I heard an interesting fact not too long ago. It had to do with the Bible in its initial written form, the Hebrew language. With interpretations of current Bible translation, I feel there are a couple of points that are important to understand regarding the Bible and its original form. One of them relates to the interesting fact I heard not too long ago. The fact: There is no Hebrew equivalent for the word “spiritual.” Yeah, I know. This sounds like a piece of information that should be backed up with fact. So I will tell you that I heard it first, checked it out second and could not find it and realized third that even if it is not true, it does not change the point of my story.
I have always been an analytical mind. The last 12 months of my life have been no different, and I am realizing that this concept—no word in the Hebrew language for “spiritual”—makes perfect sense to me. Sure, it interests me that the Hebrew language, with no less the distinction than being the pure language of God, would omit a word such as “spiritual” from its repertoire. But the implications are what truly throw my mind into gear.
If there is no word for “spiritual” in the Hebrew language, if the initial written form of the Bible was written without a distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual, what exactly does that mean? Well, either the speakers of Hebrew felt that nothing they did had spiritual consequences so they never needed a word for it, or as is much more likely, they felt that everything had spiritual consequences. Is there anything to this? Is it possible that all of my actions have spiritual implications? How I spend my time, what I eat, what I read, how I treat both those I like and do not like?
If this is true, it may help explain the internal conflict I have recently acquired. Especially regarding what I read and what music I listen to. See, I have always been a reader, have always enjoyed learning, always loved books. Music has been a slower process for me, but I have grown to appreciate the styles, the genres, the way music can cut to my soul. But as so many of us living this thing called life can attest to, I was influenced. I was told what was good and what was not good. This is not bad, to a point. There is something to be said about an authority figure watching out for your best interests. But I wonder if at times I was given a little too much direction.
I was raised in a fundamental—well, rule-oriented—church. It influenced what I listened to more than what I read, but the influence was there for both. I was taught for quite a while the difference between Christian music and secular music. Christian music, well some Christian music, was good, and other music was bad. I did not question this at first, and indeed I even agreed to it, but as I got older, I differed. I began to rebel against this notion.
My earliest rebellious thoughts were along the lines of, “What about classical music?” As far as I could tell, those who shunned secular music did not shy from this. And the argument that classical music was written to glorify God and/or church did not fly with me because that was nowhere near always the case. So where did people decide to draw the line here? Eventually, I learned to dislike the very division between secular and Christian music. Now, I am not implying an end to people writing music to glorify the Lord, mind you, but that is exactly my point.
Maybe, whether they realize it or not, or whether they want to or not, every time somebody sits down to write music, the very fact they are using their talents is glorifying the Lord. If it is true that every action, everything we do has spiritual implications, then maybe the fact we even have language separating “secular” from “Christian” goes against the way the world works. In fact, I personally find just as much redeeming material in secular music as in Christian.
Now, PLEASE do not get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that anything and everything a “secular” artist puts out is good for you, and I most certainly do not believe that anything and everything put out by a “Christian” artist is good for you. I feel that it is important to understand that just because it is on paper or on a movie screen does not mean it is true (this article included). There are plenty of things out there (movies, books, etc.) that should never be created. I am reminded of the character Ian Malcolm from the book Jurassic Park, “Scientists [are] preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.”
So maybe my desire to hear music and read books outside the realm of “Christian” is good, because maybe truth can be found anywhere. Maybe Chuck Palahniuk hits the nail on the head of human nature in Fight Club. Maybe there are some absolute gems to be found when watching Garden State. There is a good possibility that some people can relate to Jimmy Eat World’s “Work.” Maybe, just maybe, when a person sits down, using wisdom and discernment to weed out the junk that is found in both “secular” and “Christian” media, and attempts to find some truth by reading or watching Fight Club, when they grasp for reasoning while they watch Garden State, or when they strive for some understanding when they listen to Jimmy, maybe when they do these things, they are engaging in a profoundly spiritual act. Maybe.
These maybes are strengthened when I read Paul in the Scriptures, quoting Greek and Roman writers. He can quote them because he has read them. And we find him quoting them to do no less than evangelize.
See, I believe without a doubt that it is these ideas, these thought processes, these facts that have stirred such a “rebellion,” such an excitement inside of me. I still do my best to use discernment when I pick up a book or a magazine, when I grab a movie, when I pick up the remote—in any area of my life. But at the same time I am beginning to see little truths everywhere I turn.
Standing in a bad mood at the register at work, yet receiving a smile from a customer that brightens me a little causes me to wonder, “What did my scowl do to them?” Sitting in a classroom in college, very little if any religious influence coming through the texts and the lectures, yet hearing the quote, “You can say or do anything you want, but you are not free from the consequences of what you say or do.” How true that is. Or even buying a 12-pack of Diet Coke when I really do not have the money, downing it in just over a week and not feeling happy with myself afterward. Yeah, maybe everything I do, from my attitude at work to how I choose to spend money reflects on more than myself, but on Whom I serve. If nothing else, these last 12 months have made me think. It could do wonders for me.