Thomas Hardy, the late-19th-century-early-20th-century English novelist, is famous for such works of fiction as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Additionally, he wrote poetry, with a first volume, The Poems of Thomas Hardy, published in 1895 followed by Late Lyrics and Earlier in 1922, six years before his death. One of his later poems, clustered under the rubric of “Satires of Circumstance,” took its inspiration from the April 12th 1912 sinking of the Titanic. In that work, called “The Convergence of the Twain,” the two things referred to were the supposedly unsinkable ship, on the one hand, and the iceberg, on the other. That fated and fatal coming together resulted in a score of Nature one versus Humanity zero. The novelist-poet lived up to his family name, moreover, for he died at the ripe old age of 87 ½, a huge achievement for an Englishman born in 1840...
Well and good, but what’s a “threin”? My Word program underlined it immediately in bright red. Why? Because there’s no such word in English—or at least not until now. In short, I invented it to be for three what twain is for two. A new term was needed, since “threesome” let alone “trinity” wouldn’t do. The “threin” I have in mind are the major religious holy times of the Jewish Passover, the Christian Lent, and the Moslem Ramadan. As inimical as the three Abrahamic faiths can sometimes be with each other, in this year 2022 of the Common Era all three have converged in early-to-late April. In fact, according to www.ntxe-news.com, this phenomenon happens only once every 30 years.
So why am I making such a big deal of this particular convergence? Well, to begin with, aside from its chronological rarity, we are living in a time of frightening divergences. To take an obvious domestic example, our two major politic parties haven’t been this far apart for years. Even our current President, a canny veteran of the U.S. Senate, seems unable to get much of anything done across party lines. We also see with horror the world fracturing into democracies and autocracies. And as of this writing in mid-April, the Russian invasion of Ukraine can lead—although many of us are praying it doesn’t—to a much wider war, with the danger of a third world war lurking in the wings. Of course, in the spirit of the Titanic’s sinking just before the outbreak of World War I, this convergence of the threin can indicate a third worldwide upheaval, with Nature holding the trump card of climatic disaster in case we don’t manage to do ourselves in through arms. So, given all this, let’s hope our unusual convergence of religious holy days augurs something good rather than evil and do our individual and group parts, whatever they may be, to help humanity enter a new renaissance of peace on earth and good will toward one another. Our collective survival, let alone our thriving as a species, may depend on it. Amen.