Friday, April 19, 2013


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?  The short answer is Yes - because sound is quantifiable.  It is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies ... The long answer is No - the rest of the definition says ...within the range of hearing.   If the sound is not actually heard, then it doesn't exist.  Interesting.

The English language labels males and females as he and she.  Romance languages take that a step further - nouns are either masculine or feminine.  A little bit of unofficial research shows that there are languages without any male/female distinction.  Everything is it.  On the other side of the spectrum, are languages with more than he/she/it - with animacy markers.  When I was first studying a foreign language, I found it kind of entertaining to think of a cough as a she, but a sneeze is a he - chickens and cows are female, horses and pigs are male.  Who decides these things?  What does it say about the culture of the language?  Is English just cut and dry - if it's not alive, it has no gender - it just gets...cut?  Ouch!  The real question is - if gender is or isn't in the language...the description - is it in the culture?

Thank-you to Google search.  Ask a question and you shall find an answer.  Again, I've done enough scholarly research to understand that this is VERY unofficial.  But intriguing.  Here's one answer:

In Indo-european languages, masculine nouns are descended from agent nouns - things that do things. Feminine nouns are descended from adjectival nouns - things that are something. However, the meanings of words have changed so much in the past five thousand years that the distinction has become obscure. The words for female and male humans take after the nouns, not the other way round, so it's basically because women tended to be thought of in terms of their attributes and men in terms of what they did.

Sometimes, it does make a difference. For instance, in Danish the word "ore" (with a crossed-out O that i don't know how to type) means a kind of coin in one gender but an ear in another. Similarly, in French "un calculateur" is someone who calculates but "une calculatrice" is a pocket calculator.

In other languages, for example Arabic and Hebrew, the gender has other characteristics. In Hebrew, objects that naturally come in pairs such as eyes and shoes are feminine. This is similar to the tendency in English to describe single objects which are in some way doubled as if they were plural, such as trousers, scissors and glasses.

Like I said.  Intriguing.  So now my question is - if your language doesn't give you the ability to describe something, does it exist?  I have been told that the Inuit have nine different words for snow.  I don't know of nine different kinds of snow.  I know wet snow, powder, crusty snow, dirty snow, clumpy snow.... I don't think I can name nine... Does that mean the other four don't really exist? Because I don't recognize them?  That doesn't seem right - it exists for the Inuit...

I have heard that people who lost their eyesight, then had it restored, had to relearn how to see.  Contact lenses are being used that correct near vision in one eye, and far vision in the other.  The trick is to learn the two types of vision.  The translators in the brain have to be taught to understand what the optic nerve is sending.  In some ways, that makes sense.  Try to imagine seeing as a newborn - colors and shapes, lines and movement - without the labels, the words - to categorize and understand.  We see perspective - depth and distance - we see three-dimensions on two-dimensional surfaces.  People who have been raised with curves don't perceive the depth in the same way - they see lines at angles that are exactly that - lines at angles.  Does distance, then, not exist?  Until we learn to see it?  Ask our legs on a long walk, or our separated families...

Perception.  Description.  Conclusion.  Related.

I am enjoying Ecclesiastes.  The Teacher.  Wanderings, ramblings, observations, advice.  Perception. Description.  Conclusion.  The book is definitely not the do-all, end-all.  King Solomon, wise as he was, was still a man.  But this book is a window.  An eye into a man, into a life, into meaning, into God.  There are ways and there are ways to look at the things in this world - to describe them - the its, the whos, the whats, the hows, the whys, the hes, and the shes.  Surface.  Observe.  Describe - Language - what do you see?  What do you hear, smell, taste, touch?  What about beneath the surface?  Depths.  Perceive - what do you feel?  Where are your emotions?  How is your soul?  What pulls at your heart?  Culture - our beliefs, our standards, our religion, our instructions for living.

God has set eternity into our hearts - Hmm...describe that.

I can't.  Not with words.  What I know is that the thought of God's eternity in my heart gives me peace, puts me at ease.  No one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Again - language only describes the not-knowing... Words fail.  But culture doesn't fail.  Theology 101 - He is God, I'm not.  I am absolutely ok with giving this plan thing - this control - over to Him.  I don't have to describe every little detail.  I don't have to understand and explain every little question.

I can wonder.  I can marvel.  I can stand in awe of my Maker and my King.  Life will go on - people will be born; they will die.  They will live.  I can look forward to God's plan - to His timing. Ecclesiastes...everything in its season.  Selah.

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I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.