Saturday, April 3, 2010

Luke 6 -- the kem göz and its cure

A lovely feature of Turkish adornment is the blue and white glass bead inherited from remote antiquity as a charm against the "evil eye," the kem göz. Although the superstition has lost its power, the wisdom behind it persists. There are, in life, people who wish us ill.

Let's say things are going badly at your place of employment. New customers aren't showing up. Things aren't as busy as they used to be in the shop. You find yourself with more time on your hands, time to fill with trivial tasks. There is an unease in the air, and somehow you know that the boss considers you expendable. No matter how carefully you conduct yourself, your prospects are bleak. At some point, the man who hired you will now find a reason to fire you. You will be watched by hostile eyes, until a reason materializes. In a fallen world, those who seek fault will find it.

This chapter deals with the phenomenon[1] of the hostile audience. Jesus walks into a setup.
Luk 6:6 Bir başka Şabat Günü İsa havraya girmiş öğretiyordu. Orada sağ eli sakat bir adam vardı.
Luk 6:7 İsa'yı suçlamak için fırsat kollayan din bilginleriyle Ferisiler, Şabat Günü hastaları iyileştirecek mi diye O'nu gözlüyorlardı.
Luk 6:8 İsa, onların ne düşündüklerini biliyordu. Eli sakat olan adama, "Ayağa kalk, öne çık" dedi. O da kalktı, orta yerde durdu.
Luk 6:9 İsa onlara, "Size sorayım" dedi, "Kutsal Yasa'ya göre Şabat Günü iyilik yapmak mı doğru, kötülük yapmak mı? Can kurtarmak mı doğru, öldürmek mi?"
Luk 6:10 Gözlerini hepsinin üzerinde gezdirdikten sonra adama, "Elini uzat" dedi. Adam elini uzattı, eli yine sapasağlam oluverdi.
Luk 6:11 Onlar ise öfkeden deliye döndüler ve aralarında İsa'ya ne yapabileceklerini tartışmaya başladılar.
The religious experts get the impression that Jesus takes them, and their customs, a lot less seriously than they take themselves. In the first five verses, the issue of human need arises, and Jesus asserts that "the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." In so saying, he crossed a picket line. He stepped on a trip wire. He touched a sacred cow.[2] So, in verse 6, we see him teaching in a synagogue. And perhaps this sentence is key to the rest of the chapter:
İsa'yı suçlamak için fırsat kollayan din bilginleriyle Ferisiler, Şabat Günü hastaları iyileştirecek mi diye O'nu gözlüyorlardı.
Key words:
  • suçlamak -- to accuse, to find guilty
  • için -- in order to (this is one of those intriguing Turkish post-positions. Rather like the English pre-position, but found AFTER the word it affects)
  • fırsat -- opportunity
  • hastaları -- those who are sick
  • iyileştirecek -- he will make well
  • gözlüyorlardı -- they were watching
Shortly after this episode of insanely hostile scrutiny, Jesus spends a whole night in prayer.

He then formally selects twelve close friends, to be his counterweight to the angry eyes, the kem göz, of the religious leaders.

He then persists in pursuing his own agenda, healing the sick, setting at liberty the demonized. This display of raw power is an "in-your-face" challenge to the Pharisees, who could talk a good game but otherwise did little tangible good.

Then, in verses
19-26 Jesus throws down the gauntlet,[3] and contrasts his team to theirs. His are the blessed of God, their team is under His displeasure. His team should take the reproaches of the other team as reason to celebrate: O gün sevinin, coşkuyla zıplayın!
  • O gün sevinin, -- on that day
  • coşkuyla -- with unrestrained exuberance
  • zıplayın! -- jump and leap for joy!
Finally, he tells His disciples what to do about their enemies: be kind to them. No need to add to their troubles -- they have God Himself as their enemies. Let God worry about them. We have better things to do with our time than getting sucked into the vortex of their ugly, self-righteous, hateful, little sewers.

Or, as the late Jerry Falwell put it, "Love them, forgive them, outlive them."

[1] Phenomenon is derived from the Greek. That's the singular form. The plural form of this noun is phenomena. The Turkish practice of using a single infix to denote plurality (-ler- or -lar- is so simple by comparison. When English conscripts nouns from other languages, we tend to drag their plural forms into our dictionaries as well. Sorry about that.

[2] A "sacred cow" is a pointless and counterproductive religious observance. It is a contemptuous metaphor based upon the Hindu reverence for cattle. The Sepoy revolts of the mid 1800s were triggered by rumors that the British cartridges were greased with pig fat -- which provoked the Muslim sepoys (native troops) or beef fat -- which annoyed the Hindus.

[3] To challenge someone to a duel, a chivalrous guy would throw down an armored glove in front of the party who had offended him. If the offender picked it up, a formal confrontation would be scheduled.

Around a century ago, the greatest fencers in Europe were Hungarian Jews, who took up that martial sport as a way to defend their honor. The fencing associations voided that challenge by simply declared that Jews had no honor to defend.

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