Are Carnival and Mardi Gras Christian Celebrations?

Revelers partied in the streets all around the world this week celebrating Carnival and Mardi Gras. The so-called Christian festivals drew in thousands of people enchanted by the festive parades, costumes and music.

“It’s one non-stop party. We’ve got women in costumes, men in costumes, kings, queens. It’s the best,” one reveler said.

New Orleans is particularly renown for popularizing Mardi Gras in America. Other countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Germany, Portugal and Italy have embraced these traditions for hundreds of years. These festivals are traditionally seen as the last opportunity to indulge fleshly lusts before the denial that is supposed to accompany Lent, the 40-day period that precedes Easter.

But what is the real meaning and origin behind these so-called Christian festivals? Boasting to be a time of no restraint, these wild festivals often breed nasty sins, and showcase them for the world to see. How can these festivals be Christian at all when the Bible tells Christians to abhor and flee sin? Maybe these festivals aren’t Christian at all.

If you want to know the truth behind these old festivals, read “Uncovering the Origins of Mardi Gras and Other ‘Christian’ Festivals” right here on the Trumpet.com. Don’t take your traditions for granted—prove to yourself whether they are Christian at all or not!

Greek Youth Unemployment Hits 62 Percent

Greek Youth Unemployment Hits 62 Percent

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GettyImages

More evidence that Greek society is falling apart

The unemployment rate in Greece has reached 27 percent, according to statistics published February 14, meaning that one in four people who want to work can’t find a job. For young people it is even worse. Youth unemployment has hit 62 percent. Most people ages 15 to 24 in Greece who want to work are unemployed.

The unemployment figures for November 2012, published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority, show an economy with huge problems. Greece’s young people can expect to study, graduate, and then be unemployed. Getting a job is the exception, not the rule.

These figures only look at people who are willing and able to work. Those still in education aren’t counted. It doesn’t reflect the number of young people who looked at the job market and decided to stay at school and gain a more advanced degree. Nor does it reflect those who left the country to look for work elsewhere.

The total number unemployed is over 1.3 million. However, this doesn’t include those who have been unemployed for so long that they can no longer receive benefits. According to the Greek Reporter, the true figure could be as high as 2 million.

Between November 2011 and November 2012, one third of a million Greeks lost their jobs. Each day, 887 people joined the ranks of the unemployed. One person lost his or her job less than every two minutes.

“We have 250,000 people every day trying to get to the church to find food,” said former Greek MP Eva Kaili. “We’re talking about young people that cant find a job in Greece, that are trying to leave the country.”

These are huge figures, the type that cause huge social upheaval. These numbers equate to millions of frustrated, hopeless, or even depressed individuals and countless struggling families. European leaders may claim the euozone’s economic crisis has been solved. These numbers prove them wrong.

This record high unemployment threatens the survival of the state. It will force major changes in Europe. For more on where these changes will lead, see Trumpet columnist Ron Fraser’s recent article, “A Job for Europe’s Youth.”

North Korea: Nuclear Detonation Just Our ‘First Response’

On Tuesday, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test. North Korea said the test was merely its “first response” to what it called threats from the United States. It warned it would continue with acts of “greater intensity” if Washington maintained its hostility.

The underground test set off powerful seismic waves. It also shook the geopolitical landscape of Western powers. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the test.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, said: “The test is a clear and grave violation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, said: “North Korea does not and will not benefit from violating international law.”

The timing of the test is significant. It came just hours before President Obama’s State of the Union speech and only days before the birthday of Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s dead father. North Korea’s propaganda machines repeatedly link Kim Jong Il to the country’s nuclear ambitions. 2013 also marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

This latest nuclear test adds to a growing list of Pyongyang’s acts of aggression against America.

In 2006 and 2009, North Korea is believed to have tested plutonium devices. Then in 2010, the country revealed a uranium enrichment program, which would give it a second source of bomb-making materials. In January, North Korea said the U.S. is the primary target for its nuclear tests and long-range rocket launches. Its goal is to build a nuclear bomb that can fit onto a missile capable of striking the U.S.

Despite the Western world’s voiced disapproval, North Korea continues toward its goal unhindered. Expect the West to continue rebuking North Korea while failing to act until it is too late.

34 Years of Iran

34 Years of Iran

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Thirty-four years have passed since the Iranian revolution. Where is Iran today?

The anniversary of the Iranian revolution slipped by on February 10. The day marked 34 years since the shah of Iran was overthrown. His government was replaced with an Islamic republic under Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the uprising. For anyone non-Islamic, February 10 passed without a mention of revolution. The scene on the streets of Iran was entirely different.

Mass rallies occurred across the nation where angry protesters took up the call, “Death to America!” The rallies showed a rare solidarity among the Iranian people that doesn’t reflect the current administration. Political turmoil and friction between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are ongoing. The political unrest was not enough to stop President Ahmadinejad from giving his customary defiant speech, where he reiterated that Iran is now a “nuclear state.” His speech was met by more frenzied cheering from the masses.

Iran’s statements and actions should give cause for concern. What are the implications for Iran’s future, and how did the West allow it to get to this point? If we look to Iran’s history, we will gain a better understanding of where its steps will take it tomorrow.

During the rally this year, one of the prominent guests was the leader of Yemen’s Hizb al-Haq party, Hassan Zaid. He spent his time praising what he called the “peaceful revolution” of 1979. Let’s take a look at just how peaceful that revolution was.

In September of 1978, martial law was declared by the shah of Iran as riots broke out over his policies that were set to Westernize the nation. Strikes and mass demonstrations started to cripple the nation. In France, Ayatollah Khomeini was stirring the uprising as best he could. He was the unofficial leader of the revolution despite living in exile across the Mediterranean.

In January 1979, the political situation was deteriorating rapidly. The shah and his family were forced into exile. A few days later, the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini triumphantly returned to the thunderous applause of the masses.

In November of that year, Islamic militants overthrew the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two Americans were taken hostage. Simultaneously, Adolph Dubs, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, was kidnapped then shot to death by the same militant groups that helped overthrow the shah. The murder of an American Ambassador and the invasion of sovereign U.S. territory is far from the “peaceful revolution” Iran supposedly experienced. A more accurate description might be a bloody and violent coup that led to the suppression of free speech, the breakdown of a pro-Western government and the manifestation of radical Islamic dictatorships.

The violent founding of the Islamic Republic in April 1979 set the stage for the next 34 years of isolation and radicalization.

Just one year later, violence engulfed the region as the Iran-Iraq War got under way. The war dragged on for eight bloody years and cost the lives of over 1 million people.

In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini died. His successor, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, was appointed the next day. He remains supreme ruler of Iran today. Five months after his election, the United States released $567 million worth of frozen Iranian assets.

It was only a few years later, in 1995, that the U.S. started placing sanctions on Iran due to its continued sponsorship of terrorism, its quest for nuclear arms and its continued attempts to destroy the Middle East peace process. Sanctions have continued to this day, but with little effect. Iran is still the number one state sponsor of terror in the world. Iran is closer than ever to obtaining the nuclear bomb. Iran still strives to incite terror and hatred against Israel at every conceivable opportunity.

Thirty-four years after the revolution, Iran is going strong. The populace still rallies en mass to cheer for the destruction of the West. The authorities work behind the scenes to gain a weapon that will take their terrorist tendencies to a whole new level.

Iran has a violent 34 years behind it. And there is nothing preventing it from continuing on this path. U.S. sanctions won’t stop it. It does not fear military intervention. Iran will continue to push. It will push on until someone stops it. Bible prophecy says that day is coming quickly. Iran is about to pick a fight it will come to regret. Soon it will push at Europe, and Europe will push back, hard. The Trumpet has long forecast this event, and will continue to warn of the impending conflict. With Bible prophecy, we can see far into the future of world events. Interested? Order your free copy of The King of the South today, and see what is in store for the Middle East tomorrow.

Want a Happy Child? Do This

Want a Happy Child? Do This

MaszaS/iStockphoto

What makes children happy? Stuff. That’s what most parents think, it seems. Xbox 360, Furby, Lil Swanky clothing, M&M’s and licorice ropes, Lego sets, expensive birthday parties—whatever little Madison and Brayden desire.

If Mom and Dad took a break from indulging their kids’ whims and thought about it, they might admit that it’s not working. You don’t have to peek down too many aisles in the toy store to see children who already have everything—and are miserable brats. There must be another way.

Now, science is supplying some evidence to teach us what was once common knowledge: that it actually is more blessed to give than to receive.

In their recent study “Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children,” psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that giving puts smiles on young children more than getting. “[B]efore the age of 2, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves,” the study’s authors wrote. “Further, children are happier after engaging in costly giving—forfeiting their own resources—than when giving the same treat at no cost.”

cnn sums up the findings: “These studies confirm some age-old wisdom about happiness: If the goal really is to make our children happy, perhaps what we ought to be doing is not overindulging them, but giving them the opportunity to give” (Sept. 17, 2012).

The study’s lead author, Lara Aknin, insists that children receiving pleasure from giving away their goldfish crackers shows the emotional rewards we can all enjoy from acts of personal sacrifice. “You can construe that pro-social behavior broadly to include giving time volunteering, giving money to causes or giving other resources,” she told cnn. “All of these correlate to happiness.”

Other studies have confirmed that this life law doesn’t just apply to kiddos with crackers. For example, research has shown that teens are happier when they’re giving. “Adolescents who identify their primary motive as helping others are three times happier than those who lack such altruistic motivation,” says Christine Carter, a sociologist at the University of California. Teens who are givers are not only happier, but are more excited about life, and more involved at school and in their families. Carter says, “Generous behavior reduces adolescent depression and suicide risk, and several studies have shown that teenagers who volunteer are less likely to fail a subject in school, get pregnant or abuse substances.”

And it doesn’t change when we become adults, as a multitude of research bears out. Whether a person donates money to charity, volunteers time or commits random acts of kindness—providing directions to a lost traveler or holding the door for someone, for example—reports show he or she will be happier and suffer less anxiety and depression.

In 2000, the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey found that of 30,000 American households, those who gave money to charity were 43 percent likelier to say they were “very happy” about their lives compared to non-givers. Those who volunteered time were 42 percent likelier to be very happy than those who didn’t.

Ergo, a surefire way to lead your child to a happier life, both now and on into adulthood, is to teach him to give.

How? Start by setting the example. Give of your time, and make sure your child does too. If you have a neighbor or someone from church who needs help, get your child involved. When you visit someone needy, take your child with you. If you write a note of encouragement, let him add a hello as well.

Help your child to look out for others’ needs. If you know someone is down, ask your child what she thinks she can do for that person. Help her write the note, bake the treat, place the phone call. Get her in the habit of one “act of giving” a week: a get-well card for someone sick; a thank-you present for her teacher; a friendship note to someone special; a video call to a grandparent she rarely sees.

Have your child do yard work for an elderly neighbor: rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow—volunteer work, not for money. (That’s not to discourage entrepreneurship—there’s a time for that too.) Spend time together picking up trash and cleaning up the neighborhood; then, when your child looks across a clean neighborhood, he can take pleasure in having contributed to it.

Teach your child to tithe and give offerings. With whatever money he receives in allowance or for chores or his job, make sure he sets some aside for God. This is another area where we should set the example: Tithing and giving to God is the blessed way of life (request our free booklet The Financial Law You Can’t Afford to Ignore). Instill this habit in your child, and the lessons of working hard, saving, sacrificing and contributing to a cause bigger than himself will help him his whole life long!

We all know that money can’t buy happiness, but so many of us still make the mistake of trying to purchase it for our children. Wise up and flip the script. Help your son or daughter experience all the benefits of the happy way of life—the way of give.

‘North Korea, You’ve Been Bad’

‘North Korea, You’ve Been Bad’

Getty Images

North Korea continues to act without fear of retaliation from the international community.

North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon on February 12 as part of its ongoing nuclear testing. The international community responded with words of condemnation.

nato called it an “irresponsible act.”

The United Nations said, “The members of the Security Council strongly condemn this test.” It also said it was now considering “appropriate measures.”

U.S. President Barack Obama called it a “highly provocative act” and said the danger posed by North Korea “warrants swift and credible action by the international community.”

North Korea was not cowed, and responded with some choice words itself. “If the United States continues to come out with hostility and complicates the situation, we will be forced to take out stronger, second and third responses in consecutive steps,” it said in a statement through the kcna news agency.

In late January, reports revealed North Korea was testing new rockets designed to hit American soil.

It is remarkable what a stark difference there is in the weight behind the words of North Korea, as opposed to those of the nations that wish to halt its militarization.

North Korea has been backing its words with action. When it has said it plans on testing missiles, it tests missiles. When it says it will not halt its nuclear program, it doesn’t halt it. When North Korea informs the U.S. in advance that it will conduct an underground weapons test, it follows through.

In contrast, the most militarily powerful nations in the world warn, condemn and complain. They express regret and concern and thump podiums.

To what effect? The nuclear explosion speaks for itself. Despite one third of children in North Korea thought to be malnourished, the government of Kim Jong-un still orders nuclear testing.

There is a vicious cycle occurring. North Korea conducts its military tests, the West slaps more sanctions on the already impoverished nation, and then North Korea announces more tests in retaliation to the sanctions.

Diplomacy with Kim Jong-un is failing. The United States has been busy upping its presence in the Asia Pacific region. If the U.S. wants to play a bigger role, this would be a good place to start. However, judging from history, all we can expect is a barrage of words and a series of slaps on the hand. To see where this cycle is leading in Asia, read Russia and China in Prophecy.