This may be a shock, but I’m thinking God doesn’t really speak English. I mean, of course, he can speak English, as presumably he can speak anything he wants, but what I’m saying is that I don’t really think English is his native language.
Furthermore, when God speaks, I think he speaks in his native language, then we translate to English or whatever other language it is we speak. In doing so, of course, some things get lost in the translation. Of course, it’s possible that things get added in the translation, too, but adding things to God’s language would probably result in what should be called a loss.
Really, it seems it would be be impossible to add anything to something that God could say in his language and actually improve on what he says. So, let’s consider anything that’s added, or subtracted, from what God says, during the translation effort, as being a loss.
Then, of course, after the translation, we like to take it a few steps further and explain the translation. Translation: we dumb it down for mass consumption. More gets lost, and more becomes less.
So, acknowledging a prevailing tone of cynicism in the way this post is developing but pressing on unabashedly, what I’m saying is that pretty much everything we recognize as our world – the methods, the cultures, the styles, the morality, the worship, the books, the arts, the counsel, the teaching, the advice – are a diminished translation of what God said; a dumbed down version of what God spoke into existence.
I agree, the idea that we’ve screwed up what God intended, isn’t an original thought. We all pretty well know that. But, weak as it may be, I’m actually trying to hit a slightly different point – frankly, that even though we know we’ve screwed it up, we still persist in perpetuating the problem, and mostly because it’s just too weird to actually let the native language of God say what it says.
Our predicament, I think, stems from the fact that we just can’t stop translating. Inherently, the translation weakens the voice, but we can’t help it. God’s native language may not be English or Italian or Spanish or Chinese or Swahili or whatever, but ours are. Aren’t they? Well? What is our native language? Are we just refusing to speak it, or at least acknowledge it?
What is God’s native language? That’s the question this line of thought begs as it rattles around my brain. A conversation with my daughter, Hannah, at the The Crown Pub tonight has given me what might be a clue, but I’ll save you the chase and get to the big finish.
I think the language God speaks can be heard in the groaning of the human soul. I know that’s too abstract to be very helpful, but keep in mind, this is English.
Tonight, I’m wondering if God’s native language is the one we hear when we want to do something radical, like go on a random, unreasonable, unjustified, unnecessary road trip. What God would be speaking would not be the road trip, but the desire that gets translated into a road trip.
Maybe it’s the inspiration that strikes just before a painting, or just before a sentence, or just before a prayer, or a conversation, or a spice gets added to the recipe. Maybe God’s voice is heard just before the thought strikes or the plan takes shape. Maybe it’s the preface of grief or anger, sorrow or disdain.
Maybe the translation is the action or emotion or idea, but the language of God is the precursor to any and all of those things.
They say, whoever they are, that you know you are becoming fluent in a new language when you no longer take the mental step to translate it into your original language and then back again.
I’m wishing I could hear God’s native language and communicate fluently enough so as not to engage in translation. Just to hear the groaning and let it speak, then respond in like manner and be satisfied.
That’s weird, huh?