Tales of History and Imagination

Eccentric tales from History by Simone Whitlow

Six: Sabbatai Zevi/ Dorothy Martin’s Flying Saucer.

February 3rd, 2021

This episode is based on two blog posts, with a unified theme. Apologies for the croaky voice this week. Let's discuss some Messiahs and aliens. 

The year is 1666, the setting Adrianople in the Ottoman Empire – modern day Turkey. A middle aged preacher named Sabbatai Zevi, held captive since his arrival there, mulls over a difficult choice. Tomorrow he will be brought before the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet IV and be told to make a choice, a Monty Hall problem if ever there was one – though in his case there is no ‘behind one door there is a car, behind the other two doors, goats’ option. If only there were goats. Every door leads to death or disgrace. For close to a decade Zevi, a rogue Kabbalist rabbi, has been claiming to be the true son of God, and messiah. It is his proselytizing which has got him into this mess. Tomorrow he must choose instant execution, a trial by arrows or ‘the turban’

Originally posted 10th March 2020. You can read the blog post here.

Today we join our tale towards it’s climax, at a suburban home in Oak Park, Illinois. The time and date, 6pm, 21st December 1954. A dozen or so suburbanites – just regular Americans really – gather round the lady of the house, convinced she has supernatural powers. They’ve been camped out at the house for several days now. Many have sacrificed everything to be there. Earlier in the day they may have sung Christmas carols on the lawn to onlookers. They stood outside for some time, gazing skyward, hoping their visitor from Clarion, Sanada, would just arrive already. Perhaps feeling the glare of the camera, they retreated inside. If Sanada can traverse galaxies, surely he’ll have no trouble finding 847 West School Street.

Originally posted 17th March 2020. You can read the blog post here.

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About the Author: Simone Toni Whitlow is a songwriter and musician, formerly with Auckland rock band Ishtar. She is an academic with degrees in history, teaching and project management. A former Mastermind contestant, she has some idea what it’s like to face up to a Monty Hall. Transgender, she uses she/her pronouns.


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