Friday, October 28, 2016

Me Heads Chocka, La

I have been spending a lot of time recently talking, or talking about talking. Which may seem odd to you but there is that saying, "England and America are two nations divided by a common language." In another post, I may return to how much truth is in this quote, but for now, let's stick to language. 

Scouse to English dictionary is helpful

In Liverpool, there is a unique dialect/accent/slang that is found only in Merseyside region of England, mostly in Liverpool but found as far as Flintshire in Wales, Runcorn in Cheshire, and Skelmersdale in Lancashire called "scouse" and you may have heard of Liverpudlians referred to as "scousers." The term is derived from a type of delicious lamb or beef stew that was commonly eaten by sailors in Northern Europe, which became popular in seaports like Liverpool, called scouse (please click here for more information on scouse stew.

Scouse developed from the influence of Welsh and Irish speakers along with traders in the port from various countries. (Liverpool is home to the earliest Chinese and Black populations in the country.) 
To say scouse, the language, is a distinct accent is an extreme understatement, There are some scousers that I find impossible to understand and not just from the accent but from the number of slang terms used in scouse.

And that is where my friend, Korean Billy, has been a wonderful help to me.

ASDA, as you might have guessed, is British Wal-Mart

She's a good example, definitely, a scouser but not so thick you can't understand her

Scouse and scousers take an awful lot of flack for their dialect and growing up in Oklahoma and living in Texas I feel a connection to this. People who had a twang were and are still often thought to be less intelligent than others. And, because I grew up with so much southern slang, I really like learning scouse terms. So, I have started exchanging words with a few people, I try to teach them one new southern word or phrase like, "catawampus," and they teach me a scouse word or phrase, like, Me head's chocka" (I can't think straight, my head's busy) Which, in trying to understand scouse, is sometimes true.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Hospitality

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

It has been almost four weeks since I got to England and settled into the Tsedaqah House, a three story victorian style, next to the Liverpool Cathedral. The views are immense. Out my front door I can see the great cathedral building that I feel in awe of every day and to the back, I can see down to Albert Dock and the Mersey River.  The house itself is very cozy and Emily Bethany (a Canadian housemate) and I have done well to make it feel more like home.

You may have been caught off guard by that funny name for my house, Tsedaqah. A more common transliteration is "Tzedakah" (ze-DAH-ka) but nevertheless, its literal translation is "to do justice" but is more commonly associated with the Jewish concept of charity. Since I am neither a Jew or a scholar of the Jewish faith I don't think I can accurately explain what this concept means in Jewish faith but if you are interested I think this might be a safe place to start.But back to the story of my house, the house has four bedrooms and one room that is very small and more like an office? or maybe just a really large closet that will soon have a twin (or single as they say here) bed in it. Emily and I both sleep on the second floor with fairly large sized rooms. Bethany is on the third in a smaller room but it has an epic view of the docks and most importantly there is a large bedroom with an ensuite bathroom which serves as a guest room for various guests of the Liverpool Cathedral or Liverpool Diocese. (The small office/closet room will be available as well but so that if we have friends visit there is a room for them.

Being an innkeeper extraordinaire has been a cool experience so far. I have learned new skills like towel origami. I have so far mastered dogs and swans as pictured below:

But aside from my goofy and cheesy towel art, I have been considering what being hospitable means and how to engage in hospitality with those I do not know. How often have I invited someone to stay with me or eat with me who I did not know much about? These are scary things and in part, they are scary because as a society we are continually reminded of people who wish to do others harm in every true murder show (Dateline, First 48, Investigation Discovery) and local news report. While surely there are people like that in the world today, there were also people like that in the days of Jesus. I mean the Good Samaritan story is pretty graphic and yet the call is not to be hospitable to those you know. No, it's "do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers" or Romans 12:13 "Contribute to the needs of the Saints, extend hospitality to strangers." There are others but these are my favorite because they seem the most direct. 

If we, as Christians, hold to the idea that living our faith is what we are called to do, then we must also acknowledge that sometimes it will have to be a vulnerable and courageous thing to do. It will have to involve some personal risk, discomfort, and perhaps even rejection. I wish to see in myself and also in others more last minute invites to dinner, regardless of the "state of one's home." More "crappy dinner parties" but with a mix of those strong hold friends and those people, you wouldn't normally invite. Or maybe you just put out an invite on social media that you'll be having dinner and if people are interested in coming they should feel free. (There is a man studying to be a priest here who does this every week, oh and he has a family of 3 children. They fed 28 people last Monday) Find some goal of hospitality that works for you but work towards being more hospitable because there is so much joy in that.

I have not mastered the art of hospitality, I often think I have just begun even understand what it is but what a joy to learn something new. What a joy to experience all sorts of people God has sent and what a joy to be someone invited to the table.