An English In Kentucky


















Monday January 28th 2013    Tim Candler

    Baal, and here there will be angry debate and spitting, might represent the leader of animals and plants, season, frost and sleet, summer drought and today's rain.  The set into which we have being, or what some people like to call "mother nature."  A sort of anguish of disobedience, that's combined with 'if only' and a sometimes grudging 'without you what would we be.'  And at the same time Baal, might be thought of as "the thing in charge of it all."   Which generally speaking and despite the comfort of hallucination to the contrary, is not you or I.

    Early people had become agriculturalists, dependent upon a more mysterious fertility. A fertility less apparent than portrayed by the habits of mammals we used to hunt for a living and draw pictures of for sport. In those days rather than popping down to the Hardware Store for an emergency input of nitrogen, or something that might be mixed with water, shrines were constructed and around them people would gather in an attempt to further the ambition of Gardeners by 'making nice' to all possible assets and liabilities, real and imagined, or to Baal.  And here, 'making nice' is a catch all phrase that includes pleading, bursting into tears, promising to behave, and the brilliant array that can be seen during 'pomp and ceremony.'  The funny hat, the jodhpur, the trake, the Strawberry that tastes like Pineapple, and on into even less accessible areas of the mail order catalogue.

     When the Israelites entered Canaan, God ordered them to destroy all shrines, and the Israelites obliged, because there was just the one useful God, to whom the Israelites had tied their ambitions, their hopes and dreams from the front cover all the way through to the extraordinarily unhelpful index.  I guess it must have been as incomprehensible as being told you couldn't wear red, or orange, and under no circumstances could singing or dancing be tolerated, and girls most certainly shouldn't be permitted to walk around without covering their heads and absolutely no building of shrines to Rain or to Flies or to Creeping Grass, or to Olive Trees, or anything that might have happened longer ago than yesterday, which is sometimes called Liberal Arts, Statues of the Buddha, Interpretive Dance.. 

    I think it was Isaiah who put his own "thing in charge of it all" up against Baal in a rather odd competition that involved asking "the thing in charge" to reduce a Goat or Cat, or maybe another unfortunate Bush, to ashes.  Needless to say Baal did not win.  But much more interesting, is the use of the word Baal in the version of Arabic that is spoken in The Levant. Which is the peaceful name for  the strip of fertile land that runs from up near Turkey, down the Eastern Mediterranean  to where the desert begins and Camels take over, just south of Gaza.  The word 'baal' as an adjective, is used to describe gardening that relies solely upon water that falls from the sky.   And, despite the dawn of seven billion mouths to feed, and the economic opportunity of seven billion birthdays to celebrate, and the fourteen billion shoes to sell,  I too sometimes yearn for the day when hose pipes are considered the work of Satan.

Previous     Next