Monday, August 18, 2008

Andalusia Talk

I speak to you under the influence of God: Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. As I typed that yesterday I was humbled and reminded of how audacious a claim that is to make. That’s something I’ve learned over the course of my three years as a Christian in college. I’ve also learned that that claim should only be made after lots of prayer, thought, reflection, discernment, and listening to the voice of the Spirit.

That being said, I have a question for you. Are any of you familiar with the webpage “I Can Has Cheezburger?” For those of you who aren’t, it is a collection of images of cats in funny positions with captions that are misspelled and often without proper grammar. They are some of the funniest things I’ve seen, and I give a lot of credit to the people who caption the pictures that make me laugh.

This summer I found out that there is a webpage of people who are spending their time translating the Bible into lolcat, the language that the cats speak. Lol at the beginning stands for “laugh out loud.” While some might see this translation as sacrilege or merely silly, having looked through it online I’ve really liked the way that some of the things are phrased. Here is an example, using the Matthew text that Tate just read for us. Before hearing it, you should know that “cheezburgers” are blessings and “Ceiling Cat” is God.

Wen teh Jebus comez in hiz awesumness, n al teh angels wit 'im, he wil sit on 'is couch of teh ceilings awesumness. All teh nashuns will be gatherd before him, an he will separate teh peeps wan frum anothr as sheferd separatez teh sheep frum teh goats. he will put teh sheep on his rite an teh goats on his left. "den teh king will say to dose on his rite, coem, yu hoo haz cheezburgrz from ceiling cat; taek ur kitteh toyz, teh kingdom prepard for yu since teh creashun ov teh urfs. 4 i wuz hungry an u openz canz and not drai fuds, i wuz thirsty an u gaev me some bowlz, i wuz strangr an yu were liek, "o hai," i had dirty furz an yu gaev me licks, i wuz sick an u rap pillz in ham, i scratch bathrum door an yu openz. "den teh riteshus will say, Jebus, when did we c u hungry an gaev yu gushy fud, or thirsty an gaev yu milks? when did we see yu strangr an says "o hai," or durty furz and lick yu?" when did we know yu sick or stuck in bathroom and help yu? "teh king will says, srsly, whatevr yu did teh other kittehs, evn lame kittehs, yu liek did to me.

What I like about the lolcat bible is that it takes phrases that may be quite familiar to us and gives them a different spin that has caught my attention. The verse that has shaped what my college life as a Christian is Micah 6.8, which in lolcat is, “An wut doez teh lord want from yuz? 2 be nais, 2 luv givin 2nd chansez An 2 walk humbly wif ur ceilin cat, srsly.” In the New Revised Standard Version that’s “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

I first encountered this verse at my first trip to the General Board of Church and Society’s seminar program my freshman year. It has become a cornerstone of what being a Christian in college means to me. Charity and justice have to go together. This exposure to another side of Christianity led to a paradigm shift from my old version of faith. It means that in addition to doing acts of charity in Juarez, Mexico or building wheelchair ramps in Greenville I have to work to change systems that are oppressive, and that, I believe links my Micah text, the Psalm Melissa read, and our Gospel tonight. Time and again I have taken a vow, in United Methodist settings to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” In Episcopal settings I have promised to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” All means all.

It’s not enough for me to build a house for the impoverished in Mexico. To build the Kin-dom here and now I have to look at the ways our economy affects others’ and seek to change negative aspects. It’s not enough for me to give food or money to the homeless, I have to be willing to see how national and state governments allocate funds and lobby my congressperson and senators to be more equitable and compassionate. It’s not enough for me to tell lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered friends “all are welcome in this place.” In April I went to General Conference and stood in witness with the Reconciling Ministries Network and it’s young adult division, Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church to work for the full inclusion of all of societies marginalized into the full life of Christ’s one, holy church.

The way I have come to live out my faith in college is drastically different from the way I lived it in high school. I feel as though I’ve become more knowledgeable about Jesus, what Jesus said, and open to applying that to my life – even when I don’t think it makes sense. Being a Christian in college, I don’t think, is really all that hard, particularly in a culture saturated with “Christianity.” I think, however, that following Christ and Christ’s radical messages of love, forgiveness, and inclusion is hard, not just in college but throughout all of life.

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