Thursday, June 22, 2006

An Apocryphal Kind of Dragon and Dragonslayer

In the picnic park of Christianity, you'll find me frolicking in the Evangelical Christianity section. And maybe many of you are in that same favored spot. If so, you may not be familiar with the apocryphal books and their tales.

I was raised Roman Catholic, baptized and confirmed, educated by Dominican sisters, and well-loved by a strongly spiritual Mami who was devoted to St. Francis--she wore the brown habit-thingie on holy days, with that long rosary of wooden beads--and St. Helena of the True Cross, whom Mami said she saw in a vision when she was hospitalized and gravely ill in Cuba, the very same who proclaimed mother healed. Voila, Mami got healed.

So, you can guess that my home Bible growing up--this huge thing with illustrations--had the apocryphal books, books which feel mighty comfy and welcomed in the Catholic Bible. (I'm not sure, but I think Anglicans have 'em, too.)

I remember reading the story of the Jewish "Hammer" in my mom's Bible. Or in my own Jerusalem Bible I got shortly before I graduated from Catholic grade school.

In fact, I didn't read Daniel until after I converted. I read it from my own softcover, cheapo, maroon, New American Standard Bible that didn't have the apocryphal, additional chapters I would have found in my mom's Bible.

Tangent: I still have that Bible--it's been 31 years!--and it's all curled in the corners and a bit battered in the spine and lots of underlining and some highlighting in there. I rarely use it, just sentimental attachment, really. I got myself a LEATHER BIBLE as an adult, and I've never looked back.

Anyway, it's in those extra chapters of Daniel where the dragon shows up.

So, since the topic this week has been DRAGONS, why not take a moment to read about Habakkuk as a "fast" food delivery boy and Daniel as a holy dragonslayer:

23: There was also a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered.
24: And the king said to Daniel, "You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him."
25: Daniel said, "I will worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God.
26: But if you, O king, will give me permission, I will slay the dragon without sword or club." The king said, "I give you permission."
27: Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon. The dragon ate them, and burst open. And Daniel said, "See what you have been worshiping!"
28: When the Babylonians heard it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying, "The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel, and slain the dragon, and slaughtered the priests."
29: Going to the king, they said, "Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household."
30: The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them.
31: They threw Daniel into the lions' den, and he was there for six days.
32: There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but these were not given to them now, so that they might devour Daniel.
33: Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He had boiled pottage and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers.
34: But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, "Take the dinner which you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions' den."
35: Habakkuk said, "Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den."
36: Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head, and lifted him by his hair and set him down in Babylon, right over the den, with the rushing sound of the wind itself.
37: Then Habakkuk shouted, "Daniel, Daniel! Take the dinner which God has sent you."
38: And Daniel said, "Thou hast remembered me, O God, and hast not forsaken those who love thee."
39: So Daniel arose and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place.
40: On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel.
41: And the king shouted with a loud voice, "Thou art great, O Lord God of Daniel, and there is no other besides thee."
42: And he pulled Daniel out, and threw into the den the men who had attempted his destruction, and they were devoured immediately before his eyes.

Head on over here to read the preceding story of Bel the idol and how Daniel handles that situation.

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

Love it, Mir!

Tangent: as a child, I had to switch school busses at a Catholic school and I missed my transfer several times (I have a horrible memory for insignificant things like bus numbers, so substitute drivers left me bewildered). Those nuns were scary.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mirtika,

I just read your "Voices from the Void" story that won the Sword Review competition. Because of how small the competition was (and low paying) and because of the "Christian" element, I assumed the story would be crap, the lesser of a handful of peurile and narrow minded evils.

So boy was I amazed to read it and find it one of the best sci-fi shorts I've ever read. Intelligent and evocative, rich in metaphor and symbol. Totally engrossing and imaginative. I loved the "hush" motif. Personally, I would have made "Hush" the title. I loved the way you use the stars as "punctuation" simile, the memorable, Kafka-esque characters.

Great piece of work. Deserves a much large stage imo. Just wanted you to know, and to thank you.

Here is where I live and blog:
http://fairwriting.com/blog.php

Here's my email
miller.ck (at) gmail.com

Mirtika said...

"Hush" is so much better a title than mine. I wish I'd thought of it, really. I kid around all the time with my pals how LOUSY I am at titles. Utterly awful. In fact, the conversion story for the Faith in Fic contest (link on sidebar), I couldn't come up with a title at all. Hence I left the working Word document title: The Thief's Story.

Thank you for the very, very nice feedback. I received some nice reviews at two other secular review sites, so I was encouraged by it to continue on my fantasy novel quest.

Appreciate the visit.

Mir

Mirtika said...

Rebecca, I had to take a two-bus ride to St. John's (my school) after we moved from the South Bronx (Yes, THAT South Bronx, yes, the area of the 41st precinct, no less, aka Fort Apache, like the book and film) to the North and West Bronx, up in University Heights, the St.Nicholas of Tolentine parish. It wasn't an unpleasant ride in clement weather, going as it did past the Bronx Zoo and Fordham University and Grand Councourse and the shopping district. But in winter. Oooooooooowwwww.

Mir