I recently called an old friend that I have known for decades. The conversation got around to her granddaughter who was going to grade school at a Greek Orthodox school. Her granddaughter was learning Greek at a very young age. “That’s great.” I said. I then added “that’s one of the things wrong with America these days. They don’t teach the classical languages, Latin or Greek anymore...”
Well the way I think, I remember that Jefferson, among others, knew at least a half dozen languages including Latin and Greek.
So when I hear a typical carnie evangelical talk about this being a christian nation and the founding fathers meant this or that and so on and so forth about the U.S. Constitution, I get a little bewildered.
This strange logic is in keeping with the Bible being the exact and unerring word of God, foregoing any explanations of translations from Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Greek into English (17th Century) to English (20th Century) to go on and on.
I find it annoying lately about these telly evangelicals living in their eighteen thousand square foot homes telling the audience that Jesus meant this when he said that and he meant that when he said this...etc.
Having been an elder in a small congregation, I understand the need to raise funds. Selling a New York Times best seller for seven or eight dollars above retail to the congregation is an acceptable means to me to get some chump change together to help pay the church's electricity bill.
There is one book that comes to mind that I never could read or understand. The title is The Purpose Driven Life. I am not totally knocking it. Success has many surprising parents. I think that there are a dozen or so concepts and the author pushed “word search” on his word processor using a biblical data base. The word search categorized the concepts with tithing at the top of the list as to what God and Jesus wants us to do to have a fulfilling life.
So I tell someone that I do not understand this book that is explaining the bible to me and that person says that I should buy the workbook and attend classes to understand what a purpose driven life is. So let me get this straight. I need a workbook to understand the book that explains what God and Jesus really meant about this phrase or concept or that.
Hey, I read my bible and if I don’t understand one particular passage or that, I do some research.
I will in no way tell any other Christian what they should believe or not believe and I will always use the subjunctive tense to say what I think something in the Bible might mean and within the framework of a lifetime’s exposure to a sacred and secular – Christian culture.
Getting away from my frustration of looking at a media circus and snake oil and former used car salesmen explaining what Jesus really really meant - I escape back to something quite simple to get into the flavor and nature of the Christ.
There is a line by the late comedian Milton Berle about how “laughter is an instant vacation”.
Many times a person such as myself wants an instant retreat from the world or reminder of the simplicity of, and want to touch (retouch), the true spirit of Jesus.
With that in mind I turn to the beginning of Matthew 5 and read the Sermon on the Mount which contains the Beatitudes.
I also prefer the King James Version to hear the sometime poetic flow of Shakespearian like English and the spirit of a great many scholars translating from many ancient and dead languages to keep the words of Jesus alive to this day:
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil...
( do you need another book or a workbook to understand the preceding ? I don’t think so. )