Tuesday, September 10, 2013


One of my favorite movie lines of all time was from an old movie where a bunch of ancient Greeks stood around waiting for another ancient Greek guy to cut open a live chicken and “read” its entrails. Entrails are guts, in case you’re wondering.

Are you following this?

They [those ancient Greek types] used to take a live chicken and then CUT IT OPEN. Then they’d shake the stuff that was on the inside of the chicken out of the chicken onto the kitchen table and look for messages while other ancient Greek types stood around waiting for the six o’clock news.

Probably as accurate as cable news, I’m thinking.

In the movie, the entrails reader saw nothing but ominous, disastrous news in the pile of chicken innards—all this is also known as a bad, bad omen.

The king of the Greeks after listening to the chicken gut reader give them the BAD omen news looked him in the eye, and said, “We reject your omen.”

I love that.

That’s brass.

That’s guts. That’s . . . hard on the chickens.

This fictional movie scene sums up what I believe is wrong with bad religious substitutes—folks can take them or leave them.  It’s the fatal flaw when worshipping at the altar of The Great Church of Science and Statistics or the High Church of Me, Myself, and I.

It’s easy to reject the omens.

The latest scientific research suggest that you should exercise more and less; eat meat or never; put the baby to sleep on its back, front, side, head; power nap; never power nap; cold therapy but not hot compresses, stand up sit down . . . fight, fight, fight.

Honestly, I reject the scientific omens.

Lightning strikes! Now, lightning strikes I believe in.

I once saw lightning hit the ground next to us while we were driving in the car. The lightning strike was invisible, but there was an impressive explosion of dirt, a smell of burning ozone, and a molar rattling crack of thunder. It was like a sign from God—also an omen.

“Wow, did you see that?” I said.

“What?” My husband mumbled.

“The invisible lightning that almost blew us up. It was six feet away.”

“Are you asking me if I saw invisible lightning?”

I recognized the sound of skeptical disbelief when I heard it, but I kept at it.

“Seriously, you didn’t hear that thunder? We were almost hit by lightning. What can that mean?”

His knuckles resembled kitchen cabinet knobs as he clutched the steering wheel and growled at surrounding traffic.

“It means that God’s aim must be off today, because he was shooting for that moron in the truck in front of us.”

“God’s aim is off?  This is not a comforting thought.”  I contemplated the idea that God was having a bad day at the gun range. “I reject your omen,” I said. “God was definitely sending a message . . . and he was sending it . . . to you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s a sign. Like those guys who used to cut open chickens and get messages from their guts.”

“Okay, I’ll play along,” he sighed. “What’s the message?”

“We should get more chickens.”

And that’s how omens work at our house.

Linda (Gizzard Guts) Zern




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