Bushel

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bushel: (n) a measure of capacity

The Good Book was written in ancient Mesopotamia, translated in Merry Old England when men wore powdered wigs, and is now trying to be understood by a Smart Phone generation.

Problematic.

One of the examples that immediately jumps to mind is that Jesus suggested that we should not hide our aspirations, talent and insight “under a bushel.”

That was the King James translation.

Dare I say that most of the people in this country under the age of thirty have probably never seen a bushel of anything.

Most of them would think the word “bushel” is a mispronunciation of our 43rd President.

Yet truth leaps over generational gaps and maintains its integrity. Therefore we should take obscure terms and translate to make them comprehensible. (And by the way, the more emotionally charged we can make that presentation, to give it lasting quality in the human spirit, the better.)

Therefore, what was once translated from the Good Book writers as a “bushel” really is a prison cell–a place where we lock ourselves up and cease growing because the fear of failure, inadequacy, and even the apprehension over accidentally doing something evil has left us lying on our bunk, biding time.

We’re still alive, we’re still breathing, we’re still consuming three square meals a day and every once in a while we stroll through the court yard. But we desperately try to avoid confrontations and we shower in fear.

A bushel is where you gather an abundance.

There is so much fruit that you can’t put it in a bag.

A little box won’t contain it.

It needs a bushel basket.

If we don’t believe that God has called us to be fruitful, we will arrive with a tiny teacup instead of showing up with a gallon jug.

 

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

 

 

Advertisements

Burrow

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Burrow: (n) a hole or tunnel

In the great “Wheel of Fortune” of the calendar, this particular essay happens to fall on Easter Sunday morning.

So when I saw the word “burrow,” I realized that throughout history–and especially that fateful weekend two thousand years ago in Mesopotamia–mankind has always tried to dig holes and bury things we don’t wish to pursue.

The interesting fact is that in saner moments, we may even acknowledge we might be better off if the truth we burrow away could come to light and function in our everyday lives.

It’s the process that bothers us.

It’s the loss of our lazy determination that annoys us.

We have grown accustomed to the face of blandness–and even though the consideration of adding make-up to improve our overall countenance is tempting, it seems both unnecessary and exhausting.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our response? “We’re halfway there.”

We love our own ass. Trying to transfuse and transfer that same energy to our respect for others appears overwrought.

So since he was unwilling to shut his damn mouth, we attempted to shut it for him.

It wasn’t good enough to merely kill him.

We also stabbed him with a spear.

We quickly stuck him in a grave.

We rolled a stone in front of it for fear that any of his dangerous organs might try to dribble out.

And then we hired guards to secure the location just in case somebody was interested in collecting the corpse of a beaten and broken man.

Thorough we were–but sometimes the angels our efficiency do mock.

They rolled the stone away and resurrected the “love your neighbor” boy.

So now we are stuck using our selfishness–but having to do so with a clump of guilt.

 

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

 

 

Aramaic

dictionary with letter A

Aramaic: (n) a Semitic language, a Syrian dialect which was used as a lingua franca in the Near East from the 6th century BC. It gradually replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews in those areas and was itself supplanted by Arabic in the 7th century AD.

Risky business.

Sometimes choosing to pursue what reaches people causes you to be rejected by the upper crust smart-asses.

When we look at the life of Jesus through the prism of his choices instead of a religious aspect–considering his divinity–we learn much more about the man than we do by merely tagging him as Savior.

He spoke Aramaic.

It was not the popular choice for those who deemed themselves to be intellectual. All of the religious leaders of the day favored Hebrew. Matter of fact, it was a class distinction. The rich and prosperous considered Aramaic to be guttural and beneath their silver “tongues of plenty.”

So immediately, when Jesus spoke in Aramaic, it was assumed that he was stupid, backwoods and uneducated.

It is the same sensation that many white folks might express when they hear a black minister using Ebonics. We are infested with a need to be superior. It is the opposite of the Golden Rule–“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”–which was the central theme of the ministry of Jesus. So it would be a bit contradictory to talk to the common folk about commonality while using an uncommon tongue.

Interesting thing, though–by the time Christianity spread across Mesopotamia, Hebrew had been replaced by Aramaic. And much to the chagrin of many evangelicals, speaking Aramaic was also Jesus’ way of separating himself from the Jews and including himself with all of Arabia.

So be careful when you make Jesus a Jew or when you project onto him a theologian’s demeanor.

He was the Son of Man, who spoke the language of men who had sons who worked hard … and he dared to be considered ignorant in doing so.

 

Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

Anti-Semitism

dictionary with letter AAnti-Semitism (n): a hostility toward or prejudice against Jews.

It is the duty of those who have suffered to make sure that they are not the perpetrators of suffering on the lives of others.

This is why the United States still struggles with the issue of race–because of our horrible history of slavery. It is our responsibility to make sure that we never allow such idiocy to reign supreme in our populace again.

And it is why the people of Germany have made it illegal to propagate any form of Nazi doctrine within its borders–because of the atrocities they committed against the Jews.

There are undoubtedly groups of people, even among Christians in our world, who have a hatred for the Jewish nation. There certainly is a conflict among the Arabs and Jews concerning rights to Mesopotamia.

Balancing this situation out in our society creates hypocrisy rather than understanding. Some people are so strongly against the Jews that they have no perspective on Hebrew rights and feelings. Others are so pro-Israel that they place no responsibility on the children of Abraham to show mercy on the other children of Abraham.

What is anti-Semitic, and what is merely challenging a group of people to be fair-minded?

It’s learning how to delineate between truth and opinion.

Here’s the truth:

The Jewish Council were the ones who brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate for crucifixion.

Here is also a truth:

The Jewish community, over the years, has been instrumental in discoveries, intelligent progress and humane endeavors.

Here’s a truth:

The Jews were granted the land of Israel after WWII by the English so they could have a homeland.

Here’s another truth:

The Palestinians are human beings and need to be given consideration for their rights and purposes.

It is not anti-Semitic to ask our Jewish brothers and sisters to accept an equality which welcomes peace on Earth. But it certainly is anti-Semitic to blame the Jews for things that have nothing to do with their journey or actions.

It is a political nightmare, a spiritual quagmire and the makings of a social faux pas.

But I love my Jewish friends enough to believe that they have the intellect to live up to the quality of humanity which has marked their fairness, their pursuits and their heritage.

 

Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) — J.R. Practix

Anno Domini — AD

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Anno Domini A.D. (Abbr.) :In a specified year of the Christian era; “in the year of Our Lord”

I think the closest I ever came was when the town council of my little burg where I was born considered having a day designated to me because the musical I had written was going to be premiering in the capital city.

Unfortunately, the measure was voted down because one of the members of the board was an old rival from high school who always thought I had cheated him out of something or other.

So I, who was unable to get a single day of honor in my city of kin, am greatly enamored–and baffled–by how a rejected carpenter from a tiny village in Mesopotamia, who ended up executed for crimes against the state, managed to get the date of his birth marked as the beginning of modern time.

You have to be honest–there is either something magical about that or this guy hired the best damn Jewish agent around. Am I right here? Even when his name is spoken out loud in anger, it’s still great advertising: Jesus Christ!

I know there are those who cannot believe in a SON of God because they don’t believe in God in the first place–very similar to not wanting to see the movie, Son of Flubber because you were disappointed with the first Flub.

But in thirty-three years of human life, he did something right. Maybe we shouldn’t try to study him so much theologically, but rather, analyzing the chemical reaction of human experience. What did he set off that caused such notice and took him from the tiny, fragmented vision of the Jewish people, to dominate the Greeks, Romans, Angles, Saxons and even the Afrikaans and the Chinese?

His message was simple. That was smart. Even though he never had a car, he realized that anything you want people to remember should fit on a bumper sticker.

  • “Love your neighbor”
  • “Love your enemies”
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart”
  • “You must be born again”
  • “Do unto others”

The list goes on and on. Matter of fact, his famous Sermon on the Mount is merely a hodge-podge of many, many sound bites and slogans, glued together by a devotion to mankind and God. The message was so simple that even those who were considered foolish could grasp it, even if they didn’t embrace it.

And for some reason, a hundred and twenty of the remaining followers of this teacher, who survived the horror of his crucifixion, were not only willing to dedicate the rest of their lives to spreading the message, but sacrificed their lives in a belief about his resurrection.

In other words, I think it’s safe to say that most human beings might pursue a hoax if all it meant was that you had to travel and stay in cheap hotels. But when you’re standing in front of a judge and he offers you clemency, if you deny the message and then you choose death, it’s difficult to believe that there is not some credence to the original experience.

So I shall not lament the failure of my local city council–to grant me a day of recognition in my home town. But I will use the awareness of that slight to be in awe–that as I mark my calendar today, I honor the person with the message of love … who got the ball rolling.

 

Acts (Book of)

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

 

Acts:  a New Testament book immediately following the Gospels and relating the history of the early Church.

During the several times in my life when I have read the Bible from cover to cover—and let me candidly admit that even though there IS a blessing in the perusing, I would also have to deem it a chore—I discovered that the Bible has so much arcane language which does not fall into my purview and ideas which can be interpreted so many different ways, that it certainly demands a gentle spirit for consumption.

This is definitely true of the Book of Acts. While some people critique the Gospels which have the accounts of the life of Jesus, in being abbreviated in detail, focused on a particular audience of the day, the Book of Acts is really like a corporate press release.

First of all, you have to consider that the time span covered in the entire work is between sixty and seventy years. Once it’s condensed and crushed together into its twenty-eight chapters, you feel like it’s a description of a couple of weekends’ vacationing in Jerusalem. The huge transitions in plot, miraculous achievements and even the struggles seem monumental rather than the typical day-to-day inch-worm progress which is actually accomplished by human beings.

But there IS one thing we certainly learn from the Book of Acts: when Christians and Jews tried to combine their theologies, it fails miserably.

I’m not saying that Christians and Jews can’t get along as folks and friends, but the faith that was established by Jesus of Nazareth was not exactly complementary to the Law of Moses.

When these early Jewish boys who were followers of Jesus tried to incorporate their Mom and Dad’s religion into the new movement, it just didn’t work out very well.

So because of that, a Pharisee named Saul took the journey to become Paul the Apostle, and translated the message to a whole world of non-circumcised individuals. So faith in God went from being an issue of whether your penis was trimmed or not to whether your heart was open.

It was an arduous task, which as I previously stated, took many decades. With the Book of Acts, we basically get the Reader’s Digest version, written by a physician named Luke.

Even though I appreciate te account and the inclusion of the struggle, I do think we miss the magnitude of human folly in the pursuit of better understanding.

Christianity wouldn’t have moved out of the Upper Room in Jerusalem had it not been for a guy named Paul.

And mankind would never have departed from the superstitions of Mesopotamia had it not been for the teachings … of Jesus.