Friday, August 28, 2015

Language of God

I’m not usually known for my theological dissertations.  I leave that kind of stuff to my dear husband, the Astrophysicist, PhD, Book writing, Lay minister.  My comfort zone is in the day to day.

My favorite “religious quote” is; “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.”  This so explains why I seek to put my faith in the things I do with my hands, feet and heart.  Sadly lately I’ve felt like my feet are not working well and my hands are too sore to lift many up.  Needless to say I’ve felt like I had not been “preaching” much anymore.

Then the other day during one of our drives around town that my son and I disguise as errands, we began to talk about our faith and what we believed in from a spiritual point of view.  I will spare you a longish repetition of these revelations for now.  As I tried to explain to my son how I had come to this point in my life where I now refer to myself as a “doner”.  That is, I’m done with organized religion, but how this has not negatively affected my faith life.  I struggled to explain to him how I believe that in the end everyone’s god is God.  Bear with me here, there will be a chart.

Everyone in the world does not speak the same language.  We all of us grew up with different “cradle tongues” that is the language we grew up hearing and intuitively understanding. Even if we learn a different language later in life we will always struggle with translating the words we know into the words of our newly adopted means of communication.  Because it is very difficult to hear the words in your head that you want to say in the language you need to say them in. Your head wants to tell you those words in your cradle tongue. Just ask any linguist.

And then there are our cultures. Those myriad of traditions, sacred beliefs and histories that uniquely identify as belonging to that culture we are each born into.  Now a day’s people talk about cultural appropriation because people from different cultures feel they are being disrespected when someone imitates some part of their tradition, behavior or dress. These cultural aspects have as much influence on us as our cradle tongue.  Being yet another filter through which our brains consider what is going on around us.

So if you take into consideration the language and cultures that populate this world you begin to realize that there are thousands of ways of looking at the most simple of things, like the names for everyday items.

Every language and culture has a different word for the most common of things and in many cases many different cultural beliefs and traditions surrounding these common things.

If you look at the chart I’ve inserted below you will see that I have taken 5 common English words and translated them into 4 other random languages. (Armenian – A language far enough away from the common German, romance language influence found in English. Chinese (Simplified) - A world away from common English speaking cultures. Hindi – A language surrounded by so much cultural history. Spanish – Because everyone knows Charlemagne spoke “Spanish to God.”

I’ve listed each language’s translated word for a common item and included a very short cultural tradition note for each item in relation to that language.  Except for one, I did not attempt to find or would even begin to be able to list all of the cultural traditions surrounding the word god.  

With but a few minutes of Google searching May I present.

Language
English
Translation
Cultural Tradition
Armenian
Puppet
Տիկնիկային   (tiknikayin)
Children’s Learning, historical
Chinese
Puppet
木偶  (Mù'ǒu de)
Performing Art
Hindi
Puppet
कठपुतली  (Kaṭhaputalī)
A string marionette story telling
Spanish
Puppet
Marioneta
Folk art
Armenian
Wall
Պատ  (pat)
monumental defensive walls and city gates
Chinese
Wall
  (Qiáng)
information barrier
Hindi
Wall
दीवार  (Dīvāra)
Varied Functional & decorative traditions
Spanish
Wall
Pared
Art & Imagery
Armenian
Veil
Քող (k’vogh)
Wedding traditions
Chinese
Veil
  (Miànshā)
Red bridal veil
Hindi
Veil
परदा  (Paradā)
Middle Eastern head covering
Spanish
Veil
Velo
Mantillas & wedding tradition
Armenian
Child
Երեխա (yerekha)
Numerous cultural traditions
Chinese
Child
  (Háizi)
Numerous cultural traditions
Hindi
Child
बच्चा  (Baccā)
Numerous cultural traditions
Spanish
Child
Nino
Numerous cultural traditions
Armenian
God
Աստված  (astvats)
 
Chinese
God
  (Shàngdì)
 
Hindi
God
परमेश्वर  (Paramēśvara)
 
Spanish
God
Dios
 

But think about it, we all call God by a vast number of names because we have all come to our beliefs and the names we call it from where we started or in some cases from where we ended up. In the end no matter what traditions surround God, we all still believe in some power or entity of a divine nature. Even atheists believe that these cultural, linguistic beliefs are just beliefs and not evidence. But that is a topic for another blog.

So couldn’t it be possible that no matter what we all call God we all still have a God to believe in and shouldn’t that be the place to start?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Silk Grace

A year ago on Ash Wednesday I put a small woven piece of palm leaf around my wrist. And I wore that small crown of thorns through until Sunset on Easter day.  On Easter day I exchanged the frail dried wreath of palm for a braid of silk threads.  This reminder did not come off my wrist until this Ash Wednesday when I unceremoniously clipped if off my wrist. As Easter approaches of my 40 days with no crown of thorn or silk I find myself waxing quixotic for the daily reminder.

You see those two small bindings on my wrist were a daily reminder of my sins and God’s grace. For 40 days last year I bore the small discomfort of a dried braid around my wrist. And for 40 days this year I bore the great discomfort of not feeling the satin embrace of my Lord’s grace.


So when you ask me what I gave up for Lent next year I’ll show you.


Monday, September 22, 2014

So I've decided to use this site to try out the gratitude tips suggested by the Happiness Institute in their latest newsletter.  If you want to follow them go out to; www.thehappinessinstitute.com

Here are the tips;
"If you'd like to enjoy some or all of the benefits referred to (happiness, improved quality of life, better brain function and more) then try some of these simple but powerful tips...
  1. Find a mindfulness practice that works for you and practice it, stick at it daily, for at least a month
  2. Keep a gratitude journal writing down, daily, all those things in your life for which you're grateful
  3. Share those things in your life that make you "thankful";you can do this on The Happiness Institute's Facebook Page (HERE) and/or join our friends over at Project Thankful (HERE)
  4. Include, in as many conversations as possible, a focus on what's going well(rather than just what's not going well)
  5. And finally, just as it's important to focus on positives in life it's also important to screen out those things that unnecessarily cause distress or hurt."
So here goes...

1. I meditate and pray daily, Check
2. This is new - FB tends to be my negative journal.  So I'll have to strive to reduce or remove negative stuff.  Starting with "Friends" who post stuff that pushes my buttons. Or maybe this is #5?
3. Here is the really hard one. Even explaining how come it's hard would sound negative.
     (1) My son volunteering to drive me to work, because my car is in the shop today.
     (2) A young friend's complimentary description of me. Ah shucks! blushes.
     (3) For reaching that time in my life when my free time is my own. No more having to squeeze "Me time" between work, soccer matches and Parent Teacher meetings.
4. I was thinking I need more of those positive posters around to remind me to do this step.
5. See 2. 

See you later,,,,