Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Counterculture (Luke 6)

OK, what does it take to make you hop, skip, and jump with wild enthusiasm?

How about -- being insulted? Let's reverse our usual order, and look at a few words, first, today:
  • plamak -- well, my new favorite online dictionary provides these meanings: bounce, bound, cavort, leap, gambol, etc. Definitely an action verb! And a lively one at that. The English word "zip" has similar connotations of zesty liveliness, and provides a convenient artificial cognate for those of us who need such memory hooks!
  • coşku-- well, my new dictionary will see[1] my paper dictionary's enthusiasm, and raise it with exuberance, vigor, ebullience, fervor, kick, ecstasy, effervescence, etc.
The Greek verb σκιρτήσατε is translated in the KJV as "leap for joy." Well, this is a command that requires a context! Let's take a look at Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount:
Luk 6:22 İnsanoğlu'na bağlılığınız yüzünden İnsanlar sizden nefret ettikleri, Sizi toplum dışı edip aşağıladıkları Ve adınızı kötüleyip sizi reddettikleri zaman Ne mutlu size!
Luk 6:23 O gün sevinin, coşkuyla zıplayın! Çünkü gökteki ödülünüz büyüktür. Nitekim onların ataları da Peygamberlere böyle davrandılar.
One of the more evil influences on American popular culture, John Dewey, rejected Christianity because he considered it "divisive." Like Muslims, Christians assume that the world is divided between people who are on the road to eternal bliss, and the servants of İblis who are heading in the other direction.

I'm reading Orhan Pamuk's book Other Colors. This great Turkish novelist feels a kindred spirit with the Russian writers of the 19th century. In both cases, cultures on the fringe of Europe yearned for full inclusion. Some of the writers and thinkers got tired of the effort, and decided to celebrate their own culture to the fullest. Dostoyevsky portrayed the European "enlightenment" influences as demonic.

In like manner, the American "countercultures" of the late 60s embraced the rejection of the ruling establishment as a badge of honor. In the words of American epigramist Yogi Berra, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me for a member!"

In this chapter, Jesus tells his followers to disdain the approval of the ruling elites. You're not going to get it anyhow, and they're on the wrong track. Expect the schism, rejoice in it, and overcome by framing your responses in expansive, generous, and kindly terms.


[1] OK -- a poker metaphor. One player bets a certain amount. Another agrees to equal ("see") that bet, and increase ("raise") it.

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