In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis frees a dove during his weekly general audience in St. Peter Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. As Francis toured the square in his open-topped popemobile at his Wednesday audience with the public, someone at the edge of the crowd thrust a white bird cage at him. Looking puzzled, his security detail took the cage, containing a pair of white doves, and handed it to Francis. Without hesitation, the pope opened the cage door, thrust a hand inside and extracted one dove, and with a flick of his hand, sent the bird flying over the square. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Mixed with shouts of amen and gospel sermons in the Bible, you’ll find a number of tweets — from birds, that is.
Just ask Debbie Blue, a pastor at House of Mercy church in St. Paul, who has written an unusual book highlighting the prominence of birds in the Bible. There are more examples of the feathered beasts than you might think, said Blue during an interview this week discussing “Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible,” which was released in August.
Blue signed copies of the book on Friday at Groundswell coffeehouse in St. Paul. She has another book-signing set for Nov. 11 at Common Good Books in St. Paul.
“When God creates the world he says, ‘Let there be birds and let them fly,’ ” she said. “Then very soon you get the story of Noah, who releases a dove and a raven. Then they [birds] play a part in the prophets, like the raven comes in and feeds Elijah when he’s in the desert. The pigeon goes with Jesus on his first trip to the temple. Of course … then the rooster at Jesus’ betrayal.”
“They’re everywhere once you start looking.”
Blue says looking back through history, mythology and various religions, birds have played a significant role and are “invested with meaning.”
“They’re often gods or messengers of the gods. I think some people still think of them as the soul taking flight. … Or they’re omens of death or war or they’re hopeful signs. They’ve always been very full of more than what we see.”
Long before she wrote the book, Blue was a fan of bird-watching but gradually strayed from the practice once she started a family and career in the church. Then she began noticing how often birds were mentioned in the Bible.
“I started finding birds in the text when I’d preach, and I’d get really interested in them,” she said. “I love to do research. There would be a raven in the text, and I’d go kind of nuts. I thought writing the book would be this great way to both get me out watching birds again and really reveal interesting things in the text.”
Rose French • 612-673-4352