demanded more and more favourable concessions and in an act of appeasement again they were placated in order to bring them to the table. It must be impressed upon the Tories the failings, broken promises of the former Stormont are an unacceptable template to be copying – nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

 KEVIN McCANN
Belfast BT1

 

Biting the hand that feeds you

Well it is Chuckle Brother’s time again in the form of taoiseach Leo Varadkar and minister for foreign affairs and trade Simon Coveney, who swans around uttering nothing constructive but sowing the seeds of discord between the north and south of this island.
Not to be outdone the taoiseach has taken to the air waves spouting rhetoric that Northern Ireland should stay in the single market and customs union and be subject to European Union laws even after the UK has left. 

Supporting the Chuckle Brothers act we have Irish EU commissioner Paul Hogan threatening that Dublin will ‘play it tough’ if its demands are not met.
Considering that Britain is Ireland’s most important European trading partner, buying 40 per cent of its food and agricultural products last year, this is surely a classic case of biting the hand that feeds you.

It is inconceivable that these men in the most responsible positions in Ireland fail to understand that the UK in 2019 is leaving the single market and customs union, ending free movement and restoring British law, regardless of their mindless diplomacy.

WILSON BURGESS
Derry City

 

All motor vehicles should use dipped lights

I wrote twice to Sinn Féin and twice to SDLP and once to the DUP – all in South Down – about laws that would make a better quality of life for everyone in the six counties. Sadly no response from any of them about improvement for the people here in the six counties.
We have very little daylight between November to March. I highlighted three times before in this newspaper about this. All cars lorries buses have on dipped headlights in winter months, seven days a week 24 hours a day.
Only one MLA responded a Sinn Féin MLA in Fermanagh. He said there is a law existing that all cars have to have their lights on in daytime especially if it is overcast. Well I never see anyone getting booked for driving in overcast rainy weather. So if the Stormont assembly comes back is there any chance MLAs could get this law passed? 

FERGUS LAMBE
Warrenpoint, Co Down

 

Spare a thought for the Spads

There has been a lot of talk recently about the continued salaries being paid to our MLA’s who are not fulfilling the roles they were elected to.

I now wonder what is happening to the large numbers of SPADS who have been employed to advise them.  They now have no-one to advise and nothing to advise about.  How do they get their days in.

PHILIP McALLISTER
Dunmurry, Co Antrim

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