You could call me an atheist, or call me agnostic —
I certainly don’t “believe in” or “follow”
any so-called “religion”
that has sacred texts, holy days, rites & laws,
ordained priests, preceptors or interpreters
who tell “believers” what’s right & what’s wrong
& how to treat themselves & others
& what they should teach their children
Yet I can respect all who do so in the spirit of
the goodness or lovingkindness
that I believe we’re all born with & into
(tho regrettably it’s so soon suppressed in so many)
& I can see this spirit too written, sometimes
so poetically & wisely, pithily or memorably
or symbolized lovingly in the sanctified scriptures
& prescribed practices of all these text-based religions.
I’m a translator, by profession, by practice, by love
of language as such & of a few particular languages,
Hebrew among them, the language in which the first
of the sacred texts sanctified by all the three great
monotheistic religions in our divided world was written,
& I know for a fact that there can be no true or trustworthy
accurate translation into any language ancient or modern
of the original “meaning” of any word or phrasing in any text.
& this is my response to a news item I read this morning
that now Austria is calling for “standardised German-language
translations” of the Koran, a sacred book I believe many
radical “Islamists” misinterpret in the original Arabic,
just as many “religious” “ultra” or not Jews misinterpret
the Hebrew of their Tanach, the so-called “Old Testament”
& as many Christians, “fundamentalist” or not, misread
their various translations of their “Holy Bible”.
I see this as yet another double triumph, both
for the fearmongers who gain more power & profit
from laws that restrict freedoms & civil rights
& legitimize intolerance, to justify the growth of
policing & armament industries, & for the radical
Islamists too, for such a law will surely radicalize
many more Muslims, & not only in Austria
if the rest of the world accepts this & stays silent.
There can be no true “war on terror” or on “terrorism”,
(as Gore Vidal once wrote) : the only true & just “war”
(or jihad) we humans can “wage” is on our own terror
of the terror that the “anti-terror” lawmakers,
powerbrokers & mediashakers, even more than
all the “terrorists” in the world, are spreading among us.
“All things fall and are built again,” wrote Yeats,”
“And those that build them again are gay.”
It was in Shanghai that – after a shock discovery – I became consciously a Jew (I don’t know how better to express this). What precipitated this shock discovery was that before it I had become – emotionally at least – a Christian!
I’ll tell this story, in “instalments”, in this & following posts, drawing on the memoirings I already have on disc.