Monday, March 21, 2011

Substantive thoughts (Prov. 21:5)

A substantive is a noun based on an adjective. The quality of being hard is -- hardness, for example. Wet and wetness. Weak and weakness. Other examples are less predictable: high, height. Poor, poverty. Happy, happiness. Other languages employ the same technique of adding a suffix or infix to work that magic. The only word of Afrikaans most people instantly recognize adds their usual syllable -heid to the adjective apart (English equivalent, apart) to create the name of their distinctive social system, apartheid.

In Turkish, the syllable used to convert an adjective into a noun comes in four flavors:
  • -lık-
  • -lik-
  • -luk-
  • -lük-
Don't worry, you'll get used to this quirk of the language fairly early in your studies, and see these four varieties as the same. It's called "vowel harmony," and the appropriate syllable depends on the syllable before it.

Another short syllable with a big meaning comes in two flavors, -la- and -le- and means "with, by means of."

And that brings us to today's proverb:
Proverbs 21:5 Çalışkanın tasarıları hep bollukla, Her türlü acelecilik hep yoklukla sonuçlanır.
Çalışkanın is a word you'll soon master if you study the Book of Proverbs in Turkish, since it is one of the virtues most frequently celebrated in this guide for living well: informs us that it means diligent. energetic. industrious. sedulous. studious. hard-working.

My goodness, now THIS is fascinating. The Hebrew word translated into English as the hazy, indistinct and generic word thoughts has a more specialized, specific, and focused word in Turkish: tasarı, which means project. plan. scheme. bill. draught. design. proposal. set-up. bill. draft of a proposed law. written proposal. blueprint for action. draft. projection. schema. Now THAT is a cluster of words dear to a technical writer's heart!

And, let's look at the three substantives in this brief aphorism:
  • bollukla -- bol = abundant. plentiful. generous. plenty. full. rich. wealthy. loose. hefty. wide. baggy. abounding. affluent. ample. bounteous. bountiful. copious. effusive. exuberant. fecund. flush. handsome. hearty. lavish. liberal. lush. luxuriant. opulent. plenteous.
  • acelecilik -- hasty. hustler. impatient. slippy. precipitant. rash. precipitate. precipitous. brash. impetuous. headfirst. headforemost. headlong. precipitate.
  • yoklukla -- yokluk = absence. dearth. exiguity. failure. famine. hardship. lack. neediness. non-appearance. non-existence. nonappearance. nonexistence. nudity. penury. poverty. privation. shortage. strait. tightness. want. straits.
Folks, this is why you all need to sit down, and learn another language, starting today. You can read something in English hundreds of times -- then see new facets, fresh insights, when you examine the same text through another frame of reference, another set of eyes.

Diligent people are paying attention to, and thinking carefully about, what they are doing. They have plans, goals with deadlines. They assume, and operate in terms of, the abundance of opportunities. Small investments, over time, turn into vast fortunes. Five loaves and two fishes placed in the hands of our Lord provide a feast for 5,000. Little things, thoughtfully and carefully done, fill life with lavish wealth. Be kind to your wife, day after day, and you can have a livelier love life in your 50s than you did in your 20s.

In American English, the "get-rich-quick scheme" is a widely-understood term for costly swindles. Folks driven by restless dissatisfaction, or desperate circumstances, can get tempted to cut corners, to max out their credit cards buying sure and easy roads to wealth. When their ship does finally come in, they are at the airport.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ugly brothers (Prov. 18:9)

This looks like a verse worth memorizing:
İşini savsaklayan kişi Yıkıcıya kardeştir.
Let's dissect this word by word:
  • İşini -- To his work (İş -- work, occupation, job. -in- 3rd person singular possessive. -i direct object ending)
  • savsaklayan -- procrastinating
  • kişi -- a person
  • Yıkıcıya -- to a destroyer
  • kardeştir-- a brother is.
Or, if we visit, the longest word is based on the verb savsaklamak, which means, "to put off doing sth continually. to put sb off with an excuse. to neglect sth / to do sth. neglect. to put on the shelf. temporize."

You know what you need to do, and know you'll do it, just as soon as I finish a, b, or c. It takes effort to "seek first the Kingdom of God." As a wise pastor says, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." None of us sets out to be a derelict with a stack of things we "coulda, shoulda, woulda, done" rather than satisfying achievement. It just kind of happens, as we let our minds run after one little thing after another. I'm reminded of the Pink Floyd song Time:
(Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) 7:06

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say.
Ben Franklin wrote, "A young man could never dream that 20 pounds or 20 years could be squandered. If you value life, value time, because time is the stuff of life."

Or, as the KJV translates this verse, "He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. " The Turkish, I think, is more helpful. The essence of sloth is procrastination.

One self-help guru says, repeat this mantra a thousand times a day: DO IT NOW.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A language made for proverbs

Turkish continues to delight, with its knack for compressing big meanings into short words. Such as:
Pr. 15:14 Akıllı yürek bilgi arar, Akılsızın ağzıysa ahmaklıkla beslenir.
Let's compare that to the King James Version of the same verse:
P4. 15:14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
A key word here is akıl, which means "mental. reason. intelligence. discretion. wisdom. mind. memory. opinion. thought. advice. apprehension. brain. head. headpiece. intellect. piece of advice. psyche. senses. wit." (thank you,!) To this word we can add the suffix -lı, which means -- having all of the above. Or, the suffix -sız, which means, lacking all of the above. Or, you can combine the original noun with other nouns, to create other vivid descriptive terms:
  • akıl hastanesi -- mental hospital
  • akıl hastası -- lunatic
  • akıl defteri -- notebook
  • akıl hocası -- mentor, spin doctor. (Fans of the Nasrettin Hoca stories recognize that second noun!)
Yürek , of course, is heart, and bilgi is knowledge, understanding, skill. The verb aramak means to search for, and the verb beslenmek means "feed. to feed. to be fed. to be nourished. "

One final noun: ahmaklık means "foolishness. idiocy. stupidity. folly. imbecility. tomfoolery."

Now, this is a proverb very helpful for us wired, digital folks, people who work and play and live with computers and the internet. It takes effort, focus, and disciplined attention to pay attention to what is important. However, we find it all too easy to nibble our way astray, "feeding on" things that attract our attention, then lead it around, and around, and around, by the nose, as we skim the superficial surface to factoids, and watch our minutes and days evaporate, with nothing to show for them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Better than life (Psalm 63)

Psalm 63 has long been one of my favorites. Here, David sings of his passion for God, his delight in God's presence, his desire to spend time in worship. One sentence, vs. 3, is a useful example of how Turkish does comparisons:
3 Senin sevgin yaşamdan iyidir, Bu yüzden dudaklarım seni yüceltir.
  • Senin -- Yours (2nd person singular)
  • sevgin -- your love
  • yaşamdan -- than life (-dan is the "from" suffix)
  • iyidir -- it is good,
  • Bu -- This
  • yüzden -- from, because of / reason (-den is the "from" suffix)
  • dudaklarım -- my lips
  • seni -- to you
  • yüceltir -- praised.
What is worth more to us than our own lives?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day and night (Psalm 42)

I enjoy using the e-Sword software provided, free, by Rick Meyers. You can have the Bible on your computer desktop in dozens of different translations, most free, some copyrighted versions for a nominal fee. Little tabs let you select the language of interest. The Parallel feature lets you view several versions simultaneously. This has made it much easier for me to read the Turkish version -- a glance over to the English in the left column helps me puzzle out words that may have drifted out of memory. The compact efficiency of Turkish continues to amaze and delight. Consider, for example, Psalm 42:8 --
8 Gündüz RAB sevgisini gösterir, Gece ilahi söyler, dua ederim Yaşamımın Tanrısı'na.

8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Let's parse these beautiful words:
  • Gündüz -- Daily
  • RAB -- the LORD
  • sevgisini -- His love
  • gösterir, -- sends
  • Gece -- By night
  • ilahi söyler, -- singing psalms, hymns
  • dua ederim -- praying
  • Yaşamımın -- of my life
  • Tanrısı'na. -- to the God
Waking or sleeping, we are steeped in the care and attention of a loving Creator.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Üzülme -- dealing with foes (Psalm 37)

Jerry Falwell lived a controversial but cheerful life, expiring at his desk at the age of 73. One of his sons, a lawyer, took over Liberty University, the largest Protestant college in the world. The other son, a preacher, inherited the pulpit of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. Jerry had a simple recipe for dealing with the many enemies he'd made with his outspoken conservative positions:
  • Love them
  • Forgive them
  • Outlive them
I read a favorite Psalm today, number 37 in the Protestant numbering scheme (Catholics merge Psalms 23 and 24 together). It has an invisible pattern that explains why the focus seems to jump around abruptly -- the Hebrews enjoyed word games, such as acrostics. Each verse in the original language begins with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The key word, showing up time and again, is the second-person imperative negative verb:


OK, so what is it that we are emphatically and repeatedly forbidden to do? Let's look at the dictionary definitions of the root, üzülmek.
feel bad about. feel badly about. bother. bother about. deplore. fret. grieve. languish. regret. rue. sadden. sorrow. trouble. be troubled about. worry. worry oneself. bemoan. deplore. droop. grieve. repine.
I'll append the entire psalm below, but let's look at a few key verses now:

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 3 Sen RAB'be güven, iyilik yap, Ülkede otur, sadakatle çalış.

4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
4 RAB'den zevk al, O senin içindeki istekleri yerine getirecektir.

5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
5 Her şeyi RAB'be bırak, O'na güven, O gerekeni yapar.

Another definition: getirecektir, the third person future form of the verb getirmek -- bring. get. bring along. bring in. carry. bear. convey. fetch. introduce. take into. usher. work up. pose. produce. to fetch. to bring in. to yield. to give. to put forward. to bring forth.

And, here's a few verses for folks wondering what to do about depressed economic conditions:

18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
18 RAB yetkinlerin her gününü gözetir, Onların mirası sonsuza dek sürecek.

19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
19 Kötü günde utanmayacaklar, Kıtlıkta karınları doyacak.

(Do you notice how much more compact Turkish is than English? Another good reason to study this amazing language -- just to admire how much it is possible to pack into a single word!)

A repeated theme throughout this psalm is the inheritance, the legacy. Jesus quoted verse 11 in his "beatitudes:"

11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
11 Ama alçakgönüllüler ülkeyi miras alacak, Derin bir huzurun zevkini tadacak.

And, as promised, here is the entire psalm:
Psa 37:1 Kötülük edenlere kızıp üzülme, Suç işleyenlere özenme!
Psa 37:2 Çünkü onlar ot gibi hemen solacak, Yeşil bitki gibi kuruyup gidecek.
Psa 37:3 Sen RAB'be güven, iyilik yap, Ülkede otur, sadakatle çalış.
Psa 37:4 RAB'den zevk al, O senin içindeki istekleri yerine getirecektir.
Psa 37:5 Her şeyi RAB'be bırak, O'na güven, O gerekeni yapar.
Psa 37:6 O senin doğruluğunu ışık gibi, Hakkını öğle güneşi gibi Aydınlığa çıkarır.
Psa 37:7 RAB'bin önünde sakin dur, sabırla bekle; Kızıp üzülme işi yolunda olanlara, Kötü amaçlarına kavuşanlara.
Psa 37:8 Kızmaktan kaçın, bırak öfkeyi, Üzülme, yalnız kötülüğe sürükler bu seni.
Psa 37:9 Çünkü kötülerin kökü kazınacak, Ama RAB'be umut bağlayanlar ülkeyi miras alacak.
Psa 37:10 Yakında kötünün sonu gelecek, Yerini arasan da bulunmayacak.
Psa 37:11 Ama alçakgönüllüler ülkeyi miras alacak, Derin bir huzurun zevkini tadacak.
Psa 37:12 Kötü insan doğru insana düzen kurar, Diş gıcırdatır.
Psa 37:13 Ama Rab kötüye güler, Çünkü bilir onun sonunun geldiğini.
Psa 37:14 Kılıç çekti kötüler, yaylarını gerdi, Mazlumu, yoksulu yıkmak, Doğru yolda olanları öldürmek için.
Psa 37:15 Ama kılıçları kendi yüreklerine saplanacak, Yayları kırılacak.
Psa 37:16 Doğrunun azıcık varlığı, Pek çok kötünün servetinden iyidir.
Psa 37:17 Çünkü kötülerin gücü kırılacak, Ama doğrulara RAB destek olacak.
Psa 37:18 RAB yetkinlerin her gününü gözetir, Onların mirası sonsuza dek sürecek.
Psa 37:19 Kötü günde utanmayacaklar, Kıtlıkta karınları doyacak.
Psa 37:20 Ama kötüler yıkıma uğrayacak; RAB'bin düşmanları kır çiçekleri gibi kuruyup gidecek, Duman gibi dağılıp yok olacak.
Psa 37:21 Kötüler ödünç alır, geri vermez; Doğrularsa cömertçe verir.
Psa 37:22 RAB'bin kutsadığı insanlar ülkeyi miras alacak, Lanetlediği insanların kökü kazınacak.
Psa 37:23 RAB insana sağlam adım attırır, İnsanın yolundan hoşnut olursa.
Psa 37:24 Düşse bile yıkılmaz insan, Çünkü elinden tutan RAB'dir.
Psa 37:25 Gençtim, ömrüm tükendi, Ama hiç görmedim doğru insanın terk edildiğini, Soyunun ekmek dilendiğini.
Psa 37:26 O hep cömertçe ödünç verir, Soyu kutsanır.
Psa 37:27 Kötülükten kaç, iyilik yap; Sonsuz yaşama kavuşursun.
Psa 37:28 Çünkü RAB doğruyu sever, Sadık kullarını terk etmez. Onlar sonsuza dek korunacak, Kötülerinse kökü kazınacak.
Psa 37:29 Doğrular ülkeyi miras alacak, Orada sonsuza dek yaşayacak.
Psa 37:30 Doğrunun ağzından bilgelik akar, Dilinden adalet damlar.
Psa 37:31 Tanrısı'nın yasası yüreğindedir, Ayakları kaymaz.
Psa 37:32 Kötü, doğruya pusu kurar, Onu öldürmeye çalışır.
Psa 37:33 Ama RAB onu kötünün eline düşürmez, Yargılanırken mahkûm etmez.
Psa 37:34 RAB'be umut bağla, O'nun yolunu tut, Ülkeyi miras almak üzere seni yükseltecektir. Kötülerin kökünün kazındığını göreceksin.
Psa 37:35 Kötü ve acımasız adamı gördüm, İlk dikildiği toprakta yeşeren ağaç gibi Dal budak salıyordu;
Psa 37:36 Geçip gitti, yok oldu, Aradım, bulunmaz oldu.
Psa 37:37 Yetkin adamı gözle, doğru adama bak, Çünkü yarınlar barışseverindir.
Psa 37:38 Ama başkaldıranların hepsi yok olacak, Kötülerin kökü kazınacak.
Psa 37:39 Doğruların kurtuluşu RAB'den gelir, Sıkıntılı günde onlara kale olur.
Psa 37:40 RAB onlara yardım eder, kurtarır onları, Kötülerin elinden alıp özgür kılar, Çünkü kendisine sığınırlar.
And that is good news for all who yearn to please their Creator!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tadın da görün (Psalm 32)

A ship in the harbor is safe, the old aphorism asserts, but that is not what ships are made for. A certain amount of trouble is normal in a fallen world. And, for the believer, so, too, is mercy from heaven. According to very old notes that have attached themselves to Psalm 32, David wrote it after one of his many narrow escapes. Let's look at a few verses that are especially relevant to people in trouble, such as economic straits:
Psa 34:8 Tadın da görün, RAB ne iyidir, Ne mutlu O'na sığınan adama!
Psa 34:9 RAB'den korkun, ey O'nun kutsalları, Çünkü O'ndan korkanın eksiği olmaz.
Psa 34:10 Genç aslanlar bile aç ve muhtaç olur; Ama RAB'be yönelenlerden hiçbir iyilik esirgenmez.
Let's look at a few words:
  • Tadın da görün -- second person imperative form of the verbs tatmak (to taste) and görmek (to see)
  • RAB ne iyidir -- The Lord, how good He is
  • Genç aslanlar bile -- Young lions, even, (C S Lewis fans recognize the singular form of the noun)
  • -- hungry. covetous. empty. unfed. esurient. greedy for. hollow. ravenous. starveling.
  • muhtaç -- needy. in need. dependent. beggarly. destitute. indigent. necessitous. straitened. straitened for. hard up. have a weak chest.
  • yönelenlerden --
  • hiçbir iyilik -- not one / good thing
  • esirgenmez -- will not be stinted, denied, refused
As David wrote elsewhere, RAB çobanımdır, Eksiğim olmaz. The Lord / my shepherd is / lack there is not. The two states are incompatible. My hope is that all who read these words of wit will rejoice in the Shepherd, and not accept poverty as normal.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The world is run by tired people (Prov. 6)

Let's look at what Proverbs has to tell us about work and sleep. First, an object lesson about work:
Pro 6:6 Ey tembel kişi, git, karıncalara bak, Onların yaşamından bilgelik öğren.
Pro 6:7 Başkanları, önderleri ya da yöneticileri olmadığı halde,
Pro 6:8 Yazın erzaklarını biriktirirler, Yiyeceklerini toplarlar biçim mevsiminde.
Ants stay busy in summer, when resources are easy to come by, and are ready for hard times. The human temptation is to subsistence -- do just enough to get by during the good times, and truly feel the pinch during bad. In cultures ruled by envy, such as many African tribes, people are afraid of working too hard. Afraid of their neighbor's envy. If a man's crop is doing well, he'll sneak into his field and destroy much of it at night, lest his neighbors accuse him of, and lynch him for, witchcraft. After all, the egalitarian says, it "isn't fair" for one person to have more than another. If a tribe barely stays afloat when times are good, starvation is around the corner.

Now, the opposite of work, sleep:
Pro 6:9 Ne zamana dek yatacaksın, ey tembel kişi? Ne zaman kalkacaksın uykundan?
Pro 6:10 "Biraz kestireyim, biraz uyuklayayım, Ellerimi kavuşturup şöyle bir uyuyayım" demeye kalmadan,
Pro 6:11 Yokluk bir haydut gibi, Yoksulluk bir akıncı gibi gelir üzerine.
Productive people have disciplined sleep patterns. Winston Churchill may have had a brief nap every afternoon, but he also staying up until the wee hours of the morning working night after night.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time and eternity (Prov. 5, Psalm 23)

The Bible is enthusiastically in favor of marital relations. Prov. 5 starts with admonitions about the non-marital flavor of sex:
Pro 5:1 Oğlum, bilgeliğime dikkat et, Akıllıca sözlerime kulak ver.
Pro 5:2 Böylelikle her zaman sağgörülü olur, Dudaklarınla bilgiyi korursun.
Pro 5:3 Zina eden kadının bal damlar dudaklarından, Ağzı daha yumuşaktır zeytinyağından.
Pro 5:4 Ama sonu pelinotu kadar acı, İki ağızlı kılıç kadar keskindir.
A few words:
  • Oğlum -- My son,
  • bilgeliğime -- to my insight
  • dikkat et -- be cautioned, alert
  • Zina eden -- adultery-doing
  • bal -- honey
  • pelin -- absinthe, wormwood
  • sonu -- to the end
  • İki ağızlı kılıç kadar keskindir -- Two / mouthed, edged / sword / like / it cuts
Proverbs can be read as a compilation of texts used to train courtiers and pages for their duties in palaces. Henry Kissinger once said, "Power is an aphrodisiac." Attractive young ladies can be found interning around centers of power. If you value your life, honor, and wealth, flee such temptations!

On the other hand, exuberant delight with one's own spouse should be the norm.
Pro 5:15 Suyu kendi sarnıcından, Kendi kuyunun kaynağından iç.
Pro 5:16 Pınarların sokakları, Akarsuların meydanları mı sulamalı?
Pro 5:17 Yalnız senin olsun onlar, Paylaşma yabancılarla.
Pro 5:18 Çeşmen bereketli olsun Ve gençken evlendiğin karınla mutlu ol.
Pro 5:19 Sevimli bir geyik, zarif bir ceylan gibi, Hep seni doyursun memeleri. Aşkıyla sürekli coş.
People from a desert climate tend to value water.
  • Su -- water
  • kendi -- own
  • sarnıcından -- from your cistern
  • kuyu -- well
  • kaynağından -- from your source, spring. A power supply is a güç kaynak.
  • Pınarların -- your fountains, wells, springs
  • gençken -- time of youth
  • karınla -- with your wife
  • mutlu ol -- blessed be
  • doyurmak -- appease. content. fill. meet. sate. satiate. satisfy. saturate. suffice. to fill up. to satisfy. to satiate. to saturate.
It is amazing how much mileage you can get out of respect, kindness, and affection, faithfully applied over the course of decades. The need for this kind of intimacy is hard-wired into the human anatomy and psyche. A tee-shirt marketed to mothers of large families has the defiant message, "Yes, we know what causes it, and we rather enjoy it." As this chapter points out, exclusivity matters. Man and wife comprise a closed system, a shared germ pool, a paradise of refreshment for one another.

Yet, this is the second-most important relationship of life. True fulfillment comes as we come to terms with our Creator. A favorite Psalm goes thus:
Psa 23:1 RAB çobanımdır, Eksiğim olmaz.
Psa 23:2 Beni yemyeşil çayırlarda yatırır, Sakin suların kıyısına götürür.
Psa 23:3 İçimi tazeler, Adı uğruna bana doğru yollarda öncülük eder.
Psa 23:4 Karanlık ölüm vadisinden geçsem bile, Kötülükten korkmam. Çünkü sen benimlesin. Çomağın, değneğin güven verir bana.
Psa 23:5 Düşmanlarımın önünde bana sofra kurarsın, Başıma yağ sürersin, Kâsem taşıyor.
Psa 23:6 Ömrüm boyunca yalnız iyilik ve sevgi izleyecek beni, Hep RAB'bin evinde oturacağım.
Vs. 1 -- The LORD / my shepherd is, / my poverty / shall not be.
Vs. 3 -- Darkness / of death / in the valley / if I should wander / even, / evil / I shall not fear. / Because / thou (you, singular, intimate) / are with me.

One who has God, has everything. One who has God, plus an affectionate spouse of many years, is truly to be envied.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Speaking of birds ... (Psalm 11)

If you lack wisdom, spend some time in the "wisdom literature" of the Bible, especially Psalms and Proverbs. During eras of the spiritual vigor, people of faith have, traditionally, chanted their way through the Psalms once a month. The Book of Common Prayer has a psalter that is based upon the Bible that King James hated, the Geneva Bible. And, there are 31 chapters in proverbs. A man who needed more common sense would do well to read through that book once a month.

Today, I was reading and enjoying Psalm 11:
Psa 11:1 Ben RAB'be sığınırım, Nasıl dersiniz bana, "Kuş gibi kaç dağlara.
Psa 11:2 Bak, kötüler yaylarını geriyor, Temiz yürekli insanları Karanlıkta vurmak için Oklarını kirişine koyuyor.
Psa 11:3 Temeller yıkılırsa, Ne yapabilir doğru insan?"
Psa 11:4 RAB kutsal tapınağındadır, O'nun tahtı göklerdedir, Bütün insanları görür, Herkesi sınar.
Psa 11:5 RAB doğru insanı sınar, Kötüden, zorbalığı sevenden tiksinir.
Psa 11:6 Kötülerin üzerine kızgın korlar ve kükürt yağdıracak, Paylarına düşen kâse kavurucu rüzgar olacak.
Psa 11:7 Çünkü RAB doğrudur, doğruları sever; Dürüst insanlar O'nun yüzünü görecek.
Let's look at the first verse:
Psa 11:1 Ben RAB'be sığınırım, Nasıl dersiniz bana, "Kuş gibi kaç dağlara.
I / to the Lord / ( fall back upon a thing. take refuge in. take shelter in. refuge. harbor. harbour. nestle. defect. take sanctuary. take to. turn to. ) / How / do you instruct, advise / (to) me / "Bird / like / flee / to the mountains.

"Fugue" is a kind of music wherein one theme chases itself. A "fugue state" is a psychological aberration characterized by a flight from an unpleasant reality. It's not unusual for people in stressful situations to "escape" by way of drug, food, or alcohol abuse. Or, by simply daydreaming, and pretending that things are not so bad after all, since an unknown rich uncle might die today, and leave me as his sole heir.

The message of this psalm, however, is that we have invisible means of support, a God who loves us, cares for us, protects our interests, and can be trusted to set things right.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Let's try again

You want to have a strong finishing kick when running a race. You want to be able to run hard that last lap, even when exhausted, so as to make a good showing in your event.[1] But then what?

A wise man thinks past the fulfillment of a dream.[2] Because, face it, when you finish a big and demanding project, the normal reaction is depression. A gentleman who spent years being captured by German soldiers, and breaking out of their prison camps, reported a sense that all of life was flat when he finally made it home to England. People who work in high-stress occupations, such as air traffic controllers and freight dispatchers, often suffer heart attacks when they take a vacation.

In 1992, I wound up my MS in Communication Studies with a dissertation that is still cited on the first page of a popular google search. A few weeks later, I took a two-week vacation in Ukraine, to observe a society in transition. After several nights of staying up 'til 3:00 am to pack and prepare, I fell asleep on the plane leaving New York around 10:00 pm -- and awoke to full daylight streaming in through the window shortly after midnight. Ukraine is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, but I went through the vacation in a state of excitement that merely postponed the bills. It took more than six months to get back up to speed.

So now, 18+ years later, I've finished my PhD. The last lap took everything I could put into it. My dissertation defense was structured in terms of the patterns of persuasion I'd found in Nutuk and a comparable work, and greatly amused my committee: it sounded like a job interview![3] During that last stretch, I went for 10 weeks without riding my bicycle, gained weight, and kept external commitments to a minimum. As my friends who follow this blog may have noted, I also put less energy into a real source of delight, my Turkish studies. Well, let's look into the Great Book again. Here is a short verse from Proverbs 1:
Pro 1:17 Kuşların gözü önünde ağ sermek boşunadır.
Which being interpreted, reads:
  • Kuşların -- Of the bird
  • gözü -- the eyes
  • önünde -- in front of
  • -- the net
  • sermek -- is spread, draped, lay, spread out
  • boşunadır -- to no purpose.
Evil doers rely on secrecy. Yet, they have less of that than they think. Yes, Solomon warns his sons, it's easy and natural of single young men to clump together in criminal gangs. But they are not as smart as they think they are.

As İsa said in the New Testament, no one gets away with anything. Secrets tend to get revealed -- and we should assume that our furtive, sneaky, "secret" sins will not stay concealed. So, we should be predisposed to face, and repent of, wrongdoing. Nixon was forced out of office for trying to cover up a crime, not for the crime itself.


[1] I was competing the the two mile run one evening in high school. It was winter, indoor track season, and the track was 220 yards long. That's 1/8 mile, sixteen laps. The umpire lost count, and as I hurled myself at the finish line, he held up a finger -- one more lap.

[2] I had a nightmare in 1995 or 1996. I dreamed that I was joyfully putting the final touches on a dissertation that would bless and encourage thousands of people around the world. This dream was a nightmare because, in that terrible lucidity one sometimes experiences while dreaming, I knew that I was dreaming of, rather than doing, the desired project!

[3] Here is a LINK to the defense, if you are curious.