Thursday, July 30, 2009

Same old, same old (Acts 22)

We have a Welsh Corgi, a funny little short-legged working dog, bred to herd cattle hundreds of times heavier than it is. To make the breed suitable for use as pets, the breeders had to "dial back" on the herding instinct. It's still there, though. Pippin interprets a handful of trigger words -- "Okay, now ..." or "Get ready..." or "Come on!" to indicate that we are about to move from point A to activity B. This flips a switch in his canine brain, transforming us from "pack," the group he belongs to, to "herd," the group he must boss around. Bark, Bark, Bark, with passionate urgency!

Paul, on the public stairs, briefly addresses the Jewish audience in Hebrew. He is attempting to explain to the people the experiences that brought him to this point -- his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, etc. It's a good story, and they listen which interest. Until he pronounces certain "trigger words" that unleash frothing madness, desperate and unreasoning hatred.
Act 22:17, 18 "Ben Yeruşalim'e döndükten sonra, tapınakta dua ettiğim bir sırada, kendimden geçerek Rab'bi gördüm. Bana, 'Çabuk ol' dedi, 'Yeruşalim'den hemen ayrıl. Çünkü benimle ilgili tanıklığını kabul etmeyecekler.' Act 22:19 "'Ya Rab' dedim, 'Benim havradan havraya giderek sana inananları tutuklayıp dövdüğümü biliyorlar. Act 22:20 Üstelik sana tanıklık eden İstefanos'un kanı döküldüğü zaman, ben de oradaydım. Onu öldürenlerin kaftanlarına bekçilik ederek yapılanları onayladım.' Act 22:21 "Rab bana, 'Git' dedi, 'Seni uzaktaki uluslara göndereceğim.'" Act 22:22 Pavlus'u buraya kadar dinleyenler, bu söz üzerine, "Böylesini yeryüzünden temizlemeli, yaşaması uygun değil!" diye seslerini yükselttiler.
Paul recounts another vision he had of the risen Jesus. What did the Lord have to tell him? And what did the crowd then say?
  • 'Çabuk ol' dedi, 'Yeruşalim'den hemen ayrıl. Çünkü benimle ilgili tanıklığını kabul etmeyecekler.' -- 'Hasty / be ' / he said, / From Jerusalem / now / flee. / Because / my, mine, the 'with me' / concerning / your testimony / welcome / they will not make.
  • 'Git' dedi, 'Seni uzaktaki uluslara göndereceğim.' -- 'Go' / he said, / 'You / remote / to nations / I will send,'
  • Böylesini yeryüzünden temizlemeli, yaşaması uygun değil! -- This kind of person / from the face of the earth / it is necessary to cleanse, / to live / further / he must not!
How do we explain the seething hatred the Jewish people had towards other nations? Their screaming demand that Paul, who treated folks of other nations as human beings worthy of God's care, should be killed? Good question. At the time, Israel was a colony of Rome, and maybe people really hate being used for the prestige and economic interest of foreign powers. Did anyone ask the people of Iraq if they wanted to be "liberated?"

I have to ask myself, however. Have mental triggers been embedded in my brain, waiting to be tripped by certain code words and symbols? What kind of reflexive allegiances and hatreds seeth and simmer below the surface? How much power do I have over my own attitudes and behavior? How can I increase that power, so as to not become the tool of agents, or agencies, that do not have the good of humanity at heart?

A repentant US Marine had harsh things to say about his own conditioning, that turned him into a tool of corporate interests, a "gangster for Wall Street" on three continents.

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