Monday, September 12, 2005

Liberal Klingons?!?

The liberal qa' DIchDaq taH chenmoHta' ror. ghaH 'Iv bIQmey DIchDaq taH watered je himself.

The liberal soul shall be made fat. He who waters shall be watered also himself.
Proverbs 11:25

podcast version

There's no Klingon word for liberal. That's okay, and you shouldn't draw any political conclusions - there's no word for conservative either. And it isn't that surprising - the limited vocabulary we have for thlIngan Hol often necessitates that we translate around the limited dictionary, coming up with extended phrases or constructions to represent a concept in English.

I'm taking this diversion from Psalm 27 because this weekend, while listening to a podcast (yes I LISTEN to them, too) I heard an interesting comment: "all floods are liberal," meaning that disasters like Katrina remind people of the liberal ideal of providing aid and support to those who are in desperate need.

"What does the Bible say about that?" I asked (I'm told I often talk to myself, but I was mowing the lawn at the time, so I figured I could get away with it).

Well, I found that in the World English Bible the word "liberal" only appears once (four times in the KJV; "conservative" appears in neither translation). So it's natural that the KLV doesn't include the word - my translation tables originally only included words that appeared more than 100 times. As time has gone on, I've gone beyond that - but there aren't many (if any) "only-occurs-once" words.

The Hebrew word used here is brakah, meaning benediction; by implication prosperity. In other contexts (it appears over 60 times) it is often translated blessing - the idea is one of receiving the grace, the blessing of another's (usually God's) generosity. In the context of this verse a Klingon word might be nobtaHqu' - "on-going giving in the extreme."

The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, reflected on this verse, saying:

We are here taught the great lesson, that to get, we must give; that to accumulate, we must scatter; that to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and that in order to become spiritually vigorous, we must seek the spiritual good of others. In watering others, we are ourselves watered. How? Our efforts to be useful, _bring out our powers for usefulness_. We have latent talents and dormant faculties, which are brought to light by exercise. Our strength for labour is hidden even from ourselves, until we venture forth to fight the Lord's battles, or to climb the mountains of difficulty. We do not know what tender sympathies we possess until we try to dry the widow's tears, and soothe the orphan's grief. ...

Our own _comfort is also increased_ by our working for others. We endeavour to cheer them, and the consolation gladdens our own heart. ...

Here's the point: current disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, give us an opportunity to experience this. We have a chance to give - our prayers, our time, our material gifts - and give liberally. I need to remind myself this every day, and I need to hear scripture remind me that the cost will be repaid in tremendous spiritual riches.

Having a word in your dictionary isn't the same thing as having it in your heart. I don't know if Klingons need the word liberal. But I do know, when it comes to how I give to others - I need it.

nob, je 'oH DichDaq taH nobpu' Daq SoH QaQ juv, pressed bIng, shaken tay', je running Dung

Give then, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and running over. Luke 6:38

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