Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's alive!

The rituals outlining these procedures and the accompanying incantations are known collectively by the Babylonian titles mīs pî (“washing of the mouth”) and pīt pî (“opening of the mouth”). The mīs pî, as noted earlier, was primarily a ritual intended to purify the recipient in preparation for cultic activity. As Walker and Dick conclude, “the ‘washing of the mouth’ was essentially a purification rite which prepared the object/person for contact with the divine. It washed away impurities.” The mīs pî was performed not only on divine statues but also on the king and his royal insignia, royal statues, priests, individual humans, and various animals and sacred objects. By contrast, the mouth-opening rite (pīt pî) was apparently reserved for inanimate objects, including figurines and larger divine images, a leather bag, cult symbols, and royal jewels. It was thought to consecrate, activate, and/or enliven the object in preparation for cultic use. When applied to a divine statue, the Opening of the Mouth was thought to animate the statue’s sensory organs and limbs, enabling it to consume offerings, smell incense, and move freely. Once the mouth washing and opening were complete, the statue was considered a fully functioning, living manifestation of the divine.—The "Image of God" in the Garden of Eden, page 44

<idle musing>
Remember, the ancients were fully aware that it wasn't the deity—it was just a manifestation of the deity. But at the same time, it was the deity. Confusing? Maybe. But because in a very real sense it was the deity, Isaiah and the other prophets could have a good time making fun of the whole process.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the few people who actually read this blog, I could say we can compare it to the treatment that is given to the U.S. flag. It isn't the country, but it represents in a very real way the U.S. That's why people get so upset when people burn it out of protest. They are symbolically burning the country. Or, why the flag is never supposed to touch the ground, or you stand and salute the flag, or say the Pledge of Allegiance, or any one of a number of other "silly" rules about handling the flag.

Side question? Is the flag an idol?

You figure it out, but I would suggest it is...just as nationalism is an idol. Yes, especially "American exceptionalism."
</idle musing>

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