I spent this last weekend with a lot of glue and tape thanks to re-discovering a children’s science/art book I had put aside some time ago.
So I’m thinking sticky thoughts, and, in my infinite free time (please chuckle along with me), began to wonder about the etymology of adhesives.
Fortunately, my handy dandy Word Ancestry book has an entry, from which the examples below are largely taken.
Haerere, or haesum, means (sit down for this one) to stick.
Hence, you have an adherent to a religion. Someone has inherent traits. You have a coherent system, or incoherent thoughts. Someone hesitates because they are “stuck” to a thought or a pattern.
One of my goals as a systematic theologian is to move people to consider their religious framework. I try to encourage people to reflect on whether their belief system is coherent within itself, and with the world.
So, for example, if one believes that God is all-forgiving and all-loving, can one support the death penalty? If we believe that God is merciful, is there a limit to God’s mercy, and what would that then be? Or if God is Almighty, how does one fit Auschwitz in one’s thinking? Or if we look at the gorgeous sunrise and say, “How can someone not believe in God,” how do we make sense of Katrina or Haiti? Or if we belong to a denomination which ordains women (despite there being references in Scripture which would call that practice into question), can we refuse to ordain gays and lesbians in committed relationships on the basis of Scripture?
It is a question of stickiness, though I’d never thought of it quite like that before. To what do our thoughts, our faith claims, stick?
This is a helpful exercise, to consider to what we adhere, because it makes us reflect upon whether we are coherent in our thoughts, or make decisions based on something else to which we are stuck.
It’s a helpful exercise, but a tricky one too, and on occasion a bit scary. It forces us to ask, “Well, why do I do/believe/say/think that?”
And is it ever o.k. to have an exception? A contextually driven, “Yes, but….” Can one legitimately be incoherent?
To what do you adhere, and why, and when?
I like what you’re saying about “adhering”…it reminds me of my hunting days as a young boy. Often I would get the sticky burs caught in my clothing and as I tried to get unstuck from one part of the bur, another part would stick somewhere else…maybe this is our challenge? Even if we can examine and get unstuck from one unhealthy adhesive, there is another bur waiting to snag yet another piece of our hearts, souls and minds. I suppose its something like bondage…anyway, great images. Thanks.
Tony, I guess I hadn’t thought of taking it in this direction…but that’s why the blog is a helpful exercise, no? We encounter the unexpected thoughts!
I see where you are taking the imagery, namely the notion of our hearts “getting snagged.” That said, to work with your burr imagery (which, when I first glanced through your note, came across to me as “sticky buns,” not “sticky burrs!” Little personal fixation of mine. I love the cream/brown sugar/marzipan sticky buns my mother bakes…), sometimes we get snagged on things beyond our control, to a degree. You go hunting, you expect burrs. You live, you expect some snags. And depending on your clothes, you catch more burrs than others.
I guess what I’m trying to suggest in response to your post is:
a) sometimes we get snagged when we don’t mean to, or want to, or when we don’t even know that the burrs aren’t supposed to be there! Here the metaphor breaks down, I suppose, but I’m wanting to recognize that sometimes people get caught on things that they don’t even know are harmful, or might, to their mindset, be helpful.
b) the things we thought were helpful aren’t. Here I look to religion, for example. We say that God is almighty, but I just spoke to someone whose was consoling a woman whose husband died suddenly. “God is supposed to be almighty! Where was that might when the car hit him?” Having mouthed similar words, I get the question. So, when we ask “to what do we adhere,” we must also ask whether that to which we “stick” is sticky-unto-itself. Does repeating in liturgies, hymns, prayers and consolation “God is Almighty?” Does that “stick” with our experience? Why or why not?
What do you think?
very nice blog! heard a comment re: Haiti tragedy; that basically God was bringing the people of Haiti closer to Him, through this earthquake. Makes sense that God, through earthly troubles, guides His precious sheep closer to Him, so that eternally more may be saved. The Word of God is often a sharp sword as well as mirror, we see our sin, so we may choose to repent, ask for and receive forgiveness through the atoning sacrifice of the one and only Lamb of God, our precious LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose blood covers our sin. And then as the prophets fortold, we would receive a heart transplant, a tender loving heart for a heart of stone, and the Lord would then place His Holy Spirit in our hearts(we may even ask the Father) to cause all of those born of the Spirit, to want to live a holy life, live for Jesus! given understanding of the scriptures, guided into the Truth, guided into paths of righteousness, for HIS names sake! all by the Spirit of God. So I guess getting back to the beginning, that repentence and remission of sin should be proclaimed in the wonderful name, and by the power and grace of our precious LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Lion of Juda, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. respectfully, yours in Christ Jesus
I’m glad you like the blog!
I think a lot of people would resonate with your views. But because my role is to raise the questions, I’m going to pose a few:
If one believes that God wills death and destruction, on what do we base the claim that God is love? Surely, there is no historical shortage of this theological opinion, but there is also no shortage of critique against it.
So concerning Haiti, if one maintains that God wills the death of those who died, does that suggest that God willed also the abundant despair, physical and emotional pain, and terror of the orphans and parents behind? Why or why not, and what would the implications in our own lives be depending on how we answer that?
I’m all for repentance, but it’s not as easy as Nancy Reagan would have had us believe regarding addiction, “Just say ‘no!'” Not many addicts sat up and said, “AHHHHH! _That’s_ what I’ve been doing wrong all of these years, just not saying ‘no!'”
Repenting, believing, trusting, having faith, are tough, tough things to do.
How we understand God’s disposition to be has direct implications for our engagement with those who struggle with these sorts difficulties–not to mention direct implications for how we engage with our own inner difficulties as well.