Wisdom in Unlikely Places

Wisdom can be found in unlikely places, just as can beauty, and if you’re lucky, good barbecue.

I loved Sons of Anarchy. I’m sure that surprises no one who knows me well, but others would be forgiven thinking a middle-aged woman with a love of all things Jane Austen wouldn’t be drawn to a shoot-em-up, ultra violent tale about a motorcycle gang. Let’s just say I strive to be well-rounded, and like to mix my classic literature with the odd decapitation or shoot-out. Also: Charlie Hunnam.

Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller
Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller

But I digress….

Sons was a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and was beautifully acted by a large ensemble cast featuring Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow, the scariest Gertrude ever. Don’t ask what’s in her hat box; Gemma doesn’t wear hats.

Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow in Sons of Anarchy
Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow in Sons of Anarchy

Katey Sagal is back in The Bastard Executioner, again written and produced by her husband, Kurt Sutter. Worlds away from Gemma, Ms. Sagal is Annora of the Alders, a witch or at least a practitioner of occult arts, with Catholic leanings. After just three episodes I’m reasonably sure any court of the day could find ample reason to burn her. But in answer to a Moor asking if she would reveal his secret devotion to Islam, Annora tells him, “God answers to many names, good lord. Only the fearful and the ignorant attempt to judge which is right or wrong.”

My dad used to remind me that more wars were fought in the name of religion than anything else. I’ve come to believe that while many invoke his or her God as justification for their actions of colonialism, bigotry, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, etc., etc., it’s actually their own idea of God for which they demand dominance.

Katey Sagal as Annora in The Bastard Executioner
Katey Sagal as Annora in The Bastard Executioner

But God is God, and I wonder if He would split so fine a hair as a name? As Shakespeare put it in another tragedy, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Does it matter so much to God what any of us call Him? Why do we let fear and semantics divide us, His children, thus distancing ourselves from Him in doing so? An all-powerful, all-knowing being can call Him or Herself anything, be it Yahweh, I Am, Allah, Monique, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Aren’t we a bit foolish when in our ignorance we judge another human being as less-than because they give that which we call God another name?

“God answers to many names…. Only the fearful and the ignorant attempt to judge which is right or wrong.” Wisdom from a fictional witch, in a fictional universe, but worth pondering.

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