Faith: When animals talk

Faith: When animals talk

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A woman ended up caring for two female parrots belonging to her father, who had to enter a nursing home and couldn’t take them with him.

But he was kind of a rascal and taught them to say some rude phrases whenever anyone new walked into the room.

Their favourite was, “Hi, we’re hookers.  Want to have some fun?”

The lady was quite embarrassed by these two birds and was at her wit’s end.

However, because her father was so fond of them, she was reluctant get rid of them.

Then she remembered her priest raised parrots.  In fact, he had two male parrots that were quite remarkable — they could even say the rosary.

So she asked his advice.

He suggested putting the two rude birds in with his birds on the chance they could teach them some better language.

So, she brought the birds over and placed them in the cage with the priest’s birds.

Of course, the first thing they said was, “Hi, we’re hookers.  Want to have some fun?”

One of the priest’s parrots looked over at the other and said, “You can put away the rosary beads, Larry, our prayers have been answered.”

While some birds are known to be able to mimic human language, speech is something uniquely human.

But there are two instances in the Bible in which animals miraculously speak.

One example is in the Book of Numbers.

Balak, the king of the Moabites, is terrified that the approaching Israelites will destroy his kingdom as they had already done with the Amorites and the Ammonites.

He sends messengers to Balaam, a powerful diviner, urging him to curse the Israelites.

Even though Balaam is a pagan priest, God speaks to him and commands him not to go with the messengers, as the Israelites are blessed.

So, Balaam refuses to go.

Balak, desperate, sends a second delegation with a huge bribe to persuade Balaam to change his mind.

This time, God authorizes Balaam to go with the delegation, but only on the condition he says what God tells him to say.

What follows is a little puzzling.

Scripture says God was “very angry” that Balaam went with the princes of Moab, even though He authorized him to go.

One explanation is that God knew Balaam’s heart.

He likely perceived Balaam would succumb to Balak’s bribery and tell him what he wanted to hear.

God had to employ a miracle to convince Balaam with whom who he was really dealing. So, he sent an angel to block the donkey’s path.

The donkey perceived the angel in his path, balked, pressed Balaam’s leg up against a wall, then finally laid down underneath him.

Balaam became enraged and beat the poor donkey three times.

Finally, the donkey said, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times? Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to the angel and he finally agreed to say only what the Lord told him to say. The painting of the scene by Rembrandt is quite remarkable.

Obviously, the talking donkey is a miraculous event meant to illustrate the power of God over his creation — and his special love for the people of Israel.

The most prominent example is in the Book of Genesis, however.

The serpent is described as “more crafty than any of the wild animals” and successfully persuades Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.

He says, “God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent in the Garden of Eden can be seen as a metaphor for Satan/Lucifer, the enemy of God and all of God’s people.

The Hebrew word for serpent, “nahash,” also means shiny.

Interestingly, the name Lucifer means “the shining one.”

Later, in the Book of Revelation, Satan is called “the great dragon”, and “that ancient serpent.”

Satan’s portrayal as a deadly snake is framed in the first and last books of the Bible.

Other cultures also associate the word snake with “enemy.”

For example, the Objiwa called their Dakota enemies “Sioux,” which means “snakes” in their language

Significantly, Jesus calls his Pharisee opponents “vipers.”

Non-Christians find such stories literally incredible, in the original sense of the word.

At face value, they are.

But faith means a suspension of disbelief.

There is nothing  impossible with God and accepting that God can do miracles is an integral part of the Christian faith.

And that includes endowing an animal with the power of speech.

KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to editor@kamloopsthisweek.com. Please include a very short bio and a photo.

1 COMMENT

  1. Chris this column has to be a joke. What is remarkable about parrots being ” quite remarkable — they could even say the rosary”. Every culture fears snakes so what is so remarkable about calling someone or something a snake. Get it through your head Chris humans are animals that have an imagination. Nothing about us was preprogramed other than some autonomous functions. Religion is not an autonomous function it was invented, thus myths rather than biology define the roles of men and women in society. Your article is an imagined fairytale a myth should be an embarrassment to anyone who believes it.

    From a biological prospective nothing is unusual, however culture defines unusual and more than not its the Christian theology (MYTH) that defines natural and unnatural. Humans appeared on this planet millions of years ago and there is not a single thing about us that is the same today as it was when we were hunters and gatherers. Religion pressed scientific myths into service to justify human divisions like Ham and his children cursed Noah into slavery are you kidding. All imagined nonsenses devised to divide humanity into classes.

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