Archive for December, 2011


Awkward Names

Inheriting a weird last should feel a little awkward, but since you have it from birth you don’t notice it so much.  In fact, I don’t know what it’s like to have a normal last name.  My last name, Godde (pronounced ‘Goody’), certainly fits in the awkward category.  I got teased a bit growing up (goody, goody, yum yum) and people had plenty of fun with my name when I was an adult (I got put in a section at ADFA with two other guys, last names Pagan and Priestly).

The Anglican Church has also inherited a weird name.  I discovered this when I married someone who is half-Italian.  An Italian relative asked her, ‘Is he Inglesi?’ That’s the Italian word for English, but it means something more like the reverse of ‘wog’.  Maybe you could loosely paraphrase it ‘dirty skip’ (that’s probably not always implied, but it’s within the range of meanings).  Now, you might be incensed to think that such a category would even exist in Italian thinking.  I think we’re often too racist and naive to realize that other cultures don’t consider themselves inferior to Western culture (i.e. Anglo culture), and in fact may consider themselves superior and have somewhat racist terminology that backs up the fact.

I have noticed this language overlap when I go door-knocking.  Often if I knock on the door of an Italian person, when they hear that I go to an Anglican church they immediately say, ‘No thanks, I’m Catholic.’  That’s possibly because what they actually here me saying is, I go to ‘dirty skip church’.  Given that they don’t see themselves as a ‘dirty skip’ they don’t really feel like going!  It’s about the same as if I door-knocked an Anglo and said, ‘Would you like to come to wog church?’  Other Mediterranean languages have similar words, although I’m not sure about their connotations.  For example, Greek (Αγγλικά) and Spanish (Inglés).  Perhaps that’s why we hear the words, ‘No thanks I’m Catholic’ or ‘No thanks I’m Orthodox’ so often?

I notice that people from Asian backgrounds tend to have less qualms about the word ‘Anglican’.  Maybe that’s because they have no equivalent word in their language?

While ‘Anglican’ may have a proud heritage in Australia, perhaps it’s not the best label to do multicultural ministry under?

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Seeing is believing… But what is seeing? What is appearing? Are they so straightforward categories? I was reading this morning from 1 Sam 3:21 and came across the most extraordinary phrase: “And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.” (ESV). What is this verse saying?

In 3:1 we see that “And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” By the end of the chapter, with the calling of Samuel to be a prophet this situation has been reversed. Now the word of the LORD is coming to Samuel and the LORD has appeared again. Nice, neat, case closed, right? Or is it?

The NIV changes one small word in 3:21 which changes the meaning of the whole verse. It replaces ‘for’ with ‘and’. If the word really was ‘and’ then we would be hearing two things which may or may not be related:

  1. God appeared at Shiloh
  2. God revealed himself by his word

But that’s not the case. The Hebrew word is a little slippery, but I think in this case is better translated ‘for’. There is a link between God’s appearing and God revealing by his word. The link is that God is appearing by the revealing of his word. Or, to put it another way, God revealing himself by his word is the evidence that God appeared again.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Usually we would say he either appeared or he spoke, but we don’t typically say that someone appeared by speaking. But that’s exactly what seems to have been said here. Skip forward to Hebrews and we see something similar happening. In 2:9 the author says, ‘But we see… Jesus’. Now the author didn’t actually ever see Jesus. In 2:3 he admits that he is a second generation believer, not an eye-witness of Jesus. So how did he ‘see’ Jesus? Through the word that ‘was attested to us’ (2:9). He sees Jesus by hearing God’s word. The same idea.

What does that mean for us? Some people hanker for a great vision of God, or some other impressive, spiritual thing. Like angels. Imagine the book you could write about seeing angels. It would be genuine proof that you are truly spiritual. But if we understand what we have in God’s word, the Bible, it’s far more impressive than any vision of angels. In the Bible God appears to us through his word. We get to see God when we read the Bible. It’s not that God looks like a book, but this is how the invisible God reveals himself to us, through his word. You can get no more profound and real spiritual experience of God than through reading his word.

So let’s do it! Let’s get into God’s word and get that profound picture of the LORD who made us and loves us. It’s the clearest picture you’ll ever get of God this side of heaven.