Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Leadership (Mark 6, cont.)

Seeking a few moments of peace and privacy, Jesus and the 12 cross the lake. Their indefatigable fan club sees where they are going, runs around to the anticipated landing spot, and welcomes Jesus, probably with applause, to the spot where he'd gone to try to escape them. And our Lord, moved with compassion, provides some more instruction, and a miraculous meal. He had compassion on the multitudes:
Mar 6:34 İsa tekneden inince büyük bir kalabalıkla karşılaştı. Çobansız koyunlara benzeyen bu insanlara acıdı ve onlara birçok konuda öğretmeye başladı.
And, a few words:
  • tekne -- trough, vessel. tekneden -- from the boat.
  • Çoban -- shepherd. Çobansız -- without a shepherd. koyun -- sheep.[1] benzetmek -- resembled.
Yes, Israel had a ruling class of secular quislings[2] -- the Sadducees who had no faith in the life to come, and made it their goal to do well for themselves in this life, no matter who they had to work with or step on. This power structure had its defenders and fawning media outlets, the Scribes and Pharisees. Yet, from our Lord's perspective, the people of Israel had no one to care for them, no one to help them live as God intended them to.
Yet, this apparently amorphous mob did have its own internal structure. Jesus commanded the disciples to have the men sit down, with their families, in groups of 50 and 100. The Greek text here uses the term συμπόσια συμπόσια -- group by group. A "symposium" is, after all, a group of folks that meets to eat and talk. The Turkish uses a similar construction: Mar 6:39 İsa herkesi küme küme yeşil çayıra oturtmalarını buyurdu. Jesus / all of them / group by group / green grass upon / they must sit / commanded.

Even in cultures characterized by a leadership vacuum, there is an underlying sense of spontaneous order. The early Soviet experiement began with an era of unbridled license and promiscuity. When the stern commisars saw their society crumbling, they immediately put on the brakes and instituted a regimen of puritanical sexual morality. The question people face from time to time, when the established order loses credibility, is -- can spontaneous order fill the gap? Can we keep our families together when the culture around us self-destructs?


[1] In English, the plural of sheep is sheep. The plural of deer is deer. Sorry 'bout that ...

[2] The term "quisling" has almost completely fallen out of the vernacular, and is rarely used in idiomatic contemporary English. It refers to a Norwegian prime minister who cooperated with the Nazi occupiers during WW II, and whose name has since become a synonym for puppet leaders.

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