Friday, April 1, 2016

SANDERS | Birdie and the Sacred Flame

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking in Portland, Ore.
A bird flew down in front of Sen. Bernie Sanders's podium and alighted on his "A Future to Believe In" sign and Sanders suggested that it was a good omen.

This has given rise to the new #BirdieSanders picture, one version of which is below.

The original bird was green, but the campaign bird is blue, with white tufts on top and glasses.

The tradition of birds being divine emissaries is ancient. Here is a sampling of them:
  • Noah knew that the flood was over and dry land had appeared when a dove came back with a twig. Ever since then, the dove has been a symbol of peace.
  • A raven delivered food to Elijah.
  • Quail were sent to supplement the manna that kept followers of Moses alive in the desert.
  • A rooster crowed three times to remind Peter how faithless he been.
  • A story is told of St. Francis of Assisi and his companions coming upon a flock of birds. Francis stopped to talk to the birds, who crowded around him and sat on his shoulders. When Francis talked to them, the birds bowed their heads and stayed until the saint blessed them. 
The best story I think of a divine bird is that of Raniero and The Sacred Flame, a tale of Florence in the time of the Crusades. Different versions are extant.  The must famous version is probably that of Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf, who doubtless based her story on an Italian version, so that several translations are entailed in reading her version. My grandmother used to retell the story using a series of Magic Lantern pictures by my mother, Hilda van Stockum. The Library of Congress thought enough of this story-telling by Olga Boissevain to make and preserve a recording of it, and this recording has kept alive the flame of this story.

Here is the film that my brother Randal made and introduced, putting together the Library of Congress recording and the "Sacred Flame" Magic Lantern slides:

TheSacredFlame from John Tepper MARLIN on Vimeo.

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