Pentecost 69

Pentecost 69
My Psalm 69

The Folly of Persecution

During one night of Britain’s Got Talent, a young sixteen-year-old girl stepped out onto the stage. She sang approximately ten measures of her song before being cut off by judge Simon Cowell. He asked her to sing another song despite the booing’s of the audience and protestations of the other three judges. The girl brazenly but quietly explained she’d rather sing that song. The link is at the bottom of this so you decide for yourself the wisdom of Mr Cowell’s actions.

Persecution is something most experience, though as very minor levels compared to that which faithful believers of anything other than Islam are experiencing right now in the Middle East. As a result, religious groups and even the United States of America have stepped in and offered aid. The overt persecution has had the opposite effect of what many might have hoped to achieve. Persecution has a persuasive tool seldom works.

Born in Mecca in 570 ACE, the Prophet Mohammed or Muhammad of Islam, has been called one of the most hated men in history. The religion he founded has been the root of much persecution throughout history but it cannot lay sole claim to that. The fact is that man has twisted the religious and spiritual teachings around so that in some ways, followers are living exactly the opposite.

Mohammed himself wrote “Christians are my citizens.” The Quran requires Muslims to protect churches against attacks, calls for equal rights and protection for minorities, forbids punishment for apostasy and compulsion in religion, and does not sanction the combining of mosque and state. In many ways, the Constitution of the United States of America and the Quran call for the same things. Why then do we have the wars, the attacks, the kidnapping of school girls, and the hatred against “western ways”….the persecution?

There is a saying among peoples of the extreme north that the Eskimos can tell the different types of snow. Snowboarders will tell you there are different types of snow – crust, crud, slush, powder, and ice. These of course are elements of the snow that affect their performance but are there really that many different types of snow?

Meteorologists will tell you that atmospheric conditions affect snow. The falling snow becomes snowflakes, then snowpack, and it all is considered the snowfall. Snowflakes are clusters of ice crystals falling from a cloud. There are various types of snowflakes which include hoarfrost, graupel, and polycrystals. How the snow falls and how much determines the type of snow fall which can be a snow flurry, a snowstorm, a blizzard, a snow squall, a snowburst, blowing snow, or drifting snow. Once it falls, the snow pack or snow cover is the total of all the snow and ice on the ground. This can include old snow as well as new snow.

Types of snow cover can be new snow, firn, neve, old snow, season snow, perennial snow, or powder snow. Once on the ground, the snow cover becomes subject to various wind conditions which cause snow formation. Natural elements can literally change the shape of the snow surface. Such changes also have names: cornice, crust, megadunes, penitents, ripple marks, sastrugi, snow barchans, snow bridge, or snow roller, some being different types of snow drifts.

With all these different types of snow from a scientific standpoint, you might wonder what the big deal would have been with Eskimos and their different types of snow. Linguist Edward Sapir and student Benjamin Whorf developed what is known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. They maintained that Eskimos have many more words for snow than the other languages. To these two and for a time the rest of the world, this meant that what we are capable of thinking and perceiving was based upon vocabulary – the words we have at our disposable.

Could this be the root of all persecution? A simple lack of enough words to promote understanding and compassion, generosity of allowing people to develop their own style and belief system has resulted in the persecution of those different than ourselves?

A young woman with a speech impediment was introduced to a group of her roommate’s family members. They were fearful since they had never known anyone with such an impediment and were certain the girl was evil. However, once the roommate had adequately translated the condition using words common to them, they apologized.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis has since been rejected and Stephen Pinker in 1994 wrote an obituary for it in his book “The Language Instinct”. Pinker maintained that if we could only learn what we had words for, then no one would ever learn a language. Today it is believed that Eskimos has so many words for snow because they have learned to recognize the different snow types. Their knowledge led their vocabulary. Hopefully, some day, we will learn that we really are one big family. DNA has already proved the genetic links all men and women share. Now we need to use our beliefs to live as one family. Maybe one day the term persecution will be a forgotten archaic term found not in real life but only in dusty old tomes unearthed only by linguistic students needing a forgotten term.

My Psalm 69

O Dear God, rescue me.
Good Lord, deliver me.
I do nothing right in their eyes.
They ridicule and gossip about me.

My enemies are as plentiful as blades of grass
Or the hairs on my head.
I want nothing good for them, Lord;
Give them the justice they deserve.

I sing your praises and magnify your name.
Let those in need hear and see my thanksgivings.
You have promised redemption for those who believe.
My suffering for His name will be my ticket for eternity.

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