Ok, I have just now had an epiphany. I mean, seriously, just a few minutes ago. I love it when that happens, and when I'm not being too thick headed to recognize it.
Today is March 15, 2011...aka...The Ides of March. I love Shakespeare, really. In high school, when my junior English class (Or maybe it was Freshman English) read Romeo and Juliet, I was going to get the part of Romeo or be damned...and I got to read Romeo. I wish I could remember who read for Juliet, but that's ok.
This morning, I posted "Beware the Ides of March" on my facebook profile, just like I did last year, and the year before. I don't know why. The 15th of March just kind of stuck with me. It doesn't really mean anything to me, I mean, Shakespeare has been dead for how many years? And Caesar has been dead for how many more? But for some reason that one line in that one play has always stuck with me.
In celebration of the Ides of March, or maybe in observation, I pulled up Julius Caesar on the internet, and there it is, right there in scene II, the soothsayer telling Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March." Of course Caesar didn't really understand...but that's not the epiphany I had. Here is where the epiphany began; The website I found was a parallel version of Julius Caesar, you know like our parallel versions of the bible...KJV (I wish it would just go away) on one side and NRSV or NIV on the other.
This website had the original language on the left, and a modern translation on the right. (Hold on a second while a put a foot on Shakespeare to slow the spin.) IT WAS TERRIBLE! Antonio is no longer Antonio, but Antony (If you are named Antony, I promise that I mean no disrespect). When Brutus says, "Cassius, do not be deceived, if I have veil'd my look..." becomes "Cassius, if I don't have my usual face..." Holy editing, Batman...who committed this travesty?
Now, I'm all about modernization, and I have been a champion of the "new traditional" movement in the church just about as long as I've been in the ministry, but this morning I have learned that some things just are not to be messed with.
You may be asking, "Ok wiseguy, do you preach from the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic?" No, no I do not, because I can't read Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. Then you may say, "So if we can translate scripture, why not Shakespeare?" And I'd say, I don't know, but it just feels wrong.
So, here is my epiphany...I do not personally like the KJV as a once modern translation of an ancient text, but I will not condemn or criticize anyone for using it from now on. I do not believe it was the bible Jesus meant for us to read (like I have been told by well meaning church members), instead, I personally feel it was translated under diress. My epiphany continued...I do not necessarily enjoy the old hymns we sing in the church, but I will defend to the death your right to enjoy them and sing them as loudly as you want. I have just recently discovered, "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown," and will stop trying to find a way to make that old hymn new. I will read Shakespeare in the original language but if I get hung up on an Elizabethan quote I will peak at the modern translation just long enough to see if I can make sense of it, while not condemning someone for trying to make Shakespeare more accesible.
I will teach, while I continue to learn, that the old and the new can live side by side...somehow, and that one is not necessarily "good" and the other necessarily "bad."
What will this mean down the road for me, or for the work to which I have been called? I have no clue, but now I'll close with a benediction from Anthony and Cleopatra: "The elements be kind to thee, and make thy spirits all of comfort." I don't know what it really says in modern English, but it sounded pretty.