Tag Archives: finding God

The Banality of Adjectives

22 Mar

Today I observed two interactions that disturbed me a lot. In one, a video of kids parading their Purim costumes  was shared with a colleague on whatsapp, to which she responded ‘incredible!’. In another, another Purim shot was shared, also on whatsapp with a family member of someone’s children dressed up in pretty ordinary looking costumes. The response was ‘fantastic!’.

These reactions were inappropriate, out of context and thoroughly exaggerated. So what, you say, why should I care? Well, if a plastic ninja outfit is ‘fantastic’, and teens dressed as butterflies are ‘incredible’, then what adjectives would you use to describe the warm orange glow of a sunset, the view while perched on a mountain in  the Himalayas, watching an egg hatch or a rare butterfly open its wings? Are these wonders of Creation simply ‘very fantastic’ or ‘extremely incredible’?

It might even be worse than that. It might be that language has ceased to serve its function. A person no longer has the lexicon by which to truly appreciate that which is appreciable.

You might say it’s me. So, what. Speech is free, it’s your problem.

Yes, I have a problem with inappropriate and banale adjectives. Is it simply because I love language and its precision? Partly yes but mostly not.

The ability to communicate ideas, stories, hopes and dreams is something that separates us from animals. Yes, animals communicate, but not in the way we do. Our distinctly human souls are embedded in the language we speak and I feel our language should express this.

Notice how I added the ‘I feel’. Perhaps that is the key to using and not abusing language, as I illustrated above. Rather than taking superlatives and sprinkling them at will, like chocolate chips and brown sugar, maybe we should start to personalize the way we perceive the world. Perhaps we should qualify our adjectives with ‘I feel’ or ‘This makes me think….’ or ‘In my opinion, this is….’ That actually might be quite interesting.

In the opinion of a  person, who doesn’t have experience to reference from, a bite of a fast food hamburger is ‘fantastic’. So he or she should state ‘This Mcd’s hamburger, in my opinion, tastes fantastic.’ That is OK by me. It’s your opinion and not mine. You’re not attempting to color the world with your superficial brush. You just wish to show me your interpretation of the world through your eyes. I can dig that.

How does this connect to Godliness. Well, God’s word is the word of silence. The highest ideal we can achieve  is  an intimate understanding of Him and His world, where no words, no adjectives or superlatives are necessary. When we stand at God’s feet and contemplate his glory, we cannot help but be filled with it…that feeling that no words can really justify….but where ‘awe’ and ‘wonder’ come to mind.

For God just ‘is’ and so too, is his  awesome and wonderful world. (And no adjectives are really necessary).

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How much do we know? How much do we understand?

15 Mar

How much do we know? How much do we understand?

I recently read a paper concerning how one can measure knowledge, achievement and ability. It is indeed a very interesting philosophical debate.
I have always asked myself what God has to say about knowledge and intelligence in general. Do we become better people by knowing and understanding more? Is it at all helpful to learn and understand in order to walk in God’s ways?
I think the answer lies in the concept of us actively being the children of God. A child is intellectually just as capable as an adult, but he or she needs a parent or caregiver to guide him or her. We are capable, but we shouldn’t believe in our own capabilities. If our knowledge and intellect causes us to turn away from God, then we are just as dumb as the next person. If we use knowledge and intellect to ‘intellectualize our ego’ then we are equally doomed. But if we seek to understand and at the same time realize that we know nothing, and realize that whatever we know is the equivalent to whatever we own, ie. that it all belongs to God then we are on a better path towards walking with God rather than away from Him.

The One Size that Definitely Does Not Fit All

3 Jan

I recently was a the dentist having a temporary crown refitted as one had fallen out. I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that we’re all so different that even our teeth are different, even if they do precisely the same job as everyone else’s. 

Taking a bird’s eye view, a sociologist’s view or anyone else’s view we might all be remarkably similar in habits, looks, behaviour- you name it. Yet we are all so fundamentally different. Because God made us that way.

I ponder on my old friends who still remain in the religious world, whose children are rejecting the ‘beauty of orthodoxy’ or who themselves have internally rejected so many aspects of it, that they are literally clinging on to a life raft of appearing externally religious. It is simply a sham. So much pain in the name of something that was so fresh and promising at the beginning.

I think it’s like our teeth. There is no single prescription for our spiritual ills. If anyone things they can take that ‘one size fits all’ and stretch it or tighten it so it looks like it fits will soon be flailing in something which will inhibit them. Anything that offers itself to ‘everyone’ is distinctly suspicious.

We came in alone, we’ll go back to God alone. Let’s find our fit together with him, our individual, hand-molded fit from our Maker who made the mold itself.