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Unhappy Easter

April 8, 2012


Unhappy Easter As A Little Kid

    When I was a little kid, I didn't understand Easter at all.  In fact, it remains a confusing juxtaposition of opposing images -- death, resurrection and ascension.  Christmas was clearly and obviously the great religious and societal celebration.  In celebrating Christ's birth, and being raised during the booming post World War II economy, cool inventions coming all the time, and the only people I knew were Protestants, an occasional Catholic and one Jewish family -- everything fitted together seamlessly into a world of snowy joy, fun and lots of presents.  What was there not to to be happy about?


     Well, there was the Presbyterian Church!  This picture from the home page of the church website, is exactly as I remember it.  A dark and foreboding 1838 fortress of a stern God, with always-peeling paint.

     The minister was dour and thin, with sad eyes and ill-fitting suits.  I never saw him smile.  He grimaced.  The hymns were bad, even worse for the cacophony of hoarse farmer's voices.  Crows were easier on the ears.

     In that church, there was nothing joyful.


     My father didn't like the church, or truly any religion, but, for appearances, we had to attend sometimes -- shoes polished, jacket and tie, shirts and pants ironed too stiff with starch, a quarter in my pocket for the donation.

     This historical marker explains the church was built in 1838, but the interesting thing is the building in the left background.  I was born there.  It also housed my father's medical practice.  My earliest memories are of the living room in back of the porch watching the Loretta Young Show.  It first aired in 1953, when I was 4.

     Well, Loretta was beautiful and glamorous, like the rest of Christmas, except for the church next door.

     But Easter!  Well, that old church was perfect for this contradictory holiday of the guy dying in the most horrific way, crawling out of tomb three days later to save us all by then ascending to heaven.


     The Easter hymns were the worst -- death dirges.  And while the minister didn't do fire and brimstone, his sermons echoed off the the sanctuary walls, life is hard and then you die -- so pray for your soul.  Well, life was hard then in this poor farming community.  I concluded Christmas was happy and Easter unhappy, and church was one of those inexplicable but necessary things you had to do, like going to the dentist, or worse, piano lessons!


Happy Easter

     And what was this Happy Easter deal about?  I saw nothing happy about it at all when the minister sonorously nailed home Jesus' message of death by the Jews and then resurrection to save us sinners!  Wait, I cringed.  I didn't do anything bad.  I'm only seven!

     A mainstay for that church was to explain this, and after we kind of understood it, we were obligated by our sins to honor Easter -- and by extension, never miss a Sunday service!  After all, Jesus died for us.  I used to daydream that Jesus actually ascended to get away from that church! 

     Even the Easter Lilies were chastened and plain inside the dim two story sanctuary, always cold, with hard wooden benches.  Being uncomfortable was part of  the mind control experience.

     I thought Loretta Young, beatific in a long gown in a serene church-like setting, was joyful, and that was on black and white TV.  She was my imaginary Easter angel, soothing away my sins in that church.


     Following the minister, nobody smiled.  Parishioners grimaced in step with the minister, all guilty for our sins.  When I learned the meaning of sanctuary from Reader's Digest Word Power, I decided it was the exact wrong word for the church meeting room.

     Happy Easter took me a long time to figure out.  It was the final confusion.  There were big Easter baskets, the Easter egg hunt, a huge Easter dinner and that Easter bonnet deal.  Was I supposed to be sad or happy, or what?  Why all this happy stuff when the minister had just railed at us about Jesus suffering a horrible death for us sinners? 

     The family fortunately moved to Cayuga lake when I was five, allowing me to enjoy the fun Easter stuff, although the Easter bonnet was an enduring mystery.  Certainly the church ladies, didn't wear gay new bonnets.  Women still wore hats then -- but they looked like helmets. 

     Living on the lake took me away from the dreaded church next door -- so I could enjoy Happy Easters -- and also get rid myself of sinners guilt.  I didn't have to see the lord's dungeon for sinners every day.  Well, mom still dragged us all to church on Sunday, for she was a proper lady, the doctor's wife.  As I grew older, my brother and I came up with all kinds of great excuses not to go to church.  I have a boil on my butt and can't sit in that hard pew.  Dad said!  My brother's occasional ear ache came on clockwork at 9:00 on Sunday and disappeared by 11:30 so that he could go fishing.  And when we boys ran out of excuses, or couldn't convince Mom, Dad would claim, Uncle George will be calling long distance from New Hyde Park.  A long distance call was huge deal then.  We even put on our Sunday best jackets and ties.  This vexed my mother, who was gradually out boxed by three males to her one female. 

     One time I asked my father about Saul, the Jewish doctor in nearby Seneca Falls with the mail order sophisticated wife from Long Island who made the piano sing like an angel in their elegant home,  How come our church is so ugly with music just as bad, the minister saying the Jews killed Jesus, and this Jewish guy's wife brings the only beauty around, except for Loretta Young?  My father, shook his head and chucked, and said, Don't ask your mother that!  That was the only chuckle I ever heard from my German born father.


Easter In American Culture

     Whether you are Christian or not, Easter is woven into our American social fabric.  The religious idea of Easter being joyous issues from the resurrection.  But Jesus, and some other guys too, bled to death on those crosses.  It's compelling story for believers -- Jesus suffered so we could be saved.  But I never got it.  I saw a lot of suffering when I went with my father to bandage up farmers mangled by machinery, and when he rushed to Saturday night car accidents, bodies crushed.  There was more blood there than on the crosses, and it was fresh!  I always thought, well, how come Jesus' suffering is such a big deal, and nobody cares much about our own neighbors bleeding, often to their end?

     I eventually concluded that Easter actually only rings true within the context of American's optimism, ever enduring, even during the worst of times.  I figured this out when I learned early in school that we lived in this bounteous time following the Great Depression.  I also learned this from my parents, and their friends, never to forget those lean times -- and they were were seriously thankful had ended.  Clean your plate.  Millions of Chinese don't have enough to eat!  What the Chinese had to do with this is another childhood mystery.  My father's only Shakespearean quote was, Neither a borrower nor lender be.  At the rare restaurant out, nobody ordered steak or lobster.  Both my parents were scandalized that after my brother married, he took his nurse wife out for dinner once weekly. 

     Yes, there were bad times in the 30s nobody would entirely forget, and bad times before that.  But with American indomitable hope and hard work, Happy Easters has always come with candy, colored eggs and girls pretty in new spring outfits.  That's how I fitted in the elusive Easter bonnet thing.  Too, Easter was in the spring, when the long snowy winter ended, everything dead came alive and started growing again.  Rebirth.  That was the message.  I thought Easter wouldn't work at all if it were in February, and who would bother if it were in July -- the height of glorious summer?  Besides, it would interfere with all the fun on the fourth of July.


Happy Easter Comes True!

     And growing up on the lake, which was very pretty and out from the church's shadow, life did get better.  This was the post World War II boom.  At the lake's south end, Cornell stood with its agricultural and veterinary colleges transforming farmers' lives -- better seeds, chemicals, safer machinery. livestock breeding and care, advanced farming techniques.  New life-saving drugs came in the fifties and sixties, saving many who before would have suffered greatly, even died.  Remember the polio vaccine?  A real hospital was built near neighboring Seneca Falls.  The Romulus Volunteer Fire Department bought an ambulance because it finally had an emergency room to take the wounded.  There were no more calls for Dad alone with only his black bag and the Sheriff standing by.  Hard drinking farm boys still raced their Chevies and Fords on Saturday nights, but safety advances cut down on the deaths.  Seat belts really helped a lot!  Hello the American Dream!  And Happy Easter!


     And things kept getting better and better through the sixties and the seventies.  Someone even painted that old church!

    Transistor radios, color TV, cassette tapes, permanent press clothes, frost-free refrigerators, Tang!  Well, Tang actually was awful, but since it was invented for the astronauts, it was tasty to us!  Cars got automatic transmissions and air conditioning.  Some became land yachts with huge fins.  And don't forget the pill and Roe vs. Wade. 

     The high school drop out rate was always around 50%.  I escaped to boarding school in Massachusetts my junior year.  We were kept on campus, like monks.  I came back for the summer to find hardly any of my former farm girl classmates nursing babies.  Later they actually graduated and many went to nursing college.  Miniskirts were in, which meant panty hose!  Makeup was no longer banned.  Bikinis were next!  And nobody wore those stuffy bonnets either!  The hat vanished completely.  And Lady Clairol turned dull tresses into California blonds, ravishing brunettes and so hot redheads.  State colleges blossomed.  Everyone went to college -- or could if they wanted to and studied hard in high school.  Nobody got rich, but few were grinding poor either.  Unhappy Easter was forgotten, transformed into a truly joyous Happy Easter -- except in that church, of course.  But by then, nobody paid much attention and attendance began dropping off.  Besides, the grim and grimacing congregation was studded with brilliantly glowing blonds, brunettes and redheads, banishing the gloom.  Much later, when Bush I talked about a thousand points of light, I was reminded of that real redemption.


American Optimism

     At some point, things stopped getting better.  Nobody noticed it because depression born folks were still getting used to having money, and technology advanced in huge strides.  By the turn of the millennium, though, they began scratching their heads about the American Dream.  It wasn't an easy slam dunk amy more.  Things were starting to get harder -- like jobs, health care, housing, college....  I started to think life was changing back to Unhappy Easter.    

     But, we hadn't lost out optimism yet!  Yes, when I was a little kid in that awful church, everyone was long-faced, but they were grimly confident.  They would make it back from the Great Depression, just as their families had always persevered through American's many booms and busts.  And Western New Yorkers were especially tough, had to be with the hard winters and the economic ups and downs.  The Great Lakes effect dumped more snow Syracuse than any other American city.  Being snowed in for a week was routine,  I remember once riding with my father to the school, where a huge Army helicopter landed on the football field, rotors clacking, snow flying everywhere, with emergency antibiotics.  Hard work and patience would do it now, just as it always had.  Plus, didn't Ronald Reagan say in that famous G.E. commercial, Progress is our most important product?  Well, great progress had been made, and progress will be made again.  Amen to Happy Easter!

     The April 11, 2009 In-depth Forecast, Global Economic Outlook Into 2012 And Beyond speaks to this American Optimism in the section, III United States Chart --  A. Another Chart Of Great Wealth, stating,

Note that with this stellium {4 planets) in the 7th house, relationships are always intense, but because Jupiter aspects back to the 1st, the country has strong national unity.  Throughout America's turbulent history, even during the Civil War, nothing broke the national bond. This dedication to the union can be seen in the ever-popular America Right Or Wrong.

This quality is especially important in the U.S. dealing with its repeated booms and busts.   Great wealth is built.  Then, a terrible bust comes that would tear apart any other nation.  But the country shakes off the failure and pulls together, harnessing its wealth to regain prosperity. Other nations must believe America is endlessly excessive and crazy for this, but Americans just revel in the great opportunities and believe they can always recoup.


Unhappy Easter Again

     The bottom dropped out of the economy in September 2008, crushing the last of the already worn down and tattered American Dream.

     I can see in my mind's eye the old Presbyterian church, the minister still grim, the paint again peeling off the church, the men's faces grimacing again, the women's lined with fatigue.  The sermons are the same, the hymns and singing just like over a half century ago.  Is the hope gone after 3 1/2 years of decline?  Maybe yes in some, probably not in most.  I don't need to go home to find out, even though it's been over 30 years since mom's funeral in Romulus.  People don't change there.  Few leave.  Families go back many generations.

    But nobody knows what to do.  Working harder doesn't help.  Crop prices are squeezed by expensive machinery, high taxes and insurance, gasoline going through the roof again.  Much of the agriculture went West to cheap illegal farm labor and even overseas.  The boutique wine business is dead.  My dad was the last doctor, retired in 1972.  His $3 office visits and $5 house calls are no more.  There's no local dentist either.  College is unaffordable.  The politicians in Albany are corrupt, and the downstate 1% fat cats in New York think only about themselves.

     From their view, Obama didn't mess of things, but he hasn't fixed much.  And while no one there has actually been to Hawaii, they know it's a state.  After all, farmers they may be, but they are also New Yorkers.  Oh, and they don't trust Romney, for Mormonism was founded there.  They know all about those Mormons, who weren't actually driven out.  They did kind of wear out their welcome.  The joke going around begins with Romney having found the missing 10 golden tablets Joseph Smith somehow lost.  It ends with Romney keeping the 10th as a commission and promising to unveil it at his inauguration.

     And word has it that the women in Seneca Falls, the birth place of women's rights in 1845, aren't happy about all these Republican men attacking their reproductive rights.

     The folks in Western New York have been there a long time, and they don't forget.  Much of the land was given by George Washington to his troops in lieu of pay.  The historical marker for the Romulus Presbyterian Church also gives the Church organization date, 1796, reflecting that early settlement of the then wilderness with Cayuga Indians and Moose.  In fact, when my parents bought the old hunting lodge on the lake, there was a moldering stuffed moose head on the wall, with a moose foot on another.  I carried around that moose foot for many years.  If I visited now, most would ask my why I've been gone for so long and tell me how they miss having a doctor.


What To Do?

    The January 8 VedicLeaks addressed popular protests this winter and spring.  The section, Popular Protests Rising stated, The Celestial Wheel has also focused on Jupiter turning forward Christmas day -- symbolizing a powerful, even dominant, karma for popular protests through the winter and spring until mid May.

     The next section, When Popular Protests Will Actualize, explained,

     As stated above, expansive and wise Jupiter signals popular protests through the middle of May, 2012. As the planet of justice, he acts to promote fairness and shared democratic values and abhors the selfish greedy and entrenched.  But, his is not a straight line influence.  It waxes, reaches a high and then declines over the 5 /12 month interval.


     Following is, How Popular Protests Will Actualize,

     Jupiter can supercharge popular protests, building a wave that over-washes resistance from the right and brings in masses of Americans from the left, the independent middle and even some hard right believers who begin to understand they too are the 99%....

     Yes, the bad guys will get even tougher, meaner, more ruthless protecting their ill-gotten gains and influence.  But the good guys get fired up, for over 3 years of economic suffering...  Too if the banksters and other economic and political terrorists play dirty, their actions will bring even more protests.  If they were smart, they would lie low, but that's not their way, and Mars with Saturn  {Dasas -- planetary cycles} stimulates their aggressive and putative actions.

     Look for increasingly strident, aggressive, even violent protest actions, with again out-of-scale government attempts to break them up, which will only stimulate more protests.

     Subcycle Dasa planets also play a role, though in a diminishing way.  The third level can be understood as steering current.  Here are the Dasas to three levels to the end of Mars/Saturn in the U.S. chart,

      The current Moon subcycle has been benign, like the receptive Moon's nature.  Mars coming in a few days will begin to rile things up.  Rahu (the head-of-the-dragon eclipse point) will stimulate numerous intense and unanticipated experiences and also is a major karma to push ahead.  Note Rahu runs from February 7 to April 7, dovetailing with both Jupiter's strongest transit position from February 12 to April 4, and Saturn becoming weak starting February 7.

     Last will be the Jupiter subcycle, from April 7 to the end of May.   Occurring during the final part of Jupiter's transit through Aries that ends May 15, when Jupiter's influence will be winding down, Jupiter in the Dasas will crank it up again.

The times, they are a changin


     With spring weather here, it's protest time.  The 99% Spring Action Training    

     This old Vietnam era protest song is also appropriate, Where have all the flowers gone?

     But this one if for us now, If I Had A Hammer


And What Would Those Romulus Farmers Be Saying?

    Again, I don't have to go back home to know.  Again in my mind's eye they would be still going to that Presbyterian church, paint peeling off again. grimacing now more than ever.  Since it was the church was organized over 200 years ago, its a habit they won't break.  They will be talking about long past bad times and good times -- and today's hard times.  They would remember the violent student protests at Cornell against the Vietnam war in 1968 and think now that wasn't such a bad idea, for many were in that generation.  And some would have grown children in the many local colleges -- Ithaca College, Syracuse University, University of Rochester...  They would be thinking about arranging some food to get the students through, and maybe some tents and other camping supplies.  After all, their forbearers were revolutionaries -- soldiers in the war for independence.

     If I actually visited, they would tell me that farmer Donnie Warn has retired but still has my 1967 Austin Healy 3000 he bought from me.  I left it in Cooper's barn in 1972 among the straw bails so it wouldn't rust.  Donnie found it, called me parents, who called me, and I sold it for the same $2000 I paid for it.  He restored it.  Farmers love to tinker with cars during the long winters.  I would ask if it's still green, and they would ask, why would Donnie change that?  Maybe they would even remember my thing about Happy Easter and Unhappy Easter.  Some were childhood friends. They would invite me to a fund raising dinner in the church annex.  I would ask, what for?  They would say they are trying to raise money to paint the church again.



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Doug Riemer