Tuesday, February 12, 2008

That which Pisseth Understanding

Pastor Steven L Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, expounding on the King James Bible phrase, "him that pisseth against the wall." Definitely the most idiotic and hilarious bit of sermon that I’ve ever heard.

Pastor Anderson helpfully provides us with a number of things to discuss. First of all is the slavish use in certain fundamentalist churches of the original King James Bible, viewing it as the authentic word of God. The King James Only movement is quite popular in this country, and is a natural result of people who strive to take scripture literally, without pausing to consider what exactly the term literal actually means.

This poses problems, not the least of which is that the King James Version (KJV) is obviously only an English translation, thereby eliminating access to the Bible to the majority of the world that doesn’t read English. Of course, this is not a problem to those who seriously believe that people who don’t read English are condemned to Hell. But another more subtle issue is the evolving nature of the English language. The original KJV dates back to 1611 (with regular updates occurring since then) but the Jacobean English spoken and written back then is different than the English today, and not just with the second person pronouns that still existed at that time (thee and thou, instead of modern English’s co-opting of you and yours). Grammatically there is a massive difference: word order.

Today, English uses a ‘SVO’ word order: subject – verb – object; I marry you. But that is recent, and for most of its ‘life’ English used an ‘SOV’ word order: subject – object - verb; I thee wed (and, ‘til death do us part). This is identical to Japanese, Korean, Hindi, and, most relevantly, Latin. An English speaker relying on the KJV for an ‘English’ translation is about as logical as the same speaker relying on a Japanese translation. You’re actually much better off making everyone in your congregation learn the original Biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek, although the problem with that is the same as with English: Hebrew and Greek have changed radically in the past 2-3000 years.

But all this pails in theological significance to the important point of having the quintessence of masculinity in God’ Eye be about being able to pee standing up.

The above would be an example of a sermon that would not win the Virginia Theological Seminary’s John Hines Preaching Award. However, the sermon that did win this year was by my brother, Mike:

‘…Preaching on the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Kinman focused his remarks on God’s radical imperative for Christians to connect with and love one another, beginning with, according to Kinman, the simple act of eye contact. “Not making eye contact” said Kinman, “is the mantra of urban living… when we make eye contact with someone, we make a connection. We establish relationship. We invite them into our lives. When we do that, we become vulnerable… and vulnerability compromises safety.”

“Christ’s call to us to make eye contact,” continued Kinman, “is to venture into the neighborhoods of poverty and literally to look the ‘we’ who live there in the eyes, and listen to them and learn from them… not to drive by or drive around but to gaze on people on society’s margins with compassion, to bind their wounds and love them extravagantly.”…’

Congratulations to Mike on this wonderful award of recognition, even if he can't be bothered to email me about it, and I have to find out about it third-hand. He does complain about not having the time to write in his blog (though he spends time writing and moderating here.) If he started posting his sermons, though, then I would be able to actually read them, and maybe he wouldn't feel so bad about waiting three months between posts.

I'd much rather watch a Youtube of him preaching.