Jesus talking in Taglish? Yes, In a Bible written for millennials

HEART AND MIND - Paulynn Sicam (The Philippine Star) - October 2, 2018 - 12:00am

I should stop being so demanding and judgmental, my Generation X daughter tells me. She says I am ramming my politics down everyone’s throat, including hers.

Have you tried having a conversation with a millennial? I’m a Baby Boomer and I live with two of them. It hasn’t been easy. My millennials are focused on their phones or their laptops, playing games and/or listening to music on their headphones.

So, the first time I say something, they are not even aware I am in the room.  When I somehow catch their attention, they give me a look that says, “What could be so important that you must interrupt my solitude?”

When I ask them to chores, like set the table for dinner, or clean up after a meal, or fix their beds when they get up in the morning, or even waking them up for school, it is like pulling teeth. They simply don’t hear my or their mother’s request until it sounds like a command. Then they move — like molasses — slowly, absently, often with some resentment.

Dinner conversations can be infuriating. They eat quickly but stay at the table until everyone is finished, as per the rule at home. But they can go back to their phones, making dialogue difficult. Oh, they talk to one another about things that interest them that I find hard to follow.  And when I ask about their day, they shrug their shoulders, indicating that there is nothing to talk about.

So how does one converse with a millennial? How do you get important messages across to them, such as the urgent need to register for the coming elections, or eating healthy and avoiding fastfoods, or having a haircut, or giving up smoking? I’ve tried and it’s infuriating. Their minds and priorities are just somewhere else.

I try to imagine how their teachers are coping with this generation that I privately label as “alien” and “willfully autistic.”  How do they get the kids to focus on subjects that require deep thinking and interpersonal skills such as philosophy, theology, history, politics and the like? Do they even read? I am told that all their reading requirements are uploaded in their phones and iPads. Do they realize what that is doing to their eyesight?

What do these young people believe in? Do they care about politics? Do they listen to the news? Do they care about where the country is going under the present dispensation? Do they attend rallies? Do they go to church? Do they even pray?

I should stop being so demanding and judgmental, my Generation X daughter tells me.  She says I am ramming my politics down everyone’s throat, including hers. She is probably right. To my millennials, this Baby Boomer is speaking in an alien tongue, which is why I don’t get any reaction from them.

But there is no time to waste. Things are falling apart quickly in the country and the world. What will the next generation inherit if the millenials don’t take charge of their future today?

*  *  *

I was happy to meet this woman who works with the Philippine Bible Society on my recent flight to Sydney.  She, too, is worried about the dearth of communication between generations, especially in the realm of Scripture.  Can young people with short attention spans and needing instant gratification relate to the archaic language of the Bible?

Not likely. So the PBS has developed a “Pinoy Version” of the New Testament which was launched at the Book Fair last month. Written in Taglish, it makes for easy reading. It will likely offend the purists in English and Filipino but it makes Jesus more human and the Word of God more understandable and relevant to the present generation.

Already, some people think it is disrespectful to translate the Word of God into common street language. But my experience tells me that we must do what it takes to make millennials sit up and take notice of what are important to the older generation. If making Jesus talk in Taglish makes His word relevant to this distracted generation, then I’m all for it.

So the brave new Bible reads like young people talking among themselves: “Sobrang na-shock ako sa inyo. Ang Diyos mismo ang pumili sa inyo, tapos ngayon, ine-entertain n’yo ang ibang Gospel?”  (Galatians 1:6)

“Habang sinasabi ng mga tao kung gaano sila kabilib kay Jesus, sinabi nya sa mga disciples, ‘Tandaan n’yong mabuti ang sasabihin ko, tatrayduring at ibibigay ang Son of Man sa kamay ng mga tao.’ Pero hindi nila maintindihan ang meaning nito…Takot naman silang magtanong tunkol dito.” (Matthew 17:22-23)

The Pinoy version of the New Testament is the work of scripture scholars and linguists and is available in Protestant and Catholic versions. It is a shot in dark aimed at the minds and hearts of millennials.  But perhaps, for it to have a better chance at being noticed, it should be made available in digital form, uploadable on their phones and iPads.

Oh, millennials. How you have forced the world to change. May it be for the good of everyone, including pesky old Baby Boomers.

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