Et hoc evanuerit.

Sometimes God speaks to me through Latin.  I don’t mean he speaks to me in Latin, although that would certainly be cool.  I mean that sometimes I translate things into Latin and then understand what God is trying to tell me.

Don’t think I’m saying that God speaks exclusively Latin, or that he even prefers Latin to other languages.  Rather, he knows I like Latin, and so I think he lets me find him in something that I like.  That sort of mercy is his joy.

By which I don’t mean that God would be unhappy if people didn’t need mercy.  He would of course be joyful even if there were no people at all.  But as there are people, his joy is expressed through mercy.  Or perhaps mercy is what his joy seems like to us, in our current state.

I could quibble all night long.

Also, I know that I’m in the middle of a few conversations.  A few topics.  A few other things too.  This is a bit of an aside, and I appreciate your patience.  Particularly let me thank William, if he happens to read this, for being as patient as he has been.

Back to the Latin thing.

Not long ago I wrote a sonnet about…  Well, about feeling old and lost and directionless.  (It’s possible that the meaning did not come through.  It is, at least for me, difficult to write a sonnet in thirty minutes without deleting anything.  Also, it is difficult to write a sonnet in more time with more liberty.  That’s one of the reasons I like sonnets, but more on that another time.)

At around the same time as I wrote it, I finally found the right translation of the idiom, “other things being equal.”  (Idioms are difficult.  My Latin is somewhere beyond rusty.  It’s dust.)  Ceteris paribus.  That became the title.

I originally meant it to say something akin to, “Unless something changes, this sonnet is my life.”

Alas, the Latin came to be something entirely different for me.  Suddenly, seeing it in Latin, I understood something about the expression “other things being equal.”  There is always one Other that is inestimably unequal.  He is unchanging (so in that sense he satisfies the basic meaning of the expression), but he changes everything (so it’s very difficult to use the expression at all).

I’m not really explaining this well.  At least it doesn’t seem to me that I am.  Perhaps I should not have tried to type this while also trying to show my daughter “The Sound of Music” for the first time.  As usually happens in such situations, she’s not interested, but I can’t look away.

Also I’m out of time again.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

1 Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” 5 Then the king of Aram said, “Go now….” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
–2 Kings 5:1-5a, 9-14 (NASB)

Naaman was a man with two problems.  The first was obvious: he was a leper.  It was Continue reading

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sometimes my spiritual struggles involve mayonnaise.  Thankfully not often; I don’t like mayonnaise.  To understand what I mean, you have to put up with a little bit of complaining; my life is pretty good, so complaining probably seems petty, but I’m frequently petty.

This particular incident happened a few hours ago while I was making my wife’s lunch for Continue reading