Monday, February 27, 2012

Church of Kaffa: Praising Reason, Coffee, and Parrots

After posting our tribute to Garuda, King of the Birds and Messenger of the Gods, we decided to stay on our religion kick this weekend. Every god and minor deva needs a religion, and we've got one in offer: The Church of Kaffa. Worshiping the Elixir of Life, Coffea arabica, or just plain Joe to some people!

We admit it. We worship coffee. We also worship parrots. So we wanted to create a church combining worship of coffee, parrots, and enlightened reasoning, something in critically short supply these days. Needless to say, this is not something we just dreamed up this weekend. The Church of Kaffa has been around for some time, enjoying a very small but dedicated cult following on Facebook.

Coffee is truly the Elixir of the Gods, and the Fount of the Enlightenment! Certainly worthy of worship and a church of its own. Just the very nature of drinking coffee suggests you are probably not a Mormon or Seventh Day Adventist. Therefore already up the ladder of enlightenment.

Because it is becoming increasingly clear that coffee itself gave birth to the Enlightenment and lifted mankind out of the Dark Ages.

Just think about it: Before coffee and the Enlightenment, the drink of choice, morning, noon, and night, throughout the Middle Ages, was BEER! Peasants and masters throughout Europe were shitfaced drunk day in and day out! No wonder it took 200 years to build a gothic cathedral! People were too drunk to function.

Along comes coffee. Discovered in Ethiopia (we'll get to that story), coffee was traded to Yemen. By the middle of the Fifteen Century coffee reached Aden. One early coffee disciple, the Mufti of Aden, reported in 1454 that coffee drove away fatigue and lethargy, and brought to the body a certain sprightliness and vigor!

The Turks discovered coffee and opened the world's very first coffee house in Istanbul in 1554. Coffee was not well received by the conservative establishment. Conservative imams feared coffee's stimulating effects. Prohibition was instituted, but to little avail. The popularity of coffee among the masses was so great that the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I issued a celebrated fatwa allowing the consumption of coffee!

Once established in Africa, the fabled merchants of Venice imported coffee to Europe. Venetian coffee houses became the first coffee emporia to jack up the price of coffee. Just as in Africa, the conservative establishment in Europe feared the stimulating effects of coffee and tried to ban the drink. Ultimately Pope Clement VIII in 1600 sanctified the use of coffee by Catholics everywhere, leading to the drink's acceptance across Europe.

Ottoman Coffee Server in Cairo

Come coffee, come the Enlightenment! Suddenly people had energy and vigor. Coffee houses encouraged thinking, writing, and the debate of new ideas. The Enlightenment was born! You get the gist of the story. We could go on and on. But don't take our word for it, even though we do have a Ph.D. in history. Read philosopher Stephen Hicks on Coffee and the Enlightenment.

Every religion needs its saints and devas. The Church of Kaffa certainly has its own. Starting with the King of the Birds and deva Garuda, and the prophet Kaldi.

Kaldi was a lowly Ethiopian goat herder, who in about the Ninth Century, discovered the Tree of Life, the Coffea arabica or Coffee tree. Kaldi noticed that his goats became unusually energized after eating a certain local berry. He sampled the berry with the same effect. Excited about this miracle, he rushed to share the berries with his local Muslim holy man, or imam. The holy man was so disgusted with the berries he tossed them in a fire and stormed away. Kaldi however noticed an entrancing aroma coming from the berries in the fire, so he recovered the burnt berries and tossed them in some water, thus creating the world's first cup of coffee. The foundation myth for the world and religion of coffee.

The Church of Kaffa boasts many other devas, all saints of the Enlightenment

Leonardo da Vinci

Charles Darwin
John Muir

Alex the Congo African Grey Parrot

Honest Abe Lincoln, the last honest Republican

Sojourner Truth

Mark Twain

Albert Einstein

Marie Curie

Sinclair Lewis

W.E.B. DuBois

This is just a quick short list. Intellectuals and elitists all. Even an intellectual parrot! Certainly others can be suggested.

So by now you're probably wondering: How do parrots fit into the Church of Kaffa? Well, when we're not drinking coffee, and even when we are, we're living and breathing parrots. We have eight of our own, plus we're constantly searching for new homes for unwanted parrots through our charity Northwest Parrots.

Parrots and parrot people are different. If you have parrots your friends and neighbors probably talk about you behind your back. You're probably know in your neighborhood as the parrot lady or that parrot guy. You have to be a bird person to like parrots. Cat and dog people just don't get the idea of birds. And parrots are as avian as avians get. Parrots are among the oldest of the avians. Parrot fossils have been found in Cretaceous Period rock dating back 55 million years. Parrots not only lived with the dinosaurs. Parrots are living dinosaurs. Parrots are one of the few species on Earth to survive the great Cretaceous extinction event.

Cretaceous Period parrot named Danish Blue in honor of Monty Python's infamous Norwegian Blue ex-parrot

Of all the avians, parrots are the most endangered, primarily because of their beauty and intelligence. Plus they can talk. Try talking to your cat, and see if your cat talks back! Parrots deserve a guardian angel as powerful as Garuda, King of the Birds.

Birds also figure in an alternate foundation myth for coffee. One account of coffee's origin involves a Yemenite Sufi mystic Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhi (we just love Arabic names). When traveling in Ethiopia, the legend goes, he observed birds of unusual vitality, and, upon trying the berries that the birds had been eating, experienced the same vitality. The birds of course were feasting on the coffee bean.

And the name Church of Kaffa? Kaffa is the region in Ethiopia where coffee was first discovered by the goatherd and prophet Kaldi. Some believe that Kaffa is the root word from which the word coffee is derived. So, the next time you enjoy a cup of joe, turn to the East and bow toward Kaffa in homage to the prophet Kaldi, the discoverer of the Tree of Life.

Last but not least, every religion needs a Satan that embodies everything it stands in opposition to. Here's the embodiment of this church's Satan:

No comments: