Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quoth the Gryphon: The Reason They're Called Lessons

While I was attending the Mere Anglicanism conference 2016 in Charleston, SC, I found myself needing a hat in order to walk about that holy city during a bright sunny lunch break. I wandered over to the area of the conference hall where books and other materials were being sold and found this,

The creature depicted looked familiar. I looked at the label and learned that it represented the Gryphon.

In 4th or 5th grade, our class staged a puppet show for the rest of the school based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland", and I was assigned the job of creating a paper mache puppet for my role as, you guessed it, the Gryphon. My fabrication turned out to be a green head with a crooked beak and green paper wings. I didn't get many lines to read as my job was mostly to dance with the Mock Turtle in the "Lobster Quadrille" but I do remember getting to say,
`Stand up and repeat “‘TIS THE VOICE OF THE SLUGGARD,”‘ 
I must confess, I loved that part.

You may recall that "Alice" is one of my least favorite stories (see "Who Else Hates Alice in Wonderland, and Who Hates it When Alice Shows Up in a Sermon? in which I wrote,
Yes dear readers, I, the person who would not harm a spider, the person without malice, the person who loves everyone and everything on God's green Earth, HATED Alice.
It may have been the crazed Queen of Hearts screaming "Off with her head!" that frightened me as a child. Or maybe it was the other characters who were ready to follow her commands. Or perhaps it was the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar that created in me a distrust of people using inhaled intoxicants, or maybe it was nightmares of waking up to see our pet kitty turning into a Cheshire Cat, sitting on the chest of drawers, staring at me, grinning, and breathing that awful cat food breath that affected me so deeply. 
Or maybe it was the wedge that broke up an early romance. 
No, it was none of that. 
It was the utterly pointless, unending insanity accepted as normality that I despised.
I have grown more tolerant of short doses of insanity except for sermons that ramble on and on about anything and everything except the Gospel.

As the Gryphon, I had three more lines which may give you a better idea of the Gryphon's personality,
"...the Gryphon never learnt it (fainting in coils)."
"Hadn't time," said the Gryphon: "I went to the Classical master, though. He was an old crab, he was."
"I never went to him," the Mock Turtle said with a sigh: "he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say."
"So he did, so he did," said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn, and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.
"And how many hours a day did you do lessons?" said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
"Ten hours the first day," said the Mock Turtle: "nine the next, and so on."
"What a curious plan!" exclaimed Alice.
"That's the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked: "because they lessen from day to day"
Reading the card attached to the Gryphon hat on the sales table at Mere Anglicanism 2016, I felt that one of us had gotten something terribly wrong. Curiously, it read,
The Gryphon was a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. Its attributes were courage, intelligence, strength, valor, and eternal vigilance, and its purpose was to find and guard gold and hidden treasures that wer legendary and incalculably precious. It was said to guard knowledge, the road to salvation, the Tree of Life, and the faitful. The Gryphon represents Mere Anglicanism's desire to guard the incalculable treasure that is the Christian Gospel (2 Timothy 1:14) and the treasure that is the Anglican expression of it.
I don't buy it. I know the Gryphon to be a green winged punster, and wise guy.

But I did buy the hat.

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