Sunday, September 03, 2006

I Know the Church Is True

True, and sometimes funny or strange. A few choice moments from this week's services:

  • The Indonesian translation of the "render unto Caesar" passage in the New Testament, as far as I could tell, leaves something to be desired. It says, as far as I could tell, "Give to Caesar the things you should give to Caesar, and give to God the things you should give to God." Um, I'm sorry, Jesus, but that's not exactly helpful. I much prefer the smart-alecky, and yet also insightful, English version.

    (Note: my Indonesian is poor. Maybe I just read it wrong.)

  • The Indonesian translation of hymns is also interesting, and all my relatives who have visited can back me up on this. Indonesian words tend to be longer, in terms of syllable count, than English ones. (In fact, it's a feature of many Austronesian languages that native root words are always two syllables.) This poses no problems for ordinary translation, but it certainly does for hymns, where the syllable count actually matters. Essentially, this means that Indonesian hymns say a lot less than their English counterparts. Don't worry: the editing usually happens at the expense of flowery language, not doctrine, but it does make the hymns rather prosaic if back-translated into English. For example, this morning we sang "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel." The chorus in English, as most of you know, is "Put your shoulder to the wheel/Push along/Do your duty with a heart full of song/We all have work/Let no one shirk/Put your shoulder to the wheel." The equivalent chorus in Indonesian is "Let us all work together, doing tasks with happiness." The translated name of the song is "The World Needs People Who Want to Work," which seems a tad stodgy to me.

    (I have not yet, unfortunately, discovered the Indonesian translation of "the world has no need for a drone," but I guess that's irrelevant post-1985.)

  • In my Sunday School lesson in Jakarta a few weeks ago, I looked around the room and noticed this scene:

    1. The branch president, former mission president, and second counselor in the branch presidency sitting in the front row and making longwinded comments

    2. a gaggle of old women sitting behind me and talking, quite obviously ignoring the lesson

    3. the guy next to me doing something on his PDA.

    If you needed proof that the Church is fundamentally the same everywhere, there you have it.

  • Not that differences don't exist, of course. A little old lady stood up in Relief Society this morning to bear her testimony. It was mostly pretty standard--"I know the Church is true, I know Jesus lives, I know God lives, I have a testimony of the living prophet today...[long pause]...wait, what's his name again?" A couple of the other old ladies tittered, and someone finally supplied the name. I'm pretty sure that's something that wouldn't happen at BYU.

    (I mean, not recognizing pictures of Brigham Young might happen at BYU, sure, but not knowing the name of the prophet? Even I'm not that bad.)

I guess none of this beats backflips in church, or even the sternum story, but hey, I understood them! (That's always a noteworthy vistory, in my mind.)

1 comment:

Tolkien Boy said...

I suppose that it's commendable that her faith is so strong that she believes in a prophet who she doesn't know. Someday, that will make a good Old Testament story.