(AKA Neglect)

     My mind is always such a log-jam of ideas that my greatest challenge has become choosing just one to express. This turns out to be one of the things I like about church: Something that someone says, or the spirit wants said, but no one said, draws my attention, and focuses it long enough to get one of my articles written. Or maybe someone will ask me a question on facebook that will start the words flowing. But I can't always wait for these cues to trigger the flood. I must pick one. I must push it, develop it, express it. This is my greatest challenge.
     But, over the past year, there is one topic which has been coming into clearer focus in the back of my mind. Those who've followed me long enough will know that I regard this to be the spirit's still, small voice hounding me until I finally become conscious of it. And that topic, a word, has come to the fore now because it is the best place to start, the best foundation on which to build, in clarifying many other words, words critical to understanding many concepts, concepts foundational to gospel practices. (Recalling that all knowledge stands on the tripod of terms, concepts, and practices, each of which joins the others at the summit.)
     Yes. I'm aware. I'm dragging this out. But you're about to learn why. It's because this single word is not only foundational to understanding all the others we must now explore, but it is simultaneously the most paradoxical. Why? Because it appears to be so antithetical to the entire gospel message. And yet, because it is true that there must be opposition in all things, it is only by understanding this one word that we may truly understand God.
     It has been said that hate is not the opposite of love; neglect is. I believe that the essence of the speaker's intent, if not their actual choice of words, was exactly, precisely correct. But the problem with the choice of words has more to do with our modern corruption of our own language than anything else, and it is this very problem the speaker was attempting to address.
     I aim to build on this.
     Hate has come to mean to us more of an active opposition to something, usually combined with expressions of hostility, disapproval, even violence, and this, as with the many injunctions against 'passing judgment', has caused considerable discord and confusion.
     As I've repeatedly asserted, the scriptures are legal documents, the very books out of which we shall be judged, and that, as such, they are written to be legally precise, explaining their own concepts, even defining their own terms, in order to be reliable instruments in our condemnation or exaltation. One of the words needing, and getting, such clear definition is hate.
     Forms of the word, hate, appear in scripture (including some secondary scripture) about 250 times. That's pretty frequent for a set of books about love. And most of those uses appear appropriate to the context in which they're used. A word about that... Do you really know the dictionary definitions of all the words you use? Probably not. We learned to speak, first from our parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and ever-widening circles, by context. We could see the things they were speaking of, and the understanding came to us as if by osmosis. We simply absorbed it. But, sometimes, we absorb incorrectly. I learned this once, many years ago, when translating American TV shows into German for the south-west German television station, SDR. It was obvious enough that we Americans use many words and phrases that just don't really make any sense. Consider the phrase, knock it off. Knock what of from what? Well, what that means, as we all know, as we learned in context, was that someone wants us to stop whatever behavior we're currently engaging in. But the words themselves mean nothing like that. So how did they acquire that meaning? And what if someone less experienced in the language were to take those words at face value? Would we get a punch in the face? Cow-tipping? A broken vase? Well, something like that happened to me. Words I thought I understood based on previous use, having never looked them up in a dictionary to ensure I properly understood them, caused me considerable embarrassment that I shan't further detail. But I use that to illustrate the point that we often use words and phrases that make no real sense, or aren't truly appropriate to the meaning we're attempting to convey. (Ever look someone up?) (Up what?)
     We really need to stop and think about this, and actively counter the problem, because communication is so very important to us, especially the saints. As, for example, Nibley frequently complained, the word, spiritual, is the most abused in the LDS vocabulary. And if we're misusing that word, do we really understand anything that we're talking about? Recall my last article wherein I point out that this is exactly what Christ was really telling Joseph in the grove.
     So back to hate. It's a word used frequently enough in scripture for us to pretty easily divine scripture's definition of the word. But, since most applications appear to fit our own understanding, what we must do is look for those instances that appear to defy our comprehension. And just such an instance appears in the New Testament, and even comes directly from the lips of the savior himself. We find it in Luke 14:26. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
     Now, especially in light of what Christ himself also had to say about corban, this seems at first blush to be completely contradictory, even nonsensical. Unfortunately, the JST is no help here, so the next best thing we can do is turn to other translations, but there, too, we find little enlightenment. They almost all use the word, hate. Only a couple even attempt to clarify, and that very likely incorrectly, by rewording it to, "love me more than".
     At least they recognize that there's a problem there. Unfortunately, they fail to recognize that the problem is not with the wording, or with the translation, but with our own definitions of the words.
     An aside about the corruption of language. Even as some scientists steadfastly maintain that evolution is a biological process only, with all life springing from a single source, while language was 'certainly' invented at various times, and in various places, linguists can't seem to help but return, time and time again, to the idea that all language evolved from a single, common, ancestral language: the so-called Adamic tongue. The reason that this is so important is that it makes indisputable that language doesn't really just evolve; it forks. It merges. It even devolves. But almost all changes are due to illiteracy, as near as anyone can tell. (In contravention to the scriptural assertion that 'God' did it.) (To which I say, who killed the Jaredites? Moroni says it was the hand of God, and then goes on to chronicle how they killed themselves, so ...) (And yet, the well-known, and well-documented Great Vowel Shift tends do dispute that assertion.) And we can still see that corruption in action today. And certainly since the King James Bible was translated.
     A case in point?
     I recall once reading a London Times article relating the misadventures of misters Jones and Smith, stalkers (hunters) (yet another example) who had set out to rid the local farmers of a beast that had been devouring livestock. In their efforts, the pair had dug a pit in which to entrap the wild beast. Having had no success by day, they resolved to resume their pursuit after nightfall. Mr. Jones, however, haphazardly fell himself into the pit only to be casually shot by Mr. Smith.
     Can you just imagine the scene? Mr. Smith catches up with his companion, Mr. Jones, now helplessly stuck at the bottom of the pit they'd intended for their prey, and, eying his friend with contempt, announces, "Now, now, Jones, this just won't do. Can't have you stumbling about in the dark like that. What would the farmers say? Off you go then." Click. Bang!
     Of course, that's not what happened. The word, casual, had nothing to do with informal or unceremonious. Casual, as we see in its use in the term, casualties, meant accidentally. Our modern use came from an emphasis on the word's opposite meaning of 'not deliberate', thus dressing for no particular purpose, like a ball, opera, military service. Casual attire.
     Likewise our understanding of the word, hate.
     When used in scripture, especially as expressed in that passage from Christ, hate means exactly what was expressed in that sentence about neglect. But not even quite that. Abandonment might be a better, modern translation. To hate, in scripture, might be best explained by Paul (of course) who admonished us, "from such, turn away".
     And that's it.
     Hate has little or nothing whatsoever to do with angry words, harsh language, name-calling (something Christ himself was no stranger to), or even corporal punishment (ditto), and everything to do with distance, absence, even neglect.
     Neglect truly is the opposite of love.
     But hate is, too, when defined as scripture defines it.
     And the understanding of this single, nearly anathema (to Christianity) word, is foundational to understanding, above all, love, and the many ways in which love is mentioned in scripture, especially by the Lord himself.
     Now we can test this using our trusty word-replacement method. But, as I said, there are hundreds, so let's start with those examples that seem the most confusing. In this case, that would have to be Christ's own use of the word in Luke 14:26 again: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Our current understanding of the word certainly confuses a lot of people, which is probably why almost no one ever mentions this scripture. But let's use our new definition, neglect, abandonment, and distance. Suddenly, the meaning becomes very clear:
     Truly, no one can possibly be a disciple of Christ, and still live at home with their parents. Ours is an evangelical faith. We take the word to others. We set an example. Our parents already have it, or have rejected it. We grow up. We move on.
     This is not to say that we don't take care of our parents. Indeed, Christ took his mother with him everywhere he went. He appears, in fact, never to have been free of her, sometimes unhappily so. But this, too, belongs in another lesson.
     And, yes, there are those who, even now, are thinking that there's even more to this than I'm telling here now, and they are correct. But I'm not going to tell that here now. But I will be referring back to this in a later lesson, and you'll understand then why I've done so. Let me say here only that there are those in the church who are required to go even further in the service of the Lord, and that this is actually for them more than us.
     Genesis 26:27 provides us with another excellent example, in that it even expands on the situation: "And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?"
     See that? Hate resulting in sending somone away. Joseph often wished that being hated were as simple as being ignored or even avoided.
     When Leah was hated by Jacob, it certainly wasn't in the sense we think today: She bore him six sons and a daughter!
     The firstborn son of a hated wife must even inherit a double portion. Seeing this hatred as neglect, why might this law be? In a time and place where marriages are arranged, and some couples endure one another more than they cherish one another, this spirit is certain to encompass the children, too, especially when there are also children of a cherished mother being raised in the same home. How cruel would it be to add insult to injury by depriving them of their birthright, especially the oldest whose right it is to inherit the leadership role from his father? That's where this law comes from, and that hatred clearly need not extend to abusiveness, but only to mere lack of nurture.
     Topping all these, though, may be this: "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him."
     Does this make any sense to you? Surely not with our current understanding of either hate OR love. But, recalling my assertion that it is neglect which is the opposite of love, rather than hate, this, too, must now be clear: Do not hate others by allowing them to fall into sin, but, instead, love them by demanding better of them. (Recalling that we have never been relieved of the obligation to remove the mote from our brother's eye, only commanded that we must first remove the beam from our own so that we may see clearly.) (And THAT is a HEAVY burden!)
     Now, I know that's going to be controversial, and needs to be addressed. And it will, I promise. But not here, not now. That's an article for another time.
     I could go on and on, and, over time, I promise to expand this list, but, for now, having covered it thus far, I hope to have finally sprung the log-jam, opening the way for the rest of the terms we must cover.
     And the first one that comes to mind is that oft-cited, and always misunderstood, scripture about the love of money.
     So, first, we'll have to cover both the terms, money, and love.
     Another time.

~~ Marcus Aurelius ~~