December 3rd, 2009

justice to do, superman

My view is askew

As you know, Superman is from the planet Krypton. What you may not know is the name of the star around which Krypton revolved: Rao. My whole life, I've operated under the assumption that Rao is pronounced to rhyme with "wow". But just a few minutes ago as I was watching Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, I learned of a New York restaurant called Rao's -- and they pronounced it to rhyme with "mayo." So now I'm worried that I've been pronouncing the name of the star wrong all these years. I hope I will be able to get to sleep with this issue hanging over my head.
Christmas, Advent

Advent 2009: Lamb

Speaking of apocryphal gospels, here's an excerpt from Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Like most apocryphal gospels, Lamb covers events not mentioned in the biblical Gospels, such as Jesus's first encounter with an abominable snowman, and his trip to China to learn kung fu. Here's some context for the scene below: In the passage immediately preceding the one below, a young Jesus (called by his Hebrew name Joshua) complains to his friend, Levi who is called Biff, that He has received no answer to His prayers to His Father for guidance. "My beloved Maggie" is Joshua and Biff's friend Mary of Magdala, whom Biff has a crush on on.

From Lamb, chapter 3


   It had been getting darker by the minute in the olive grove, and I could barely see the shine in Josh's eyes, but suddenly the area around us was lit up like daylight. We looked up to see the dreaded Raziel descending on us from above the treetops. Of course I didn't know her was the dreaded Raziel at the time, I was just terrified. The angel shone like a star above us, his features so perfect that even my beloved Maggie's beauty paled by comparison. Joshua hid his face and huddled against the trunk of an olive tree. I guess he was more easily surprised by the supernatural than I was. I just stood there staring with my mouth open, drooling like the village idiot.

   "Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all men. For on this day, in the city of David, is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Then he hovered for a second, waiting for his message to sink in.

   Joshua uncovered his face and risked a look at the angel.

   "Well?" the angel said.

   It took me a second to digest the meaning of the words, and I waited for Joshua to say something, but he had turned his face skyward and seemed to be basking in the light, a silly smile locked on his face.

   Finally I pointed a thumb at Josh and said, "He was born in the city of David."

   "Really?" said the angel.

   "Yep."

   "His mother's name is Mary?"

   "Yep."

   "She a virgin?"

   "He has four brothers and sisters now, but at one time, yes."

   The angel looked around nervously, as if he might expect a multitude of the heavenly host to show up at some point. "How old are you, kid?"

   Joshua just stared, smiling.

   "He's ten."

   The angel cleared his throat and fidgeted a bit, dropping a few feet toward the ground as he did so. "I'm in a lot of trouble. I stopped to chat with Michael on the way here, he had a deck of cards. I knew some time had passed, but . . ." To Joshua he said, "Kid, were you born in a stable? Wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger?"

   Joshua said nothing.

   "That's the way his mom tells it," I said.

   "Is he retarded?"

   "I think you're his first angel. He's impressed, I think."

   "What about you?"

   "I'm in trouble because I'm going to be an hour late for dinner."

   "I see what you mean. I'd better get back and check on this. If you see some shepherds watching over their flocks by night would you tell them—uh, tell them—that at some point, probably, oh—tens years or so ago, that a Savior was born? Could you do that?"

   "Sure."

   "Okey-dokey. Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

   "Right back at you."

   "Thanks. Bye."

   And as quickly as he had come, the angel was gone in a shooting star and the olive grove went dark again.

Christopher Moore (born 1957)

Previous Advent posts:

2003: Advent 1955
2004: Virgin and Child
2005: Greetings!
2006: The Annunciation
2007: Blue Madonna
2008: All That I Want and Stars

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