Scherpe Martelende Pijn!

UNC student to the eye doctor: 
"Whenever I drink coffee, I have 
this sharp, excruciating pain."

Doctor: "Try to remember to 

remove the spoon from the cup 
before drinking."

1 comment:

Jill Carattini - rzim said...

The Fortunes of Language

In Ayapan, Tabasco, a village in southern Mexico, a tragedy is on the
horizon. As in any other city on any given day, two men have stopped
talking to each other; they say they have drifted apart and no longer wish
to speak. But unlike other cities and other feuding men, the elderly men
of Ayapan are the last two remaining speakers of the local Zoque language.
Without their attempts to keep the language alive, many fear the language
will soon become extinct. While the hope is that others will learn Ayapan
Zoque or that the men will choose to pass down the knowledge to their
families, those who study indigenous languages are all too aware of the
statistics. Across the world, the United Nations calculates, one language
disappears every two weeks.

Language specialists remind us that the loss of any language, however few
once spoke it, is no small loss. "Language death is symptomatic of
cultural death: a way of life disappears with the death of a language,"
note authors Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine. "The fortunes of
languages are bound up with those of its speakers."(1) When the critical
insight contained within a language is forgotten, an irreplaceable
resource has vanished from the world and its future generations, leaving
in its place a certain void. The cry to remember is often voiced by those
who foresee the darkened glimpse of a world that has forgotten. Such a
description is reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth at the onset
on the story. "The world is changed," says Galadriel. "I feel it in the
water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once
was is lost, for none now live who remember it."

Since the biblical story is uttered simultaneously with a cry to remember,
it is not surprising that we should find the same quality in the prayers of
its characters. When Jehoshaphat stood up in the temple to pray in front
of the entire assembly, he was speaking a language that sought desperately
to remember the character of God. "O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not
the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.
Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. O our
God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people
Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?" His
prayer was perhaps even a cry for God too to remember, to bear in mind the
Lord they had come to know, the relationship God had sought with them, the
history that existed between them. Speaking this common language and
story, bringing the acts of God in history to the forefronts of their
minds, Jehoshaphat then cried to God to act among them in the present. "O
our God, will you not judge...the vast army that is attacking us? We do
not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chronicles 20:6-12).
Prayer is a language of remembrance. It is taught by those who have gone
before us, those who have witnessed the power of God in history, those who
were commanded to remember and now call us to do the same.

Speaking this language, teaching our children the fortunes bound within
it, we remember the person of God, and we remember the people we are
before the throne of heaven. Standing before a religious crowd, Jesus
offered a parable about prayer. "Two men went up to the temple to pray,
one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and
prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other
men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I
fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector
stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his
breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner'" (Luke 18:10-13). To
the shock of the crowd, Jesus then revealed the one who spoke the language
of heaven: "I tell you that this tax collector, rather than the other, went
home justified before God" (14).

Prayer is a language whose fortunes keep before us the person and
character of God, even as it keeps before us our own need for the kingdom
and its mercies. So too, it is a language that helps us remember the
whole story.

On the night before he was placed in the hands of those who would lead him
to death, Jesus prayed that God would take away the task that stood before
him. In prayer, Jesus pled with God to spare him; in prayer he sought the
Father's intervention; yet in prayer he remembered the entire story, such
that even on the Cross he was able to pray for those who had no idea what
they were doing. On his knees in Gethsemane, Jesus remembered our
desperate need for his sacrifice. He concluded his prayer to the Father,
"Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36). At these words,
Christ forever bound within the biblical language a fortune we ought never
to forget.

Jill Carattini is senior associate writer at Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine, Vanishing Voices (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 200), 7.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
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