Muddying the Waters

The version of the Christian Bible one chooses is a legitimate option, but everyone should consider the difference between translations, versions, and paraphrases.

“Version” is the simple and generic term for all types. This includes the King James, New King James, New American Standard, New International, Darby, Young’s, Revised Standard, and so on.

Translations are of two types. First, there are those done by groups of scholars, with the intent of bringing the original languages to the contemporary reader. These are by far the most reliable because they have the consensus of scholarly expertise.

Second, there are translations done by a single scholar with the same intent. Examples of these are Darby’s, Young’s Literal, and Moffatt’s New Testament. These contain cutting-edge interpretations of the original languages, but they do not have the benefit of peer-evaluation.

Paraphrases are usually wordy attempts to bring the reader several shades of meaning. The reader is handicapped by these versions if a personal word study is not undertaken by the reader.

Paraphrases are not translations. Translations are, like the original languages, everyday expressions of concepts. Literal and amplified works give the reader the sense that all possible interpretations have been presented. Authoritative interpretation depends on much more than the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew words. Of equal importance are (1) the grammatical structure of the sentence (2) the kinds of action contained in the verbs, and (3) the context (placement in the text and placement in history).
How can the reader arrive at confidence in interpreting and applying the Sacred Texts?

First the reader can avoid simply following commentaries. Centuries of error have been perpetuated by Christians accepting the reflections of commentators.

Secondly, the reader must prayerfully approach the study of the Bible. This means having confidence in the One who inspired the texts in the first place, the Holy Spirit

Finally, the reader must use the tools that are available. These include Grammars and Lexicons of Biblical Hebrew and Greek. Study of the text itself is vital.

    Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2Ti 2:15

Teamwork: what Indecency

Handling the tension between team and personal interests must be one of the most difficult passages in life.  It would be simple if all that’s required was personal performance, but personal performance, when successful does not end in team recognition.  Teams are not stars.  Isn’t that why winning teams get a cup and the team members get rings or medals?  The indecency in teamwork shows up when a teams gets challenged or put under the microscope.  Then it seeks the cooperation of  the members, or does it?

Some people seem unable to understand the strength and benefits of the collective.  They seem to have the idea that teamwork is doing as little as they can, and looking for opportunities to gain advantage over their teammates.  Simple things elude them.  Replacing the empty toilet-paper roll, using a santi-spatter screen in the microwave , cleaning up after you’ve made a mess, and actually doing their assigned tasks.

The work in teamwork will always remain undone as long as humans have holidays, illness, inordinate bathroom breaks, casual chats, and unprioritized personal interests.

People who do not report for duty or fulfil their obligations have a right to declare themselves as failed, but that kind of decency is hard to find.  The next time you have an assignment take a good look at yourself and avoid the indecency of being silent about what you have not done and by all means refrain from accusing and badmouthing your teammates.  Do your job, consult (not the same as dictating), and give your teammates and the team a fighting chance.


Hogtown’s Animal Sensibilities

I have not seen our beloved police chief so angry and disturbed.  I imagined I saw a tear well up in his eye as he expressed one of the very deep emotions that Torontonians felt over the shooting spree.   Chief Bill Blair captured it well when he called the party-turned-into-shooting-spree a “very shocking incident”.  We know that a popular thought that follows many of these hurtful incidents has been either “NIMBY” or “WIMBY” (not in my backyard or why in my backyard), and the violence has touched every corner of Toronto.

A fragmented and failing approach to tackling crime has its roots in an hodge-podge picture of society, the so-called mosaic of Canadian society.  The budgets that are designed to be tough on crime have only resulted in increasing numbers of younger individuals involved in undisciplined and criminal behaviour.  In my circles we usually say that when you take God of out of the school and the home you take your life in your own hand: the result is inevitable disaster.  There has been no human government of note since Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, and all succeeding attempts at civilization have resulted in more physical trash and unpreccedented philosophical garbage.  It is at times like this where we begin to see what people’s real agendas are.

A familiar theme in law and order work is that if you put a lot of operatives in the field you will have a restraining effect on crime.  Another is that if you can outspend and outshoot the bad guys society will be safer.  Two world wars and a lot of nation-building have proved both ideas wrong and the best legislation cannot change the animal in men.  Even the honourable ladies and gentlemen of your community and mine have no easy task of staying above the fray of beastly behaviour.

Try as we might we cannot sterilize the truth about humanity.  We will fail to find the keys to a safer society if we continue to be a law unto to ourselves – seeing no standard outside of ourselves, and dreaming of being pioneers in civic society without renouncing and fixing our beastly past.

Most nations are on the verge of great advances in every field including the potential for unparalelled nobility.

Will the empire-builders and magnates ever face the fact that we have sown the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind?  Will individuals given to sober thinking, like our Chief of Police, consider that we have, to quote the prophet Amos (5:19), escaped from a lion and met bear, or that or we have entered a house (supposedly a place of safety), and supported ourselves with our hand on the wall, and found ourselves bitten by a serpent?
The mantra about the right to self-defence and governments’ right to protect are ringing hollow because we have been there and done that. Isn’t that why we have not achieved a lasting peace?
The doctor is on call and every citizen, including Torontonians had better wake up and face up to reality of our beastly sensitivies.

Elbert Joseph