Friday, November 23, 2007

'IH - Beautiful!

'IH - Beautiful!

'IH Daq elevation, the Quch vo' the Hoch tera'
Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth Ps 48.2
(click for podcast)

What does it mean, to be "beautiful?" Webster tells us it means "Elegant in form, fair,having the form that pleases the eye. It expresses more than handsome." "Beauty" is how we describe something that is deeply attractive.

Here in Psalm 48, the Psalmist rejoices in God's presence among his people - looking at Mt. Zion, and particularly the city Jerusalem, as beautiful with the almighty's presence. This can sound nationalistic and parochial if we think of it as simply a geographic location or national capital - but this is far more than just that. This recalls the term for Scriptural meaning that looks forward to God's triumph that I mentioned recently, "anagogical." As one commentary notes, this Psalm "sees the city AS IT WILL BE when 'all the nations flow to it' (Is. 2:2:ff) - for it is certainly not yet the joy of all the earth." (Kidner)

Such joy is indeed God's aim and intention for all people, and when that happens, it will indeed be beautiful.

Today we're looking at our first letter of the tlhIngan Hol alphabet, the letter that looks like an apostrophe, and our word is 'IH (spelled ' I H) - beautiful.

This letter is pronounced as a glottal stop - a brief catch. You'll see that in Klingon there are NO words that begin with a vowel - this letter is always placed in front of the vowel, as well as in other places within a word. All tlhIngan Hol words that begin with this letter are always followed by a vowel

'IH can mean "appropriate" or "good" as well as attractive - for example:
Du'IHchoHmoH mIvvam
This helmet suits you.

Literally You-it-be-beautiful-change-causes helmet-this-one, that is, this helmet causes you to change to be beautiful/handsome.

In Hebrew, the word here is yapheh, from a word meaning "to be bright" - think perhaps "to catch the eye" as things that are beautiful can.

We need to attend to beauty, in nature and in art - for God truly does use beauty to catch our attention - to draw us to himself.

No less an authority that Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes reminds us of this:

"There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion," said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. "It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers."

We have much to hope from the flowers, from beauty as we discover it, because it points us beyond the day to day, merely practical world. Beauty is this pure benefit, this joy that God sets before us to capture our attention, to draw us to him. In fact some speak of this as one of the proofs of the existence of God, reasoning from the existence and perception of beauty in the universe (what is called, the aesthetical argument).

'IH Daq elevation, the Quch vo' the Hoch tera'
Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth Ps 48.2
(click for podcast)

As I write this people in my nation have just celebrated "thanksgiving" - a day that we pause to reflect on the blessings (whether we call them that) that we enjoy. Of all those blessing I think our experience of beauty is among the most precious. And this grace of God is extended to all, as Jesus says

For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (MT 5:45)

Rejoice! 'IH - beauty is one of the most vital signposts in this universe - a reminder of how deeply God loves us!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

mu' - Word

jIH ghaj hidden lIj mu' Daq wIj tIq, vetlh jIH might ghobe' yem Daq SoH.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

(click for podcast version)

How can a word be more than just a collections of letters? How does that word, hidden in a heart (tIq) protect against sin (yem)?

Well, of course,it isn't just *any* word.

The believer, reading these words from Psalm 119 knows it's the Bible: a book of many books - made up of thousands of words, yet one we call simply "THE" Word.

In Klingon - or tlhIngan Hol, the word FOR word is "mu'" - it shows up almost 900 times in the Klingon Language Version. In the King James "word" represents 15 different Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words - the most common being dabar in Hebrew (over 400 times) and logos in Greek (almost 200 times). It can refer to something like a single dictionary word, speech, or a complete message. And as we use it here, it can encompass all of God's message to humanity.

One of the terms I've used in Klingon for this is mu''a' - (great word). That's why this podcast "A Klingon Word, from the Word" is called in tlhIngan Hol "mu''a'vo mu'" - from-the-big-word a-word.

In the next podcasts, I want to alter my course. Over the last years I've worked my way through individual psalms, and now, I'd like to shift to emphasize the KLINGON WORD part of this podcast, and work my way through the Klingon Alphabet with a Klingon word for each letter. For each word, I'll choose a verse or verses from the KLV Psalms and we'll look at that verse and word in the greater context of the Scriptures.

The Klingon alphabet, pIqaD ( ), has 26 letters, just like the Roman alphabet we use for English - but they aren't the same 26 letters, as we'll see, even if you often see the English alphabet used to represent the Klingon. One difference - none of the letters are capitalized as we do in English, as in proper nouns and the beginning of sentences - though some (D,I, H, and S) are always capitalized. Q and q are two different letters. Also, several letters are represented with multiple letters (tlh, ch, and gh). And one letter is represented by the apostrophe - we'll see that one often, because a rule of tlhIngan Hol is that you never start with a vowel - so for the vowels we'll actually see a word that starts apostrophe + a vowel.

The mechanics of the alphabet are not what matter - what matters is the meaning OF the word depicted. That meaning has power - it's why the psalmist holds fast to the word and words of scripture to purify his life:

jIH ghaj hidden lIj mu' Daq wIj tIq, vetlh jIH might ghobe' yem Daq SoH.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

We need to read, listen to, and hold fast to the Word. It is not hard to find passage after passage in the Bible that drive us to consider the Word as God's means of bringing light and power to the believer:

  • 2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, his way is perfect: The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him.
  • Psalms 12:6 The words of the LORD are flawless words, As silver refined in a clay furnace, purified seven times.
  • Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light for my path.
  • Mark 12:24 Jesus answered them, "Isn't this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God?
  • Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the spoken word of God;

This shield, these precious words enlighten, empower and can pierce us through with the truth of God's love, and the salvation he offers each of us! Hang on to this!

The language we speak use, English, Spanish, French, German - any of the human tongues - or even tlhIngan Hol, Klingon, are not what matter. As we study the words of the Bible, my hope and prayer is that we'll move past the accident of the language we use to really read, really consider and as it says here in Psalm 119, take into our heart what God has given us in his most precious word. It will change your life.