Friday, April 13, 2007

In Memory of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Been pondering how best to rememer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and what his work meant for me once upon a time. And, reading this at Street Prophets, I hit on it:

Demand the Beatitudes be posted in public places.

Well, "demand" is a bit strong, but talk it up. Why not? The only reason people like Roy Moore want the Ten Commandments posted is because they are orders issued in the imperative voice: "THOU SHALT NOT....!" Let's go to the words of Jesus, if we are going to insist Christianity be respected in this country (and no, we aren't, but by now you should be getting my drift). Let's post the Beatitudes.

Now obviously this will involve some discussion as to what translation to use. "Blessed art..." is a bit archaic; indeed, maybe even "blessed" is not the best translation for makarioi, which Nestle-Aland tells me is "blessed, fortunate, happy, usu. in the sense priviliged recipient of divine favor." I still like "Congratulations!"

Congratulations, you poor!
God's domain belongs to you!

Congratulations, you hungry!
You will have a feast.

Congratulations, you who weep now!
You will laugh.
Seems pleasant enough. Who wouldn't feel better if they saw that on a public wall? Of course, that's Luke's version, and only half of it. If we want some sterner language, something closer to "THOU SHALT NOT!," we could finish those three off with the other three:

Damn you rich!
You already have your consolation!

Damn you who are well-fed now!
You will know hunger.

Damn you who laugh now!
You will learn to weep and grieve.
Which, you gotta admit, would bring the room right down. So maybe we want to use Matthew's version:

Congratulations to the poor in spirit!
Heaven's domain belongs to them.

Congratulations those who grieve!
They will be consoled.

Congratulationss to the gentle!
They will inherit the earth.

Congratulations to those who hunger and thirst for justice!
They will have a feast.

Congratulations to the merciful!
They will receive mercy.

Congratulations to those with undefiled hearts!
They will see God.

Congratulations to those who work for peace!
They will be known as God's children.

Congratulations to those who have suffered persecution for the sake of justice!
Heaven's domain belongs to them.
Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing every one of those in a courtroom, the Pentagon, both chambers of Congress, the Oval Office....the applications seem limitless.

No comments:

Post a Comment