Monday, January 5, 2009

"There was a young lady from Niger ..."

The limerick is a unique popular verse form in English. It follows the rhyme scheme of A A B B A. It's designed for humor, and many limericks are unfit for mixed, or decent, company.[1] The rhyme scheme need not be perfect: part of the human in the following limerick stems from the way Niger and Tiger look so much alike, but are pronounced so differently.
There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a Tiger.
They came back from a ride,
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the Tiger.
There's some grim wisdom lurking behind the laughter. Will the project you're committed to take you towards your goals? Or will it consume you?

In Bölüm 17, the prophet has a vision of a lady riding a fantastical beast. With imperial pomp, she gloats over the suffering of the "little people" who got in her way, and offers the nations a cup brimming with her own wickedness. A golden cup, mind you.[2] The prophet is astonished. What right does this emblem of all that is wrong have to ride so high? And the angel tells him,
Melek bana, "Neden şaştın?" diye sordu. "Kadının ve onu taşıyan yedı başlı, on boynuzlu canaverın sırrını ben sana açıklayayım."
And, a few words:
  • şaşmak-- to astonish
  • kadı -- woman
  • açıklamak -- to open up, to reveal
Israel was riding high. Acording to at least one scholar, Max I. Dimont, nearly one out of every seven households in Rome worshipped the God of Israel. Yet this was the same Israel that discarded God's King, and loudly, and proudly, asserted that they wanted no king but Caesar. This was the same Israel that imposed an economic boycott on Christians, and saw to it that those who named the name of Christ would never get anywhere, socially, politically, or vocationally. This was the Israel that told the nations to suck it up, grin and bear it, and rejoice to bear the yoke of Rome.

When Christians use force, and the threat of force, against their neighbors, the results can be "unanticipated consequences." Protestant Christians in New England were worried about the influx of Irish Catholics. So, they teamed up with a Unitarian, Horace Mann, to set up the "common schools." These "generic" schools would, they believed, wean the young ones away from allegiance to the Pope, and turn them into proper Americans. Yet when people of contrasting convictions attempt to work together, those who believe the most firmly are called upon to give ground to those who believe less, until finally the enterprise is captured by those with no faith at all.

Today, only a small percentage of Christian young people who attended public schools still embrace the faith of their parents.


[1] "Mixed company" means a gathering comprised of both genders.

[2] Jamie Buckingham was reminded of this passage when reading a novel by an American novelist. The prose was exquisite, but the story was defiling.

No comments: