03 May 2017

Reserved For Birds And Angels

A bishop and a professor were discussing philosophy.  (I know, it sounds like the beginning of a really geeky joke!)  

The bishop averred that The Millennium was at hand.  Evidence of that, he said, was that everything about nature had been discovered and all useful inventions created. 

The professor politely told the bishop he was mistaken.  "Why, in a few years," he proclaimed, "we'll be able to fly through the air."

The bishop was having none of it.  "What a nonsensical idea!," he exclaimed.  "Flight," he tried to assure the professor, "is reserved for birds and angels."  Being the good bishop he was, he added, "To think otherwise is blasphemy!"

This story is rich with irony.  The encounter between the suffragan and the savant occurred late in the nineteenth century.  So, whether or not he intended it, the professor was as much a seer as a sage.  The diocesan, on the other hand, sounded more like a die-hard Luddite.

The name of the professor has been lost to history.  But the bishop achieved some degree of fame in his time, having attained a rather high office in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, whose members included some rather influential Americans in a number of endeavors.

This bishop's sons were among them.  They first made something of a name for themselves in the bicycle business, which was would experience its first great boom not long after the bishop made his pronouncement. 

Today we know that bishop's name mainly because of his sons.  Even if you have never been anywhere near a bicycle, you've heard of them.  Since you already know their names, whether or not you know it, I will tell you who that esteemed ecclesiastical authority was:  someone named Milton Wright.

Yes, his two sons were those Wrights.  Of course, they achieved even greater fame--though not fortune--for doing what their father said couldn't be done.  Yes, Orville and Wilbur got to do what all kids, at some point in their lives, try (and, some would argue, need) to do:  They proved their father wrong.  He didn't deny it, but he never seemed terribly impressed.  

But, in one sense, he was right (pun intended):  Humans cannot fly--without some sort of device or other aid, anyway.  Even on a bicycle.

With that in mind, I have found the perfect headgear for him, his sons and everyone else, whether or not they've ever pedaled on the velodrome:

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