Thursday, August 13, 2009
Shofar sho good
On the news the other day was some footage of a number of Rabbis in an aeroplane, circling over Israel. One was blowing a ram’s horn, called the shofar and the others seemed in various degrees of commitment to the cause. This, it turned out, was a high altitude prayer-in to help Israel repel the invasion of the virus that we know as swine flu.
It set up the following train of thought, as I watched it. How do those religions that have forsworn pork manage swine flu in their systems? Does it contaminate their souls as well as their bodies? Both virus and soul are invisible to the naked eye, though the virus can be seen with instrumentation which has yet to catch a glimpse of whatever is imagined to be the holy spirit; that which bestows life upon humans, though not, as yet, on animals. Is being in an aeroplane an act that might bring these holy men nearer to God since in the early days of religion He was ‘up there’? If this is so then, knowing how competitive religions are, we have a new prayer race on our hands. The further up, the closer my God to thee. Or does praying at twenty thousand feet mean that the prayers will fall, weighted by their solemnity, like rain on as wide an area as possible? The height must be just right or they could fall on Palestine which could prove to be a sad waste of supplication by turning God’s beneficence into support for the enemy.
It was a curious piece and Sky News didn’t know how to play it, other than show it. There was an element of ‘straight-faced but aren’t they funny’ in it but not enough to inflame the Jewish lobby and its propensity to see anything amusing or critical as anti-semitism.
At the same time, it was announced that swine flu had reached Amazonian Indians. In fact, it is certain that it has invaded the hosts of believers of every religion known to the planet, as well as agnostics and atheists.
My partner pointed out that if this had been a group of traditional village doctors from the countryside of Ghana, the story would have been much more satirical, with a sub-text suggesting that Africans have not yet emerged from the age of superstition and magic, even though it is conceded by some of the more liberal adherents to world religions, that, unlike animals, they could have souls….