In the summer of 1982 I crossed the Pacific Ocean for the first time to spend some time in Japan and China. The occasion was a Christian missions trip. After six weeks of ministry work in Tokyo, we concluded the trip with a few days of sightseeing in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Beijing. I thoroughly enjoyed China, but it was somewhat surreal walking around Tiananmen Square, through the Forbidden City, and over the Great Wall. As one of my companions said at the time, we wouldn’t fully realize until we were back home in America that we had been all the way on the other side of the world.My companion was right. We don’t appreciate experiences at the time nearly as much as we appreciate them years later, when we can see the impact they had on us and how they shaped the course of our lives. It’s the same with people. We don’t know how important they have been to us until years later. Maybe even decades or centuries later, when the full tale of their story can be considered in context.
The full tale of Billy Graham’s impact on my life is not yet told, but I have an idea what it encompasses now, nearly 50 years after I first saw him. That occasion was in the spring of 1972, during his second visit to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. It was just before my 11th birthday, and I had no idea at the time what a tremendous effect Reverend Graham had already exerted on my city. For some reason, my parents deemed it best to shield us from the momentous societal transformations wrought by the Civil Rights Movement. All I knew in my childhood was that Billy Graham, like me, was a Southern Baptist, that he loved Jesus like I did, and that he was a very important preacher. I did not know that it was he who insisted on having an integrated choir in his first crusade in my divided city in 1964, and that the crowd gathered at Legion Field in that year was the largest integrated audience in Birmingham history. He addressed a deep, deep wound with the healing admonition of Jesus Christ – one of many ministers of reconciliation the Almighty used in that era to right grievous wrongs, curb the worst of abuses, and prepare the next generation to carry the progress forward.
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Today we traveled to the Far North. In a place like Texas that would mean a whole day’s journey. In Israel it means about three hours in holiday traffic.
Our destination was a place the rest of the world calls an “occupied territory”. I call it one of the most beautiful and captivating places I have ever seen. The Golan Heights really are high, rising abruptly from the Jordan Valley in a very short distance. It was not the first great change in elevation during this journey. Coming down from Jerusalem to Route 6 along the coastal plain is enough of a descent to cause one’s ears to pop. The same thing happens once the traveler passes the Horns of Hattin (subject of a future blog post) and descends to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. Then the process happens in reverse on the ascent from the sea to the northern hills, and down again to the Jordan before ascending one final time to the Golan.
A word about these famous biblical bodies of water: I was not prepared to find the Sea of Galilee to be so tiny. Comparatively speaking, that is. Neither was I expecting the Jordan River to be smaller than a McAlpine Creek back home in Charlotte. Such great things happened around both over the last 5,000 years that I expected something a bit more majestic. Then again, Israel is a land of tremendous contrast. The truly great things are the small and humble things, while the big and powerful things often turn out to be woefully inadequate (remember Goliath?).
But I digress. This is a post about the town of קצרין.
For those who cannot read Hebrew, there is some difficulty explaining exactly where we were. This town is the capital of the Golan, so one would think that its name in English would have some kind of standard transliteration. Oddly enough, it does not. On the road map we were using, on the road signs we passed, and even on the web sites I have checked to verify what I am relating, the name is given in a number of different ways, such as:
What are we to make of this? I suggest it is an illustration of the difference between Greek and Hebrew thinking. The Greek way would establish one right answer for spelling the name in English. Every other spelling would be wrong. In Hebraic thinking, however, there are multiple ways to convey the truth that this particular place is the town we want to visit in the Golan. The sounds of the two syllables (well, three if one is Southern and drawls) are close enough to the Hebrew in each of the transliterations given above to ensure that the traveler can get to the right place. Thus there can be many versions of “right” in Hebraic thought.
What, then, is “wrong” in Hebraic thought? Ah, that would be trying to spell the town’s name as something like Woebegone, Bora Bora, or Cascabell. Clearly they are wrong in many ways. How do we know? Because the sounds rendered in the spoken Hebrew tell us we want a place that sounds like “Cat’s Ring”, so something that sounds like Bora Bora is right out.
This lesson was reinforced in the fellowship we enjoyed with some amazing Jewish Israeli friends in their Sukkah at Qatsrin. It seems that there are many ways to live out the truth of YHVH’s Word. The ultimate wrong answer is not opening that Word and letting it soak into the heart and soul. However, there is a wrong answer that is almost as bad, and that is insisting that one’s own narrow interpretation is the only truth.
For he who is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:40 NASB)
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2016. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Readers of The Barking Fox may have noticed that the blog posts have become sparse recently. Why is that? To paraphrase Tevye of Fiddler on the Roof, “That I can tell you in one word: Transition!”
Big changes are happening this summer in almost every area. In the space of about six months, we will have seen one child graduate from college, another one get married, and both of them relocate to new residences. We also are relocating after four years in Texas; early in September we will set up housekeeping in Charlotte, North Carolina. About a month after that, we set off for Israel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), followed immediately by the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress.
Why the big changes? Our connection with B’ney Yosef North America (BYNA) is the main reason for many of these transitions. Although our leadership is spread out across the US and Canada, most of the Executive Council live in the Southeastern US. Since we have the opportunity to relocate this year, it makes sense to set up housekeeping nearer to the people with whom we work, and Charlotte is a great central location. We will miss Texas, but we look forward to being able to meet face-to-face with many of our Executives and Elders on a more regular basis.
And what exactly is happening with BYNA? Much that you will learn about very soon! We are in the process of updating our website. If you go there (http://bneyyosefna.com) you will see some interesting new features:
- A new “FAQ” page with answers to frequently asked questions about who BYNA is and what we do. (http://bneyyosefna.com/faq/).
- A “Videos” page under our “News and Updates” tab. The first video we have posted is an interview with Batya Wootten conducted at the 2016 BYNA Summit. Look for more videos soon! (http://bneyyosefna.com/category/videos/)
- Bios of the Elders and Executives. Want to know who these people are? Click on “The Leadership of B’ney Yosef North America” under the “About Us” tab and you’ll find links to our leaders’ bios, as well as the position descriptions for the Council of Elders and the Executive Council so you can know what they do. (http://bneyyosefna.com/about-bney-yosef-children-of-joseph/about-the-leadership/)
These are the first of a number of exciting developments that will be unveiled in the next several months. As they become available, The Barking Fox will pass on the news – while at the same time continuing to post commentary on current events, Scriptural topics, and other items of interest.
Thanks to you, readers, for your patience and your encouragement! Even in the midst of this great transition, it is a joy to be the voice behind the Fox!