“Feel the Bird” – Birds, Saints, Rabbis, Animation, and Bernie

Feeling the Bird feeling the Bern, Menachem Feuer weighs in on animals and this strange theo-political moment. One more reason to shy away from this like from a plague or messianic madness.

Schlemiel Theory

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During a recent Bernie Sanders rally in Portland, Oregon (March 25, 2016), the crowd went wild when a little bird appeared on his podium. Taken together, the images of the bird, a smiling Bernie Sanders, and an enthusiastic crowd who witness the visitation (coupled with his three big wins against Hillary Clinton) have taken on a kind of messianic aura. The bird, as it were, is taken as a sign. And instead of simply “feeling the Bern,” the crowd was also (as one hashtag puts it) “feeling the bird.”

There is a long history of taking birds as signs. We can find such references throughout the Bible, Greek and Roman mythology, Homer, and in magic.   But what is more interesting than spotting a bird at certain events is the relationship of the Saint to the Bird.  The stories around Saint Francis of Asissi (c 1220) and his relationship to birds…

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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