No, I wasn’t off in a corner, sulking.
After the NCAA championship game Monday night, we had a storm in the early morning hours which knocked out our power at 2 AM and it wasn’t restored until last night. The large oaks in our yard came through the storm without damage and we always breathe a sigh of relief about that. Today, the sun is shining brightly and the dogwoods and azaleas are in full bloom.
Expressing the beauty of springtime seemed a simple enough idea until I began this ….
– For behold, the winter is past
– The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2, New American Standard Bible
I should have stopped here and left well-enough alone, but here’s the thing… I had to go through several versions of the Bible to find that translation. Most say …”The time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” I liked that, but the talking turtle was giving me a problem, photo-wise. I know that some translations say “turtledove,” but I checked to see what Google showed for Voice of the Turtle, in case there was something I was missing–a turtle bird, perhaps.
My head was soon spinning. There are Voice of the Turtle books, music, newsletters, blogs by people and even a dog, baseball announcers, anthologies of Cuban stories, musical groups… millions of entries.
My brain really began to short-circuit when I found an ‘Official True Christian’ website of a church where “the worthwhile worship, unsaved unwelcome.” The writer says that the verse unquestionably refers to a talking turtle in a shell and not to give him any ‘Clintonesque lecture about what the meaning of “is’ is.” Furthermore, he added, God could, in the twinkling of an eye, update all the Bibles to read, “the voice of the electric toaster is heard in our land” and make it so.
A Commenter to that article thanked Brother Prune (nope, not making that up) for his excellent words and helpfully asserted that he knows that turtles breathe out of their bums, unlike heathens who can only speak out of theirs.
Really? I googled, this time about turtles breathing out of their bums.
On a website called The Straight Dope, which has been “Fighting ignorance since 1973–It’s taking longer than we thought,” an ornithologist with the Smithsonian writes that yes, the bum-breathing is true of some types of turtles. He pointed out that this trait, shared “with certain televangelists, is the ability to breathe through one’s butt. You’ve heard the expression ‘Blow it out your after regions?'”
What kind of turtles have that ability? If I read it correctly, only turtles without fully retractable heads can breathe that way. Or, if you prefer, only the pleurodires have cloacal bursae which are vascularized to facilitate the uptake of oxygen. (Sorry… I over-googled!)
I don’t know anything about the ornithologist or his religion, but I’m just guessing that he would not be welcome at the church of the Official True Christian and I doubt that the OTC preacher has set foot in the Smithsonian. Yet here they were, both speaking as the voice of the turtle.
My question about the voice of the turtle –or the toaster–was left unresolved, but ironically, I found this little video in an old e-mail while I was writing this. Could be that this crow and his feline friend may have heard it. See what you think.
“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may in indeed see the basic weakness of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Riverside Church, New York City, 1967