Zaleski: Eclipse plus a full moon equals kooky
The combination of last month's solar eclipse (an 85 percent partial show over our region) and last week's full moon churned up especially outlandish phone calls and emails. Not so outlandish if you imagine the sun in eclipse and the moon in full phase affect human behavior. I suspect a credible scientific link can't be made. But in my experience over decades, I've learned that lots of people believe in a mystical contiguity between lunacy and luna, and during an eclipse, between sophistic disquiet and umbral Sol. Examples:
This call came the morning of the eclipse:
"You understand, don't you," the caller said, "that this darkness on the sun is a harbinger of the end times."
Really, I said. How so?
"You read it in the Bible in them real bad books with bad stuff in 'em, you know, Daniel and Revelation(s). Today's the day, it is ..."
And how is all this related to the eclipse? I asked.
"Well, sir, who of you don't die on the spot will be marked by the Lord of hosts from the eclipse darkness. Mark of the Lord, it'll be."
Marked? In what way?
"Don't know for sure, but there will be a mark, like a sign, and everyone else what is doomed from the total eclipse," he said, "and I don't mind tellin' you, I'm real scared."
I reminded him: It's only about 85 percent total around here. Does that mean only 85 percent will either die or be "marked," as you say?
"Don't really know about that," he said, sounding a tad confused. "Don't know, but the Lord of hosts surely does. He surely does, he surely does."
Well, I said, the eclipse is about to start. Any advice?
"You a sinner?" he asked.
I suppose I am, I conceded. Isn't everyone?
"Not sure about that," he said, "but you ought stay away from outside, you know, the sun and the eclipse. Might protect if you stay inside."
Thanks for the warning, I said. Call me after it's over—if you're able, I mean, what with the dying and the marking ...
"You makin' fun of me?" he asked.
Yes, I said, I am.
He rang off, and has not called back.
A call came the day after Wednesday night's luminous full moon:
"It happened again," she said, "and you and them fake news people didn't report it."
What happened? I asked.
"Ain't surprised you don't get it," she said. "God done it again with the weather, this time in that awful Houston, just like he done it to sinful New Orleans in that Hurricane Katrina. This time he done it with Hurricane Harvey. Same message to sinners, but only us believers know it. Like that Pat Robertson preacher and the other one, Falwell, I think, who told it like it was with sinful New Orleans and that there hurricane. Now it's Houston, and who knows who's next. Who knows, could be Fargo. We ain't as God-fearin' no more."
You are saying storms are God's way of punishing sinful cities? I asked.
"That's just what I'm sayin'," she said. "Just like Sodom and Gomorrah, like in the Bible."
Interesting, I said. But, as far as I can tell, no one has found pillars of salt in New Orleans.
"You're not takin' me serious," she said.
No, I said, I am not.
She rang off.
Zaleski retired in February after 30 years as The Forum’s editorial page editor. He will continue to write a Sunday column. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 241-5521.