Super! Natural!

Etymology is a strange hobby but I have found it can become addictive.

The other day, thinking of my doubts about what is popularly called the ‘supernatural’, and reading similar ones expressed in ‘The Mind of God’ by Paul Davies, a very readable agnostic physicist, I decided to find out what it originally meant.

It took some time but, cutting the story as short as possible, this is what I found.

Supernatural
Super– is related to the prefix sub-
which meant close to and could be above or below,
but later sub was more often used for below, under or less than,
but still occasionally to mean above,
as in sublime which means above all limit.
The other meaning of sublime is to purify by evaporation.
Super- is generally used for above, over or more than.

Natural means allied to nature.

Nature comes from natal, that which is born
(which in turn comes from borne or carried).
Hence supernatural is above but close to that which is born,
a bairn.

So supernatural implies a mother and child relationship.

I don’t know if that helps but it was an interesting surprise!

Julian’s 3rd Showing

Chapter 11. 

“The third Revelation etc.; how God doth al thing except synne, never chongyng His purpose without end, for He hath made al thing in fulhede of goodnes. The eleventh chapter.”

And after this I saw God in a tiny point,
that is to say, in my understanding
I saw that He is in all things.

I saw and considered,
seeing and understanding the sight with a soft awe,
and thought: What is sin?

For I saw truly that God does everything, however little.
Nothing comes by chance without His foresight.
If it seems so, our blindness,
our poor foresight, is the cause.

Those things in God’s foreseeing wisdom
from without beginning fall suddenly,
unsuspectedly to us;
by our blindness, by our lack of forsight,
we see them as happenchance.
But to our Lord God they are not so.

  fro withoute beginning: an interesting term whose sense
is perhaps preserved in the Scottish term outwith, ‘apart from’
or in this case ‘outside’ the beginning which points to something other
than mere unending time: something outside time, the eternal,
for which we have no true words.
Even ‘eternal’, from words meaning ‘lasting for an age’
inadequately expresses in temporal words, something outwith time.
(Compare Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart
)

So I must grant all that is done, is done well ,
for our Lord God does all.
I saw our Lord God at work in His creatures,
not the work of His creatures,
for He is the mid-point of everything;
and I was sure He does no sin.

And I saw here truly that sin is no deed,
for in all this sin was not shown.
I would no longer wonder at this,
but saw what our Lord would show.
My soul was shown the rightfulness of God’s work.

Rightfulness has two fair properties:
it is right, it is full,
as are all the works of our Lord God;
needing neither the working of mercy nor grace,
for all is rightful,
nothing fails.

Another time He showed me sin nakedly,
as I shall say later,
where He uses the work of mercy and grace.

This vision was shown to my understanding.
For our Lord wishes the soul to turn
to see Him truly,
and all His works generally,
for they are fully good,
and all His doings are easy and sweet, and greatly easing,
turning the soul from the blind judgement of man
to the fair, sweet judgement of our Lord God.
For a man sees some deeds well done
and some evil.
But our Lord beholds them not so.
For just as all that exists in nature is of God’s making,
so all that is done is of God’s doing.

That the best deed is well done
is easy to understand.
And as the best and the highest,
so is the least deed done,
and all in the way and order our Lord has ordained
from without beginning,
for there is no doer but He.

I saw with certainty,
He never changes His purpose,
nor ever shall, without end.
For nothing was unknown to Him
forever, from without beginning.

Everything was set in order and made,
and it shall stand without end,
and nothing shall fail in that point.
He made everything in full goodness,
in the blessed Trinity,
forever fully pleased in all His works.

And all this He showed blisfully, meaning thus:

See, I am God;
see, I am in everything;
see, I do everything;
see, I never left my hands off my works,
nor ever shall without end;
see I lead everything to the end I ordained
from without beginning
by the same might, wisdom and love that I made it.
How should anything be amiss?

Thus mightily, wisely, and lovingly
my soul was examined in this vision.
Then I saw truly,
I had to assent with great reverence,
delighting in God.

Her 4th & 5th visions follow in a couple of weeks.

A Study of Religion

Some years ago at a difficult time, I wrote these words.
The first part is compiled directly from the Oxford English Dictionary, beginning with the word ‘religion’, finding its definition, and repeating that in turn with each keyword I found in the definition.
The second part is a short verse inspired by this, and the third, an introspection leading from it.
I present it as it may (or may not) help those who feel that faith comes easy to some, and that others do not share the same struggles.

I

Religion is the human recognition of,
and response to,
a living being,
higher than man,
possessing superhuman capability and powers;

Having a rightful claim and title
to possess and control the universe
and all creatures in it,
including mankind.

Having an absolute claim, in right and title,
to the reverence,
respect,
adoration,
and devotion of mankind;

Having power over nature and human fortunes,
known by mankind as GOD,
the Supreme Being,
inviolable,
morally and spiritually perfect.
whole, holy.

To this Supremacy,
this Divinity,
there is no other higher power or prior cause.

The universe proceeds from GOD alone,
GOD is its great creator and its king;
created from GOD’s own self by GOD’s own will,
sustained by GOD’s supreme and sole command,
copied from no model,
from no ‘other’ substance drawn,
placed in no ‘space outside’, apart from GOD.

II

Grown within the Earth-womb,
mankind, the child of GOD,
beloved yet poorly loving, lives by grace
herein is love: not that we love GOD
but that GOD loved us first,
we that give him pain
(for we do love, but hurt the one we love,
denying Him in blank and close-walled fear).

True religion
is this recognition
and its due response.

III

I am a Christian.
I believe in GOD the Father Almighty,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord.
and in the Holy Spirit,
Three in One.

I have never seen a miracle,
I have never heard the voice of GOD,
I have never seen an angel,
a vision,
or a ghost,
except at such a time
and in such a need
that I suspect it was hallucination
or a dream.

I have never seen the certain hand of GOD
intervening in His universe.
I have not seen one certain answered prayer,
I have seen many seeming prayers in faith Unanswered.
I have seen Christians go sad to their grave
and wondered why.

My only answer is that of Peter,
‘Lord, to whom shall we go?
Yours are the words of eternal life.’
The unexamined life is not worth living ,
Socrates
wherever Truth may lead us we must go.
To fail to do so is self deceit
and death.

If truth leads to death
we lose only what we never had.
If truth leads to life
we have gained the whole universe
and our souls.

I am not one who has seen and believed,
but one who has not seen, and yet believes.

Heaven and Earth may fade and flee,
First born light in gloom decline,
But while GOD and I shall be,
I am his, and he is mine!1’
                                         J. M. Muller

Homo Sapiens Sapiens

Man, Wisely Wise –

    The right words, 
but not necessarily in the right gender.

The title comes with blessing and a curse,
somewhere along our way we learned
that we know that we know.

Knowledge for knowledge’s sake sets us apart;
it is in our species name:
Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens has desire and power.
This world is where we live and breathe and are.

We have moved beyond merely sentient,
simply sensing the world,
to being sapient, knowing our place in it.
We have moved beyond merely sapient,
knowing our place,
to sapient sapient.
We have tasted the bitter-sweet fruit.
We know that we know.

Man did not mean male,
it was a species,
in which the male was husbandman,
from hus-bound-Man,
tied to humus, to soil,
our house and home.

Of course it became husband,
but an earlier term was wer-Man
‘male-Man’

The female was wif-Man, which became wife,
then, probably via wi’-Man, became wo-man,
woman.

And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’

…out of Man, not …out of man;
the gender word man was yet unformed

wo-Man meant female-Man
wer-Man meant male-Man.
The human gender term wer survives,
in the human male part of were-wolf.

‘male’ in male and female are unrelated

Female comes from Latin femella,
female-Man.
Male comes from Old French masle
from Latin masculus or malus, male-Man.
Man is the species word,
human regardless of gender,
as were he and she, which were once accents of the same word,
simply meaning a person.
Man is derived from Old English mann,
or earlier Proto-Indo-European mon or man.
Human comes from humus (soil).

Possibly the h at the beginning of human and he
caused a shift of use towards he 
for a person,
leaving she with no role.
so it came to be used for a woman.

If so, then for a time, he meant a person of either sex
while she was only used for women.
Gradually he was applied to men only,
she to women only.

Female stands alone,
It is not fe- prefixing male.
Its origin is in Latin,
coming from femina, or femella,
a female human.
Its use for other species came later.

Male comes from Old French masle
from Latin masculus, or malus,
a male human.

So male in each word is coincidence,
a 14th century spelling confusion,
of similar sounds with similar sense.

But -man in woman and in man
does share the same root:
the word for our species,
Man, any human person.
In Old English the word for male was wǣp or wer
which, with the species suffix mann,
became wǣp-mann, werman.

Werman shortened to man in or before the 13th century
We still use wǣp- or wer as man in were-wolf.
but the word served also as gender neutral
until the last century.
Old English for woman, female-Man,
was wīf-mann or wif.
Wif became wife
wīf-mann became wi’man, woman.
So, unlike female and male,
man and woman have the same root,
Man,
human regardless of gender.

The Words We Use

This is something of a ramble through my etymology hobby.

Eternal is from ancient Greek, aeon-ternus, meaning age-lasting. We often use eternal as meaning no more than this, going on for ages, or as long as the universe lasts, but things have changed.

The discovery of the Big Bang in which the cosmos came into being at a finite time in the past, brings the need for a much wider definition as it implies the existence of something other than space-time for which we have no words. This is nothing new; a wider definition has been necessary for some millenia since the earliest descriptions of a being outside, other than time and space, but also from the invention of an obscure, ancient, grammatical concept.

The past, the present and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.

But the aorist tense needs no companions – wherever it is, it is always tense. When God says, ‘I AM.’ it is a single, defining statement. The original is in the aorist tense, implies ‘I was, I am, I have always been and always will be.’ Or if you prefer, ‘I ETERNALLY AM’

This is far more than simply lasting forever; it is something other. It is more than time or space. It may give birth to time and space, but, Oh! Man! it is something else.

The Aorist does not walk into a bar, its spirit is suspended eternally in the optics.

So here is the problem. In an earlier post I wrote about something and nothing and came to the conclusion that we have no true word for nothing because nothing cannot exist. We see this in vacuum physics where it has been found that there is no such thing as the popular idea of a vacuum. Instead the more vacuous the space the more it teems with virtual particles or eddies popping in and out of existence, reacting and responding to each other. The word virtual, unlike its use in ‘virtual reality’ stems from vir, an Old Latin word for potency or Man.

To avoid confusion ‘Man’ above has  a capital letter to identify it as a species word rather than gender. The male of the species Man is homo-man in which homo is Old Latin for humus or earth , not the Old Greek for self.

World comes from the Anglo-Saxon wer-alt meaning the age of a man. we still use wer today to mean man in werewolf (man-wolf).

There is no word for this full meaning of eternal. Eternal simply means ‘lifelong’, but we seek for more, even if life is taken as the life of the universe it takes no account of that Other, the Allos, outwith space-time.

Universe is from unusversus ‘one turned’. It is tempting to think of this in terms of the universe seen as the turning stars, but it means turned into one in the sense, all there is, seen as one. And can we become one with that other One?

Cosmos comes from the Old Greek word for order. The reason I have not posted anything for so long is that for my wife and I the past year has been anything but cosmic. We have had a tough year. My posts will probably be monthly for a while.

 

It’s a Bleeding Blessing!!

I have always liked etymology.
(Etymology: Latin etymon
from ancient Greek, etumon, meaning truth
plus Greek –legein, a suffix meaning speak)
and yet its meaning is not speaking true,
but the study of the history of words.

The history of words is not always
as simple as the etymology
of the word etymology itself.
With time words and their meanings change and shift.
Words may remain while only meanings change;
words may remain while meanings grow and drift.

Blesséd are they that are poor in spirit,
for theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven.

Poor means today what it has always done
but blesséd, blest,
ah, there’s a word to run.

Often it has been said to mean happy
which seems to fit, a comfortable word,
(though comfort means to strengthen and give power;
In French comme forte is furnishing with strength)
but blest is more than simply being happy;
in French again blessure is to wound,
imblessure is a wound that bleeds.
Blé, meaning wheat in French is closely linked,
and came from bládh a growing blade of grass,
from which word blade we get the knife and sword,
blood shedders.
Bless also meant to blow as in the line,
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
from which we get blossom and bloom and bleed,
growing, swelling, welling words that promise more.
Farther back, the gallo-roman bladhais
was the growing harvest.

So deep within the happiness of blessing,
we have upwelling, and a blossoming,
the overflowing, fruition
of love.

The Eternal Possesses Time

As in the poem ‘All the Time in the World
the nature of an eternal ‘Other’
that pervades space and time,
cannot be defined in spacetime words,
though they are all we have.

Something other than time and dimension,
pervading space and time
but independent of them,
needs words outside our range.

So how can we talk or think about it?

We do not use language as much as we think.
Multilingual people are sometimes asked,
‘What language do you think in?’

Their answer is often delayed;
rolling language thoughts around,
they usually give an answer
set in the terms of the question.

But many thoughts do not use language
though we may not notice it:
sunlight through leaves, the flight of birds,
fatigue, frustration, longing,
the body language of a friend,
and expressions on a face,
do not need words.

When we communicate with others
our words have personal qualities,
‘qualia’, arising from our past life.
A mountain, a falling leaf, a knife,
each have qualities which differ
from one person to another.
No two people have the same past,
the same experience of any thing.
Your words, my words, have different qualia,
different emotional tones.
You hear my words,
spoken out of my past
and interpret them out of yours.

I heard of an itinerent priest
who preached in town and village churches
when local vicars were away.
It could be several churches on one day.
He joked about breaking the speed limit.
Those listening –  drivers, non-drivers,
who had known or not known past accidents –
would have different thoughts about speeding cars,
different qualia,
different reactions.

But we can understand in some degree
the qualia of those different groups
by extension of our own.
Our own qualia can be enlarged
by poetry, story, music,
by the emotions of others,
or our ideas of what they might be.

Physics, mathematics or words of spacetime
cannot define or describe the Other,
but emotions give a feel for it.
Physics, mathematics and words
do this when they stir emotions.
Some find beauty in a formula that others find in music.

That feeling of beauty,
rather than formula,
rather than musical notes,
is close,
perhaps as close as we can come,
to the language of the eternal.

The word eternal, ae-ternus,
simply means lasting an age,
an infinite extension of time,
but emotions tell us it is more than this,
something more than the word,
more than mere length of time.

The Eternal possesses time.