11 November 2007

You seduced me, O Lord, and I let myself be seduced.

Saw the documentary Into Great Silence a few weeks ago about Grande Chartreuse, a Carthusian monastery in France. At three hours long, it may be the world's first "Silent Retreat on DVD." I take it this passage from Jeremiah, "You have seduced me, O Lord, and I let myself be seduced," has something to do with the Carthusian rule or spirituality since it was only quoted on the screen like ten times. It's one of those verses that you don't hear often, and that is unfortunate. Maybe that word seduced makes people uncomfortable. What I find interesting (and may or may not be interesting to the that kid from Springfield who finds my sporadically-updated blog after Googling for "richest man in the world" to work on some research paper) is... where was I... see, this is what happens when I sip Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey while blogging...

Okay, got it. The interesting thing is that there are a number of translations for that word seduced. The Anchoress, who runs a much better blog than I do that's actually won awards and has readers, wrote a post about this same verse (which I found while Googling to figure out exactly where this passage is in Jeremiah... it's difficult to locate because you don't know how your translation translated the word "seduced," hence this here blog post). Her translation, apparently the NAB, says, "You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped."

The NRSV says: "O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed."

The NLT: "O LORD, you persuaded me, and I allowed myself to be persuaded."

Douay-Rheims: "Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, and I am deceived."

The NIV also chooses the word "deceived."

The Complete Jewish Bible: "You fooled me, ADONAI; I have been your dupe."

Just of out curiosity, I checked The Message, which says, "You pushed me into this, GOD, and I let you do it."

So you probably get the idea... that one particular word is translated ten ways to Sunday. My "favorite" is seduced, partly because it sounds a bit scandalous, but also because seduction is a term that is more half-black, half-white. Deception could never hold a positive connotation while persuasion and enticement tend to sound more positive, especially when the actor is God. But I've never thought of God as a Ruth-like seducer.

Ruth seduced Boaz, becoming the great-grandmother of King David. She clearly didn't seduce him selfishly. Ironically, David did a little seducing of his own to bag that Bathsheba chick, but we don't talk about that incident in such a positive light.

In either type of situation, seduction implies strong passion, an irresistible attraction. Sometimes my relationship with God feels like that, but when those times always seem to end with heartbreak, I've conditioned myself to remain leary of getting too "emotionally involved" with God. If I avoid the emotional highs, I won't have to endure the lows. It is good to grow past the emotional volatility of an immature relationship. I'm not dating God, after all: I am committed to him, as if in marriage. Unfortunately, the security of covenantal relationships seems to bring us down as we count on that relationship to always be there for us. We forget that a covenant taps into Divine Eternity and Love: it should be a source of great joy to be secure forever in God's embrace! We should be driven not to laziness and procrastination, but to accept the greatest risks for the Gospel, for when God has set [us] high on a rock, the Rock of Christ and his Church, [we] will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; [we] will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!


Brother Charles said...

I think the sense of seduction comes into the Indo-European language translation via St. Jerome: "seduxisti me Domine et seductus sum."

I like the sense of being 'led astray,' i.e. from my own lights and interior nonsense that is.

What you say about passion is good for me to hear too. To remember that the desire of God is for our salvation and happiness and peace, and that this divine passion is related to the "passio" of our Lord in intimate ways...

goat said...

just saw the movie today in Cape Town. the magic and visions keep flooding back. your commentary and take on the seduction of Jeremiah is thought-provoking.
You are gifted with writing skills.
I thank you for your insight.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was moved by the word "seduced", enough to go on-line after watching the documentary, and put it into the search engine. Umm? Now I am a bit frustrated having read the other translations. I want to look into this further, but not tonight, I'm exhausted. God Bless

Kim in Michigan