“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said Through the Looking Glass. As we leave the omer week associated with “Glory” “[hod, in Hebrew] behind, let’s consider for just a moment Alice’s conversation with Humpty Dumpty about his use of the term.
Is Alice’s conversation with Humpty Dumpty far removed from recent discussions all across the U.S. about the term “thug”? Who gets to determine meaning?
When one image or video is described in at least two different, and mutually exclusive, ways by observers — as when a photo of black community members lining up in front of Baltimore police in riot gear is explained as both “protecting the police” and “first line of defense for protestors” — are we any less befuddled than Alice?
Moreover, traveling between communities (or news channels), the same events can start to look like poor Alice, one moment too small to notice and the next so large as to be frightening.
And so, as we pause to notice the strangeness of this journey —
BTW: Would that rabbit appear white if it spun faster? What are the components of “white”?
We counted 35 on the evening of May 8. Tonight, we count….
Making the Omer Count
from On the Road to Knowing: A Journey Away from Oppression
A key element in the journey from liberation to revelation is understanding the workings of oppression, and our part in them. We cannot work effectively to end what we do not comprehend.
So this year, moving from Passover to Shavuot, I commit to learning more about how oppression works and how liberation is accomplished. I invite others to join me:
Let’s work together, as we count the Omer, to make this Omer count.
Thoughts and sources welcome.
Share this graphic to encourage others to participate.
Aware that we are on a journey toward knowing God — from liberation to revelation — I undertake to know more today than I did yesterday about the workings of oppression.
I bless and count [full Hebrew blessings in feminine and masculine address]:
Blessed are You, God, Ruler/Spirit of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.
In the spirit of the Exodus, I pray for the release of all whose bodies and spirits remain captive, and pledge my own hands to help effect that liberation.
“Glory,” Humpty, and Alice
‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory,”’ Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t— till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”’
‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument,”’ Alice objected.
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master— that’s all.’
“When I make word do a lot of work like that,” said Humpty Dumpty, “ I always pay it extra.”
“Oh!” said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.
“Ah, you should see ‘em come round me of a Saturday night,” Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side: “For to get their wages, you know.”
(Alice didn’t venture to ask what he paid them with; and so you see I can’t tell you.)
–from Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), 1871.
NOTE: I read some years ago that Charles Dodgson believed mundane use of language associated with religious imagery — think “awesome” or “terrified,” e.g. — eroded its meaning. And so, his choice of “Glory” for Alice’s conversation with Humpty Dumpty is not accidental. (No citation, sorry.)
RANDOM: Here, just for your information and entertainment, is the footage from Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 1967 of “White Rabbit”