Friday, May 19, 2006


jIH ja'ta' pagh Daq pegh.

I said nothing in secret. John 18:20b

(click for podcast version)

Secrets. Klingons value secrets - so much so that they have a whole class of sayings - secrecy proverbs - "they are most frequently used in situations where you want to show that you can keep a secret under *any* conditions." (Power Klingon language tape) If you ever need to impress a Klingon with your appreciation of secrecy, you might say one of these:

Hov ghajbe'bogh ram rur pegh ghajbe'bogh jaj.
"A day without secrets is like a night without stars."

not mev peghmey.
"Secrets never cease."

We live in a day and age hemmed in and defined by secrecy or attempts to eliminate it. From exciting stories which claim to reveal dark long-held secrets, to authorities who feel compelled to track every citizen's action in the hope of stopping some unknown plot. Even a simple purchase, whether in a store or on a website, involves high-powered cryptography to protect your credit card.

I admit to a certain fascination with codes and ciphers - besides reading books about them, hardly a day goes by when I don't solve at least one code in the form of a "daily cryptogram." It's an enjoyable brain teaser that I hope gives me some mental exercise.

Those words of Jesus are the only reference to "encryption" in the Bible and come from a moment when he was on trial. Part of his defense came from the transparency of his life and ministry. What he came to do and say was open for all. The Greek says simple that nothing Jesus said was "en cryptos" - in secret.

There is a rich vocabulary in the Bible regarding "secrets." The King James version translates as "secret" nearly two dozen words - 15 in Hebrew and Aramaic and 7 in Greek. While that tally includes different forms of a word (5 of the Greek are variations of kryptos) it is a far more extensive vocabulary than Klingon, for which we only know one word "pegh," which is both a noun "secret" and verb "to keep secret."

Now, using codes or ciphers are ways to encrypt, to keep secrets - and that has value. The Bible doesn't condemn the secret kept.

The book of Proverbs notes, One who brings gossip betrays a confidence, But one who is of a trustworthy spirit is one who keeps a secret. (Proverbs 11:13)

And Jesus commands a reconciliation and forgiveness that requires confidentiality: "If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother.(Matthew 18:15)

There is no question that there are things we don't know. The Bible even suggests this challenges us to probe to discover them:

'oH ghaH the batlh vo' joH'a' Daq conceal a Doch, 'ach the batlh vo' joHpu' ghaH Daq search pa' a matter.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2

I agree with those who say that what we call science really follows from this Biblical understanding: the secrets of the universe are the reasonable product of a reasonable creator - we can seek them out, and with patience decode them, if you will.

And God's intention is described in the book of Daniel

ghaH reveals the deep je pegh Dochmey; ghaH SovtaH nuq ghaH Daq the HurghtaHghach, je the wov yIntaH tlhej ghaH.

he reveals the deep and secret things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. Daniel 2:22

Sadly, secrecy comes most naturally when we've done wrong. From the garden to today, when we fear the discovery of our wrongdoing we will go to extreme lengths to cover them - law enforcement officials can testify that some of the most powerful encryption is found concealing horrible crimes. How well Jesus put it when he speaks of those "who loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil." (John 3:19 NLT)

jIH ja'ta' pagh Daq pegh.

I said nothing in secret. John 18:20b

Jesus's words direct us away from the darkness - from hiding - they reflect a God who brings light to the world, who reveals his love and care to all.

It is NOT a secret - "For God so loved the world..." is no secret code or cipher, but a bedrock declaration that none of us should ignore. Give thanks today for the love God reveals each day and the abundant life he offers to each of us!

No comments: