In the wake of the recent Chinese ban on unlicensed reincarnation and the Bangkok Metropolitan District's ceremony to appease the river Goddess Ka Kang (see what you miss if you don't follow this blog?), Reuters reports another interesting religious development: Just a few days ago, officials of Nepal's state-run airline sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, because the airline was having trouble with one of its Boeing 757s.
Assuming for the moment that this approach is not suggested in the Boeing Users Manual, I think the airline officials deserve credit for relying on a traditional and time-tested problem-solving method. In the days since the Old Testament, we in the West have devalued the idea of sacrifices, which is kind of a shame.
The proposition that the universe is run by deities who respond positively to the death of small, and sometimes not-so-small, animals actually explains quite a lot about modern life. Career uninspiring? Marriage not what you'd hoped? Having a bad day? Why would you expect anything else, when the Powers That Be can only be cheered up by the intentional destruction of little furry things and it's been centuries since they were fed? They're probably pissed off that cable television hasn't come up with The Sacrifice Channel, all-sacrifices all day long.
I'm beginning to integrate occasional sacrifices into my own life, just to see whether I can't get things running more smoothly.
The problem is that the sacrifices we've read about are all for big things: winning a war, lifting a seige, stopping a river from flooding. I don't have problems of that magnitude, so there are no guidelines. I have to improvise. I'll report later on how these remedies work, but for the moment, here's what I'm doing.
To find my car keys: I allow a moth to fly into a flame. It wants to, anyway.
To get off the boiler-room calling list: I eat dinner in front of my dog without giving her anything. Well, I don't give her much. A little less than usual, I guess. Unless it's chicken. In fact, the calls aren't that much of a bother.
To avoid being seated next to an actor on an airplane: I trap several flies between the closed window and the screen and just let them buzz.
To prevent anyone from saying the phrase "hat trick" within my hearing: I cut out photos of ESPN commentators and fold them mercilessly.
To ward off accidental exposure to Simon Cowell: I make really terrifying faces at the squirrel who lives in the palm tree outside my bedroom window. (This works for Dick Cheney, too.)
To maintain my self-induced (at great personal expense) deafness to puns: Big shoes in the back yard, walking really hard. Most of what I get would bite me if they got a chance.
To improve something when I rewrite it, instead of just making it longer: I write thirty adjectives on thirty tiny pieces of paper, put them in an ashtray, and burn them.
Obviously, I'm just starting out here. If this approach proves effective, I'll go to work on life's larger problems. On a recent trip to New York, I got into an elevator in one of the city's tallest buildings, with someone who had a bad case of gas. (By the way, if you ever want to verify Einstein's contention that time is relative, try this.) Averting something of this magnitude is in a much bigger sacrificial league, possibly requiring the involvement of vertebrates. It needs to be approached with considerable thought.
Or maybe there's a book idea here: Creative Sacrifices for Daily Life: The Ancients' Guide to Personal Fulfillment and Painless Weight Loss, As Well As Better Taste in Clothes. If this stuff works, I'll whip up a proposal. Maybe even if it doesn't work.
Tim -- Sundays