The Lion Tamers
Different trade’s people often bond together simply because they understand what the others know and do in carrying out their daily activities. I have considered, and continue to do so, comedians such as Jack Benny, Charles Chaplain, Henny Youngman, Milton Berle, and Steve Allen who I like to call, “Mr. Encyclopedia”. In researching this group of people, I have read some three times there are approximately 200 in the world that actually make a living as comedians. In this essay I will take a brief look at people who make their living as lion tamers, the number of which is even smaller.
The comparison between the tamer and the lion, and the servants of the Lord and the adversary of souls, will be made where appropriate. However, lion tamers are the epitome of practicality, and their efforts in this respect will be emphasized. Their actions are what matters. The old saying, “It is the thought that counts,” doesn't have any place in the experience in the cage. And though this will be unpleasant to look at, the reasonableness and psychology of the lion will be brought to light where appropriate.
“You never can trust a cat.”
“You never can trust a cat…and you are never careless…A trainer’s life depends on how well he knows his animals.”
This was Clyde Beatty’s philosophy as a circus lion tamer and animal trainer. Clyde Beatty was a PhD practitioner if you will, in the profession and his word on these matters will necessarily be seen as truth. It is for this reason shared by Mr. Beatty, “A trainer’s life depends on how well he knows his animals”, that I have determined it is important to know what the adversary of souls is like and how he operates.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:…” 1 Peter 5:8
A treasure of understanding has been given to us by Sister White, about the psychology of the adversary. In the first chapter of Patriarchs and Prophets, chapters in the Great Controversy, Early Writings, and chapters and portions of other writings inform us of the intent and the tactics of the adversary like no other place has except the Bible. I think we can also learn much from people such as Clyde Beatty and should follow his example by knowing the animal well, for our life even depends on knowing the animal well.
I would like to take a moment to clarify some terms and definitions. The following quote informs us about two terms and should be read carefully. The two terms I refer to are: animal trainer and animal breaker.
“Lion taming” and “lion tamer” are both misnomers. A more appropriate term is “animal trainer,” which is not the same as an “animal breaker.” A “breaker” does not break an animal’s spirit, but teaches it to tolerate proximity to a human (the breaker), recognize the breaker’s voice and act on commands. Most breakers can and do train animals. A breaker needs “exceptional concentration” to focus on the animal and block out extraneous information and sounds. “Trainers,” do not break animals, but work with animals which are already broken.
Clarke Historical Library article, “Lion Tamers” (Clarke.cmich.edu)
The lion or big cat is never tamed but is rendered safer for the Lion Tamer to be around because of the actions and manner of the Tamer, and because it is trained to follow certain patterns.
Something I find interesting in the above quote about breaking animals is the breaker needs “exceptional concentration”, focus, and must block out extraneous information and sounds. I have had an interest for some time concerning how sound is used as a weapon, if only a distracting one. To a lion breaker and trainer, a distracting sound can manipulate a life and death situation. They cannot allow the slip of distracted attention. There are many forms of distracting sounds in our daily experience, not the least of which take place when we are having conversations with friends and co-workers.
On a more serious note, in May of 1984 in Virginia’s Mecklenburg prison, six inmates who were on death row escaped from the prison by manipulating many guards. The only weapons they originally had were sound and observation of the guard’s patterns and timing. The prisoners were able to manipulate the guard’s patterns and attitudes with sound and then achieve their ends, and they were successful. They escaped the prison and ended up many states away before recapture. The question is: who tamed whom?
Little mistakes the Lion Tamer makes are an open door for the lion to go through to take the life or harm the human being.
“…, Zerbini is still a lion tamer ... “I was an idiot — I mixed male lions and female lions together, which I never should've done,”
Pat White: “At one point Pat was attacked through a cage by a young cat. The incident lasted five seconds, but she needed help to escape and suffered back injuries, a tiger tooth in her arm, lacerations, scars on her stomach, her left nostril was ripped and the doctors thought her lung was punctured. Fortunately everything healed. Pat was “very, very angry” with herself that after thirteen years of working with cats she had let her guard down.”
Clarke Historical Library article, “Lion Tamers” (Clarke.cmich.edu)
I like the message from Maranatha Media, in respect to the importance of obedience and how it relates to our Spiritual strength and protection. The Apostle Peter sheds much light on this: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:…” 1 Peter 5:8
The Apostle tells us to what degree the devil is our adversary because he roams about seeking to devour. However, there is more here than his roaming about to devour. He is opportunistic. He seeks “whom” he may devour; meaning he must make a choice and looks for an opening to do so. Be sober, be vigilant, is a way of employing what we know from the Father and the Son. Peter is not sending this message to those who do not know the Lord as though being sober and vigilant were unconnected to something else.
Please consider the following from 1 Kings 13:
13:15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. [The Old Man]
16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: [The Prophet]
17 For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
This prophet of the Lord had done wonderful miracles before King Jeroboam (1 Kings 13). He had done several miracles in Bethel, and he had spoken the same rebuttal to the king as he did to the old man above. Let us consider further what the old man is saying to the prophet of the Lord:
13:18 He said unto him, I [am] a prophet also as thou [art]; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. [But] he lied unto him.
Satan is opportunistic in his decisions to pounce. This is why the apostle Peter says be sober and be vigilant. Keeping these characteristics alive and vigorous reduce and eliminate the opportunity of the roaring lion. The prophet of the Lord had the very word of God spoken to him as his protection and advice: “Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.” This was the thing he had to pay attention to and be vigilant about. (vigilant - carefully observant or attentive; on the lookout for possible danger.)
The prophet followed the old man to his dwelling and ate and drank with him there. The very sad ending of 1 Kings 13, is that the prophet was killed by a lion that met him on the way after he had left the dwelling place of the old man.
13:24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
How could the prophet have been taken in like this? How could it have happened to the very elect; that he would follow what someone says instead of the word of God? Deductive reasoning provides for the following possibilities:
I imagine that the old man: probably talked fast, beckoned to be listened to in an hypnotic manner, and was probably loud. Concerning the old man’s statement: “an angel spake unto me…”, the word of God says that he was lying to him. In addition to the personal persuasion of the old man, he probably wanted to believe him for all the traditional reasons and societal blessed reasons. And one more thing not mentioned above: the old man’s sons may have been with him as he was speaking to the prophet. All of these actions are steps that come closer to causing the prophet to be tempted. If and when he gave any validity to any step, it came closer to causing him to be tempted. By being vigilant in performing God’s word none of the steps would have been successful. How loud the old man was, how persuasive and hypnotic, and whether he brought twenty people with him would not matter. He had a word from God that stopped any and all of the steps: “Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.”
It is very unfortunate that this fate befell the servant of the Lord, however, we are permitted to see why it happened. I pray I may learn from the Apostle Peter and employ vigilance and sobriety with obedience to God’s word. May this be so for the brethren as well.