Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

A Modern English Interpretation of The Lords Prayer

I grew up with The Lords Prayer.  I should say I grew up with The Lords Prayer at arm’s length.  I was born, and raised in a Jehovah’s Witness household, though now I follow a religious philosophy that can only be described as freestyle Eastern Orthodox Christianity … I’m very fond of Sufi poetry and Carl Sagan.  In the household of my childhood, it was kosher to read The Lords Prayer in passing, as part of the Bible in its entirety.  However, to pray The Lords Prayer, or to contemplate the depth of its message, was expressly forbidden … idolatry, and all that.

What happens when you tell a boy not to do something?  What happens when you harp into the ground at some kid that chewing tobacco and smoking a pipe is evil and bad?  He’s going to hide his tobacco pouch in his gym shoes, and stash his pipe outside in some old tree stump, sick and woozy as both practices make him.  So it is with The Lords Prayer.

I had difficulty grasping the meaning, and the message behind The Lords Prayer.  You know, my father went around the country selling pumping jacks to oil companies.  My ancestors fought horrific wars to get rid of kingdoms and lords, and such other nuisances.  As far as evil goes, there’s that chewing tobacco and pipe smoking dynamic creeping right back up to the surface once again.  Furthermore, if you loan someone $10 because they forgot their lunch, you’d be buying their lunch every day if you didn’t expect them to pay you back … you‘d go broke.

I had difficulty grasping the meaning, and the message behind The Lords Prayer.  I had difficulty grasping the meaning, and the message behind The Lords Prayer, till I examined The Lords Prayer critically, in its historical context.  The concepts, the message behind The Lords Prayer were not originally expressed in English by a 20th Century Hillbilly, with a lexicon of around half a million words from which to draw.  The concepts and message behind The Lords Prayer were originally expressed by a 1st Century Judean Heir Apparent being financed by remnants of the Persian Empire, and more than likely several other political entities, including Ethiopia.

This 1st Century Judean Prince expressed himself in Aramaic, a member of the Semitic Language Family.  The language as it was spoken was almost entirely influenced by Ancient Hebrew, which had been a static language for about 200 to 300 years before The Lords Prayer was first uttered.  Mutations of pronunciation, variances in emphasis, and slight differences in the funny way Hebrew and Aramaic shove words together … called ‘constructs’ … classify Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic as two different languages.  Ancient Hebrew had a lexicon of about 10,000 words, Aramaic may have had a few thousand more, if it was lucky.

Jesus, Jesus Ben-David, the 1st Century Prince to whom I’ve been referring, was attempting to express concepts and ideas of which the language he was using simply could not facilitate.  He wasn’t speaking English, He wasn’t speaking Greek, and He wasn’t speaking Latin … He was speaking Aramaic, a language of goat herding philosophers who didn’t normally have to say a lot of things to a lot of people.  Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, resorted to the use of  parables, and idioms in His teachings.

The Lords Prayer is idiomatic in its entirety.   Unfortunately, the ancient translators of The Lords Prayer simply exchanged Aramaic words for English words, then rearranged the words so they’d sound pretty in a sentence.  The idiomatic context of the verbiage was ignored entirely.  Luckily, we have a modern language which is directly descended from ancient Aramaic, which we find in modern Syriac.  Serendipitously, Syriac has retained the tradition of idiomatic expression from its roots in antiquity, to the extent that many of the idiomatic expressions used in the language today are very ancient.

So, following is the end result of a life time of exploration, and contemplation.  I would like to point out here that I am fluent in Hebrew, but speak about three words of Aramaic.  I’ve had to rely on others interpretations of the idioms being scrutinized, as well as my own common sense and humble knowledge of the subject in general.

A Modern English Interpretation of The Lords Prayer

Our Father Who Art in Heaven,
Cosmic Entity, Providential, our Originator and to  our Kindred,

Hallowed be Thy Name,
Whose Very Name fails to describe Your Completeness,

(NOTE: In Ancient Israel, to know the name of something was to have control over it. This concept has a basis in reality. Try this experiment. The next time you see your buddy Bob walking down the street, holler at him.  Say, ‘Hey, Bob!’ Your buddy Bob will stop his progress, turn to you, and say something like, ‘Yes, Jerry! What can I do for you?’ Now, if your buddy Bob was busy doing something important, and you interrupted him for trivial, superfluous reasons, old Bob would probably not be very happy with you. In Jewish Tradition, one does not directly utter the name of God, as ones plight might not be nearly as critical as one thinks it is.)

Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven,
When we come to live according to our true nature and purpose we will be in harmony with You,

Give us this day our daily bread,
Let us focus on the present,

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,
Let us not focus on past events,

And lead us not into temptation,
Nor let us focus on expectations of the future,

But deliver us from evil,
But let us harmonize with our true natures,

For Thine is the Power, and the Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, both Now, and Forever, and unto the Ages of Ages,
For You are all of Everything in all of Time and in all of Space.

There it is!

A young woman named Mary praying The Lords Prayer in Aramaic at St. Serge and Bacchus Church in Maaloula, Syria.


Let People Eat!

I’m working through the fifteen leadership traits for this blog right now, but I thought I’d throw this in. I’m sure you have sat down to a meal and the host insist on giving a prayer? I support this for reasons we won’t go into in the space and time provided. For now, suffice it to say that you are what you eat, mentally as well as physiologically. I’ll touch prayer, contemplation, and meditation for personal development purposes during later segments.

Back on topic … you’ve sat down to a meal … you are freakishly famished … you are so hungry you could eat spinach jello … and your host insists on blessing the food, and that blessing lasts two hours. Don’t do that to people. The purpose of giving a blessing before a meal is to give a blessing before a meal, not to give a sermon. Let your guests go to Church, or Mosque, or Synagogue for a sermon. When your eating, eat. When you’re preaching, preach. It’s hard enough to focus on the Word of God with all the other distractions in our lives, let alone when we’re sitting with a plate of fresh-baked biscuits right under our noses. Man can not live by bread alone, but it’s pretty hard to get by without it.

Here is a simple, concise, quick blessing you can give to food. It was taught to me by His Grace Bishop The Right Rev. Dr. Seraphim of San Francisco, who also said, “When you’re teaching people, teach’em. When your feeding people, feed’em.” I am a Christian, so this blessing will naturally have a Christian motif, but I’m sure you can alter this blessing to meet your own belief system.

Here goes:

“Heavenly Father, bless the hands of those who have worked to make this feast possible for us today, for in doing so, they have provided us with sustenance to continue Your Work. Amen!”

Now, there are a couple of things I’d like to point out here. When you bless the hands of the laborer, you bless the product of the laborer. Furthermore, this blessing is all-inclusive. When we use this blessing, we not only bless the hands of the financier of supper, nor only the cook, but whom clears the table and does the dishes, the employees at the mill who milled the flower, the farmer who grew the wheat, the butcher who cut the meat … and, though I get some argument about this concept, the poor lamb that donated the leg … the warehouse people, the truck drivers, the store clerk … any one who had anything to do with you putting food in your stomach at that time.

Till next time, don’t get between people and food, particularly in the name of God … get people fed, and preach later. Remember, you are a spectacular individual capable of spectacular things.