Can we be taught how to epiphanize?

Lately, my epiphanies have been not blah, exactly, but not explosive either. I presume it’s because I’ve become over-informed. Not cynical, no, never cynical. Yet when something happens — a piece of news, usually — I’m not getting those epiphany fireworks because I know the news was on its way. Occasionally, the news makes me gasp but a gasp is not an epiphany. It just isn’t.

So epiphanies (should I call them “junior epiphanies”?) nowadays come in the form of a gasp, a deep breath, a wide smile, a satisfied sigh and a thorough, almost mystical calm spreading all over the place.

My epiphanies have nothing to do with supernature. Nature, yes; supernature, no. Mother Nature is as super as I go.

So a few days ago when I strolled past a building the purpose of which was defined in the sign hanging from it — “The Epiphany School” — I wondered whether the school ventured beyond mythical and/or historic epiphanies and into teaching how to have them.

And this led into a question I asked of a friend who, although Jewish (the way I’m Jewish), went to an Episcopalian boarding school. Question: “What was the epiphany?”

The answer was a little confusing and remains so, even after I took down and dusted off my King James bible to supplement what my friend told me.

Something to do with the Magi trekking off to visit the baby whom, for reasons equally unclear, they’d heard was the Messiah. Well, there was a star and they followed the star (which moved, sort of like a flashlight) until it stopped over where the “young child was.” What a unscientific muddle! Unless the “star” was a comet or asteroid but that presents a problem since if it were an asteroid, it wouldn’t have stopped over the crib of the baby. It would have crashed into it.

Here’s an alternative view: maybe the star was the very first GPS? “Recalculating…”

Anyway, the Magi gazed upon the newborn and said to each other, “Yeah, for sure, this baby is the Messiah.” And “they fell down, and worshipped him…”

How did they know the baby was the Messiah? Was that halo every painter has created over the infant’s head shining there and then? If it had been, the Book of Matthew doesn’t mention it.

So what about the other books? Well, after a lot of jump cuts in Mark, Luke attempts to fill in the holes in Matthew’s story. It’s almost as if some very early Christian editor read Matthew and Luke and proclaimed, “This doesn’t make any sense and in the future Naomi will be among the many, many others who’s going to highlight and mock all the missing bits in the story. Gotta do something about that.”

And Luke says, what a pain! but OK, and then adds the shepherds in the field and the sheep and, most significantly, an Angel (almost as if the early Christians just discovered the utility of the Greco-Roman dramatic device called “deus ex machina”). The Angel shows up to fill in information not otherwise presented in the first edition.

So it all comes down to the reason I don’t care for Gothic lit or the bible: when the writer doesn’t have the imagination to create a plausible, connected plot, he goes, “god did it!” And the Bible drags one or another angel in to say, “Oh, don’t worry about the logic! God gets to do what he wants and if he doesn’t want to fill in the holes, just deal with it!”

So to get an epiphany from such stories, you must believe in supernature and not question it.

Clearly I am not a candidate for an epiphany school.

But I am currently having an epiphany: the Bible, Old and New Testaments together, kick started the Age of Satire. Which blessedly continues unto this day.

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