Lost In Translation

Sign on toilet door in Chengdu airport, China
Photo by Anne Roberts on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

There’s a real art to translation: zeroing in on just the right words to convey the nuance of what the original author intended.

Done well, a translated work can be a masterpiece in its own right.

Oftentimes, though, a translation can turn out to be a farce, as in the following examples:

A menu item in Chinese for a roasted gluten dish was translated into English as “Sixi Roasted Husband.” (The perfect dish for wives who’ve finally had enough of their mates?)

A hot and spicy chicken dish on another Chinese menu became “Chicken Rude and Unreasonable” in English. (No wonder the chicken met his end—he had it coming!)

Or this Google Translate zinger: “It’s been the goat in the budget, because His raining badly, so quite short, he is on the bucket month out.” (Not sure what this meant in the original Danish, but I hope the goat was able to figure it out.)

Then there’s the sign for a hair salon in China whose English name is “Could Not Connect To Translator Service.” (A bit of a give-away that they didn’t bother hiring a real live translator?)

Sometimes, we have a different understanding or “translation” of what God actually meant in certain Bible verses.

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Trust Your Instruments

Photo by Thomas Fengler on Pixabay

It’s usually safe to rely on our senses, but sometimes they can play tricks on us.

Especially if you’re flying a plane.

Pilots sometimes get into trouble with something called “spatial disorientation.” If they’re flying at night or in poor weather, they’re unable to see the horizon through the cockpit’s windshield. Without these visual cues, they may fall back on their other senses, but this can be a big mistake.

A pilot’s non-visual sensations, such as signals from their inner ear, may not respond truthfully during flight. Without visual inputs to override these mistaken feelings, a pilot may believe he or she is flying level when they may actually be in a bank, or gradually ascending or descending.

If a pilot isn’t proficient in the use of flight instruments, errors can pile up until the pilot loses control of the aircraft, entering a steep, diving turn known as the graveyard spiral. The pilot remains unaware of what’s happening until it’s too late to recover control, and the aircraft breaks apart or crashes.

In fact, it’s believed that spatial disorientation is what led to the fatal crash in 1999 of the plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr. Flying at night over water, the visual landmarks he might have relied on were absent. Kennedy was certified for visual flight rules, but had not yet received his full training for instrument-only flying. His instruments would have told him that he was heading on a collision course with the water, but tragically, he trusted his non-visual sensations until it was too late.

We as believers can get into the same sort of trouble when we trust our feelings instead of what the word of God says.

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The Moonbow Connection

Lunar Rainbow over Victoria Falls, Zambia
Photo courtesy Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)
Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

I’ll bet most of us have seen a rainbow at some time in our lives, but have you ever seen a moonbow?

Frankly, until recently I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Moonbows, also known as lunar rainbows, are rainbows which are produced by moonlight rather than by direct sunlight. As such, they’re usually fainter than regular rainbows, and may even appear white.

But moonbows are still evidence of the sun’s presence, because they’re created by reflected sunlight bouncing off the moon. They’re a very special reminder that the sun is still shining, even when we can’t see it.

Sometimes I think God puts believing friends in our lives to function as “moonbows” for us.

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What Is Your Inukshuk?

Inukshuk Photo by Jsig9 on Pixabay

If you’re Canadian, you probably know what an inukshuk is.

If you’re not Canadian, then let me offer you my condolences. (Sorry! Just kidding!)

But seriously, an inukshuk is a stone structure built by the Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic regions of North America. The stones may simply be stacked vertically, or they may take the form of a human figure.

The distinctive shape of the inukshuk is featured on the flag of Nunavut, a Canadian territory, and also served as the inspiration for the logo of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Inukshuks have been traditionally used by the Inuit people as landmarks for navigation, guideposts for travellers in a barren landscape. They might also mark out a sacred spot, or function as a commemorative sign.

I think we all need “inukshuks” in our lives, don’t we?

Reminders of the things God has done in our lives, how far He’s brought us. Beacons to others travelling the same journey, showing them the path that leads to life.

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Fear Is Contagious, But So Is Faith

Photo by Victor Bezrukov
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-2.0

There are a lot of things in this world that are contagious. Certain viruses and diseases come to mind, as do laughter and yawning.

There have even been cases of contagious dancing, such as the “dance epidemic” of 1518 in Strasbourg.

But did you know that fear is also contagious?

A friend of mine was telling me how she organized a backyard sleepover in a tent for her daughter and some friends a few years ago. The children were assured that the parents would be with them in the tent all night long.

The kids were excited about this adventure, and all seemed to go well at first. Eventually, however, one little girl became afraid of the dark. It didn’t take long for another girl to become fearful as well. Pretty soon the whole thing had to be called off, despite the parents’ promises that they wouldn’t leave the children outside alone in the dark.

The other kids had “caught” the fearful attitude of the first child.

Scripture recognizes how destructive fear can be when it contaminates a whole group.

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Chocolate: Everybody’s Friend

Photo by Jean Beaufort, PublicDomainPictures.net

One of the wonderful things about chocolate (and there are many), is how well it pairs with other foods.

Chocolate seems to go well with just about everything. It marries happily with fruits like strawberries, raspberries, pears, cherries and bananas. It perfectly complements the flavours of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.

Chocolate cheerfully coexists with citrus, coconut, ginger, caramel, coffee, dairy or mint. It has even been known to blend with the flavours of chili and meat in some Mexican dishes.

Some adventurous people claim that chocolate goes well with broccoli (well, perhaps…if you held the broccoli).

You’ve got to hand it to a food that is uncompromising about its own flavour yet harmonizes with such a wide variety of other substances.

Did you know that the Bible implies that we should be a bit like chocolate? Not in so many words, of course, but the concept is still there.

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God Won’t Waste Your Pain

Quilting Bee circa 1910, New Jersey
Photo by Richard on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Did you grow up in a family that hated wasting things? So did I.

Instead of throwing out old scraps of fabric, my paternal great-grandmother would twist the lengths and sew the resulting cords together into a rag rug. Nothing was wasted.

It was the same on my mother’s side of the family. Material from clothes that were no longer of use would be cut up and sewn into quilts. My Mom recalls sitting underneath the quilting frame as a child when her mother and other female relatives worked together at a quilting bee (Mom thought she was “helping” push the needle back up to the top surface). Even as a little girl, my mother learned an early lesson in letting nothing go to waste.

I must have inherited that trait.

I love recipes that not only produce a yummy result, but that are efficient. By that I mean that you’re not left with partly used cans of an ingredient that will languish in the fridge and eventually have to be thrown out.

I prefer a recipe that uses up the whole can of an ingredient, or, if it calls for 3 egg yolks for the batter, it also calls for 3 egg whites for the filling or a meringue (see cheesecake recipe below). Nothing is wasted. No leftover egg whites that you have to store until you think of another recipe that can use them up.

Likewise, I think God is efficient in how He manages our lives. He won’t waste anything we go through: it all has a purpose, even the negative parts.

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Focus on the Best, Pluck Out the Rest

Photo by Joffi on Pixabay

If you have a vegetable garden, what you’re probably doing about this time of the summer is pinching suckers off your tomato plants.

“Suckers” are the little growths between the main stem of your tomato plant and the lateral branches. These side shoots may be healthy and vigorous, but letting them grow would only rob the tomatoes themselves of growth potential. Better to pluck off the suckers in order to direct all the plant’s energy into ripening the tomatoes.

An extreme example of this practice can be seen in the growing of prize-winning pumpkins. The farmer or gardener will pluck off all but the most promising nascent pumpkins, sometimes leaving only one growing on each vine. The plant is forced to pour all its photosynthesis power into producing one massive pumpkin. World-record-setting pumpkins have weighed over 2,000 pounds!

There’s something to be said for focussing on the important things, isn’t there? It can produce astounding results.

Maybe there’s a lesson here we can apply to our own lives.

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Buy and Hold the Best Investment

Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

Do you play the stock market?

What kind of an investor are you? Do you engage in active trading, or do you prefer to buy and hold investments?

Active or “day” traders believe that through rapid, speculative trading they can gain a larger profit more quickly than through passive investing.

The “buy and hold” strategy, on the other hand, is based on holding stocks for a long period of time with the idea that their value will gradually increase over the years.

It’s beyond my pay grade to tell you which form of investing is better: after all, The Faith Cafe isn’t a financial blog.

But I do have a hot investing tip for you.

This tip comes from an unlikely source, but don’t worry, I’m not engaging in insider trading or passing on confidential information.

This sure-fire investment advice comes from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.

Would you like to hear it?

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Golden at the Broken Places

Bowl repaired by Kintsugi method by artist Ruthann Hurwitz
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA-4.0

We all shudder at the sound of something breaking, don’t we? We can’t help but wince when we hear glass or crockery shattering into pieces on the floor.

Why do we have that involuntary reaction? Because we know that the object probably can’t be repaired: it’s likely to be damaged irreparably, and must be thrown away.

We’re wincing at the sound of loss.

But what if there were a way to not only put the pieces back together, but to make the object more beautiful than it was before, despite the breaks?

The Japanese long ago invented a way of doing just that, and have even made an art form of it. It’s called “Kintsugi,” which means “golden joinery.” The process involves mending the cracks in pottery with gold lacquer. Instead of trying to hide the damaged areas, they are instead highlighted with something precious. The end result is a restored piece of pottery that is beautiful at the broken places.

But what happens if it’s not a piece of pottery that is broken, but a life? How can a shattered heart be put back together?

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