Thursday, December 06, 2012

These Lttle Ones.... (St. Nicholas Day repost)

'ach vaj 'oH ghaH ghobe' the DichDaq vo' lIj vav 'Iv ghaH Daq chal vetlh wa' vo' Dochvammey mach ones should chIlqu'.
Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

(click for podcast)

If you're a pastor, and looking for a way to quickly be driven out of your parish - I can't think of a better controversy to raise than.... a discussion about Santa Claus. I fear at times that the deepest beliefs of the Bible could be question without the kind of difficulties a preacher would meet if they weighed in on the reality of Kris Kringle.

Nor am I brave enough to tread on this legend - though I wonder what a Klingon would make of some of the stories? The Klingon disposition toward things military lend to a tendency to be (shall we say?) paranoid. Imagine how they'd feel about a silent intruder who routinely slips in past all defenses to surprise the inhabitants! Motivated by generosity or not - I expect a Klingon hearing of such stealth would be more alarmed than happy.

But - maybe if they were introduced to the real Santa Claus - St Nicholas:

St. Nicholas, lover of the poor and patron saint of children, is a model of how Christians are meant to live. As priest and bishop, Nicholas put Jesus Christ at the center of his life and ministry. His concern for children and others in need or danger expressed a love for God which points toward Jesus, the source of true caring and compassion. Embracing St. Nicholas customs can help recover the true center of Christmas—the birth of Jesus.

Understanding St. Nicholas as the original and true holiday gift-giver also helps shift focus to giving rather than getting, compassion rather than consumption, need rather than greed. This can help restore balance to increasingly materialistic and stress-filled Advent and Christmas seasons.

St. Nicholas is beloved throughout the world and continues to be revered in Christian tradition, especially as protector and patron of children in the West and as Wonderworker in the East. The St. Nicholas Center aims to bring Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians together in common purpose—to help people understand and appreciate the original St. Nicholas, the only real Santa Claus.
[http://www.stnicholascenter.orgI encourage you to visit the site to learn more]
As a people - Klingons are depicted as fierce warriors - potent enemies in battle. But anyone who reads at all far in the lore of Star Trek will know how fiercely they honor and guard their family - they know the value of protecting children. They'd likely be impressed by the stories - some quite fantastic - of St. Nick's rescue of children. Or how he protected the honor of dowry-less girls by secretly presenting them with gifts of gold coins.

In the Bible Jesus says these words, used in the readings for the commemoration of St. Nicholas:

'ach vaj 'oH ghaH ghobe' the DichDaq vo' lIj vav 'Iv ghaH Daq chal vetlh wa' vo' Dochvammey mach ones should chIlqu'.
Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The mach - little - ones matter. Not just to a saint like Nicholas, but to God. In this season we have many opportunities to be generous. What can we do to protect the neediest among us?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Daq 'Iv taH the batlh reH je ever. Amen.
to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen Galatians 1:5

(click for podcast)

There are limits to the practical value of studying a language like Klingon - which is not to say there are NONE. It is certainly a great way to learn about linguistics - and understand the limits of translation between languages and cultures. And in studying languages, real and constructed, you also can discover a few universals.

Without warp drives or cloaking devices, words have the power to move across borders, from culture to culture. Some time ago I talked about Alleluia - a scripture word that has found its way into many languages. Today I've got another - a universal word you all know whether you speak Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Creole, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Kenyan, Latvian, Maori, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, or Xhosa. Can somebody say "amen?"

Originally a Hebrew word, from a primitive root meaning to build up or support, Amen has become a part of many languages. We see it used in different ways in the Bible. As a word used to reinforce a statement (eg. when the we read in the Nehemiah "The whole assembly responded, 'Amen,' "), used in prayer ("Bless his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen!" Psalm 72:19)) and as a title for Christ ("the one who is the Amen" Rev 3:14) Actually, even when we don't see it, you can find "Amen" being used, for it is a word that at times IS translated. For example, the familiar words of Jesus as translated in the King James Bible "Verily, verily, I say unto you" translate the Greek "amen amen lego umin" (amen, amen I say to you).

I think it's natural that, in translating Biblical texts in some distant future, we'd preserve "Amen" as a part of the vocabulary. And just as naturally, we'd include synonyms for the strong affirmation when the congregation calls out "Amen!" For Klingons, I'd nominate "HIja'!" That's one of the Klingon words for yes, and I can imagine a Klingon preacher calling out
HIja' noblaH'a' vay'  - can somebody give a HIja'?
But what is the point? Is "Amen" simply a rallying cry? Is it no more than a religious cheer or demonstration of loyalty. No - I'd say that the bottom line is truth. As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable. We say "amen" to what is indeed TRUE.

It's not unusual to regard believers as engaging in some disconnected-from-reality enterprise. To see worshippers as being part of a fanciful set of beliefs that don't connect to the day-to-day world. I disagree, and think it is a shame when some believers appear to question science - seeming to fear or doubt the truth. The foundations of a Biblical faith are found in dictates like those of Leviticus "'You shall not steal; neither shall you deal falsely, nor lie to one another. (19:11). The AMEN of believers is to a faith that includes honesty as central - so core to the faith that it is within the ten commandments.

Those who commit themselves to the God of the Bible are putting their trust in one who we're told "cannot lie." So when considering the promises of God - take heart! Whether you speak Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Creole, Croatian,Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Klingon, Latvian, Mando'a, Maori, Russian, or Vulcan - these promises are indeed something about which to shout AMEN!
vaD however law' 'oH the promises vo' joH'a', Daq ghaH ghaH the . HIja'..
vaj je vegh ghaH ghaH the .Amen,. Daq the batlh vo' joH'a' vegh maH.

For however many are the promises of God, in him is the "Yes." Therefore also through him is the "Amen," to the glory of God through us. 2Co 1:20

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hear My Prayer!

Qoy wIj tlhobtaHghach
hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1c
(click for podcast version)

Prayer. Or, tlhlobtaHghach, as rendered in the KLV, is a mystery.

If you are inclined to be overly analytical - maybe the kind of person who ponders "can God make a rock so big he can't lift it?" - you may ponder WHY prayer is needed at ALL. Doesn't God know what we need? Indeed Isaiah records God's word about that very point:

'oH DIchDaq qaS vetlh, qaSpa' chaH ja', jIH DichDaq jang; je qaStaHvIS chaH 'oH yet speaking, jIH DichDaq Qoy.

It shall happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

And yet - we pray. In desperate straits David - and we - call out

Qoy wIj tlhobtaHghach
hear my prayer.

Well, of course. Prayer is a part of the life of believers. From beginning to end, it is the advice, the command of Scripture

In the first book of Chronicles we read:

Seek the LORD and his strength. Seek his face forever more. (1 Chr 16:11)

And James tells us:

Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises. (James 5:13)

We pray - we plead, we ask. That is the heart of the Klingon word I've used for prayer: tlhob, to request, plead, or ask, plus taH (on-going) with the nominalizer -ghach. tlhobtaHghach - an asking or plea.

This is the single word used in my KLV for prayer, but there are many used in the original languages - remember, the KLV is a simple relexification - word-for-word replacement - of the WEB. It is more the start of a translation - an example of a pidgin-language that might be used in a world with multi-lingual Klingon and English speakers.

The Bible has something like a dozen words in Hebrew and Greek, that are translated as "prayer." In this passage, tlhobtaHghach represents the Hebrew word tephillah, used about 70 times in the Bible, a word meaning an intercession or supplication. The most common Greek word in the Bible translated prayer is proseuche, used over 30 times in the Bible.

We ASK as believers because we are confident, not of a power or machinery behind the Universe, but of a PERSON. A Personal God who is there to hear when we call - a God who wants our "joy to be full." Psalm 17 reads:

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray. (Psalm 17:6 NLT)

So, in delight or despair, joy or pain, we turn to him,

we ask,

we call out

Qoy wIj tlhobtaHghach
hear my prayer.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

QaQtaHghach - Righteousness

joH'a' vo' wIj QaQtaHghach.
God of my righteousness.

(click for podcast)

When David calls out for help in Psalm 4, he uses a curious title for the almighty: Elohi tzediki - God of my righteousness, or in the KLV, joH'a' vo' wIj QaQtaHghach.

That's quite a title - but what does it mean?

The word here for righteousness is tzaddeq - and occurs quite a few times in the scriptures. This Hebrew word shows up over one hundred times - in other forms, around 600. Adding in the related Greek word dikaios there are over 700 occurences of the term through the Bible. Some may recognize a form of the word, familiar to those who know of the practice of a "pushke" or Tzeddekah box; a small coin box used for collecting spare change for the poor.

Tzaddik and Dikaios mean "righteousness" in the sense of things being, or being made RIGHT. It is translated in a variety of ways across the scriptures - in the KJV you'll find cleanse, clear self, equity, even, judgment, just, justification, justly, ordinance, righteously and righteousness, - to name a few.

So - what does God my righteousness MEAN?

Well - consider. Humans often agree with Klingons in an approach to addressing wrongs - "might makes RIGHT." That is, with sufficient resources WE can correct the wrongs of the world. Thinking about that helps us approach this definition - if only by giving us a contrast: SELF-righteousness, the smug (even if pious) feeling that making things right is possible by our own power and virtue.

THAT isn't the Bible's approach.

To be righteous is to be dependant on God's mercy and gifts, NOT autonomous. The prophet Habakkuk spells this out (And St. Paul later quotes him) comparing the self-righteous to the truly right:

yIlegh, Daj qa' ghaH puffed Dung. 'oH ghaH ghobe' upright Daq ghaH, 'ach the QaQtaHghach DichDaq yIn Sum Daj HartaHghach.

Behold, his soul is puffed up. It is not upright in him, but the righteous will live by his faith. Hab 2:4

Only by faith, by trust in God are we going to discover this. The NLT translates this phrase, "God my righteousness," from Psalm 4 as "God who declares me innocent." That is, HE sets me right - not by any effort of mine.

Do you feel tempted - as I know I am in my more Klingon moments to say "might makes right?" It surely is hard to avoid feeling like that on those top-of-the-world days when we feel we can do it all.

But those days don't last. In the end, what a gift it is to know that, not only MUST we depend on God to set things right - but that indeed is his promise, as the prophet Isaiah reminds us:

Don't you be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

Monday, June 25, 2012

toDta' - Delivered

pa'  ghaH  ghobe'  joH  toDpu'  Sum the  qevmey  vo' an army.  A  HoS  loD  ghaH  ghobe'  toDta'  Sum  Dun  HoS.

There is no king saved by the multitude of an army.  A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.   Psalm 33:16

What more proof do you need to see that the Bible is not a Klingon book?

These words from Psalm 33 go a long way toward making itc clear that the Scriptures do not reflect traditional Klingon ideas regarding strength and power.  Add in David’s victory over Goliath - rejecting the King’s armor and sword for his mere slingshot.  Or  the Hebrew’s victory over Jericho with nothing but marching and trumpets.  Or Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” of which he said

vaj jIH tlhap pleasure Daq weaknesses, Daq injuries, Daq necessities, Daq persecutions, Daq distresses, vaD Christ's chIch. vaD ghorgh jIH 'oH weak, vaj 'oH jIH HoS

Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.  2Cor 12:10

Together these underline a basic rather non-Klingon theme:  Our security, our victory can’t be found in a simple application of power, of HoS - we have to trust God.

And this is the proof that the Bible is not a human book either.

For, just as Klingons do, humans try to succeed on their own.  We strive for independance, for security.  But when we feel that in our hearts from the Bible we hear

I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.  2Cor 12:10

Paul has it right.  The Bible has it right.  However gifted we are with strength, however accomplished we are in life - those gifts, those accomplishments are gifts from God.  Not treasured power that comes from us - but gifts that God extends to us, so we can help those in need.

Rejoice, give thanks, and when we are weak remember

pa'  ghaH  ghobe'  joH  toDpu'  Sum the  qevmey  vo' an army.
  A  HoS  loD  ghaH  ghobe'  toDta'  Sum  Dun  HoS.
There is no king saved by the multitude of an army.
  A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.   Psalm 33:16

When we are weak we can remember - when we are weak,  then, he is HoS - he is stronger still - strong enough to bring us through.

Monday, June 18, 2012

ghaH 'Iv fashions Hoch vo' chaj tIQDu'; je ghaH considers Hoch vo' chaj vum.
He who fashions all of their hearts; And he considers all of their works. Psalms 33:15

(click for podcast)

I build spaceships.  And rockets.  

No, really, it’s true.  That is - I really do build (and fly) rockets.  I’ve been doing it on and off since around 1969.  Model rockets, yes, but rockets all the same.  They’re the reason I first learned how to use a slide rule.  Some of the first computer programs I wrote in BASIC were programs to predict and assess the flight of my rockets.   And in building and flying these model rockets I have learned a lot about the big ones that go into orbit and beyond.

And my spaceships - well, they’re scale models of real spaceships - some of them even fly.  And again, in making them I’ve learned a lot about the real rockets.  I think my favorite is the Mercury Redstone rocket from Delta 7 - you can download that one for free yourself.

The reason these rockets and spaceships are of interest to me is because, in building these models I learn about what it takes to make the real thing, and I learn how they work and what they can do.

ghaH 'Iv fashions Hoch vo' chaj tIQDu'; je ghaH considers Hoch vo' chaj vum.
He who fashions all of their hearts; And he considers all of their works. Psalms 33:15

God made us - he knows what we can do.  He doesn’t need to examine a model, or imagine what might be IN us - he knows inside and out what makes us tick.

When I’ve built a scale model of a spacecraft - I don’t find out what is going to happen on a craft’s mission, on any particular flight.  Holding a model - even inspecting the real craft cannot tell me that.  But I do learn what it can do and how it can be guided on its way.   If you’ve seen the movie Apollo 13, you know that the people of NASA were able to help save the crew because they knew what the ship was made of, how it worked, and what it could do to preserve and protect the astronauts.  The astronauts could be confident in the NASA crew’s assistance, because they knew what their ship was made of.

And  God knows what we’re made of - that’s why I find a comfort in this verse.  I especially like the New Living Translation:

He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.

God made our hearts - in Hebrew leb (a word that occurs almost 600 times in the Bible) it is used in Biblical (as well  contemporary) language to refer to the inmost self, the seat of emotions and thought.  Klingons likewise use the word tIQ, the literal heart, to refer to the seat of self.  Though never a really scientific term, it has a clear meaning, the “center, the essence” of one’s self.  AND GOD KNOWS IT - HE MADE IT.

What a gift it is to recognize that God knows us thoroughly, inside and out.  He knows what we’re made of.  He loves us, he understands us better than I can hope to understand a spaceship by building a model - even if I built the real thing, I’d not understand the ship better than God knows us.

He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.

And, in the day of trouble, in the day of sorrow He is the one to whom we can open our tIQ, our heart!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chosen - wIvpu'

ghurtaH ghaH the Hatlh 'Iv joH'a' ghaH joH'a', the ghotpu 'Iv ghaH ghajtaH wIvpu' vaD Daj ghaj inheritance.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance.    Psalm 33:12
(Click for podcast)

Do you remember playing a game - say baseball or soccer - and “choosing up sides?”  Waiting for the team leaders to pick the members of their team.  And do you remember what it’s like to be picked, chosen to be on the team you really, REALLY, wanted to be on?  Then you have a window to the impact of this verse from Psalm 33.

The people God chooses - the  “nation” …. “he has chosen for his own....” are HAPPY - ashri, the word usually translated as “blessed” - happy in the way you or I might remember  at being chosen for that team long ago.  Happy because we’ve been chosen to be part of a team, part of something greater than our self.   And this is the kind of happiness, of blessing God’s people know.

The word for chosen here is בָּחַר bachar and it occurs over 150 times in the Bible.  From a root meaning to try, by implication, to select, that is choose, it is translated with terms like: acceptable, appoint, choose (choice), excellent, join, be rather, require.  The word is used for God’s choices as well as human one (and not just good human choices).  

And the Word does present humans as having a choice.  From Moses’ command “choose life, that you may live,” or Joshua calls out “choose you this day whom you will serve,” to the Gospel declaration “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name,” Scripture makes clear that our walk through life involves choice - decisions every day on which path we will follow.

How do we balance God’s choice and ours?  Do we need to focus on one and deny the other?

I think the Klingon answer (and my own) would be ghobe’ - no,.  This is the richness of Scripture - that a paradox (God chooses/ Humans choose) is needed to describe how we move in relation to God.  Some of the tension comes from our time-bound nature.  Far better is to start with the principle that God chooses to love, to open his Kingdom to all.

Certainly he acts - to choose - individuals and nations to carry out his will, but he chooses this to extend his love to ALL people.  

vaD joH'a' vaj loved the qo', vetlh ghaH nobta' Daj wa' je neH puqloD, vetlh 'Iv HartaH Daq ghaH should ghobe' chIlqu', 'ach ghaj eternal yIn.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.John 3:16

What a perfect way to balance God’s choice (He chose to love, he  chose to give his Son), and ours, (choosing to accept his love, his grace).  He chose to love - the whole cosmos - and we can be happy, happy to be blessed to be wIvpu’, chosen by him.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

qeS - Counsel

 joH'a' brings the qeS vo' the tuqpu' Daq pagh. ghaH chen the thoughts vo' the ghotpu' Daq taH vo' ghobe' effect.    The qeS vo' joH'a' stands fast reH, the thoughts vo' Daj tIq Daq Hoch DISmey.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing.
 He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
 The counsel of the LORD stands fast forever,
 the thoughts of his heart to all generations.   Psalms 33:10-11

(click for podcast version)

Here are some thoughts about what I don't think these verses are  saying, and why I think the Bible - especially the language of the Psalms would connect with Klingons.

First - I don't think this passage is necessarily saying "the nations" have nothing to offer - that their culture, their values, their ideals are simply chaff.  That might be the idea you would get if you read only the first verse, regarding how God brings their thoughts and counsel to nothing.  But only the most ignorant person would not know there IS rich culture and history among the peoples of the world.

And the good things found among the peoples of the world are part of God's blessings to them - they are the gifts that the Almighty bestows on "the rich and poor" alike.

But taken together with the next verse we see that the psalmist is giving us a contrast, making a statement about the relative worth of our cultures against the measure of eternity.

This is an example of something I think would resonate with Klingons - the way the Scriptures in a blunt, earthy way make a point.  It isn't that the Word is presenting a parochial, jingoistic anti-foreigner jibe - we're being reminded that, against eternity, the only thing that lasts will be what is rooted in God.  The White House, Pentagon, Kremlin, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Sphinx... whatever monument to humanity you name - they will not last.

In Klingon there is a construction called the law'/puS construction - from the words for "many" and "few" -  they set a framework to say X is law' (many)/Y is puS (puS) - in other words, X is better than Y.  You might put these verses as "God's thoughts law', Human's thoughts puS."

I think it is also worth noting that the first verse speaks of the counsel (qeS in Klingon, which translates the Hebrew `etsah) of NATIONS and thoughts of PEOPLE - using the same Hebrew words, goy and am, which are used in Psalm 117 - the shortest chapter of the Bible, which is a universal call to ALL people to unite in praising God.  Probably a coincidence - but one that to me underlines the point here - not a dismissal or insult to the people of the world, but a but a reminder that we need to anchor our thoughts and plans not to our own selves, but to the Creator who loves us and who offers us a refuge that will NOT fail.

 joH'a' brings the qeS vo' the tuqpu' Daq pagh. ghaH chen the thoughts vo' the ghotpu' Daq taH vo' ghobe' effect.    The qeS vo' joH'a' stands fast reH, the thoughts vo' Daj tIq Daq Hoch DISmey.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing.
 He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
 The counsel of the LORD stands fast forever,
 the thoughts of his heart to all generations.   Psalms 33:10-11

Saturday, April 21, 2012

ra'ta' - Commanded

vaD ghaH jatlhta', je 'oH ghaHta' ta'pu'.  ghaH ra'ta', je 'oH Qampu' firm
For he spoke and it was done.  He commanded, and it stood firm.   Psalm 33:9

Picture this:
You are a crewmember of a Klingon bird of prey.  Your captain turns to you and...  what do you do?  Well, if you are a wise Klingon, you probably will say:

chay' jura'?   What are your orders?

Klingons take command (and commanders) seriously.  So much so, in fact, that within Klingon military culture, a commander who cannot hold his command is fair game - advancement in rank to commander may happen when a subordinate officer challenges and defeats his or her commander.   A commander perceived as weak will never last.  While this does not appeal to most humans - it's guaranteed to develop a leadership class that gets things done.  Commands are obeyed.  The Klingon commander will be as the psalmist here describes God:   For he spoke and it was done.

The Bible likewise takes command seriously     - God's commands are so sure, they are the foundation of creation - as we read in the very beginning of Genesis:God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  Or as this psalm puts it:

vaD ghaH jatlhta', je 'oH ghaHta' ta'pu'.  ghaH ra'ta', je 'oH Qampu' firm
For he spoke and it was done.  He commanded, and it stood firm.   Psalm 33:9

The Klingon word here for "commanded" is ra'ta' - ra', command, plus the suffix ta', done.   This translates the Hebrew "tsvah," command,  a word that is familiar in it's noun form "mitzvah" - commandment, used in the familiar bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah - son or daughter of the commandment.  Perhaps in Klingon we'd say puqbe' ra'ta' or puqloD ra'ta', commanded daughter or son, to carry the same idea - to be a child of the commandments, that is, one who willingly enters into the life commanded for believers.

Here's an interesting difference - for the testimony of Scripture is that creation is God's sure work - the immediate, sure and unfailing result of his commands.  But when it comes to US - obedience to these commands is far less sure or certain, isn't it?  It seems we need to participate, we have to choose to follow and obey.  That's why the attainment of the rite of confirmation, or believer baptism, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah or altar call are so pivotal in the life of the believer - the moment when God's command is obeyed in our lives completes the action:

For he spoke .....................and it was done.

Does this mean God's command IS resistable, that he ISN'T an infallible commander?

I don't think so.  We obey, we follow we say "chay' jura'?"  because HE commands.  We become his children, the children of his commandments BECAUSE he commanded, not because we responded.  We're fooling ourselves if we imagine that our ability to respond is something we conjured up on our own - it is his grace, his gift, again - the power of God's speaking his word into our lives:

vaD ghaH jatlhta', je 'oH ghaHta' ta'pu'.  ghaH ra'ta', je 'oH Qampu' firm
For he spoke and it was done.  He commanded, and it stood firm.   Psalm 33:9

Rejoice - God calls you, commands you!  O Lord, chay' ju'ra'?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hoch - This means YOU!

  chaw' Hoch the tera' taHvIp joH'a'. chaw' Hoch the nganpu' vo' the qo' Qam Daq awe vo' ghaH. 

 Let all the earth fear the LORD.  Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  ps 33:8

How do you imagine that Klingons recruit?

I think, though I don't know, that it would be direct, not some sweet winsome wooing or promise of reward.  I picture it more as

yIqIm!     /  Attention
qaneH  / I need YOU!
DaH!  /   NOW!
SoHvaD Dochvam /   THIS MEANS YOU!

Military recruitment, or proposal of marriage - that's the sort no-nonsense approach I imagine would be the Klingons.  Particularly SoHvaD Dochvam /   THIS MEANS YOU!

  chaw' Hoch the tera' taHvIp joH'a'. chaw' Hoch the nganpu' vo' the qo' Qam Daq awe vo' ghaH. 

 Let all the earth fear the LORD.  Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  ps 33:8

The word here "all" is one of those happy (however rare) cases where the KLV is right on - ALL in this verse, in Hebrew KOL, nicely is translated here as the Klingon Hoch.  The Psalmist here speaks of ALL, that is everyone, everybody - in other words SoHvaD Dochvam /   THIS MEANS YOU!

Consider what Spurgeon observes about this verse:

The psalmist was not a man blinded by national prejudice, he did not desire to restrict the worship of Jehovah to the seed of Abraham. He looks for homage even to far off nations.
We hear this through the Psalms:

joH'a' DichDaq ghurmoH maH. Hoch the ends vo' the tera' DIchDaq taHvIp ghaH. 
God will bless us. All the ends of the earth shall fear him.  Ps 67.7

lalDan toy' joH'a' Daq le' array. Tremble qaSpa' ghaH, Hoch the tera'. 
Worship Yahweh in holy array. Tremble before him, all the earth. Ps 96.9

SoHvaD Dochvam /   THIS MEANS YOU!

There are two dimensions to this:  The scripture reminds us again and again that ALL will be judged and ALL are called:

    vaD maH must Hoch taH 'angta' qaSpa' the yoj seat vo' Christ
     For we must all be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ; 2Co 5:10
    ( Mt 25:32; Ac 17:31; Ro 2:16; 14:12; 2Co 5:10; Re 20:12)

  SoHvaD Dochvam /   THIS MEANS YOU!  But this  isn't a bad news story - because the same Bible also tells us:

 vaD pa' ghaH ghobe' distinction joj Jew je Greek; vaD the rap joH ghaH joH vo' Hoch, je ghaH rich Daq Hoch 'Iv ja' Daq ghaH.
 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call on him. Ro 10:12

   ( Joh 3:16; 10:16; Ro 10:12; 1Ti 2:4)

 So call on Him today!  SoHvaD Dochvam /   THIS MEANS YOU!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Known or Nobody

Podcast Version

Thanks to Think-a-Tron and Digicomp I, I can happily claim to have worked with computers for something like forty years. From the days of those toy computers to today I've used punch cards, paper tape, magnetic tape and disks, compact disks, and now, small flash-ram "jump drives" to store and retrieve information. We've seen the same progress with our music. From vinyl to eight track and cassette tapes to compact disks and mp3 players, every year seems to bring a new way to record our tunes.

We can't imagine what will be used in the future. Though we can assume the obvious: things will continue to hold more and more data in smaller and smaller devices.

Yet these improvements introduce a problem: as older storage techniques become obsolete, we may lose access to important information. It seems funny to think that we have scientific data from the 1960's that is becoming inaccessible. We still possess the records - but as time goes on we're losing the ability to read them.

vaD joH'a' SovtaH the way vo' the QaQtaHghach
'ach the way vo' the mIgh DIchDaq chIlqu'.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked shall perish. Psalm 1:6

To be known by our God - or perish. This is the contrast presented by the last verse of Psalm 1. It is a difference in outcome that I think we see with computers and music. Not many people are prepared to listen to an 8 track, or read a program off of a paper tape: information kept those ways is perishing.

But the things worth knowing, worth keeping, have been preserved. Copied from tape to disk to chips - and who knows? In the future, maybe kiloquad isolinear storage chips, or whatever the Federation uses. As long as the information is kept in a readable form, it won't perish: it will be known.

This psalm was another case where the KLV lexicon needed help. In particular I lacked a word for "perish."abad the Hebrew word, carries the idea of "to wander away, i.e. lose oneself; by implication to perish." So I used the Klingon word chIl, to be lost, and added the intensive suffix -qu'. mIgh DIchDaq chIlqu' : that is, the wicked shall be utterly lost.

What does this mean? I think the Psalm is reminding us that there are two ways ahead of us. As we look through all of our tomorrows and into eternity, what is ahead? Here we see the way of the righteous - the life of the blessed that this psalm describes, or the way of the wicked, those who scoff and turn their backs on God.

To be known and not be discarded - the promise of such a future is the confidence we can find in Psalm 1. There is security in being known by the Lord. It is like the prophet Nahum reminds us:

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7

Friday, February 10, 2012


(note: this was originally podcast in 2005)
podcast version

As I wrote this, space enthusiasts around the world are waiting to hear the fate of Cosmos 1, the first attempt to launch a solar sail powered spacecraft. The prognosis isn't looking too good right now. Almost no communications have been received since launch. Most evidence points to a failed launch - at best a lower orbit than planned. This exciting project used a decommissioned Soviet missile as a launch vehicle and was run by a combination of international teams headed by the Planetary Society. They are pioneering the most efficient technology we know to head out to the planets, and the best to get to the stars!

However, first we have to get the project under way, first we have to - literally - get it off the ground. (Well, okay, off the water - they used a sub to launch the rocket.)

vaj the mIgh DIchDaq ghobe' Qam Daq the yoj
Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment Psalm 1:5

Those words in Psalm 1 speak of "getting off the ground," too. We hear that the wicked shall not Qam or stand (the Hebrew word is quwm which means 'to rise.') In other words, we're talking about rising up, taking one's place: taking a stand. This verse echoes the beginning of the psalm, where we heard that a blessed person won't hang around with the wicked, won't "stand in the way of sinners." Now we hear that - ultimately - the wicked won't stand either. That is, they will not be able to stand alongside the blessed, or be accepted Daq the tay' ghotpu' vo' the QaQtaHghach, "in the congregation of the righteous."

In another psalm we hear the question:

Who may ascend to the LORD’s hill?
Who may stand in his holy place? Psalm 24:3

Who indeed? If we wish to lift off, to rise up before the Lord, and following him to sail beyond merely the planets and the stars, then I think the Psalmist is directing to consider what stand we take in our lives today. We can't do it ourselves. Just as a spacecraft can't get into orbit without a sufficient booster - our ability alone won't lift us up to stand in the judgment.

St. Paul notes this, quoting the Hebrew scriptures, when he wrote to the Ephesians:
That is why the Scriptures say,
'When he ascended to the heights,
he led a crowd of captives
and gave gifts to his people.'

Paul goes on to say:

Notice that it says 'he ascended.'

This means that Christ first came down to the lowly world in which we
live. The same one who came down is the one who ascended higher than
all the heavens, so that his rule might fill the entire universe. Eph 4:8-10 NLT

If you want to rise up, to take your stand with the one whose rule fills the universe - you'll need to follow the advice of Psalm 1: Avoid accepting, and participating with what is wrong. Give your time and attention to the scriptures that tell us what is right.

But your effort isn't enough. We need to accept the gift, the grace of the one who can make us stand, and lift us higher than all the heavens.

Are you ready for liftoff?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Blown Away!

The mIgh 'oH ... rur the yub nuq the SuS drives DoH.
The wicked are ... like the chaff which the wind drives away. Psalm 1:4

podcast version

Picture for a moment what you consider to be your enemies. Imagine them before you. Consider those who represent to you, the most formidable villains. This is the wicked, the rishaim in Hebrew, or mIgh in Klingon. These are the adversaries of all that was described in the first three verses of Psalm 1. In this psalm we have read that the blessed person will refuse to join in with the wicked. We've heard that these blessed ones who dwell on God's words will flourish like a well rooted tree. Such a blessed person will endure.

The psalmist now turns back to consider the other side of the coin: the wicked. These are those who rur the yub SuS drives DoH (are like the chaff the wind drives away).

Chaff: Not a familiar term in an increasingly urban world. This verse depends on our knowing that grains like wheat actually have to be processed, crushed so the outer cover of the the grain, this chaff, can be thrown away.

These words assure us that ultimately the threat of the wicked is insubstantial. Their works will not last. Perhaps reflecting on this Psalm, one ancient writer wrote:

"The hope of the wicked is like
thistledown blown by the wind
or like foam blown by a storm.
It is like smoke dissipated by the wind,
It is soon forgotten..." (Wisdom 5:14)
The wicked, however powerful they may seem, will finally be blown away, leaving no trace.

I would say that the duties of believers includes helping one another remember this. We need to support each other in the face of the most crushing defeats of life. Defeats that we cannot always avoid. Remember, the process of separating the wheat from the chaff meant crushing the grain so that the worthless chaff is removed.

The Hebrew word for chaff, mowts, is rendered here with the Klingon word 'yub.' yub refers to something like the rind or shell of a naH, a fruit or nut. It's the part you throw away. And I like to think about how with grain, this "throwing away" is accomplished by simply letting the wind carry it off. It underlines to me how flimsy these enemies, the wicked, ultimately are. Like shutting down a hologram projection, they will be gone completely.

There is more to think about here. The contrast presented, the "wicked" versus the "blessed," represents the choice each of us faces in life. Considering this verse, one writer notes:

"Chaff is very light and is carried away by even the slightest wind, while the good grain falls back to the earth. Chaff is a symbol of a faithless life that drifts along without direction. Good grain is a symbol of a faithful life that can be used by God. Unlike grain, however, we can choose the direction we will take." (Life Application Bible)

yub naH ghap? Chaff or wheat? Which will you, and I, choose to be?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Live Long and Prosper!

'Iv Sornav je ta'taH ghobe' wither. Whatever ghaH ta'taH DIchDaq chep.
whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper Psalm 1:3b

podcast version

Vulcans are not Klingons. The Klingon language's words for hello (nuqneH) and goodbye (Qapla') translate to "what do you want" and "success." Compare that to Vulcans in whose language the peaceful salute is:

tich tor ang tesmur / Live long and prosper
That sentiment, not often expressed in Klingon, is a good summation of Psalm 1, verse 3: The person who is blessed, who relies on God completely, will live long: ('Iv Sornav je ta'taH ghobe' wither: whose leaf also does not wither). Not having a word for "leaf," we use a compound here Sor (tree) nav (paper). The imagery calls to mind a tree, ever growing, yet never shedding its leaves - the Hebrew, lo yibool, says this tree's leaves  don't wilt or fall away.

And this blessed one "prospers": whatever ghaH ta'taH DichDaq chep in all they do, they prosper (NLT).

I think this is an interesting shift in the psalm. We've started speaking of a blessed person, then compared him to a tree and now we hear about "in all they do." Trees don't DO much of anything - they grow, and bear fruit. But they have no plans or tasks to carry out - it is clear we are talking about a person, and what it means for the person who seeks to follow God's word every day.

These verses echo the words of the book of Joshua that promised prosperity to the person who kept God's word always in mind and heart: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

Now, we must tread carefully with promises like this. It is easy to measure prosperity by wealth or possessions. This is not intent of Scripture. As Jesus said: "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole  world, and loses or forfeits his own self?" (Luke 9:25).

And we cannot measure a "long" life by a simple tally of years. Just because I've lived longer than someone doesn't mean my life surpasses theirs. A life can loom large with an impact that far outlasts the days numbered on a calendar. Believers look forward to something more - an existence in eternity, surely the promise that lies behind the psalmist's words.

So, as a Vulcan would say: tich tor ang tesumur - live long and prosper.

This is the path this psalm, indeed all the Bible draws us towards. And, to live long and prosper, we need to seek out the blessed life, a full life that leads to real prosperity: the riches of God's kingdom - forever.

Though a Klingon might not be inclined to say it - if they did read this Psalm, and find these promises here, they might indeed say:

tIqjaj yInlIj 'ej bIchepjaj

Live long and prosper

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life Signs!

ghaH DichDaq taH rur a Sor planted Sum the streams vo' bIQ
He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water Psalm 1:3a

podcast version

yInroHmey yIHotlh! Scan for life signs!

Anyone familiar with space exploration - particularly as practiced by the United Federation of Planets - knows that this a primary task when discovering a new world or a derelict ship. Facing the unknown, the quest for yInroH, life signs, is job number one.

Even today we see this. The first landers on Mars included automated chemical labs to detect Martian life. Most think this first attempt failed, though there are some who think life was found back in 1976. And now, the ships orbiting and the robots prowling on the red planet continue looking for life signs, especially in the form of water. Simple H20 that covers three quarters of our planet makes life possible on Earth - and it may well be so elsewhere.

What about you? If you are scanned for "life signs," what will be found? "Barren wilderness," "salty flats where no one lives?" That's how the book of Jeremiah describes people "who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the LORD." (Jeremiah 17:5 NLT).

In the third verse of Psalm 1, the author leaps from his description of a "blessed" person (doesn't hang out with the evil, dwells on God's word) into pure metaphor:

ghaH DichDaq taH rur a Sor planted Sum the streams vo' bIQ
He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water Psalm 1:3a

This is a good example of how nimbly the Bible can move from simple text into poetry. This picture of the blessed as a Sor, a tree, planted along the water resonates throughout Scripture. Jeremiah seems to quote or reflect these words when we read:

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Jeremiah 17:5-8a NLT

We seek for life signs, for these waters of life in our own existence. Where I live, it is spring at this moment. I'm sitting writing these words outside surrounded by a world that is green and full of life, a reminder of the kind of life everyone wants to experience.

Jesus speaks of this when he said "the water I give... becomes a .. spring within..., giving eternal life."(John 4:14 NLT )

It will be an exciting day when finally a space probe from Earth finds life out there. Maybe it will be on Mars or Titan orbiting Saturn. Perhaps it will be in a pool, or in some deep underground spring - water teaming with life never seen before.

But right now, today, yInroH wIleghlaH, we can see life signs, within ourselves if only we turn to the one who can lead us to the river of life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mumble & Mutter!

Daq Daj chut ghaH ja''eghqa'taH jaj je ram.

On his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2b)

podcast version

Okay, I admit it - I talk to myself! (Of course, with a spouse or some other close observer that is the kind of thing that is hard to keep a secret forever. )

I can explain this "talking to myself": it is a useful strategy for pushing things over from short-term memory to the long-term storage. Anyone on the far side of fifty can appreciate this. And it could be worse. I take comfort in something I was once told: "it's okay to talk to yourself - as long as you don't start answering."

"Talking to yourself" is usually taken to mean either you have no audience, or that you're completely cracked.  Maybe then it comes as a surprise that Psalm 1 admires just that action - in fact it seemes to be what the Bible admonishes us to do.

Turn to Psalm 1:2 and you'll learn that the blessed person:

ja''eghqa'taH jaj je ram - meditates day and night on God's law

The Hebrew word used here for meditate is "hagah," to murmur - the sense here is to review, rehearse, recite, and remember God's words by saying them over and over to oneself.

Originally 'meditate', not being a common word in the World English Bible (hardly more than a dozen times) was not included in the Klingon Language Version. Since working on these studies, I've added it, using the word "ja''eghqa'" to carry the meaning. "ja'," to report, "'egh," -to-oneself, and "-qa'," again: ja''eghqa': report-again-to-oneself, meditate.

By example, we're told in this psalm that it is vital to "ja''eghqa'" - repeat to oneself - God's word continually.

This is practical advice. Whether a grocery list or God's commandments - repeating the words fixes them in one's mind for easy retrieval. And why would we want to do that? Psalm 119 says it well:

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

This is bedrock: if you want to see the foundations for a life that is ghurtaH Quch 'ej, blessed and happy, you'll find it following this example: continually, recite, repeat, remember - ja''eghqa' God's words, till they become the touchstone by which you can measure and evaluate your life.

In college, I learned about this from a group called the Navigators, who are big proponents of memorizing scripture and meditating on it - they promote ja''eghqa' - though not by that name.

Try it yourself: find a good verse of scripture that speaks to you. Review and review it, till you know it backwards and forwards - I've found you gain more than just knowledge of a few lines of text. Instead you have a resource for your own reflection, ammunition for your own life of prayer. With a vocabulary rooted in the Word, and regular reflection on it, you may experience what is promised in the book of Joshua:

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.
Joshua 1:8

Friday, January 06, 2012

Delightful Law.

'ach Daj tIv ghaH Daq joH'a' chut.
but his delight is in Yahweh's law
psalm 1:2a

podcast version

Delight. Think for a moment about what gives you delight. Family? Travel? Sports? Chocolate? From deep to trivial, what delights us is as varied as we individuals are. Now, Psalm 1, when it turns from what the happy, the blessed person DOESN'T do, to what they DO do - maybe it comes as a bit of a surprise, when being blessed is tied to finding DELIGHT in LAW.

Law, to me, probably to most people who aren't lawyers - is NOT a subject that quickens the pulse. Yet, in Psalm 1 when we turn to what the blessed DO, we read:

Daj tIv ghaH Daq joH'a' chut - his delight is in Yahweh's law

Part of me rebels at this: "Law? Happiness is bound up in rules and regulations? No, thanks!"

But, wait - this isn't law in the abstract, or in any city, state or national sense. This is joH'a' chut - God's law.  This law is charged with a personal quality, a relationship. The specific Hebrew word used here may be a familiar one: Torah. Occurring over 200 times in the Hebrew scriptures, "torah," is commonly used to refer to  the "books of Moses," (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) but carries a much broader idea of God's instruction to his people. The word torah comes from a root, yarah, that means "to throw," the notion being to "throw out one's hand" to point something out, to instruct.

One writer says, "This shows that the end of the Law lay beyond the mere obedience to such and such rules, that end being instruction in the knowledge of God.., and guidance in living as the children of such a God as He revealed Himself to be. " [ISBE]

Part of my problem facing the word "law" here comes from perceiving it as dry words and nothing more. Yes, chut or "torah" encompasses law, as in legal rules, certainly, but also teaching - those things the Lord wants us to be doing. More than rules, this law draws in the whole living testimony of Scripture, set down as a way for us, and, as St. Paul says: " profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness," (2Tim 3:16). What is God pointing out NOW? Where is his hand directing me, TODAY?

Think of it this way: Your walk through life is a path with twists and turns. At times a tough uphill journey, sometimes a breakneck run. Without a companion, someone who can help you along the way, you are likely to get lost, or worse. When we see joH'a' chut, God's law, as the hand of one who walks alongside us in our journey through life, then we'll realize that this path can be an adventure, one where we won't take a wrong turn, nor miss any of the delightful things there are to enjoy along the way.