Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mid-Course Correction!

ghaH Dev jIH Daq the Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach
He guides me in the paths of righteousness

podcast version

"Mid-course correction." Anyone interested in space exploration has heard those words. Routine events, mid-course corrections are necessary because the slightest error of trajectory can result at journey's end in missing the destination completely.

In Psalm 23 we find God provides just this kind of direction for life. Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach, paths of righteousness, are just where we will be guided, if we follow the good Shepherd. He doesn't simply watch over us in some lovely pasture for all time. We need to get on the move, and if we do, he'll keep us on course.

Hemey (kay-may), the word used here for paths, comes from He (kay) the Klingon word for what we call in English a "course," The compass direction in which a ship or an aircraft moves. This fits in with the original Hebrew word, ma`gal, which means 'track'. Picture paths cut along a mountainside. Not every one is the correct one to take. At each turn you need to check that you're taking the right one, or risk getting lost, or worse, falling headlong off a cliff.

Mid course corrections - they're needed, but only if you're on the move, if you're travelling. Staying put, you don't need directions - but you won't get anywhere.

The people asked prophet Jeremiah to have "God ... show the way in which we should walk, the thing we should do." (Jer. 42:3)

It's what we need to ask each day - which way should we go, what do we need to do to stay on course. If we do, we'll find he will lead us in Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach, paths of righteousness and, as Isaiah wrote:

...he will teach us of his ways,
And we will walk in his paths. (2:3)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rebuilt - Like New!

ghaH chenqa' wIj qa'

He restores my soul

podcast version

Let's meditate on the mortality of cars. Expensive things - necessities for many of us - which, once purchased, immediately depreciate. As soon as you own them and use them, they are worth less and less. Each day reduces the resale value. It is a fact of life that things like these can almost never be sold at anything like their original price.

However, there are exceptions. Near my home is a fairgrounds which, every spring, is filled with proud collectors, men and women, who have taken beat up old jalopies and poured money, love and no small amount of work to transform these junkers into masterpieces - the most fabulous classic cars you could hope to see.

ghaH chenqa' wIj qa' / He restores my soul

The Klingon word used here in Psalm 23 for "restore," chenqa' (chehn-khah-uh) means "build again," that is RE-build. This is what God wants to do with us. Classic car enthusiasts are not the only ones who love to restore things - it's the work that the Lord wants to do with you and me. As St. Paul wrote "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Feeling like a wreck? Think there's no hope that you could be worth more than your "scrap value?" Think again - God's ready to chenqa' lIj qa' - restore your soul and make you like new today!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Still Here?

ghaH Dev jIH retlh vIHHa' bIQmey

He leads me beside still waters.

podcast version

Food and drink.

Those three words are a very brief abbreviation of Psalm 23:2. When we know God our shepherd leads us to good pasture (food) and alongside still waters (drink), we know he intends to care for us completely.

This illustrates a common Biblical device, parallelism. Two or more clauses that repeat or reinforce one idea - sort of like rhyming ideas. It is a kind of poetry that can survive translation into any language, even perhaps non-human ones.

There is a problem here - there isn't a Klingon word for "still." But the language is rich enough that we can take the word vIH (vick), "to move," and add the suffix "-Ha'" to reverse the meaning, giving us "vIHHa'" [vick-Kha-uh]. I like this because it isn't just "not moving" (that would be vIHbe' [vick-beh-uh],) but un-moving (if there were such a word). It suggests to me something that has the power to move but holds it in. This is something that hasn't just stopped, it stands firm.

vIHHa' bIQmey, still waters, present an appealing image. Whether a placid stream, an ocean vista, or lakeside retreat, we're drawn to these restful scenes. Just as this verse's promise of lying "down in green pasture" was a promise of rest, these words about waters that offer to quench our thirst do so with a vision of stillness, of rest.

Life-giving water is what we're looking for, and is just what God wants us to have. "Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters," [Isaiah 55:1] the Lord says in Isaiah. Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman promising something better than ordinary H2O: "Everyone who drinks of this [well's] water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." [John 4:13,14]

Sound like what you're looking for? Then turn to that one, that good shepherd, who will lead you retlh vIHHa' bIQmey, beside the still waters.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Sleeping Dogs

ghaH chen jIH Qot bIng Daq SuD tI yotlh

He makes me lie down in green pastures

podcast version

The words "sleeping dogs" immediately call to mind the expression "let sleeping dogs lie." No doubt Klingons know the wisdom expressed in this proverb: don't stir up trouble when you don't have to.

Klingons do, after all, know about pets (the Klingon word for pet is Saj), though their 'dog' is the targh, a fairly fearsome creature; definitely not something to rile unnecessarily.

Let's consider "sleeping dogs" (the undisturbed kind) as an illustration of today's Klingon word: Qot, 'to lie.'

David in Psalm 23 considers God's care for him saying that God:

makes me
lie down in green pastures

Qot bIng Daq SuD tI yotlh


The English word 'lie' occurs over 100 times in the World English Bible translation of the Hebrew scriptures, mostly referring to an action like or involving reclining (as opposed to telling a falsehood). The Hebrew text of this psalm uses a specific verb, rabats, that is only used around 30 times. The notion in this word is that of a recumbent animal. This image would be familiar to a shepherd like David. Hovever, I'm not a shepherd, so I find the image of a recumbent animal that comes to my mind is that of a sleeping dog.

The utter peace of my own dog is something I find delightful. Once comfortable, he relaxes so completely that it compels me to settle down beside him as well. That is the sort of peace, of rest, that David is telling us he finds because he knows that the Good Shepherd is leading him.

And it's a peace offered to us as well. Just as God promised the Hebrews in the book of Exodus:

God said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
(Exodus 33:14)

Are you looking to Qot Bing Daq roj, to lie down in peace? Then listen to the Good Shepherd:

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:30)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What Do You Want?

jIH DIchDaq Hutlh pagh

I shall lack nothing

podcast version

If you have any exposure to tlhIngan Hol (the Klingon language) you've probably heard the one all purpose greeting, "nuqneH" (nook-neck). If you're well informed, you'll know it's a compound word nuq (what?) plus neH (to-want). In other words the standard Klingon way to say 'hello' means "What do you want?"

To humans this may sound blunt, even rude, but it demonstrates the very practical nature of Klingon culture. And today's Klingon word provides an answer to that question:

pagh (pahgr) - nothing

In Psalm 23 King David presents us with the assertion that his shepherd, his leader is God. As soon as he tells us this, he spells out in the next clause what this means: I will lack nothing.

This is forthright confidence. David doesn't say he possesses all wealth and riches, but trusts that all his needs will be met. It certainly isn't the kind of reliance that many of us have. Despite being comfortable in my day to day existence, there's always one more thing I just "can't do without."

And those who are in real poverty may see the claim "I will lack nothing" as the smug complacence of the wealthy, or a condition they will never reach.

I like to think that David is giving us a challenge. To those who have, to maybe do with less, trusting that we will lack nothing. By sharing what we have, recognizing that, if we trust our Leader we will have what we need. And we'd only be following the best example of giving there is:

He who didn't spare his own Son,
but delivered him up for us all,
how would he not also with him
freely give us all things?
Romans 8:32

Follow an example like that, and maybe, just maybe, when someone asks "nuqneH," we'll honestly answer, "pagh."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Who Are YOU Calling a "Sheep?"

joH'a' ghaH wIj DevwI'

Yahweh is my shepherd

Podcast Version

David's words in the 23rd Psalm made the "God as our shepherd" metaphor a familiar and comforting image. Despite our world becoming increasingly urban and industrial, people with little or no connection to anything rural are moved to hear Jesus assure them "I am the good shepherd."

The Hebrew word used in Psalm 23 for shepherd (my-shepherd really) is roi (roe-ee), coming from a term meaning "to tend a flock."

In English we have a compound word combining "sheep" and the verb "herd," as in, to care for sheep IN a herd. This word occurs in some form almost 100 times in the World English Bible. How best could it be translated into Klingon?

It doesn't seem likely that Klingons would appreciate this figure of speech. It is hard to imagine anyone in this warlike culture appreciating being called a sheep. So, for the Klingon Language Version, I considered what might be a more culturally acceptable term and took the verb "Dev," to lead, and used "DevwI'," one who leads.

The notion for "the good leader," whether of troops or livestock, still embodies the idea that God does indeed watch over, provide for and support those who look to Him.

For who we follow matters. The wrong choice can be a disaster. No matter how confident the leader is, if he or she is going the wrong way - that's where you'll end up going.

So choose wisely. And, with David, if you do choose the "QaQ DevwI'," the good shepherd, you can be confident he will guide you

Daq the Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach

in the paths of righteousness

What's in a name? God's name, that is.

joH'a' ghaH wIj DevwI': jIH DIchDaq Hutlh pagh.

Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.

podcast version

Everyone knows his or her own name, but who knows the name of God? Well, the Hebrew Scriptures present the proper, personal name of God, revealed to Moses, as the four letters YHVH (yod he vav he). Referred to as "the tetragrammaton," this is a name, used over 5000 times in the Bible, which means the self-existent, or eternal one. Pronounced "Yahweh," it was so revered that the Jewish practice was never to say it aloud, but substitute "Adonai," (Hebrew for 'Lord') instead. This practice was carried into English with many translations that use LORD (all caps) to indicate the use of God's name.

When it came time to translate the Bible into Klingon, the question was, how do we present this name? Early in the study of Klingon there was no known word for deities or gods at all (we now know it is Qun). The term most Klingonists decided to use was "joH'a'" (joe-a-ka), from "joH," the Klingon word for "Lord" or "Lady." Adding the 'a' suffix is a way of indicating this is a bigger or greater kind of Lord.

Does this remind you of "Jehovah," another pronunciation used for the name YHVH? Maybe you're more comfortable with saying "Lord," or Father. Certainly He knows our heart, and will be near to all who call on him. However you call out His name, remember,

'Iv DichDaq ja' Daq the pong vo' joH'a' DIchDaq taH toDpu'

whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Klingon Word From the Word

I'd like to start a series of reflections on the Scriptures, using my experimental Klingon Bible, the Klingon Language Version as a source of things to write about.

Long term, I'm hoping to make this into a podcast, patterned after "A Word from the Word".

As I've noted elsewhere, the KLV is not a true translation of the scriptures, but a relexification - a word for word replacement - based on the World English Bible. While resulting in grammatically incorrect Klingon, this Bible and the lexicon developed for this version was an interesting way to examine and think about the words in God's Word. I hope the words reflected here lead you into the "Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach" (the paths of righteousness).