Of miraculous births and abominations

[ by Charles Cameron — magical religion, the amnesia of the rationalists, a brief mention of poetry and a touch of Tillich ]

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As you know, I’m interested in the clashing of worldviews. Yesterday, Teju Cole posted a tweet with a quick mention of apocalypse that caught my eye:

There’s a whole lot going on here, and it takes a neat combo of crabwise and linear thinking to get at it all.

But first, a brief and hopefully unnecessary note to our gentle readers:

Take a look at the tweet above, and if you don’t want to peer more deeply into the murky tabloid worlds of strange births, miracles and abominations that it touches on, don’t read the rest. This post may be gross enough in parts, or so absurd-sounding that you want to drop the whole thing and read something else.

As I see it, it’s also interesting and informative — fascinating even — besides being potentially quease-making. But seriously, if you’d rather skip that kind of thing, please don’t leave right away, just go to the very last section and read the two quotes from Paul Tillich. Thanks.

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Still with me? Good…

For starters, we can compare these two stories, located about two weeks apart, and described as happening in two Nigerian states: Edo and Jigawa:

It would be easy to dismiss them both as Weekly World News style fabrications, like WWN’s Werewolf Sues Airline Over Flight Delay — but that would miss the point: they’re believed.

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Restricting ourselves from the moment to half-goat, half-human combos, we can then compare a human birth narrative with a narrative of a goat birth:

The same story? A completely different event? Or human memory, playing its strange tricks?

Note that the two tales are now three years apart, and while one is reportedly from Nigeria, the other is from Zimbabwe.

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In that last telling, we saw one local explanation for strange — dare I call them paranormal — events of this kind: a curse.

Let’s explore that idea a bit further. The same report quoted above went on to say:

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