Friday, March 21, 2014

Gutting the Lord's Prayer

Sometimes the familiar Scripture we grew up with is given such a bizarre twist that we are caught off guard. People tend to be trusting of something that looks like it is researched and has a seemingly sound explanation.

Ironically, the more bizarre the twisting, it seems the more people cling to it.

The following is an example of how the Lord's Prayer was gutted and twisted by something pretending to be a scholarly source.

I picked up the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensamble (SAVAE) compact disc titled Ancient Echoes several years ago.

SAVAE intended to study A.Z. Idelsohn's musicology and create an album that made what could possibly have been the way music, particularly religious music, might possibly could have sounded like in the time of Jesus' sacrificial ministry.

The instrumentation is "mostly" reconstructed period pieces. The melodies and the modes along with harmonies are "mostly" imagined.

But it's a pretty good set of musical pieces even as a collection of creative anachronisms.

It was the explanation of one particular piece in the CD booklet that caught my attention. The third cut is titled Abwoon (O Father-Mother of the Cosmos) The Aramaic Lord's Prayer.

OK, let's be clear. The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic does not say "Mother of the Cosmos" anywhere. So I open the booklet to read what they say about this piece.

3. ABWOON (FATHER-MOTHER OF THE COSMOS) The Aramaic Lord's Prayer

Text from the Aramaic Peshitta, Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
Chant composed in the Ancient Dorian Mode by Christopher Moroney-Improvised solo by Covita Moroney.

Aramaic is a Middle Eastern language that was the native tongue of Jesus of Nazareth, and common to the Israel/Palestine region during the first century C.E. This musical setting of the prayer of Jesus--sometimes called the Lord's Prayer--includes traditional Middle Eastern percussion, rhythms, and improvisational modal chanting. All the Semitic Languages--including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic--use a root system that allows one word to hold multiple meanings. Thus, a tradition of translation arose in the Middle East that led to each word of a prophet being considered on many different levels of meaning.


O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,
focus your light within us. Create your reign of unity now.
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others' guilt.
Don't let surface things delude us,
but free us from what holds us back.
From You is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews.
Truly--power to these statements--may they be the ground
from which all our actions grow. Amen.

(Translation of the Aramaic Lord's Prayer from Desert Wisdom by Neil Douglas-Kloz 1995)
Here is a rendition of the Lord's Prayer that could make it as a part of the musical Hair--even Shaggy and Scooby could get behind this!
Aquarius


Apart from the dismissive "sometimes called the Lord's Prayer" the booklet's description of the way Semitic Languages work is a trivializing inaccuracy that highlights the abuse of etymology in interpretation. The problem here being that this false view of language is used as an excuse to claim that the text offered here in place of the Lord's Prayer ought to be considered on the level of a translation. It is not. This so-called "translation" is a deliberate misrepresentation of the Lord's Prayer which was done to serve another purpose.

This strange interpretation is not due to any unique feature of Semitic languages (Aramaic, here). This strange translation does not have any basis in the Aramaic text of the Peshitta (the Aramaic Bible used by the Syrian Christian Church). The Aramaic text says the same thing the Greek text says, and the same thing the King James Version says. Nor is this strange interpretation due to any historically demonstrated tradition in the Syrian Christian Church (which uses Aramaic).

This strange interpretation is the work of Neil Douglas-Kloz. Kloz is the director of the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning in Edinburgh, Scotland (EIAL). That's a really impressive sounding name. Actually they are a religious institution designed to promote a multi-religious approach to personal political action. An approach which, of course, excludes Creedal Christianity. From their web page:
EIAL offers education and sponsorship for learning opportunities in applied spirituality, that is, the application of spiritual practice and experience to everyday life: peace studies, ecology and psychology. We distinguish “spirituality,” which has to do with human experiences, from “religion,” which has to do with organizational belief and structure. We believe that spritualilty and holistic education are best conducted in a context that includes:
  • Soma and Psyche: the human relationship to being embodied: breath, flesh, perception of movement, sensation, emotion, intuition, vision and dream.
  • Ecos: the human relationship to its home communities, which include both nature and culture, as well as the influence that each can have on the other.
  • Art and Creativity: the human relationship to creativity,which emulates that of the cosmos itself, and leads to a natural sense of ecological, social and moral responsibility, revealing the purpose in life of each human being.
  • Devotion: the human relationship to relationship itself: the recognition that “I” am not alone, “you” are not alone; that “I” and “you” are, as the Sufi poet Shabistari wrote, only “delicate holes cut in a lampshade” revealing the light of intelligence itself. A religionist might call this “God” (or “Goddess”); an atheist might call it “the eternally evolving nature of matter.” These names are themselves only more holes in the lampshade.
  • Action: Real reseach [sic] is action research: learning as one goes along and taking responsibility for the social and political impact of one's study and experience.
In his own biography Klotz emphasizes the influence of Edgar Cayce upon him as he grew up in a "freethinking" and "devout" family.  Critical in his development was his initiation into Sufism:
Beginning in 1976, Klotz was very privileged to study with the early students of the American Hebrew/Sufi mystic Samuel L. Lewis, who introduced him to the body prayer meditations called the Dances of Universal Peace. [Bio]
 His own projects include the incorporation of spiritual dance with his re-interpretation of prayers from almost any source. The projects include the above mentioned EIAL, International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace, Edinbrugh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace, and the Abwoon Resource Center.

My reason for bringing out the background of the man who created this rendition of the Lord's Prayer is to highlight that integrity to the original text and original meaning had no bearing on Klotz' translation. Quite simply, the original intent was irrelevant. What he produced was a lyric of anti-Christian Newage ecumenism and Socialist politics.

This is just one example of how the world twists God's Word for its own purposes. The old question is still the question at the heart of the matter: "Did God really say...?" When it sounds different, go back to the Scripture.

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