April 18th, 2006
On the drive from Mount Pleasant to Kanab, we drove the 89 south. We passed several signs that mentioned “Zion” in one form or another. Zion National Park is not too far away, and many businesses are named for Zion in one name or another.
Tyler, sitting in the front seat, and recuperating from his earlier vomiting episode, asked me, “Joe, what’s Zion mean?” Ty is 12 years old.
I answered him, “it’s the national park around here, very pretty apparently.”
“No, I mean what is it, what’s it mean?”
“Ah, where’s the word come from? That’s a very good question, there are several uses of Zion around. The first one I can think of is that ‘Zionists’ are those who are in favor of returning the Jews to Isreal. In that sense I think it means something like “homeland” or “home.” This was my first answer. “Another sense is that Rastafarians refer to Zion as a kind of promised land, seeing themselves as a kind of lost tribe.” I believe that there are also uses of the word in The Book of Mormon sort of like this, but I don’t really know the details of that.”
We were both quiet for a while.
Then I added: “It’s a word that means a lot of different things to different people, but basically it’s a good place, home.”
He very quickly said, “and there’s the city of Zion in The Matrix.”
I replied “I hadn’t even thought of that, but yes, absolutely — there’s an example of the creators using a word with a lot ot meaning in their own work.”
I was pretty surprised by two things in this little “on the road” interchange. The first is that even without access to Wikipedia (Zion), I didn’t do too bad in my answer. The second is that Tyler’s question was a really good one. One which made me want to do further research for myself. Also, I had forgotten about the Matrix connection altogether, and the connection was quite germane, and it was Ty who brought it to the table here.
It’s moments like that that make a long drive fun. And do read that Zion article, it’s pretty interesting stuff. I was not precisely correct, but my Rasta comment was right on.
(See also: Posts that might be)