After our week in Turkey two things have happened. I have lost the kebabs and beer “lbs” I added (plus a bit more), and I am about to begin Turkish language lessons (via skype).
On the body-mass issue – it is reassuring that we live a lifestyle that compensates for some indulgent living! On the language issue – the more we visit Turkey, the more we bump into “friends of friends” who have no need for English. And more and more I would like to be able to hear these lovely human beings (now becoming friends) in their own language. Because – understandably – those who do speak English/Turkish weary of being “piggy in the middle” – always being asked “how do I say that – what did he/she say – can you tell him/her” – from both directions. That is burden rather than “conversation”. That is work rather than “connection.”
Language is a funny thing. I keep seeing “language” being used and abused.
Over the past few months there have been (at least) two “demystifying the language of God” initiatives within my church (the institution). Initiatives to reach outside of the academic/cleric shorthand trained by theological colleges. And both have used that same “shorthand language” (a little dumbed down) for their intended audiences. And both have left me disappointed. The inability (without any apparent awareness) to “reach out and demystify” is quite depressing.
And then this “politics thing” …
I keep seeing observations, thoughts, shared “statuses” from those who extract a whiff of love from anywhere in the bible … anything of God … I keep seeing observations from these same “family of Christ” brothers and sisters …
Observations which trash and dismiss “human beings”. Human beings who are labelled and baggaged. Human beings who are painted with disdain and dismissal. Observed without an ounce of love or humanity to be found (or extracted). And all because of their politics, policies and preferences – a “different language” which is “mystifying” to those unable to hear. Yet I keep seeing that from the very same people who preach love (when they talk God).
How does that work? How does finding love stop and disdain take over? How can the language of love be used in the morning and that of dismissal in the afternoon? And just how does the language of the love of God get switched off and on at will?
My God Soft Hands Jesus is focusing me on “ordinary”. And this morning I find Him reaching out for “ordinary” language. To “demystify” language – of God and man – of England and Turkey – of America and England – of England and England – of “human beings” everywhere and anywhere.
Because if God is “everywhere in everything” – why do we “switch God off” (and on) to suit our own biases? Why do we choose when not to find a whiff of love everywhere and in everything (everyone)? How does that work?
I saw a video on Facebook some time ago (and God Soft Hands Jesus reminded me of that this morning). A former undercover CIA operative. It takes courage to listen to her words. To “hear” her words. She had this to say:
“While it may be easier to dismiss your enemy as evil – hearing them out on policy concerns is actually an amazing thing. Because so long as your enemy is a sub-human psychopath that’s going to attack you no matter what you do … ? This never ends. But if your enemy is a policy – no matter how complicated … ? That we can work with.”
Former Undercover CIA Officer Talks War And Peace
I wonder how much courage (as she says) we have for listening. I wonder how much desire we have for separating “policy” from “people”. I wonder how much we want to “demystify” language not just by “dumbing down” – but by learning to speak a new language – a language we have to learn – a language to listen.
And if we choose not to … are we not merely “using and abusing” God in the same way we accuse others of using and abusing God? Using labels, language, theology, academia, isolation and hate – are we not doing the same as we happily “mystify God”? And I wonder how much we REALLY want to “sniff a whiff” of love in everything everywhere.
Because I want to learn Turkish not to convert “them” – I want to learn Turkish to hear one person at a time – to understand and discover a new way of living – to hear of different hopes and dreams. I want to connect and then see where relationship takes us. I have no “ministry” here. I have no “saving souls” in mind. I just want to listen. To share. To understand. To connect.
Because I see my God Soft Hands Jesus finding love in everyone and everywhere – even in the unlovable –always in the unexpected – and ALWAYS in me. So this morning I wonder …
Is your God different to mine?
~~~~~ ??? ~~~~ ??? ~~~~ ???
NB: where did this post come from – because it surprised me … ?
(Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'” Matthew 10:1-7
Go nowhere among the Gentiles … no town of the Samaritans … go to the house of Israel …
I wonder if stereotypes existed back in the day. Whether “gentiles” were as cardboard cut-out as we make other cultures today. The hearsay, the word-of-mouth, the assumed knowledge based on handed-down “that’s just how it is”. I wonder if the “samaritans” had that same stereotype of “jews”. All these different cultures and languages. And here are the twelve. Endowed with super-powers. A rag-tag bunch of followers. Entrusted with God. Sent out to proclaim the “good news”: “The kingdom of heaven has come near!”)