blah, blah, blah…words, words, words…and what to do with them.
I can pontificate like no other. When I begin a good string of circumlocution it can get so sesquipedalian that even scholars stand back and question their personal vernacular and vocabularies. In my time spent in student politics I received training in virtually every method of public speaking, and I won medals for job interview, extemporaneous speaking, and all kinds of planned, delivered presentations. Right now, I’m pretty sure all you may be hearing is “HONK HONK”, but despite the rather proficiency laden intro, there is no tooting involved here. Centric to all of this, is an inquisition that I suffer privation to catechize, but first let’s go ahead and expound about the alternate side of my ability. In all of this wonderful loquaciousness, I find that the dark side is that I also have quite the sharp tongue.
It is so easy for me to come up with biting and stinging comebacks when provoked and furthermore, once I get going, I can escalate the situation quicker than that jacked up moving staircase at the mall. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that we need not tear people down, and that whatever words we may offer out, ought to be used for building up. Now, to be fully clear, this isn’t an argument against language that some consider inappropriate, between the prophets and Paul himself, it’s pretty obvious that provocative language definitely serves a purpose in our world. What I am asking, is how come it is so darn easy for us as believers to use the language we have inherited to latch onto as a tool for destruction?
Maybe you noticed, but I purposely used big honkin double word score, triple letter score, spelling bee finals type words in the first paragraph. I’d be willing to bet a couple of them frustrated you. What we tend to forget though, is that us believer folk have come up with our own language, full of wordiness, hidden meaning, and insane sounding concepts. Most people call it “Christianese”, and it’s got some real doozies. We sit around and talk about how our pastor or bible study leader really got their “exegesis” wrong on their personal view of “eschatology”. Layman translation being, we think they’ve got the wrong idea about the end times. We talk about things like “conversion” and “emergent churches” and all the “heresies” involved when people don’t believe like we do. How much of that allows us to connect to the dude down the street that only knows that those Christian people worship a guy named Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God and was born on Christmas, died on Good Friday, and then went all zombie and roamed around undead come Easter?
Then there’s the stuff within the church, like the folks that think that modern language translations are wrong, and the only true word of God was translated between the years of 1604 and 1611. So all you folks that don’t understand that word order, ya’ll got no hope either, because thou knowest truly Christ spake in such manner in territories unto Caesar of Rome, and yea I speaketh in such manner today. What? There’s no sarcasm there. People really do speak like that today…in time period amusement parks. So, words are pretty important really.
In teaching leadership, one of the workshops I have constantly led is on having a conversation, and in the presentation, I tell a ridiculous story, with wild imagery, and then pick volunteers from the group to retell what they just heard. What ensues is always a quite funny and unique experience as different folks have picked up on different pieces of the story, and inevitably, little details get left out by the person retelling, but others in the crowd almost never let them go as they chime in and contribute to ensure the accurate retelling. Why can’t our Faith be like that? Why can’t all of our conversations be like that?
So, to wrap this all up in a burrito to bite down on, we’ve got to step back and look at how overly serious we take language. We need to stop from taking language so lightly too. Most of all though, we need to ask questions of each other, and in community, ensure the answers are given. We need to use those words to start a conversation.
Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.