Write what you need to

Inspiration from another blogger about the need in writers to write. I post this here simply to hope that I inspire another to write about something you feel you really want to say, or need to get out. It can be cathartic, and therapeutic, believe me. A writer MUST write, in more ways than one.

This poem was written 3 years ago, and came out of the blue from a writing group exercise, but once it was finished in about 10 minutes, it was complete:

I DON’T WANT TO REMEMBER HIM

I don’t want to remember him.
How we sat in his kitchen,
His son, my friend and I, with him
over coffee
and laughed until midnight.
I don’t want to; not now.
 
I don’t want to remember him.
The night my car broke down,
he came out and towed me back
to his garage. In the pit
we worked until 2am.
On that freezing night
until that clutch was fixed.
I don’t want to; not now.
 
I don’t want to remember him.
How he laughed and laughed
at my Halloween costume;
A home-made ‘Cousin It’,
and joined in the fun.
The coolest dad I knew then.
I don’t want to; not now.
 
I don’t want to remember him.
How his daughter, in our band,
practising in his attic,
wanted to sing “Oh, Daddy” to him.
I don’t want to; not now.
 
Not now I know
what things he did,
in the dark,
to his own children.
 
5/11/09.

Grace be with you.

God forgive me!

Sitting up late here reading up on the new Archbishop of Canterbury (who seems to be a good evangelical and a good man, so far), I rediscovered my post here from MORE THAN 5 WEEKS AGO, where I called for support for the defence lawyer who managed to get Pastor Nadarkhani released (Mohammad Ali Dadkhah). I said I would lobby Iran as I did over the Christian Pastor, but so far, I have allowed other things to distract me. May God forgive me for my hypocrisy and neglectfulness in NOT acting so swiftly on something I said I would, and for a man who deserves as much support as our persecuted brethren. He may not be a fellow Christian, but he is still a great man and a hero. I WILL write to the Iranian embassy tomorrow (it IS late). Please do the same, readers.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/iran-must-release-human-rights-defender-mohammad-ali-dadkhah-2012-10-01

Grace be with you.

Support Israel! Why?

Last night at church, yet again, we were exhorted to support Israel in its struggle against the surrounding Arab nations. Again I wondered to myself: Why? What reason is there for Christians to support a foreign nation that believes in a false religion, against other foreign nations that believe in a false religion? Do you want me to say that again? Has it sunk home? Judaism is just as false as Islam. Both religions have rejected Christ as saviour. If we are true evangelicals, then there is light and dark, truth and untruth, and truth is in Jesus Christ. No, He IS The Truth! Paul had to make his stand clear and unequivocal when he turned from Judaism and embraced his new faith in Christ. Many tried to impose the law on Christian believers, and make them just a sect of Judaism (the Judaisers), but Paul opposed them to their faces, and wrote what is probably his angriest letter to the Galatians about these people. Read the entire book with the understanding that he is writing with rage. I would recommend The Message, since it captures the anger very well, though be mindful that it is a paraphrase and not a true translation. Christians who start to support Israel often end up trying to justify everything about them, then embrace Old Testament law and trappings, like religious feasts, and finish where John Hagee is now, saying that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God!! Be wary lest ye trip!

Many cite prophecies in scripture about Israel and the end times, as if that means that Israel the nation is in God’s will, and his eye is upon them. That comes down to interpretation; many others looking at Israel in the end times will point elsewhere, or claim metaphorical identity with the name of Israel. Are we not all Israel who believe in Christ? Meaning those of us who are adopted sons of Abraham, through the promise given by Isaac, as Paul outlines in Romans 9 so succinctly? Interpretation of end times prophecies (eschatology) is so vast and all-encompassing, nobody has a right to stand on their particular stance and deny all others: to do so is vain and narrow-minded (yet another blog!). To this argument I say, if God has a plan for the nation of Israel, let him get on with it; he doesn’t need our assistance or interference with that.

So am I denying succour to the innocents killed by Palestinian terrorists? Not at all! Let me state this: I am pro-right and anti-wrong. The attacks on Israel by whomever, the PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. should and must stop. Innocents are dying. It is reprehensible and indefensible. But actions taken by Israel against Palestinian civilians is just as bad. Their idea of dealing with a suicide bomber is to find the house where they came from and bulldoze it (and maybe the rest of the street) to the ground. What other army has armoured bulldozers? Or worse still, just blow it to bits with a helicopter gunship. Never heard of this? I’m not surprised, since our media is downright biassed, and NOT on the side of the Arabs. I watched the BBC evening news a few years ago when the headline was how a young Palestinian woman had strapped a bomb to herself and blown up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 6 people. Near the end of the news, the presenter said “today, Israel launched an attack on a house in the Gaza strip by helicopter gunship, destroying those inside. They said it was the centre of a bomb-making operation”, and that was it! No reporting, investigation or analysis! With the miracle of my Freesat rewind live TV, I went back to the start and timed the first report: 3 minutes. The report on Israel’s ‘retaliation’ was barely more than 10 seconds. Had I not seen it myself, I would never have believed it, but there are forces in the world to uphold and bolster Israel at all costs, particularly to the US taxpayer, since Israel receives more US foreign aid than any other country in the world, yet there are poor countries that could do with it. This unilateral bolstering of Israel really is one of the reasons we have such militant Islamic terrorists in this world, hellbent on the destruction of the US.

When I hear of walls erected around parts of the West Bank and Gaza, in order to control the influx of suicide bombers, I immediately think “what if we had erected an 8-metre high wall around West Belfast during our ‘troubles’ for the same reason? Would it have been right to subject all the citizens there to effective imprisonment and security gates 24/7 to justify controlling a violent minority? NO! There is right and wrong, and again I will say I am pro-right and anti-wrong. When I hear Israeli soldiers recounting how they chased down a 14-year old Palestinian boy who was throwing stones at them, and how they beat him to death with their rifle butts, and hear them laugh, should I just say “well, he deserved it”? I may as well say he was just a dirty Arab, and that they’re all guilty by association, or even by birth. That sounds very like many here, who felt that “the only good fenian (Roman Catholic) is a dead fenian” (and some still do).

We need to open our eyes, folks. Such issues are complex, never just a partisan matter of who’s wrong and who’s right, and being informed about it instead of supporting one side unequivocally HAS to be the Christian way. If we follow He Who IS The Truth, then we should always seek and support the truth. I denounce the killing of innocent civilians in a foreign nation by invaders, therefore I support the Israeli people against the militant Arab leaders, and I also support the thousands of innocent Iraqi people killed, against the leaders of the nations that invaded them, including my own.

Postscript: 19th Sept. – I am so glad to have seen on the ITV news how the most recent attack on Tel-Aviv was covered from both sides. People enjoying a sunny day on the beach in Tel-Aviv running for cover from a missile fired from over the border, thankfully shot down by Israeli fire before it could land, AND the scene at a Palestinian hospital where adults and children were severely injured by an Israeli attack (or defence or retaliation – you choose the word you wish, but children were still injured!). BOTH sides were wrong in this situation IMHO.

Grace be with you.

2KJV2

Here’s something I discovered very recently….

When I was recuperating in the hospital ward following my brain haemorrhage, I had some really nice fellowship with an older brother in the bed next to me, who was from the Brethren assemblies. He shared some good and some funny stories with me. One thing he let me into was how elders within his denomination mark out young men for ministry: if they pray to God, addressing Him with ‘thou, thee and thy’, it showed respect and propriety. He agreed how ridiculous it was but stated that was how many of them made judgements. Safe to say that they’re not the only church or denomination to have quirks like this!

In my Linguistics Masters, I am doing a module on the history of the English language. I was surprised to discover that up to around the 17th century or so, Middle English had two forms of you – plural you, and singular thou. Just as in French up to the present day, these were used in dual settings i.e. the plural used for formal addressing and introductions with strangers, and the singular reserved for informal greetings with friends and family. Tyndale, one of the pioneering translators of the early 16th century, realised that scripture tells us how informal we can be approaching God. We can say ‘Abba’, which means ‘Daddy’ (Mark 14:36; Rom.8:15; Gal.4:6). Tyndale made a conscious decision to use the informal singular form thou, thee, thy and thine in passages where someone addresses God. The compilers of the KJV decided to use a lot of Tyndale’s great work, long after he had been martyred for his faith, and retained this usage that he enshrined for eternity.

How ironic is it that now, many see this usage as archaic and formal, and ‘respectful’ towards God, when it actually stands as testimony to our INFORMALITY and familiarity with our Daddy in heaven?

Grace be with you.

2KJV or not to?

I have never used the King James Version (KJV), or Authorised Version as it is sometimes called. My mother had an old dusty one in our house and I pulled it out and read it as a child, and so much of it I just did not understand. In school we prayed “Our Father, we chart in heaven, hollow be thy name…” (well, at least I did!) and I wondered why I was made to sing that The Lord was my shepherd, but I’ll not want him. The language is just so old-fashioned. I was once handed a tract on a city street that read “We must needs die” – now that syntactical form doesn’t exist today in any form of English that I know of! At the SU camp where I was saved, I had bought a New International Version (NIV) paperback before I even made the decision; it read just like a story book, the text flowed, and the meaning was clear. God’s word should impart to us easily and move our thinking and emotions. This is what the translators fought for against Rome centuries ago. Some even died for it: the right to have the word of God in your own language. That meant intelligible reading, not like ancient Latin that only priests understood.

This was the very aim of the KJV, and it succeeded. It became one of the most popular books ever published, and left its brilliant legacy for generations. It was a triumph for the gospel, and forms a part of our shared literature as much as Shakespeare, if not more. I shall give it due praise and  revere it as a historical landmark for the gospel and the English language. But that is what it is to me: historical. We have classes devoted to the reading of Shakespeare and Chaucer that look at the ancient forms of our language in academic terms, trying to interpret the old language forms and tracing the changes over time. The KJV fits into this, so leave it there. Speakers of 21st century English are hard-pressed to grasp it, so read to them from all the newer versions. There are MANY to choose from, and yes, some are better than others. You need to understand just how they work, their pros and cons, etc.

There is NO perfect translation; meaning can be hard to convey over different languages. But the KJV is NOT a particularly good one, to be honest. It is too literal rather than meaning-based. For example, if I said to a French speaker “you’re pulling my leg” it would make no sense to them. Their equivalent expression is “take my eye” with an attending gesture of the hand removing your own eyeball.

And there is a portion of the KJV that should not be there! Erasmus (a priest and scholar who advocated reform within the Catholic church) was compiling his Textus Receptus, consisting of all the original Greek texts of the New Testament; this was used to form the base of the Lutheran Bible, Tyndale’s work, and the KJV. Erasmus could not find 1 John 5:7 in any of the ancient texts and put out a call to all scholars to find one. A well-meaning monk decided such a verse of scripture should not be lost so back-translated it from the Latin Vulgate to Greek and sent it to Erasmus. That verse has NEVER been found in any Greek manuscript dating before the 16th century! It should not be there.

Sorry if I bursted someone’s bubble, but the KJV is NOT the be-all and end-all version of scripture to warrant deliberate ignorance of all others, or even their detriment.

Grace be with you.