April 15, 2005
Deep Calls to Deep All Over the Place
By David A. Zimmerman
I catch a lot of grief for a suggestion I made once, in a meeting that was supposedly a free-flowing brainstorming session, for the title of a book: Deep Calling Deep.
You're probably having the same reaction my colleagues had: "What in the world is that supposed to mean?"
Well, I could be a jerk and say, "If I have to explain it to you, you wouldn't understand." Or I could be an even bigger jerk and say, "What? Don't you read your Bible? It's from Psalm 42, you moron!" But that would just be deflecting the question, because I actually don't know what it's supposed to mean.
Nevertheless, I'm seeing the phrase all over the place these days. I first started hearing it in song lyrics in the mid-1990s, but lately I've seen it featured prominently by books and magazines and websites. It's probably on a t-shirt or necktie somewhere too. It may be too early to tell, but I think it's in the running to become the theme verse of the emergent church.
Lots of people have theme verses, some biblical phrase that has proven particularly meaningful or inspirational to them. Ministries tend to have a particular passage of Scripture in mind when they organize, and that passage becomes their institutional theme verse. But as those organizations will tell you, an important ingredient of a theme verse is intelligibility: ideally, you know what you're saying to the world.
I've been told that The Wittenburg Door, a satirical magazine about American Christianity, picked for its theme verse 1 Chronicles 26:18: "At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar." But even picking a verse so arbitrarily makes a statement: "Theme verses are for chumps."
So, to redeem myself among my colleagues and to support the theme-verse-challenged among us, I welcome any and all insight into what "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls" means, and more specifically, what it would mean for someone wearing it on a t-shirt. I do like the rhythm of it, and it could well be a fine theme verse, perhaps followed immediately by something like "It's an emergent thing, you wouldn't understand."
Meanwhile, if I were to give myself a theme verse, I think it would have to be one that is not so much inspirational as descriptive. I can aspire to all sorts of things, but ultimately I am anchored by the reality of who I fundamentally am, complete with all my failings and foibles.
I actually have a verse in mind, and it just so happens to come straight from the mouth of my namesake, King David, in 2 Samuel 6:
"I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
Don't think that's a good theme verse? Check out the streaming video at ivpress.com. I'm sure you'll see the sense of it.