Don’t We Need Ambiguity?

Dr. Gayle takes my favorite hymn, destroys it in fine fashion, and then brings it around again…

Sunday I visited a friend’s church, where we sang the above. Ironically, for being the sort of visionary petition that it seems to aspire to call God Himself to being, it’s not a very clear text, is it?

The English is outdated. The metaphors are mixed. The categories are contradictory. The penultimate line above has one person, one male person only, identifying with God, when a larger number of us including males and females is singing. The math, down to the last number, is all wrong. The meanings are many. The phrasing is unnatural. The ESL learners are struggling. And the children surely aren’t getting much of anything.

Read his entire post, if you might, but I do believe  that sometimes, ambiguity is needed because it makes us search and hopefully affirm that sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay not to understand or to know everything.

It’s about translation, I know, but sometimes, don’t you just enjoy surrendering to the ambiguities of life?

Oh, and the Irish that he brings in simply made my day.

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8 Replies to “Don’t We Need Ambiguity?”

  1. I’m sorry. I’m not really clear on what you’re trying to say here … Just kidding. Of course, there’s no such thing as ambiguity. The truth is black and white. Or, are you the devil’s agent, a relativist denying the existence of absolute truth?

  2. You told us that one of your favorites is Psalm 137 (which you shared in three different translations – now that’s ambiguity — in your post “Examining God’s Word – Psalm 137”).

    You explained to us that one of you “favorite passages in the New Testament is the Christ hymn found in Philippians 2.5-8, in which Paul is writing about humility” (and showed us that in four different translations – humility, you said – in your post “Defending the Deity of Christ with the New Living Translation (NLT)”).

    And now you reveal that you really like this Irish hymn, your favorite.

    I can’t get this line out of my head: “rop tú ad-chëar im chotlud caidche.” (or more ambiguously with these two translations: “Im chodladh no im dhúiseacht, líon mé le do ghrá.” and “May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.”)

    Don’t We Need Ambiguity? Thanks for asking (for prompting such a funny clever answer from Jeremy) and for kindly linking to my post (which such wonderful comments).

    1. Don’t blame me for Jeremy… He may or may not be his own person or personality, perhaps.

      It is a bit frightening to see my older posts quoted back to me, I must say.

      I like the hymn because of the ambiguity in theology. If I trust the history, it was originally written around the 6th century. Does it resemble to Apophatic Theology and hold to some older Irish theological differences with Rome? Iona, perhaps?

      But, yes, humility is a favorite theme of mine, knowing in the end, it is nothing about me.

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