January 22, 2006

Babel / crystal

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability .... Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

Pentecost is shown to reverse the curse of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9) ... with the giving of the Holy Spirit, a difference in languages unites people instead of dividing them.

I know this is serious stuff, but I can't help but be reminded of the Babrl Fish of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. According to Wikipedia ...

A Babel fish is a highly improbable biological universal translator. It appears as a "small, yellow and leechlike" fish. When a Babel fish is inserted into the ear canal it allows the wearer to "instantly understand anything said... in any form of language" .... According to the Hitchhiker's Guide, the Babel fish was put forth as a fideist example for the non-existence of God:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don't. Q.E.D."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.



At 7:57 a.m., Blogger jeff said...

Nice post Crystal. Great fan of Douglas Adams myself.

It occurred to me after reading your post that there is a similar archetypal 'movement' in the Pentecostal and Babel narratives.

In the Babel story human beings seek to rise to heaven by their own effort....and then are cast down to earth. Rise and fall...as is the way with all civilisations I guess.

In the Lucan narrative Christ rises to Heaven followed by a life giving descent of the Spirit.

Ascent and descent seem to be archetypally linked in many mythic stories.In Greek thought this was manifested in the primal movements of anabasis and katabasis. This could be either postive or negative.

Babel is perhaps the dark shadow of Pentecost.

At 12:48 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi Jeff. I'd never seen them before, so I looked up those terms you mentioned in Wikipedia and it has ...

The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. The term katabasis referred to a trip from the interior to the coast.

I mention this because I've noticed an difference between the way many others experience God/the Holy Spirit and the way I do. They recognise the God within - the indwelling spirit - when they have religious experience (katabasis). But I seem to experience God as something outside of myself, who comes to be with me (anabasis). Probably a perceived difference which doesn't signify anything special, but interesting :-)

At 1:52 p.m., Blogger jeff said...

Hello Crystal...certainly much of my experience of God is Him drawing close to me and coming to be with me. I know He is within me and I do seek Him inwardly but often it is more a sense of 'infusion'. Sometimes in prayer I have the image of embracing and being embraced.Prayer for me is a conversation between lovers which may then lead into a sense of inwardness.I once said this at a Quaker sharing group and it went down like a lead balloon. I felt like I had said something heretical..or so different from the experience of the others present they couldn't respond. I don't think such statements would be considered at all odd in other churches.

At 3:29 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Jeff, you would probably feel right at home among those practicing Ignatian/Jesuit prayer (like me), though I'm sure there are other Friends who feel as you do. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises, calls that kind of prayer a colloquy - one uses the imagination to assist in a sort of conversation/interaction between intimate friends - you and Jesus/Holy Spirit/God. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has this experience - thanks :-)

At 4:08 p.m., Blogger Twyla said...

Crystal - this made me smile! I sometimes think it would be nice to have one of those Babel Fish around the house when Tom and I seem to be speaking different languages! :)

At 4:46 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Jeff, an apparent lack of response to a message may indicate one of several things. It is just as apt to be too impressive and thought provoking to illicit a response as the other case.

You can believe I have received no verbal response from many messages, but I did not thereby believe they were poorly received.

At 5:16 p.m., Blogger jeff said...

Thanks Larry...that is really helpful.maybe I need to have more confidence in speaking my lived experience at the deepest levels among Friends.

Hi Crystal... Ignatian spirituality (though I have only dipped my toe into it so far) is something I am becoming more and more drawn towards....so your words are very confirming of my inner promptings to explore in that direction.

At 7:38 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi Twyla - I know what you mean :-)

At 11:51 p.m., Blogger Meredith said...


I loved how you described your experience of God.

"I know He is within me and I do seek Him inwardly but often it is more a sense of 'infusion'. Sometimes in prayer I have the image of embracing and being embraced.Prayer for me is a conversation between lovers which may then lead into a sense of inwardness."

The nature of this relationship, in which God feels so Beloved, infused in us, and inward, is a love affair like no other.

I may not have responded verbally in Meeting either, but inwardly I would have been realizing that you and I are not separate.

(Notice the italics everyone? Yeah! I finally figured out an HTML tag!)


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