Thursday, April 30, 2015

Circumcidere

It’s a Latin word, so I likely cannot pronounce it properly. But I can translate it. It means “to cut around,” and from this comes our word, “Circumcision.”

This is a very unlikely topic for a blog post that does not even pretend to be medical or religious in nature. And if anyone asks why I selected it, I can only say that I’m not entirely sure. Nonetheless, it’s what I woke up thinking about, and the idea would not quit pestering me. Ergo, I will subject my readers to a discussion of this sensitive subject. (Is that an unintended double entendre?)

There are entire books on the  practice, so my pitiful efforts here will in no way be considered a scholarly treatise on the ritual. And in some cases, it is exactly that … a ritual. One performed for a religious purpose or to bind a specific cultural group together. And for the Jews, it was a physical sign of their covenant with God. In other cases, circumcision was performed for purposes of hygiene and health. For instance, to reduce the probability of HIV transmission during heterosexual activities. (It performs no such service for insertive homosexual engagements.) Wow, I’m way out on a limb I didn’t intend to climb.

According to the sources I read, the World Health Organization estimates about one-third of the world’s male population has undergone the operation of removing all or most of the prepuce from the  penis. This practice is most prevalent in the Muslim world, Israel, South Korea, the United States, and parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. However, it is relatively rare in Europe, Latin America, most of Asia, parts of Southern Africa, and Oceania. It is near-universal in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Historians estimate the practice to be over 15,000 years old with the first recorded evidence found in Ancient Egypt. It is mentioned in the Bible. While not explicitly cited in the Quran, it is considered essential to Islam.

That’s enough of that stuff. By now, I’ve figured out the real purpose of this post. To wit, the following exchange by two curious pre-teens.

*****
Billy and Tommy, lifelong friends, were tired of playing, so they claimed swings on a play set and started talking. Billy, the more daring of the two, originated a round of jokes. After snickering over a half dozen exchanges, Billy told Tommy a new one he’d heard from his older brother. He sort of thought this would become one of his all-time favorites.
“Moses was standing there on the mountain leaning on his staff and looking up at the sky. He was talking to God, you see. So he says, ‘Let me get this straight. The Arabs get the oil, and we get to cut off the end of our what?’”
Tommy’s reaction wasn’t what his friend expected. His eyes went wide. “Oh, my gosh! I must be Jewish!”
*****
As always, thanks for reading. Let me know what you think of this quirky post.


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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