Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bird is the Word

The osprey nest in Stamford seems to be on top of monk parakeet colony. Next week, I’ll definitely take my bins to get a view.

Here's a thorough photographic documentation of Saturday evening’s hiving, including the hickey one of the bees gave the photog.
With Pappa Ratzi coming to town in a futile attempt to heel (sic) the flock, I am reminded in recent reading by William Tyndale, one of the first translators of the bible printed in English (1525). Tyndale’s translation was absorbed, via the Cloverdale and Matthew bibles, into the King James version, (surely the only committee-authored work that has stood any test of time) and his felicitous phrases still haunt the language. Among other words, he coined “beautiful.” Tyndale was strangled and then burned for his efforts, because the Church has always been about authority, and protecting its prerogatives, as its asylum for pedophiles and their cardinal-enablers in more recent days has so horribly reminded us.

A wise Roman once said cave ab homine unius libri, beware the man of one book. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia has three and a half pages of specially named versions of the bible, most for famous typographical errors. Homer nods, but the Unnamable, the Ineffable? Is it “Is there noe rosin in Galaad” or “Is there no tryacle in Gilead” ? Rosin, treacle? How about jam? How about the “Parable of the Vinegar,” and the “bugs by night”? Considering the fundamental misogyny of the Church, which it shares with all fundamentalisms, check out your Ruth 3:15: the Hebrew “he” has been turned into “she” for centuries, leading to so-called He and She Bibles. It goes on and on. Ben Franklin’s bromide “God helps those who help themselves” is oft cited by believers as being the unadulterated Word, even though it is completely antithetical to Christ’s teachings. But of course, people believe what they want, old men in dresses notwithstanding, and in America we have a Capitalist Christ, a militant self-help guru figure of blond whiteness who seems to be an awful lot of peoples' invisible boyfriend.

Robert Alter has been heroically translating the Hebrew texts of late, and his work reminds us how Christians systematically converted the “old testament” into Christianity, retrospectively translating to make it seem like it was destined all the time. Word!

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