Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Linda Downing

Holidays all week, but not all holy

Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 05:09 PM

Next week offers a bizarre mix: Sunday — Chinese New Year; Tuesday — Lincoln's Birthday and New Orleans' Mardi Gras ; Wednesday — Ash Wednesday; Thursday — St. Valentine's Day. It resembles music concerts with filthy lyrics and profane actions ending with musicians looking heavenward and saying, "I want to thank God for all the blessings of this evening." Does no one see the irony?

This calendar lineup does not always happen. The Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Lincoln's Birthday is always Feb. 12. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which occurs 46 days before Easter. Easter moves with the moon and one's resurrection hopes. Feb. 14 is St. Valentine's Day, its original purpose of honoring of a long-ago martyr replaced by Cupid and chocolate.

Calendars are mostly based on cycles of the sun or the moon, objects often worshipped. The Chinese calendar has within it a cycle of 12 years denoted by animals. This is the year of the snake.

The biblical serpent symbolizes Satan — at war with God — always out to make time serve his purposes, but aware that time is running out.

Abraham Lincoln's God-inspired life illustrates the battle between bondage and freedom. For Fat Tuesday's revelry to fall on Lincoln's birthday epitomizes our ludicrous attempt to celebrate the serpent's offerings while counting on God's mercy. Ash Wednesday's ashes painted over hangovers will not relieve the headaches.

The calendar worshipper could fly to Las Vegas next weekend for that city's lucrative Chinatown Year of the Snake festival, hit the New Orleans' Mardi Gras on Tuesday, honor Lincoln's birthday belatedly at his memorial in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, receive the ash forehead cross at one of its many churches and still deliver the obligatory Valentine.

It is not wrong to celebrate; it is wrong and dangerous not to know what and why. Elton John's beautiful song, "The Circle of Life," is uplifting — that life goes on in birth and rebirth even after tragedies. However, the God of Ash Wednesday says of himself: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" (Revelation 1:8). If true, life as we know it will end or change. The Alpha/Omega God is not a circle but rather a straight line going somewhere.

More than a million people have read "The Harbinger." In it, Jonathan Cahn expresses his concern for America. His descriptions of our confusion and wrong choices, made more vivid through his fictional prophet's clues, leave no room for considering 9/11 and its aftermath of economic failure and escalating violence as accidents. In a follow-up for the February Charisma magazine, Cahn says: "Thus, if America does not turn back to God, we can likely anticipate the end of history's American age." This God does not share the limelight.

Next week's calendar certainly reflects the odd mix in many lives. Even odder is that we give so little thought to it. Even though it is popular to think of us all as "one," the snake, Lincoln, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Valentine's Day have little in common.

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side. Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at

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