northanger (northanger) wrote,

Magic With Tears

Entering the apartment was stepping into someone’s personal hell. He was passed out in bed. From his doorway, I could see dried piles, puddles and smears of feces of different age and color in various rooms. “Get up!” I yelled. “I brought over a turkey dinner and a great rumcake...”

He woke, recognized me, crawled out of bed, donned a bathrobe and stumbled to the living room. After he lit a cigarette, he focused somewhat and began to blather about having to fill out some legal forms and get a haircut on Monday. I barked profanities and said I didn’t want to hear it. I’d seen cleaner zoos. There was shit everywhere, I’ve no doubt a considerable amount still on his person, and I was in no mood to listen to future plans when there was some serious cleaning and hygiene to attend to. He admitted that he was embarrassed. Then he stumbled to the kitchen and got a chilled half-gallon of vodka from his freezer. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised; he probably wasn’t the first drunk to greet a new morning with a cigarette and step over piles of crap to get to the booze.

Magoi,” I said, hoping I had managed the vowels okay. Nothing. I repeated, “magoi.” A puzzled look; still nothing. “Magoi, like the Magi who paid their respects to Baby Jesus,” I explained. “Ah, magoi!” He had got it. Taking a pull from the bottle of vodka, he began to mumble associations, “Magic! Magus!” “That’s Latin; let’s stick with the Greek magoi,” I demanded. He then tried to explain the Magi as a Persian priestly class and may have given a credible, though surely outdated, definition, had I not cut him off. “Are there any other early Greek words related to magoi? Some scholars have now abandoned the ‘wise men’ translation and use ‘astrologers’ instead. Herodotus mentioned the magoi; do you recall whether or not a generic sense of ‘astrologers’ would fit?” I was talking about Jesus with a man soiled with his own waste. Surreal doesn’t even come close.

Standards of cool and hot fluctuate with cultural whimsey, but for me a Thanksgiving dinner will always trump White Castle hamburgers or filet mignon, and Christmas music touches places within me that pop personalities and aging rockers can never reach. Though the Jesus Narrative ends with a death on the cross and an alleged resurrection, now remembered with Good Friday and Easter celebrations, it opens with a young mother giving birth and hoping for the best, our Christmas. With every birth there’s hope. For some years now I’ve tried to get past the Coca-Cola Santa and the very successful commercialization of Christmas. I try to think about all mothers giving birth and hoping their children can bring good things into this troubled world of ours.

The unknown authors who penned the gospels of Mark and John began their efforts with an adult Jesus meeting Baptist John. Many scholars believe Mark’s gospel was written shortly after the fall of Jerusalem, c. 70 CE, and date the composition of John’s gospel sometime between 90 and 100 CE. The gospels of Matthew and Luke are thought to have been written in the 80s and differ from Mark and John by including infancy scenes. Matthew introduced the Magi and Luke provided shepherds and a babe in a manger. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that Christians could be comfortable with the idea that ancient Iraqi pagans were the first to acknowledge Jesus. {merry christmas}


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