Friday, January 14, 2011

How would you interpret 'faggot'?

"On October 27, 1553, Michael Servetus was burned at the stake in Geneva as "a warning to all who blaspheme God". He was accused of "terrible blasphemies against the Trinity and against the Son of God". The executioner was inexpert and the onlookers, appalled by the long drawn-out shrieks of the victim, out of pity tried to help the fire to burn more quickly by throwing faggots in to him to hurry up the process of death."
(Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin, Geneva, and the Reformation [USA: Baker Book, 1988], p.73. Italic added.)

When I read that, I didn't know how to make sense of the text. What the heck? How does throwing homosexuals into the fire help to burn more quickly?

After checking the dictionary, I found out that 'faggots' also mean bundle of sticks used to fuel fire. Phew... Meaning of words is so important in understanding a text.

Learning its meaning is helpful. Next time when I go camping, I will not be shocked if I hear other campers say something like, "Let's burn some faggots tonight."

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