Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sweet Like Honey
(On Speaking the Words to Receive Them)

This post first appeared as part of "Summer of Scripture '14", a movement of young adults reading the Bible in 90 days (one summer). The reflection was born in part by Scripture's hard words, but also by the captain-obvious realization - rediscovered at a Festival of Homiletics - that the the Word must be in us in order to surprise us.
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I LOVE Russian literature (Dostoyevsky, etc.) AND reading out loud. Sadly, it is not easy for me to read Dostoyevsky out loud because most of the characters have this annoying habit of having names. Russian names. Unpronounceable-to-me names. So I read in my head and learn to gloss over the names (which requires a kind of detachment from the text only achievable with considerable effort) OR I read out loud, resenting Dostoyevsky and Russians generally for every mispronunciation he forces from my lips. 
The same is probably true in my relationship with the Bible, that the unfamiliarity of names forces me to choose between detachment and resentment. And I say this as a priest very familiar with the words. But I’m reading the Apocrypha as a warm-up to our June 1 Summer of Scripture kick-off and coming across strange words again and all those resentful feelings are coming back.
So, here’s my gift to you - a link to an audio pronunciation guide. It comes with the caveat that I’m only commending the audio guide and not the other resources on the website. They’re not bad resources, but I have other ideas if you’re looking for good places to start. The audio, though, could be helpful. 
I think the audio could be helpful not because there aren’t other (even better!) ways to say some of the words, but because I know for myself that being able to say a word allows it to get inside me - and that not being able to say the words keeps me at a distance. I want this summer to make me like Ezekiel, eating the scroll, sweet like honey. If you want that for you, too, and being able to say what you read will help, and if this guide can make that happen, this will make me glad.
Happy reading, friends!
Jonathan+

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