I collect Disney villians. On the collection shelf are plastic characters including that nasty lion uncle from the Lion King, the fat lady from the Mermaid, the cruel one who stole the puppies, and many more. Now there is another, a thin fellow from The Princess and the Frog. He is into vodoo in New Orleans, and seeks to get his hands on the fortune of the richest man in town by a devious plot that includes the marriage of a servant of the Prince to the ditsy, rapcious daughter of the rich man. Blood-filled vials and black-magic abound until, in a scene lifted straight from Don Giovanni, the villian is dragged into the jaws of hell by a troop of scary creatures.
In amongst this tale of evil, we have Disney at its best—multi-hued heros and heroines turned into frogs who take a danger-filled trip through the swamps of Louisianna to get sound advice: be yourself. Kind of corny, but some great music and scenic affects. A fun afternoon with the grandkids who, as typical Californians, have no doubts about Disney or the magic of movies and a bag of popcorn.
Corny as Disney is, reality wins out every time. Consider this mining story that tells us that St. Barbara watches over the miners in the Detroit Salt Mine:
At Detroit Salt Co., workers installed this year a 3-foot statue of St. Barbara, the 3rd-Century martyr who is the patroness of miners. Lit by three lamps, the basswood image greets employees right after they step off the elevator that spiders down a quarter of a mile below the city’s surface.
St. Barbara is considered a martyr by some Christians. According to some stories, she was the daughter of a rich man, Dioscorus, who kept her in a tower in what is now Turkey. She rejected a marriage offer and became a Christian, upsetting her father. He sentenced her to death and beheaded her. She’s often depicted with a chalice in her right hand and a sword in her left. She’s the patron saint of artillerymen, miners, mathematicians, prisoners and those who fear lightning, among others.
I am not sure what a refusal to marry followed by a beheading has to do with mining, but there you are: now you now know the patron saint of miners, mathematicians, and prisoners and are assured she is busy in the salt mines of Detroit. Not sure what she achieved this year for mathematicians and prisoners. Personally I would prefer a good health and safety program, an elucidating equation, and obviously no prison.
Although at this time of the year passions run high. Consider this story about a sign that read:
“At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
This sign was posted along with a bunch of other season-relevant displays in Illinois. Some government official found his heart hardened and he felt offended. In a frenzy of censorship, he tried to remove the sign. He was reprimanded and the Christmas tree, etc. remained. He should have come to Irvine to see the variety of things on season display in the shopping mall. Summer flowers in the middle of winter is the least of them. Here the religion is material consumerism. It is enough to inspire a prayer to St. Barbara on behalf of those Chinese miners who are the ultimate source of all the goods on display and all the nice things lugged around in well-filled plastic shopping bags. For Chinese miners seem doomed to more horrific accidents in unsafe Chinese mines, without the intercession of a saint or a safety program. Even the natural world seems to be set against them, enslaved as they are to a society bent on production over quality of life.