June 22, 2002

Norwegian Bishop of the Whales

We decided to take a drive along some of the new roads leading to the formerly roadless Cinque Terre along the Ligurian Coast of Italy.

It had been nearly 30 years since we had ventured down steep rocky paths, which in those days, were little more than mule trails, in our Ford Bronco to visit some of these (formerly) isolated villages.

Upon arriving at Corniglia, a tiny medieval town perched on a cliff high above the crashing waves of the Tirrenian Sea, I left Sue to rest and walked through the village streets to a terrace overlooking the water.

Sitting on a wall at the very edge of the precipitous cliff were several young people, looking out to sea. They were quite excited to inform me that four huge whales had just passed below them and were still faintly visible in the distance.

I managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of one of them before they disappeared from view. It was the first whale I had ever seen in its natural habitat.

I was happy that the Italian government had made this part of the Mediterranean a whale sanctuary, but became very angry thinking about how Norway and Japan were still killing whales and Iceland was anxious to resume the senseless slaughter.

“Killing whales is evil and I am disgusted with Iceland, Norway, and Japan for their unethical treatment of God’s greatest creatures, which is nothing more than murder”, I blurted out.

A young man who was standing nearby responded emphatically, “I am Norwegian, and we don’t kill whales!!!”

“I am sorry that you are deluded but Norway and Japan are both whale killing nations and Iceland is a wannabe”, I said in reply.

He looked somewhat startled and then said that he wasn’t aware that his country was still doing such a horrible thing that would bring their nation condemnation in the eyes of the world. “Why, we have plenty to eat in Norway without having to kill whales”, he concluded.

His friend, also from Norway agreed. The two young men were studying in Milan and had come to Cinque Terre on holiday. When I asked if one of them if he would like to be anointed as Norway’s Bishop of the Whales, the electrical engineering student immediately volunteered and was so anointed on that wonderful belvedere as the sun set behind the mountains overlooking the deep blue of Italy’s marvelous whale sanctuary.

Let us hope and pray that he lives up to his commitment and is able to educate the citizens of Norway about the atrocities being committed by their government, apparently without the knowledge of many of her citizens, and that he is able to stop the slaughter of these magnificent sapient creatures.

What a strange convergence: The sighting of my first whale in the presence of the first Norwegian I had ever met in Italy, in a remote mountain village, who was ignorant of his nation’s abhorrent policy, and who immediately agreed to work toward protecting Norway’s threatened whales!!!

St. Anna and the Wolf

An antique fair is held in Bientina each month and for many years we have attended. This time (June 22, 2002) it seemed that there was little of interest until we located a booth with a shrine dedicated to St. Anna, as well as a cute little bronze wolf, that reminded me of St. Francis friend.

As our daughter Anne (or Anna in Italian) was to arrive the next day, I wanted to purchase the shrine for her if the price was reasonable, and the wolf for my father and mother. We looked around for the proprietor and he was nowhere to be found. A man from an adjoining booth recognized us and remembered that Anne and I had purchased a Dome crystal alligator form him in Pisa a few years before. He said that the owner of the shrine had a habit of wandering off and would probably be back soon.

Sue and I went to a little café for a cold drink as the temperature had been close to 100 degrees. We had about decided to not worry about the shrine but having cooled off with cold mineral water and beer, went back by the stall.

The owner had returned and said that the wolf was his good luck charm and was not for sale. As for the shrine, he said that he really did not want to sell it either, for he had just acquired it that morning from another dealer.

When I told him about Anne having been born in Pisa and that she would be arriving the next day he reluctantly agreed to sell the shrine. Normally when an antique dealer claims to be reluctant to sell an item, one can expect a high price, but this time he quoted a price which he said was way less than it was actually worth and I knew that he was telling the truth.

I could tell that he was a person of unusual honesty and integrity and asked him if he wished to be anointed as a Deacon. He immediately and happily agreed and just as I applied the holy oil to his forehead and proclaimed his eternal Deaconship, the church bells began to peal.

Our new Deacon was so astounded that he presented me with his lucky wolf. When I attempted to decline, he said that now the wolf would bring us all luck since we were now spiritually connected to the God of Creation and to each other.

The ancient wolf, which could easily have been made before the wolf of Gubbio had even been born, is now happily displayed in his new lair in a glass cabinet, adjacent to a leaping hare painted on a faience bowl in my parent’s house in Gioviano.

Thunder from the Mountain of God

One of our next door neighbors is constantly asking questions about the Ethician Church. While sitting on her patio we began talking about my website, www.gioviano.org and how our little town is named after God or Giove, which is also Giovo, Jupiter or Zeus depending on which phase of Western Civilization to which one is referring.

Her patio as well as our bedroom window look directly across the Serchio Valley toward Mt. Giovo or THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD, which impressively rises several thousand feet above the valley floor.

When she pointed to the mountain and spoke its name, heat lightning followed by thunder greeted our astonished eyes and ears.

The lightning and thunder repeated itself three times as we spoke of the mountain. Then all became still and quiet once again. There had been no lightning nor thunder earlier in the day nor was there any after we had spoken of the Mountain of God.

Quite frankly, we were both sore amazed!!!

Ethicius I


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