Saturday, May 27, 2006


jang jIH ghorgh jIH ja', joH'a' vo' wIj QaQtaHghach.

Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness. Psalm 4.1a

(click for podcast version)

This is Klingon praying! David's words jump right in, no careful build up, no proper liturgical form. Answer me NOW!

Does this bother you? Our idea of worship and prayer is often formal and very "polite."

This isn't wrong - any more than manners and respect are wrong in a family.

But in a solid, secure, relationship we can express more than the quiet emotions. Sometimes we need to shout. Sometimes we have to call out with force.

Klingons certainly understand this range of emotions. Their idea of romance, after all, involves the male reading poetry - while the female yells and throws things.

And David's demand for an answer grows out of the memory of all the LORD has done for him, and for God's people. One ancient writer reflected on this Biblical faith, saying:

Then I remembered your mercy, O Lord,

and your deeds from long ago.

You rescue those who wait for you

and save them from their enemies. [Sirach 51:8]

The Hebrew word used here, `anah, is a common one. It is used over 300 times in the Bible and has a variety of meanings - it's a primitive root; properly meaning, to eye or (generally) to heed, i.e. pay attention; by implication, to respond. You can find it in the KJV translated as, among other things:(cause to, give) answer, cry, hear, say, (give a) shout, sing (together by course), speak, testify, utter, (bear) witness.

The sense here is "reply," just as it is in the Klingon term "jang." IF you wanted a grammatically proper Klingon rendering of jang jIH you would say HIjang! ("you-answer-me")

jang jIH ghorgh jIH ja', joH'a' vo' wIj QaQtaHghach.

Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness. Psalm 4.1a

Thinking about this Psalm, one writer noted the necessity of being bold enough to approach God in prayer:

Hear me when I call - No man has a right to expect God to hear him if he do not call. Indeed, how shall he be heard if he speak not? There are multitudes who expect the blessings of God as confidently as if they had prayed for them most fervently; and yet such people pray not at all! (Abbot)

Part of the practice of prayer is being clear. Vague ideas, aimless thoughts may work to have reverence toward God - but the command of Scripture is

Don’t worry about anything;

instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need,

and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

ASK - and don't treat it as a message tossed into the void. God WILL answer, maybe not as you expect, but he will answer.

So maybe, as you work toward being a prayer warrior, you can adopt just a little of that Klingon spirit. As you pray, perhaps you might try, along with the "amen", to every now and then throw in a heartfelt "HIjang" - "ANSWER ME!"

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!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


toDtaHghach belongs Daq joH'a'. lIj blessing taH Daq lIj ghotpu.

Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing be on your people. (psalm 3.8)
(click for podcast)

Someone once said "it doesn't matter so much WHO you are, as WHOSE you are." In this, the last verse of Psalm 3, we see the phrase - On your people / Daq lIj ghotpu'. Three simple words in the English or Klingon Language Version - only two "al amchah" in Hebrew, but in that idea - "belonging to God's people," that is knowing YOU ARE HIS, is endless riches (It is even a more terse phrase in proper Klingon: ghotpu'lI'Daq. ghotpu'/ people plus the second person possessive/lI' and the suffix, Daq, for location.)

Where do you belong? Once I remarked to a friend, while we were attending a conference, "I don't feel like I belong here."

My friend cheerfully remarked, "oh, I never feel at home anywhere."

Words that might signal a dour sort of person. But my friend wasn't like that at all.

I think his remarks echoed the words of 1 Peter:

parmaqqay, jIH beg SoH as foreigners je pilgrims, Daq abstain vo' fleshly lusts, nuq veS Daq the qa';

Rendered in the translation "The Message" as:

Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it.

The Biblical affirmation of citizenship that is rooted in eternity, not some temporary home or nation.

Recently, at my house, we've decided to "drop our landline." That is, end the wired phone service we've had for over 25 years. For a variety of reasons it's a practical decision, though one I've wrestled with. This is the number my kids grew up with, a number I've had for half my life.

But. It isn't any more permanent than my house - or my body. This world is NOT my home. I've got better - and more lasting membership in eternity.

toDtaHghach belongs Daq joH'a'. lIj blessing taH Daq lIj ghotpu.

Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing be on your people. (psalm 3.8)

This is the membership, the citizenship that matters - our being God's people; Again, from "The Message" I like the rendering of the passage we're considering today, Psalm 3's final verse:

Real help comes from GOD.
Your blessing clothes your people!

Salvation, REAL help, comes not from OUR effort, but God's. Notice too that David doesn't deal merely with FACTS: "God saves", but RELATIONSHIPS: YOUR blessing on YOUR people.

In Hebrews 11, that monumental chapter on faith, we hear Abraham's wandering described

vaD Abraham nejta' vaD the veng nuq ghajtaH the foundations, 'Iv builder je maker ghaH joH'a'.

For Abraham looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Someday we may wander far, just as Abraham did. We'll follow our faithful robot emissaries to the stars. New homes will orbit new worlds. Perhaps we'll even meet the real Klingons or Vulcans or whatever race God has created in depths out there.

What will matter then (as it does now) is not which club or congregation we join. Nor does our address or phone number or radio frequency change who we are. What will matter is WHOSE we are.

What will matter is that we can say

joH'a' ghotpu'lI' maH!
God, we are YOUR people!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pulling Punches!

Hu', joH'a'! toD jIH, wIj joH'a'! vaD SoH ghaj struck Hoch vo' wIj jaghpu' Daq the qevpob Hom. SoH ghaj ghorta' the Ho'Du' vo' the mIgh.

Arise, LORD! Save me, my God! For you have struck all of my enemies on the cheek bone. You have broken the teeth of the wicked. Psalm 3:7

(click for podcast version)

From matters of personal injustice to international - from broken friendships to war, there ARE things that make us cry out "Hu', joH'a'!" "Arise LORD!"

One writer notes that David's confidence is so great that he knew ALL that is needed is FOR God to arise and David would be SAVED. So certain is he that the description of the justice that follows (all in the past tense) is assumed to be complete ALREADY.

David faced terror, as we may in our lives, and found that it did good, just as trouble may in our lives. For it drove him, as it drives us, to ask, to plead, to pray to God for justice.

And what justice?

As alarming as we may find these words they are common to Scriptures. Consider other Psalms: "break their teeth," "show no mercy to the traitors," and more.

It helps to read this verse AS a Klingon. Our modern human reaction to this passage is bound to have some squirm in it - especially when we hear a call to hit our enemies in the face and to smash out their teeth. This may trouble a human - but a call to swift decisive action, to pull no punches - THAT has Klingon written all over it:

" taH angry, je yImev yem." yImev chaw' the pemHov jaH bIng Daq lIj QeHpu',

"Be angry, and don't sin." Don't let the sun go down on your wrath, [Eph 4:26]

says the Bible, and this verse illustrates this attitude. Call evil what it is; don't accept it, be ANGRY with it - and let God deal with it. David plans no revenge - he turns it over to God.

Don't let it be personal, to eat you up inside. "Love the sinner and hate the sin," goes the old saying, and it is a good one. This doesn't come easy for a Klingon, OR a human, but it keeps us from tieing personal judgement, personal prejudice to our response to evil.

This psalm gives vent to anger over sin - but leaves it to God, not mere people to set right - Reflect on what Jesus said

" ghaH 'Iv ghaH Hutlh yem among SoH, chaw' ghaH throw the wa'Dich nagh Daq Daj."

,"He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." (John 8:7)

From matters of personal injustice to international - from broken friendships to war, there are things that make us cry out "Hu', joH'a'!" "Arise LORD!"

And getting God to rise is ENOUGH.

Monday, May 01, 2006

One Word to Bind Them All (podcast re-run)

(Hello! This has been a busy week and I'm running behind on this week's podcast. So I thought I'd share it this one - one of my favorites - till I can get this week's ready.)

naD joH'a'

Praise the LORD
Psalm 117:1a

click for podcast

Would you like to be a linguist, with a vocabulary that extends from Albanian to Xhosa? With one word I can assist you towards this goal.

The word I'm thinking of is at the heart of this Psalm, the shortest chapter of the Bible.


That short phrase, almost a contraction, ends this psalm, and is expressed in a longer version, hallelu et adonai - praise you the LORD - at the beginning. By bracketing this short chapter, this command directs believers to be about the serious, and delightful, work of praise.

From Hebrew to Greek to Latin, Hallelujah over the centuries was transliterated from language to language and has become an exclamation of praise, so universal that it has moved into the lexicons of many languages. Look for yourself at the Crosswire Bible Society's website, There you can compare Bibles in quite a few languages and see this Psalm containing "Hallelujah" or "Allelulia" : Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, Esperanto, and Finnish to name a few, each transliterating this word for their tongue.

But. Not Klingon. If we were to present a Klingon version of Hallelujah, it might be 'alayluya. However, since the World English Bible, the source used for my Klingon Language Version, translates the Hebrew terms, the KLV does likewise, naD joH'a'. If we were to translate it more grammatically we'd say it as a command, joH'a' penaD, the-LORD you-all-praise.


I love this word, and especially like thinking about the path it has taken through the long years. It is now almost a password, if you will, for believers on every continent and with many different languages. A foreign word in almost every language, it is testifies to a faith language of the heart that is (or should be) a native language for everyone who follows the God of the Bible.

To me, the really important thing is that little syllable -lu-; it indicates the plural. YOU-ALL give praise, not "you" singular. (This is something we've lost in modern English; an ability to easily distinguish singular and plural. You can see it preserved in the King James and Douay translations, where the "you" and "ye" forms indicate plural, and "thou," "thee," and "thine" refer to the second person singular.)

That "lu," Halle-LU-jah, takes the command to praise and extends it not to you or me, but to all of us, together. God calls forth, across the ages, across the world (even to the stars?) and draws us together as we praise him.

Think of this word and all its forms as being links that bind us together when we - all of us - rejoice in any language: Afrikaans, Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, Esperanto, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Klingon, Latin and Xhosa we'll together call out

Hallelujah, allelulia, Praise ye the LORD.