My only daughter (and youngest child) recently went off to college. Before she left, her mother and I gave her a mountain of advice and a metric ton of encouragement before she took that giant next step in her life. Being the kind soul that she is, she also gave me a bit of advice in return: "Dad, you should get a Fitbit. It can help you monitor your health."
So… I bought a Fitbit Flex. It’s a little band you strap on your wrist that, paired with an app on your phone, provides a simple reminder that I needed to watch what I eat, get outside and do some walking, and get enough rest.
My precious daughter (a senior attending a local high school) came home one day with tears in her eyes.
"Sweetheart, what’s wrong?", I asked and gave her a hug.
"Nothing," she sniffled.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Okay. I love you and I want to help in any way I can. Just let me know," I said with another brief hug.
I began to turn away but was immediately engulfed in a 30-minute, non-stop, emotionally-charged account of a heated conversation between three of her close friends that resulted in all three of them being mad at her and each other. It all stemmed from a single question one of the girls had asked about someone completely unrelated to their group.
The Atlantic ran an incredible 28-photo presentation of the 2013 Powerhouse Fire in California's Angeles National Forest. The article, entitled The Terrible Beauty of California's Powerhouse Fire, included this image:
Without these powerful reminders from the creation, we can really lose sight of the significance and weight of the words of Scripture that describe the Creator:
Jerry sat staring at his laptop screen in unbelief.
"Fourteen hundred dollars?!? Where am I going to get fourteen hundred dollars? This stupid software was supposed to make sure you got a big fat refund on your taxes not a giant bill!"
"What if I just... fudged some of the numbers a bit?", he thought out loud. Jerry glanced around to see if his wife or kids had heard him. No? Good. They usually avoided him while he was doing taxes or paying the bills because he got so irritable.
Hmmm... lower the income levels or raise the taxes paid? No, too obvious. The numbers wouldn't match the W-2. How about his deductions? Hmmm. Maybe the wife had dropped some extra money in the collection tray at church when he wasn't looking. Yeah... that would shift things in his favor a bit.
With a few clicks Jerry adjusted various numbers in his return until he was receiving a small refund. A few more clicks and he was on the "transmit to the IRS" page.
Jerry sat staring at his laptop screen. He was about to lie on his taxes. "It's only a few hundred dollars." he thought to himself. "The Feds will never notice it. It's not like I'm Bernie Madoff ripping off people for millions."
Jerry sat thinking for another few moments and then reached for the mouse...
Today’s Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster is hagiography.
It means (1) a biography of saints or venerated persons; (2) an idealizing or idolizing biography.
Their “Did You Know” section on the word caught my eye:
Like "biography" and "autograph," the word "hagiography" has to do with the written word. The combining form "-graphy" comes from Greek "graphein," meaning "to write." "Hagio-" comes from a Greek word that means "saintly" or "holy." This origin is seen in "Hagiographa," the Greek designation of the Ketuvim, the third division of the Hebrew Bible. Our English word "hagiography," though it can refer to biography of actual saints, is these days more often applied to biography that treats ordinary human subjects as if they were saints.
The Ketuvim is labeled Hagiographa in Greek but it also means a biography of saints (or holy ones).
When we consider the whole of Scripture as "The Word" and the Word is G-d (John 1:1) then Scripture is His story: the story of the Messiah, the Word made flesh, and His creation of and interaction with humanity.
All of Scripture is a "biography" of sorts of the truly Holy One.
In a recent FoxNews.com article entitled "What the Bible Really Says About Sex", Pastor Mark Driscoll outlines several of our society's issues with sex and contrasts those with the Bible's position on the topic. He does a fairly good job of expressing Scriptural truths and shares what he calls "seven essentials" about sex from the Bible.
Soon after his article appeared, another FoxNews.com opinion columnist, Shari Johnson, delivered a response entitled, "My Lesbian Daughter, the Bible and Sex". In her article, she shares that her "world was rocked to its core the night my 37-year old daughter called to tell me she is gay. Did I run out to find a gay parade to march in? No. It was a painful process for both of us."
She also expresses her concerns regarding two of Pastor Driscoll's seven points:
#3. Marriage is for one man and one woman by God’s design, and
#5. Sex outside of marriage is a sin.
Ms. Johnson makes this statement in her article:
When I hear terms like “God’s design” and “Biblical marriage” I have to wonder who decides these things.
The answer, ma'am, is that G-d decides these things. That's kind of the point of the Bible: to provide a source of instruction for all humanity regarding G-d's ways.
Have you ever met someone who had an immediate and positive impact on your outlook for life? In my life such meetings have been rare but they have happened. I was recently blessed when I met a friend of a friend while out at lunch. Our introduction began in a normal fashion:
“Kevin, meet my friend, Brady.”
“Kevin? Hi! Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, too!”
We exchanged the normal pleasantries, asking each other how long we had known Chad, our mutual friend: are you married, have any kids, etc. Then the conversation turned to work.
“So, Kevin, what do you do?”
“I’m in the import business.”
Chad turned to him with a shocked look on his face. “Did you lose your job at the bank? You’ve been there for years! What happened?”
Continuing in the "wayyy back" theme from the last Word for Thought, I reached into the Merriam-Webster email archives from September 25, 2009. Yes, yes, I know. I need to stay a bit more up to date. :)
The M-W Word of the day was utile and it was defined as
They also provided details regarding the origin of the word:
My day job has recently taken me into the world of marketing and all of the fascinating concepts involved with it. One marketing approach that recently got me to thinking was "branded merchandise". You know... a baseball cap with the name of your favorite sports team on it; a pen with the name of your insurance company; a coffee mug with the name of your favorite veterinary clinic.
Branded merchandise is everywhere:
Pens, pencils, and erasers, water jugs, coffee mugs, and baby bottles, caps, hats, and umbrellas, t-shirts, sweat pants, and jackets, gym bags, tote bags, and book bags, lions, tigers, and bears... oh, my!
The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for August 29th was defile. The surprise definition:
to march off in a line
Here is what M-W provided on this word:
The "defile" that means "to contaminate," a homograph of today's Word of the Day, dates back to the 14th century and is derived from the Old French verb "defouler," meaning "to trample on" or "mistreat." Today's word, on the other hand, arrived in English in the early 18th century. It is also from French, but is derived from the verb "défiler," formed by combining "de-" with "filer" ("to move in a column"). "Défiler" is also the source of the English noun "defile," which means "narrow passage or gorge."
On August 3rd the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day was levigate. They provided this definition:
1 : polish, smooth 2 a : to grind to a fine smooth powder while in moist condition b : to separate (fine powder) from coarser material by suspending in a liquid
They also provided this background information on the word:
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 16th was abstemious.
marked by restraint especially in the consumption of food or alcohol; also : reflecting such restraint
M-W provided the following additional information about the word:
"Abstemious" and "abstain" look alike, and both have meanings involving self-restraint or self-denial. So they must both come from the same root, right? Yes and no. Both get their start from the Latin prefix "abs-," meaning "from" or "away," but "abstain" traces to "abs-" plus the Latin verb "ten?re" (meaning "to hold"), while "abstemious" gets its "-temious" from a suffix akin to the Latin noun "temetum," meaning "intoxicating drink."
In regards to abstaining from food a few passages come to mind.
The Merriam-Webster word of the day for March 26 was dross.
1 : the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal 2 : waste or foreign matter : impurity 3 : something that is base, trivial, or inferior
The history of the word they provided included this:
"Dross" has been a part of the English language since Anglo-Saxon times; one 19th-century book on Old English vocabulary dates it back to 1050 A.D. Its Old English ancestors are related to Germanic and Scandinavian words for "dregs" (as in "the dregs of the coffee") — and, like "dregs," "dross" is a word for the less-than-desirable parts of something. Over the years, the relative worthlessness of dross has often been set in contrast to the value of gold, as for example in British poet Christina Rossetti's "The Lowest Room": "Besides, those days were golden days, / Whilst these are days of dross" (1875).
Aaron Eby relates an interesting video from Joel Osteen's church where Osteen tells his congregation to avoid eating pork or shellfish in order to promote healthy living. Is Osteen promoting kosher?
Many individuals and families who are beginning to walk in Torah commandments are interested in keeping "Biblically kosher", that is, eating according to the commandments of G-d. The commandments regarding food are primarily given in Leviticus 11 and in Deuteronomy 14. Kosher is a Hebrew word that means "proper". Although the word kosher is never used in Scripture to describe the food that is fit for consumption according to G-d's commandments, it is the word that has been commonly used for millennia to describe that food.
As was noted about a year ago in a previous article pork is not good for you. It seems that this issue has cropped up yet again in the news. This time a woman was severely debilitated as the result of a worm that was in the pork working its way into her brain. Fortunately the debilitation was only temporary until the worm was removed via surgery.
YouTube has a number of videos about Coke and pork. Some of them a hoaxes and some of the them are just plain stupid but the fact remains that pork often has parasites and you just don't know which do and which don't. Better to 1) obey G-d and 2) avoid the consequences. Do a quick Google search on pork brain worm and see what all comes up.
California Institute of Technology has this article on brain worms and brain amoebas. They do exist and the article points out that the "pork tapeworm is one of the most common disease-causing brain parasites".
G-d does not make up arbitrary laws. He knows that pork is not good for humanity. He has repeatedly told us not to eat it (and other things) that are unsuitable (Leviticus 11:1-23, Deuteronomy 14:3-20). Peter declares that he never ate anything unclean in Acts 10:14. He was a good disciple of the Master and in the same way we should also avoid unclean animals in our diet.
After a long break from words that brought anything Scriptural to mind...
The Merriam-Webster word of the day for January 21st was "palatable". These meanings were given:
1 : agreeable to the palate or taste2 : agreeable or acceptable to the mind
The Sabbath day began at the end of the first week of creation (Genesis 2:2). The Word of G-d tells us that He blessed the seventh day and separated it as a holy day (Genesis 2:3). If the Sabbath was given before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's time and was created for them for them to observe was it also not created for us? If we are to be doers and hearers of the Word, shouldn’t we observe the Sabbath just as our Lord and Savior did?
OK... I just wrote about thinking about what you are saying. Now for a different take on thinking and your mouth.
I was having a discussion with one of my coworkers when a guy on our team (who is an avid marathon and triathalon runner) walked by with a soft drink in his hand. My coworker teased him: "all the sugar in those soft drinks are going to make you fat". The soda-drinker replied "it's diet". My coworker's expression changed from a good-natured smile to outright horror as she replied "aspartame can kill you".
I have posted a number of articles under the category of "Words For Thought". Part of the purpose in writing those articles is to share interesting insights into words that are often unusual. Today I would like to focus on words from a different perspective: words that are common in our society but that we often use without fully considering the meaning of what we are saying. I will hopefully add to this article as time goes on as I come across additional words to consider.
First up: romance
I get a news digest from CNN each morning and an interesting article recently came up about how people were getting ill with a rather unusual set of symptoms. It turns out the problem was caused by a fine mist of pig brain tissue these folks were inhaling as a result of working in a slaughter house. One of the women interviewed went from being able to walk to needing a wheelchair in 4 months.
Yom Shabbat, 10 Nisan, 5783
Saturday, April 01, 2023