Monday, December 15, 2008

A light yoke, an easy burden

Yahunna'nın birinci mektubu 5
Tanrı'yı sevmek, O'nun buyruklarını yerine getirmek demektir. O'nun burykları da ağır değildir. Çünkü Tanrı'dan doğmuş olan herkes dünyayı yener. Bize dünyaya karşı zafer kazandiran, imanımızdır.
And now, a few words:
  • Tanrı -- God
  • sevmek -- to love
  • buyruk -- commandment
  • ağır -- painful, irksome
  • yenmek -- to overcome
  • zafer -- victory
This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world. And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Interestingly enough, the Greek uses two flavors of the same word where English and Turkish use two different words: yenmek/zafer and overcome/victory.

I do not know how many former smokers are in this audience. Anyone who has struggled with addictions know what it means to walk on the precipice, all too easily slipping into the behavior one abhors. This is especially easy to do during times of personal or national stress. When "modern times" and rampant consumerism exploded upon the American scene, so too did subtance abuse. Back then, it was the booze.

When you find yourself swept away by external and internal demons,[1] you can just give up and go with the flow. The drunken reservation Indian is the stereotype for this approach.

Or, you can look for some human means of salvation. Some "strong man" messianic politician to make the bad things go away. A savior, like Hitler, Mussolini, or their peer and fascist soul mate FDR. Or, perhaps, some popular movement that will rest the anxieties of the age upon a symbolic victim. In America, this was Prohibition. The most popular all-American beverage, our equivalent to France's wines and Germany's beers, was lost. Thousands of acres of apple orchards fell to the ax, and many varieties of cider apples were lost forever.

Finally, there is the perspective John offers us here. Simply obey God. Do the right thing. Abstain from the wrong thing. And faith in the One who has overcome the world, death, and the grace, can make it happen. Happiness, G. K. Chesterton wrote, is like glass. It can be shattered in a moment. Or, it can last for thousands of years. Therefore, don't break it.

ANYHOW: my preferred vice is a kind of lethal laziness, where I slip into neutral and allow any passing diversion to seize and divert my attention. Especially when there is serious work to be done. Nerds call this "dogwash." When the deadline is upon you, and a major project needs to be completed, you suddenly notice all the chores you could be doing, like washing the dog.

Prayers appreciated, folks. I'll keep you posted.

[1] I am speaking metaphorically, of course. Dostoyevski wrote a novel about the philosophical madness sweeping through Russia entitled The Demons. We know it by Constance Garner's title, The Possessed.

No comments: