Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Running Over Where?

wIj HIvje' qettaH Dung
My cup runs over

podcast version

Half full? Half empty? That evaluation of a partially filled glass is the classic way to measure whether a person is an optimist or pessimist.

Which are you? And what happens when somebody fills the glass SO full it overflows?

That's what David considers in Psalm 23 when he writes:

wIj HIvje' qettaH DungMy cup runs over

God can (and will) bless his people beyond their mere needs. He just will NOT stop!

[My guess, by the way is that the pessismist will gripe about the work cleaning up the over flow, while the optimist delights in the surplus - "aren't we LUCKY to have more than we need?"]

The mechanical process of creating the Klingon Language Version of the Bible involves a simple program that replaces English words with Klingon translations, one word at a time. When that works we get Klingon text arranged in English grammatical fashion - a pidgin Klingon that a translator can polish off. "wIj HIvje'," for "my cup" can be made grammatical by attaching the first person possesive suffix (wIj) to HIvje' (glass, or tumbler): Hivje'wIj becomes a good translation for the Hebrew koesee (my cup).

We're not as lucky with "runs over," since the word "qettaH" means "run or jog". "Dung" means overhead, and was used for the KLV purposes to mean something like "over there." 'My cup runs over there,' does not come too close to the Psalm. Keep this odd wordplay in mind - think of it as "my cup of blessing moves out." I'll come back to that in a moment.

A better translation would be buy'qu' (really full) - HIvje'wIj buy'qu', my cup is really full. Even better, there is a colloquial Klingon expression "buy' ngop" which literally means "the plates are full." It is a way to say "Great news!" A grammatical translation of Psalm 23 might well express the great news of God's generosity, "my cup runs over," with "buy' ngop."

Jesus said: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:10b). He wants our lives to be rich and full - not just good enough, but so complete that the bounty spills over! And St. Paul says God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think...(Eph. 3:20) God doesn't intend to give us a thimble full of grace.

Everyone does not have a life of overflowing bounty. Every believer does not experience this surplus of blessing. We don't know why - and even beginning to explore the reasons is beyond the scope of this word study.

But those of us who do experience "the cup that overflows" have a different question: what do I do about the spill? Maybe "my cup of blessing moves out" isn't such a bad translation after all.

The faith of the Bible is not a tribal faith. God may have begun with Abraham's family, but God's intention is clear: "All of the families of the earth will be blessed in you."(Genesis 12:3). Jesus made clear that the answer to "who is my neighbor" is EVERYONE. When Jesus gave marching orders he said "You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth."


buy' ngop! GOOD news!

If your plate is full, if your cup really runs over, then gather it up. Take your blessings and share them to "the uttermost parts of the earth..."

Better yet, share them "'u' HeHDaq" to the edge of the Universe.

originally podcast 4/29/05

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Double Take

Daq vo' wIj jaghpu'
in the presence of my enemies

podcast version

Nobody likes to say it out loud, but inviting people to a party means, on some level, you've decided who not to invite. That is why one might look twice at what David says in Psalm 23 -

You prepare a table before me

I like hearing this; God wants me to be his guest.

But then I read

Daq vo' wIj jaghpu'
in the presence of my enemies.

and I ask, what is going ON?! What are my enemies doing at this party?

The Klingon word for enemy, jagh, appears here in the plural form jaghpu'. It is worth noting that Klingon has three forms of plural suffixes: "mey", which is plural for things, for example yIHmey means "tribbles." "Du'" indicates the plural of body parts, as in ghopDu', "hands". In this case we use the third form "pu'" which is plural for things that have speech - usually taken to mean intelligent beings, i.e. people. Using jaghpu' here, instead of jaghmey, indicates that our enemies are not just a figure of speech as in "the weather is my enemy." We're talking about some person who plots against us, who wants to do us harm.

What is going on? Why does the psalmist think God's banquet is in the presence of my enemies? Who invited them?

Now, I've got two ways to look at this: comforting, and challenging.

First look at comforting:

Usually this verse is seen to show how we can be confident that, despite our enemies, God will show his love and care by preparing a table for us - even in the heart of battle. Do not despair - God cannot be prevented from blessing us - even when we are faced by real enemies. We need to hang onto this kind of assurance.

Here's the challenging side:

Who invited these enemies? Maybe I did. OR should.

When I cast about for other verses in the Bible that touch on "enemies" and "meals" I find a terrific passage - actually I find it more than once. It is a passage in Proverbs that St. Paul likes so much, he quotes it in the letter to the Romans:

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink: for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and Yahweh will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21 or Romans 12:20 )

Now if I were looking for a particularly Klingon way to tell people to "be nice," this has got to be it. Not hard to picture a Klingon saying "yesss!" to that coals of fire stuff, is it? Think you're a really tough tlhIngan SuvwI', a Klingon warrior? Then prove it: open your heart, your love to everyone - not just to the easy target. Jesus says it this way: "if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?" (Matt. 5:46)

We do have enemies. There really are people out there who want to do you and me harm. No, they are not going to be your best friend, or the first choice to put on your guest list. Yet, I know I need to take a stock of my 'hospitality,' my charity and then listen to Jesus's words:

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'

But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.
(Matt. 5:43-45a)

Who's on your guest list?

originally podcast 4/22/05