Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sleeping Dogs

ghaH chen jIH Qot bIng Daq SuD tI yotlhHe makes me lie down in green pastures

podcast version

The words "sleeping dogs" immediately call to mind the expression "let sleeping dogs lie." No doubt Klingons know the wisdom expressed in this proverb: don't stir up trouble when you don't have to.

Klingons do, after all, know about pets (the Klingon word for pet is Saj), though their 'dog' is the targh, a fairly fearsome creature; definitely not something to rile unnecessarily.

Let's consider "sleeping dogs" (the undisturbed kind) as an illustration of today's Klingon word: Qot, 'to lie.'

David in Psalm 23 considers God's care for him saying that God:

makes me
lie down in green pasturesQot bIng Daq SuD tI yotlh

The English word 'lie' occurs over 100 times in the World English Bible translation of the Hebrew scriptures, mostly referring to an action like or involving reclining (as opposed to telling a falsehood). The Hebrew text of this psalm uses a specific verb, rabats, that is only used around 30 times. The notion in this word is that of a recumbent animal. This image would be familiar to a shepherd like David. Hovever, I'm not a shepherd, so I find the image of a recumbent animal that comes to my mind is that of a sleeping dog.

The utter peace of my own dog is something I find delightful. Once comfortable, he relaxes so completely that it compels me to settle down beside him as well. That is the sort of peace, of rest, that David is telling us he finds because he knows that the Good Shepherd is leading him.

And it's a peace offered to us as well. Just as God promised the Hebrews in the book of Exodus:

God said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
(Exodus 33:14)

Are you looking to Qot Bing Daq roj, to lie down in peace? Then listen to the Good Shepherd:

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:30)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Do You Want?

jIH DIchDaq Hutlh pagh
I shall lack nothing

podcast version

If you have any exposure to tlhIngan Hol (the Klingon language) you've probably heard the one all purpose greeting, "nuqneH" (nook-neck). If you're well informed, you'll know it's a compound word nuq (what?) plus neH (to-want). In other words the standard Klingon way to say 'hello' means "What do you want?"

To humans this may sound blunt, even rude, but it demonstrates the very practical nature of Klingon culture. And today's Klingon word provides an answer to that question:

pagh (pahgr) - nothing

In Psalm 23 King David presents us with the assertion that his shepherd, his leader is God. As soon as he tells us this, he spells out in the next clause what this means: I will lack nothing.

This is forthright confidence. David doesn't say he possesses all wealth and riches, but trusts that all his needs will be met. It certainly isn't the kind of reliance that many of us have. Despite being comfortable in my day to day existence, there's always one more thing I just "can't do without."

And those who are in real poverty may see the claim "I will lack nothing" as the smug complacence of the wealthy, or a condition they will never reach.

I like to think that David is giving us a challenge. To those who have, to maybe do with less, trusting that we will lack nothing. By sharing what we have, recognizing that, if we trust our Leader we will have what we need. And we'd only be following the best example of giving there is:

He who didn't spare his own Son,
but delivered him up for us all,
how would he not also with him
freely give us all things?
Romans 8:32

Follow an example like that, and maybe, just maybe, when someone asks "nuqneH," we'll honestly answer, "pagh."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who Are YOU Calling a "Sheep?"

joH'a' ghaH wIj DevwI'
Yahweh is my shepherd

Podcast Version

David's words in the 23rd Psalm made the "God as our shepherd" metaphor a familiar and comforting image.  Despite our world becoming increasingly urban and industrial, people with little or no connection to anything rural are moved to hear Jesus assure them "I am the good shepherd."

The Hebrew word used in Psalm 23 for shepherd (my-shepherd really) is roi (roe-ee), coming from a term meaning "to tend a flock."

In English we have a compound word combining "sheep" and the verb "herd," as in, to care for sheep IN a herd. This word occurs in some form almost 100 times in the World English Bible. How best could it be translated into Klingon?

It doesn't seem likely that Klingons would appreciate this figure of speech. It is hard to imagine anyone in this warlike culture appreciating being called a sheep. So, for the Klingon Language Version, I considered what might be a more culturally acceptable term and took the verb "Dev," to lead, and used "DevwI'," one who leads.

The notion for "the good leader," whether of troops or livestock, still embodies the idea that God does indeed watch over, provide for and support those who look to Him.

For who we follow matters. The wrong choice can be a disaster. No matter how confident the leader is, if he or she is going the wrong way - that's where you'll end up going.

So choose wisely. And, with David, if you do choose the "QaQ DevwI'," the good shepherd, you can be confident he will guide you

Daq the Hemey vo' QaQtaHghach

in the paths of righteousness

Sunday, August 07, 2011

What's in a name? God's name, that is.

joH'a' ghaH wIj DevwI': jIH DIchDaq Hutlh pagh.

Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.

podcast version

Everyone knows his or her own name, but who knows the name of God? Well, the Hebrew Scriptures present the proper, personal name of God, revealed to Moses, as the four letters YHVH (yod he vav he). Referred to as "the tetragrammaton," this is a name, used over 5000 times in the Bible, which means the self-existent, or eternal one. Pronounced "Yahweh," it was so revered that the Jewish practice was never to say it aloud, but substitute "Adonai," (Hebrew for 'Lord') instead. This practice was carried into English with many translations that use LORD (all caps) to indicate the use of God's name.

When it came time to translate the Bible into Klingon, the question was, how do we present this name? Early in the study of Klingon there was no known word for deities or gods at all (we now know it is Qun). The term most Klingonists decided to use was "joH'a'" (joe-a-ka), from "joH," the Klingon word for "Lord" or "Lady."  Adding the 'a' suffix is a way of indicating this is a bigger or greater kind of Lord.

Does this remind you of "Jehovah," another pronunciation used for the name YHVH? Maybe you're more comfortable with saying "Lord," or Father. Certainly He knows our heart, and will be near to all who call on him. However you call out His name, remember,

'Iv DichDaq ja' Daq the pong vo' joH'a' DIchDaq taH toDpu'

whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved