New Year’s Clarification: God and the Seagulls: Subtitle: God (The Fisher King) Changes His Mind


“Exciting to see
but soon after comes sadness
the cormorant boats.”   Basho

2016 is over by a whole month. I didn’t make resolutions. I’m making a New Year’s Clarification.

I was walking through a park, early one morning about a month ago. It was fogbound; the grass was frosted and despite being well inland, the white ground was peppered with the whiter white of seagulls – a small flock, hunting worms. The scene was a second prod in a week to finish this blog post.

I started writing this about two months ago, in fact. It was, then, a response to a topic posted in one of the groups of which I’m a member on LinkedIn. It was posted directly on the back of and responding to the massacre of 50+ folks in the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida (6 December 2016). The Christian author of the topic used the massacre as a vehicle to mount an argument against homosexuality and backed himself up in the usual shallow way with the usual biblical quotes. I was incensed at this Christian’s insensitivity. Another Christian did similar more recently following the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey. (P.S. I have no affection for or affiliation with the Russian political regime). I was again incensed. I surprised myself by telling him to eff off, I was so incensed at the insensitivity.

What’s all this to do with God and seagulls? And God changing his mind? (Please exchange God for whatever you call the source of all things (and I’m assuming that the reader who has persevered thus far will believe in a source for the universe)).

Me, I’m going to get really biblical here.

Part of the answer lies in Leviticus. Leviticus is the third book of the Bible, attributed to Moses but research suggests it was a later addition. It is about the Levite tribe (one of the 12 tribes of Israel). The Levites were the tribe of priests. And Leviticus summarises rules and ceremonies pertaining to the ministry of the priests and the social and health-maintaining conduct of the Israeli people (that Moses brought out of Egyptian slavery and led to the Promised Land).

Bear with me, this is exciting. Please read on:

leucocarbo_bougainvillii_qtl1Leviticus, 11-15 are instructions to the Israeli folk on purity stroke cleanliness. “Eating certain animals produces uncleanliness, … “. At Leviticus 13: These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean (there’s a long list, but specified are “… the gull, [and] … the cormorant, …”

But God changes his mind about the above.

What?

Yes, he does.

It comes after the death and resurrection of Jesus, when the Apostles have gone out into the world to disseminate the message of the life, death, resurrection of Jesus. The story of the triumph of Love.

Their adventures and achievements are reported in The Acts of the Apostles. And Acts 10 records a vision that Peter had (Simon Peter whom Jesus referred to as his rock (of whom it is also recorded, denied knowing Jesus, after Jesus’ arrest in Jerusalem, betrayed by Judas Iscariot, three times before the cock crowed (dawn) the following morning. Forgive me if you already know this).

Acts 10: (9-16):  About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

So in Leviticus, in the Old Testament, you don’t get to eat seagulls and cormorants are mentioned specifically. In the New Testament, you do. Here’s the point, which isn’t about seagulls. It’s about God changing his mind to better suit purpose. Acts 10 was at the time, hugely pivotal, because it opened up the Apostles’ ministry to include non-Jews, aka Gentiles. And thus enabled the Christian message to be spread beyond the Jewish world.

And so, when Christians choose to condemn, say, homosexuality, with seemingly incontrovertible quotes from The Bible, (homosexuality being a blanket term covering a huge spectrum of states of being) Acts 10 isn’t about something dirty being made clean, it’s about that you can’t today judge, condemn and cast-off folk by selecting verses from the Bible to suit your particular (fractal) world view, because tomorrow, God might change his mind about your chosen verses.

Where will you find yourself, condemners of … whatever? Not on a rock, not on Peter, but on very precarious foundations indeed. (Read Luke 6:48).

Oh, and the Basho quote at the top of this post? Why the sadness about cormorants? First, it turns out that cormorants are rather special.

From Cliff’s Notes:  Many cultures consider cormorants a symbol of nobility and indulgence. In more recent history, the cormorant is considered a good luck charm for fishermen, or a talisman that will bring a fisherman a bountiful catch.
In China and Japan, humans once exploited the fishing skills of the cormorant by tying a snare to the bird’s throat and sending it to sea. The snare prevented the bird from swallowing fish, and when the bird returned to the fisherman’s boat, the fisherman removed the fish and kept it.
Some specific stories of cormorants in literature include:
In the Greek tale of Ulysses, after a storm broke the mast of Ulysses’ raft, a sea nymph disguised herself as a cormorant and handed Ulysses a girdle to keep him afloat while he swam to shore.
In Norwegian myths and folklore, three cormorants flying together are said to be carrying messages and warnings from the dead. In northern Norway, cormorants are considered to be good luck when they gather in a village. Norwegian myth also states that people who die at sea can visit their former homes in the form of a cormorant.
In Polynesian mythology, Maru-tuahu used feathers to make himself “as handsome as the crested cormorant” when both young daughters of Te Whatu declared their desires to marry him.
In Ireland and some other places, seeing a cormorant perched atop a church steeple is a warning of bad luck to come.
In England, the mythical “Liver Bird,” the symbol of the city of Liverpool, is thought to be a cross between a cormorant and an eagle.

The cormorant is also a symbol of greed and deception in John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, as the form Satan took to disguise himself to enter Eden before tempting Eve.

The cormorant makes his appearance in Shakespeare: Coriolanus, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Troilus and Cressida.

Here is the origin of Basho’s sadness, regarding the rather special cormorant, which is about fishing with cormorants. The You Tube video below may upset sensitive folks, which shows how cormorants are used (tortured) to catch fish. A snare tied round their necks prevents them from swallowing a fish they might catch, which is then taken by the fisherman from its gorge.

The method is not as common today, since more efficient methods of catching fish have been developed, but is still practiced as a cultural tradition.

I’m going to repeat my paragraph 17 here:

And so, when Christians choose to condemn, say, homosexuality, with seemingly incontrovertible quotes from The Bible, (homosexuality being a blanket term covering a huge spectrum of states of being) Acts 10 isn’t about something dirty being made clean, it’s about that you can’t today judge, condemn and cast-off folk by selecting verses from the Bible to suit your particular (fractal) world view, because tomorrow, God might change his mind about your chosen verses.

If my Clarification offends your idea of cultural tradition, your spiritual sensibilities, then unfriend and unfollow me. In other words, eff off. I’m trying (er, in this, read failing miserably) to lead a loving life, which is the message of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. And that means keeping my door open to all, of whatever race, creed, sexual predilection, or physical attributes.

Stuff cruel cultural tradition. I would love it if my kitchen resembled the Cantina (the bar in Star Wars).

Happy 2017

Ann

P S  The Fisher King

 

About AnnIsikArts

Artist/Writer, Proofreader/Copy Editor
This entry was posted in Christian writing, spirituality, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Share your light here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s