The Failure of the Ark: Disney's Lion King without Animals
January 7, 2014
Satirical Perspective on Noah's Gargantuan Task
December 4, 2013
Character, Ethics, and Watching Films
January 9, 2014
Rainbows and Unicorns
January 4, 2014
Shel Silverstein's poem "The Unicorn" depicts the lovliest of animals splashing in the puddles of the misty morn, and thereby missing Noah's boat as it set off into the rising tide: "Oh them silly Unicorn!"
The unicorn was real. It just missed the boat.
Jewish folklore also has it that the unicorn's fate is bound up in its tragic relationship with the boat. In one story, the unicorn is enormous, one of earth's pre-flood monsters. But Noah is able to fashion a means to tie the enormous unicorn to the side of the boat. The plan was working, until Og, a demon who had hatched a sneaky plan, took this opportunity to mount the unicorn's back and ride the flood out as well. The rest of the tale focuses on how Noah foiled Og's plan to survive into the post-flood world. But the story echoes the fanciful presence of the unicorn in Noah's flood.
In the image above, the rainbows and unicorns often associated with Noah's Flood are here put into morbid perspective. The image asks the question, what if the unicorn were treacherous and not fanciful? What if the unicorn, or any animal on Noah's ark threatened human flourishing?
The wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible affirms those questions and this picture. In Job 38-41, we hear about the creative protection, desire, and love God has for wild animals: preditors, frightful beasts, and even enemies of humans. In an especially strong resonance with the murderous unicorn, Job 39:26-30 constitutes God's praise for a bird of prey, who can be found suppering on the blood of the slain, in no way exempting humans from the birds' victimage.
What does it mean to live in a created world that includes forces destructive to human flourishing? The unicorn's manslaughter asks that question, and points out a side of the Noah story not typically associated with the cheerful rainbow/unicorn elements of the stories and legends.