Tea drinker

It's all about interpretation.

Religious language, in case you were nun the wiser.

Hello there people of the internet, I come before you today to expand upon the curiosities brought up by religious language. (Not because I’m a hero or anything but feel free to come to your own judgements).

I believe it would be accurate to say that Interpretation allows power, and that power has changed vastly over time, with language in religious texts being worded differently in thousands of different publications and even if only a word, a piece of punctuation or the structure of a sentence has been changed it can change the meaning of a sentence completely.  For instance, the Hebrew word “Almah” means both “young girl” as well as “virgin girl” and was chosen as “virgin girl” when concerning the birth of Christ from Mary. Without this choice of translation from Hebrew to English, it is possible that the birth of Christ would not have been from ‘virgin Mary’ but in fact ‘young girl Mary’ which would cause an entirely different interpretation on the religion or even the lack of creation of the Catholic Church. These linguistic blunders can arise in any case, even today. For example, the different meaning taken from a sentence because of a small deviation can offset the entire message carried. For instance,

Let’s eat, Grandpa!

deviated to

Let’s eat Grandpa!

Seriously guys. Punctuation saves lives :P

As most of you all know, the media these days is filled to the brink with stories about religious fanatics and their reasoning for doing what they’re doing. It’s causing a lot of hassle and bad press for a load of religions and although personally I’m not a religious man myself, I figured it only fair to give these ideas a fair trial before acceptance or judgement. Anyway, because religious followers nowadays are so varied, even in the same religion, I figured that the only thing that is causing such differentiation is their personal interpretation on what the religion means to them. Although, of course, all religious people differ on topics, because we’re all individuals and all have different interpretations of things (especially those so personal and close to heart like death and the universe and everything) it also means that it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact ideologies of a belief system which is so open to interpretation.

So I figured I’d start here, with language.

Language is the base of all communication and without it we would lack the capability to transfer data from one person to the other. It would be like posting this online when the internet didn’t exist. Communication would fall apart. So when it comes to something as important as your entire belief system it would probably be at least a tiny bit important to take a look at the language used to communicate the entire religion’s beliefs in the first place, through the Holy Texts.

Nope not a book with a hole through it, but in fact texts which religions consider to be sacred or at the origin of their religious tradition. Books like these are usually created divinely, supernaturally inspired or created from a philosophical belief system and in these Holy Texts are the words that inspire the actions of billions. Phrases coined from religious texts still riddle todays language, for example, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ and the phrase ‘peace offering’ are both derived from the Bible. However, all words in language require interpretation (as literalism would lead to a lot of confusion with the way we speak at the moment) for example the phrase ‘resting in peace’ could mean death, or sleeping well depending on the context, this euphemism demands interpretation! To acquire the right message, analysis of context an individual point of view are vital but if the words of the texts are so open to individual interpretation, what’s not to say these texts could mean anything? I bet you all know at least one person who has that skill to twist your words to mean anything they want. Well, if there are people like that everywhere preaching and inspiring thousands, then what’s to differentiate between right and wrong in this chaos?

I suppose it’s a writer’s creed that the truth should be spoken, no matter how vaguely or hyped up. So I find it right to assume that the change in power has been brought upon by the need for entertainment which has led to things ‘escalating quickly’ to change drastically from ruling with an iron fist to ruling with a fist laced in the latest glove by  Marc Jacobs.

But just because power has changed, doesn’t mean religion should. It’s not the 7th Century anymore, religion isn’t as powerful as it used to be, especially not in the ever more secular society we live in today. If anything, a religious text should be making a stand against change not succumbing to it.(I mean in faith not like getting T.V’s in churches, that’s pretty cool) Because over the past 600 years the Bible itself has been changed over 100 times and that’s only the English translation! I don’t know if any of you guys and gals are religious or ever have been religious, but I figure that if something that is so open to interpretation creates the rules for billions of people’s lives, then it must have solidarity and cannot be constantly changing.

Because…

Small changes only allow larger ones, which in turn bring about drastic interpretations which have started wars, killed the innocent and caused me to write this post.