The "Yes, Prime Minister" BBC
series was the first to draw attention to the use, the widespread use, actually
- of irregular verbs in English. These verbs change significantly depending on
whether they are being used after "I" or after "you" or
Take something (as the BBC did) like the
making public of confidential government papers. That irregular verb would go:
I leak; You disclose; He blows wide open.
Or the verb about being untruthful: I
fudge; You evade; He tells lies.
And the verb about desire: I wish; You
want; He craves.
When it comes to desire, Jersey, in common
with most of Western civilisation (or, perhaps, in advance of it because of Jersey's economic success) shows evidence of some
ingenuity. New things to desire appear at every turn and claim our attention.
Houses and cars dominate the advertising
pages of the JEP. Several local "lifestyle" glossies compete to
foster desire for more expensive things that are, of course, available. Less
obvious in fostering desire is the unconnected use of sexual attraction to sell
something that often has little to do with that. Private health insurance
brochures have pictures of very attractive nurses. Travelmaker advertisements
in the JEP this week promise me a lovely girl on my beach...
But when life's basics are in very short
supply (as during the German Occupation of Jersey not that long ago) desire
becomes terribly strong because, over and above the hunger, there is also the
fear of death, the desire for survival.
Such was the testing facing Jesus Christ
around AD 30 (see above). Would he perform a miracle and turn stones into bread
for his own consumption in those circumstances? Or would he deny self?
On only two occasions does Mark, in his
brief 48-page biography of Jesus Christ written around AD 65, use the Greek
word aparneomai that is translated "deny" in
During the period of his life when he spent
most of his time teaching his key followers, Jesus told them that, if anyone
wanted to come after him, that person must deny self, take up a
cross and follow him. Deny self?
Then, very close to his criminal conviction
and execution, Jesus gently told all those same key followers, "You
will all fall away ...." Peter, that brash former fisherman, disputes
this and Jesus says to him, "Truly, I tell you, this very night ....
you will deny me three times". Peter replies
emphatically, "If I must die with you, I will not deny
But he did. Self took over at the time of
testing. Peter could not resist self - his survival was at stake.
What do we Jersey
folk do at our time of testing? Like now? (Because riches are a test as well as
poverty.) As one of the most economically successful jurisdictions in the
economically successful Western world are we still focussed on desire?
Actually, is it possible to resist desire and self in any meaningful way? Is it
possible to deny self?
Here is an irregular verb to use when
explaining failure to deny self: I look after myself: You take care of
yourself; He serves himself.
And an irregular verb about denying Jesus
Christ, to use when explaining failure openly to follow him: I am silent but
people see how I live; You do not waste your words needlessly; He never speaks
about Jesus Christ.