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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Uncle Sam Speaks: Why Do I Write - Part Two

Uncle Sam Speaks: Why Do I Write? - Part Two

A few months ago, I wrote a post talking about why I write things and put them out into the public sphere on my blog.

I focused in that post on a comparison that I made with my own writing and that of my late father. He was a theological scholar and a voluminous writer. He earned his living by writing and has a large stack of books to his credit plus many other writings that he wrote and received many accolades for his more than forty years in ministry.

You can in that post that I made this nice comparison in a picture form showing my "stack" of books (two published hard copy books so far) to my dad's stack of fifteen books. So, I made a bit of fun with this comparison showing that I had a long road ahead to catch up to dad, but I am slowly moving in that direction.

But, in this post, I want to put aside the fun, the photos and really answer the question of why I publish what I do and what it is that motivates me to write.

I could talk about my upbringing (growing up in the UK, spending my youth in Israel taking part in archaeological excavations and pilgrimage trips, studying under my father and studying the Middle East at the university level and now living in the Holy Land since 2001 studying theology at the graduate level), which certainly has shaped my writing, but there is something more to it than that. For me, it can be summarized quite simply: My writing is in the final analysis about love and family. It might seem fairly simple and non-descript to describe it in that fashion, but this is not sufficient and some further explanation is required.

Family and what it means to me

To really understand the idea of family and what it means to me, I would like to relay a small story which I think really captures what I am talking about. This story, as you might imagine, links to some pretty basic theological concepts which are universal to most faiths. So here goes.

Normally, I drive home from work down a small piece of road, which is a little off the beaten track. This piece of road is no more than a half a mile long. This road is in fact not utilized too much by the normal road traffic and I use it to avoid the regular traffic patterns to get home quicker.

This road is not serviced by the bus system in the same way as other roads so you often see people walking on the sidewalk. In fact, it is very common that people will get off the bus at the intersection of this road I am talking about and will walk down to the end of the road (the half mile I mentioned earlier) as there is a village at the end of this road where some 40,000 persons live.

So, after driving down this road a few times, it became quite obvious to me that there is a practice which people of all ages engage in. People hitch rides with people who are driving down the road to the end so that they can save time or avoid the half mile walk.

Some of the people who are walking or waiting are older people and it is obvious that they are waiting for someone to take them and they never have to wait long because as I said it is quite obvious that anyone who knows this road knows the social norms in the area and the customs of picking people up and giving them a hand to get to the end of the road.

So, you drive down the road and it is as I said a custom to pick people up. So, I started to do it. The first time I did it, I picked up an older lady. She was very nice and appreciative and I dropped her at the end of the street. We did not exchange too much discussion beyond the very normal pleasantries that one might expect.

Now, the next time I picked up someone, my passenger was a boy of about 12 years. When I saw him walking, he heard my car coming and turned his head and a short signal with his eyes indicated that he wanted a ride, so I stopped. Then I rolled down the window and this is the conversation we had.

First thing he said to me was:

"May God give you strength in your work, my uncle!" (Calling me here with a specific term referring to me as the brother of his father)

Then he said:

"May you help me arrive down below?" (He said that because we were going from a higher elevation [the top of the street} to a lower one [the bottom of the street].

Then I said:

"You are welcome, get in."

Then I asked him if he lived in the village at the end of the street and he said that he did.

Half a mile in a car goes pretty fast, so I reached the end of the road and pulled over. Then the boy proceeded to get out of the car and he turned back to me and said:"

"I extend my peace to your hands. God give you strength in your work, My Uncle!"

Then I told him:

"To your hands also I give you my peace. God be with you." (This is a bit of an involved way of saying goodbye, but this is a literal translation and this is what is exchanged over and over again here, which while it sounds a bit odd to the non-native ear, it is normal everyday talk here in Jerusalem).

Now, this story is totally true and not made up. It might seem a bit strange to the reader in hearing this conversation to connect with such a way of talking, but this is exactly how the conversation happened. 

God is very much a part of the daily talk here in Jerusalem and the social graces between people are still quite in evidence. God still exists in the daily language exchanges I am happy to say.

There are a number of points in this conversation which I could draw your attention to, but there is one point which I wish to home in on: it is the use by the boy of the phrase "My Uncle."

"My Uncle"

Now, it might seem a bit strange to some of us who have grown up in Western culture to hear such daily talk, but for those of us who live here in Israel and the Middle East, this type of talk is normal and natural.

Let's be clear. Here we are talking about cultural expressions which are a normal part of the social graces which are common here, but make no mistake about it: the roots of this way of talking are found in religious texts and are theological in nature.

Now, I think it is fairly common knowledge that most believers in the monotheistic faiths believe that mankind are descended from Adam and Eve. This is a well known idea and is reflected in much of the discussion one might have here in Jerusalem. It makes no difference whether one is talking to a Jewish, Christian or Muslim person here in Jerusalem: all universally refer to humanity as the "children of Adam and Eve."

This acknowledgement is the cultural sub-text that this 12 year old boy was connecting to in calling me "My Uncle"! Why?

The reason for this is quite simple.

Now, I am approaching age 48, so when this young boy looks at me, he sees someone who is one generation above himself. He looks at me and sees a man generationally speaking on the same level as his own father.

So why did he call me "My Uncle"?

The reason for this is simple.

As I said, here in Jerusalem, the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all represented and all of these faiths universally accept the basic teaching of mankind's origin (which I firmly believe) as found in the narrative of the book of Genesis.

The point is, if all men are brothers and sisters (which according to the Bible they are), then everyone is related! So, it is not really unusual in an environment where the God of Heaven and Earth is a part of the conversation, that one would refer to another male who is generationally on the same age as one's own father as "My Uncle" in the larger scheme of things.  In fact, it seems to me that theologically speaking, this 12 year old is 100% correct in addressing me in that fashion.

So, how does this story relate to the reason that I write?

Let's answer this question now.

So, to link this to the rationale for my writing and why I write about the things I do, it comes down to a very simple truth that this 12 year old boy made clear in our brief exchange. We are all related and, in fact, yes, because of our age difference and because I am in God's eyes the brother of his father, I am indeed, in the way God looks at it, his uncle! But it does not stop there.

Not only am I, according to this theological approach, the uncle just of this boy. No! Not at all! I am in fact the uncle of every child on earth theologically speaking for all who I am old enough to be their father!

It makes no difference where or who they are, what race, gender, color, creed, faith background or whatever: I am in God's way of looking at it, their uncle!

So, normally uncles generally speaking care and love the children of their brothers and sisters and here we start to get down to the reason that I write.

Anyone who is an uncle or an aunt knows that there is a responsibility that one has in a family relationship: a responsibility to care and to love those in their family, but why should this feeling be limited just to our own biological children? I can see no natural reason for such a limitation.

After all, God loves all humanity equally as we are all His offspring (Acts 17:29). So, He has placed in us this capacity to love as He loves, so we who are a bit older have a greater experience with this inclination to love than the younger members of our family.

So, as I said earlier, it comes down simply to the issue of family and love and how it influences my behavior and what I do with the knowledge that God has given me. This is what the Scripture teaches us I believe. Note the following text to conclude:

God Is Love

"7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." ( I John 4:7-21)

To conclude, I think we can agree that if we have to love our brother's (and sisters), it is only obvious that this should also extend to their children!

This is why I write.

Download Samuel Martin's free ebook - Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/