Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Romans 14 -- table manners towards other guests

"Never serve booze at a wedding. Although most of the guests might enjoy it, there will always be one who will get drunk, make a fool of himself, and ruin the party for everyone else."

This bit of advice came to mind as I meditated on today's chapter. Let's look at the first few verses:
Rom 14:1 İmanı zayıf olanı aranıza kabul edin, ama tartışmalı konulara girmeyin.
Rom 14:2 Biri her şeyi yiyebileceğine inanır; imanı zayıf olansa yalnız sebze yer.
Rom 14:3 Her şeyi yiyen, yemeyeni hor görmesin. Her şeyi yemeyen, yiyeni yargılamasın. Çünkü Tanrı onu kabul etmiştir.
Rom 14:4 Sen kimsin ki, başkasının kulunu yargılıyorsun? Kulu haklı çıkaran da haksız çıkaran da efendisidir. Kul haklı çıkacaktır. Çünkü Rab'bin onu haklı çıkarmaya gücü vardır.
Let's look at a few key words:
  • kabul edin -- 2nd person imperative form of verb kabul etmek -- to welcome, to receive.
  • haklı çıkarmak -- another compound verb, like the only Malay word in common English, which is always combined with the English verb "to run."[2] This Turkish compound word, which pops up in the hazar.com dictionary when you enter , means: excuse. justify. vindicate.
  • haksız çıkarmak -- Obviously, the opposite of haklı çıkarmak. Turks take their çay either şekerli or şekersiz -- with or without sugar.
  • hak -- condign. right. justice. claim. benefit. authority. dibs. due. franchise. jus. title. warrant. warranty. The Turkish phrase Hak dini (true, etc. religion) is a synonym for Islam.
The Scotch-Irish inhabitants of the American Appalachian region are famous for their violent, armed, disputes. A century ago, the Hatfield and McCoy clans became synonymous with the ignorant, savage hill billies who deserved to be swindled out of the mineral wealth they lived atop, but lacked the means -- or the will -- to exploit. Last I heard, 85% of West Virginia is owned or controlled by people who do not live in West Virginia. Sophisticated guests in that part of the world are aware of the vast chasm that exists between West Virginia[3], a state that is a byword for backwardness, and western Virginia, an urbane, civilized, region.

Some historians suggest that the internecine disputes among the mountain people were used as propaganda fodder by outside interests intent on strip mining that state.

Be that as it may, the media image of the feuding mountaineers has a basis in fact. Carl Whorley, a Baptist preacher in Roanoke Virginia, comes from that stock. Two families had been fighting for too many generations. To make piece, the elders of the clan chose a Romeo from one, a Juliet from the other, and ordered them to marry each other. Carl was the son of this peaceful, peace-making union.

The Roman church that Paul wrote to, as we saw in the last few chapters, was characterized by an uneasy state of truce between the two major components: those who had been born Jews, and those who had been born as pagans. It was all too easy for the Jewish-heritage believers to sneer at the indiscriminate way that the former pagans chowed down on whatever fair or foul stuff that was set before them. The pagan-legacy Roman Christians, on the other hand, were astonished at how incapable their kin were of seeing the point, and getting with the program. Jesus had set them free to live, and these clowns still insisted on pouring their lives into pointless pageantry, rituals, and religious games.

Paul warns them -- be kind to each other. Be on your best behavior -- because there is an unseen Host presiding over your lives together. And, ultimately,

Hiçbirimiz kendimiz için yaşamayız, hiçbirimiz de kendimiz için ölmeyiz.

Not a one of us / to ourselves / because / may live, / not a one of us / even / to ourselves / because / may die.

We are temporary guests at an eternal table. It becomes us, since we have been invited to such an incredible party, to get along with each other, and not embarrass our Host.


[1] Mnemonic for English speakers: "Kabul is not a welcoming city."

[2] The Malay word, which has two correct spellings, is amok or amuck. To "run amok" is to go violently insane.

[3] What is the state flower of West Virginia? The satellite dish.
What is the usual color of cars in West Virginia? Primer.
How can you tell that you are in the Amish part of West Virginia? You see dead horses on cinder blocks in front of the mobile homes.

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