He is misusing the word pagan

AFTER criticising Halloween it would be interesting to see what the Rev Eales has to say about us celebrating other pagan festivals such as Christmas or Easter.

AFTER criticising Halloween it would be interesting to see what the Rev Eales has to say about us celebrating other 'pagan' festivals such as Christmas or Easter.

He is, of course, misusing the word pagan. Pagan, a Roman term, simply meant a country dweller. The Black Mass, dark arts and a host of other devilish things attributed to so-called paganism were invented by the church as part of its propaganda against the old religions.

The word's real meaning was thus corrupted leading many to still think paganism equates with the Christian devil but this is simply wrong.

Christianity only survived in this country by taking over most of the indigenous festivals to make itself more palatable to the population. The most famous being Christmas, a Saturnalian celebration and Easter, which of course was the rebirth or 'resurrection' of nature after the long winter, hence its now symbolic importance to Christian tradition.


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Halloween was also taken over by the church where it became All Saints probably to the extreme irritation of followers of the old beliefs.

Does the Rev Eales know that other 'pagan' traditions, many of which he uses, include baptism, the font, use of incense, the halo, breaking of bread, hands clasped in prayer, ritual death and resurrection, a saviour figure, keys to the kingdom of heaven, use of an altar, communion, and theophagy, the ritual consumption of the god i.e. blood - wine, bread - body?

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In fact the list is extensive. The faith the Rev Eales follows, in its approximately 34,000 variations, has taken all its ritual traditions and festivals from earlier belief systems and that includes walking with lights.

In Mithraism, a religion that predated Christianity and was its chief European rival up until the third century, Mithra, the 'saviour' came down to Earth on December 25th to save mankind then returned to heaven after a final meal with his followers.

There was communion with bread and wine; baptism on the forehead and Sunday was the holy day.

Mithra it is said will return for the 'final battle' against Ahriman, a devil, and will take the faithful into eternal life as salvation can only be found through following him. Sound familiar? The Reverend might also like to look up and read about the activities of the pagan Apollonius of Tyana - he will be surprised.

Trick or treat is just the evolution of Halloween as All Hallows was, a change that occurs with all festivals over time as different ideas supplant the old ones. The actual tradition of trick or treat did not originate in America. It started in Britain in the Middle Ages and was a Christian festival called Souling. People would travel from house to house reciting prayers for the dead and receiving cakes in return.

On the whole I bet the majority of people have a laugh and where's the problem with that in these woefully depressing economic times.

The Rev Eales, who portrays a very negative stereotype of children should just cheer up, turn the other cheek and buy in loads of sweets.

Let people, especially youngsters, have their fun.

NICK HARDING

Milton Road, Weston

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