Monday, November 28, 2011

Time to Travel

Hoch the jajmey vo' wIj yIn
all the days of my life

podcast version

News flash! MIT is hosting a Time Travelers get-together May 7th, 2005. Well, maybe this is old news, since by the time you hear this podcast, the event will have happened. Yet, if you are a time traveler, I encourage you to head on over to the the MIT East Campus Courtyard and check it out - I'm sure you'll get a warm welcome.

Time travel can be a pain. Think about the complicated problems you can encounter: DON'T step on a bug - you might wipe out hundreds of species yet to come! Don't prevent your grandparents from meeting or you'll never exist! The list goes on and on - you have to be soooo careful! After all, nobody wants to deal with those agents from the Federation's Department of Temporal Investigations!

Harder still, consider the grammar! How do you explain something you did yesterday - in the future? How do you talk about what you plan to do in the past tomorrow?

Now - we are all time travelers. Not dramatically - not skipping back and forth in a souped up DeLorean, but gradually, daily we sail along into tomorrow:

Hoch the jajmey vo' wIj yIn all the days of my life

so David describes our journey. Dogged by God's grace, by his goodness and loving kindness our travels through time cover this too finite stretch, "the days of our life" - what Psalm 90 estimates to be roughly 70 or 80 years.

And here's the problem with our time travels: The days we're given to live have limit. Even if we see great sites along the way, we know the trip has an end - maybe time doesn't have a limit - but ours DOES.

Yet Psalm 23 points us to a destination, and offers the hope that our short stretch will connect to an unlimited future - David looks forward to
yIn Daq joH'a' tuq reH - live in God's house forever

Maybe you feel like you're going nowhere, moving through each minute, each hour, aimlessly. You travel on through each day, but think there is no destination at the end of your time. Well listen to what Jesus says:

"Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father's house are many homes. If it weren't so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. (John 14:1-2)

originally podcast 5/7/05

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who's Following Who?

QaQ je loving kindness DIchDaq tlha' jIH
goodness and loving kindness shall follow me

podcast version

The great pitcher Satchel Paige often said “Don’t look back—something might
be gaining on you.”

That doesn't sound like Klingon advice to me. Few would disagree that the straightforward Klingon response to pursuit is to stand one's ground and eliminate trouble before it sneaks up on you!

But these words from Psalm 23 involve a different kind of pursuit; and mark a return in this shepherd's psalm to the picture of God's care as shepherding us, his flock.

Among the tools of a shepherd are herd dogs. We see that God's are QaQ (goodness) and loving kindness - a word not translated in the current revision of the KLV. This word, "Hesed" in Hebrew, is rendered in English translations as 'mercy' or 'loving kindness' and means a deep kind of "covenant faithfulness." The Klingon term batlh (honor) comes to mind as a good translation.

We are pursued by God. His dogs nudge us along the good path and direct us to follow the honorable road - and we will, if only we don't turn on these hounds that are just there to lead us along the best way.

What are these dogs? Or ... who?

In my life, I can picture a whole pack - perhaps you can think of a few in yours. I can see them - friends, family and maybe even strangers who only passed briefly through my orbit. Each one stood as an example, or a reminder of how I might more closely follow God.

And that is the real pursuit we need to consider: God's sheep dogs are there to nudge us on a pursuit of own. If you wonder what that might be, well, the last words that Jesus speaks in John's Gospel spell it out clearly - no matter what language you use:

SoH tlha' jIH.
You follow me.
Originally podcast 5/2/2005

Monday, November 14, 2011

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