Posted tagged ‘language’

Is There Another Word?

August 7, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      August 7, 2018

                                  

Carol and I were watching a DVD movie last night and I found it ninety percent enjoyable. It was a comedy that was creative, included surprising twists and witty humor. The only distraction for me as I watched it was the language.

Okay! Call me old-fashioned and a fuddy-duddy, but profanity more and more seems to be an attempt to fit in rather than searching for that word that raises the level of the manuscript or dialogue. 

In the film the f-bombs that got tossed out as abundantly as bird seed in a park for the pigeons had no purpose. That is, they didn’t add anything to the film’s plot or flow of action. They just…were there! Like they were trying to make the film more appealing, more certain of it’s “R” rating. 

It seems that our culture is very sensitive about language that could be construed as degrading to a certain gender, ethnic group, or social class, but indifferently tolerant towards language that if uttered in the range of our moms hearing would have them sprinting to us with bars of Dial soap in their hands. 

The “F word” especially has become mainstream. Even people who don’t say it are being drawn towards it. I hear words like “freaking” and “frecking” being used by people who are being drawn to the edge of the cliff but they still have enough self-control to not jump into the “ff-ing chasm!”

A basketball coach friend of mine, whose teams have been successful year after year, doesn’t allow profanity from his players at practice or during games. He holds to the biblical principle that James writes about in his New Testament letter. James spends a good amount of time talking about the use of the tongue and the effect of our words. He writes, Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26, NIV). 

I’d like to take this “language” issue in another direction, however. I’d like to think of the benefits, the positive directions, that our words can take us. Proverbs 12:18 tells us, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

I live in the world of words. Quite often as I write my “Words from WW” I sit and ponder what the next “right” word should be. What I write can lead to apathy or interest, laughter or yawning, confusion or clarity. And so I search for the word to help paddle the blog boat on down the stream.

We live in a culture that is language lazy and more concerned with looking relevant than intelligent. It is a culture that’’s comfortable with shallow talk instead of communication that goes deeper than superficial.  Deep ideas and profound words of wisdom make us think, and not everyone is comfortable with that.

What do you think? 

The Other F Word

August 7, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         August 7, 2017

                                      

I was having dinner with my dad Sunday night at Wyngate, his senior apartment complex. We sat across the table from his across-the-hall neighbor, Bonnie! Conversation was constant and the topics varied from vegetable likes and dislikes, to a former resident who now lived in a different state and was dealing with dementia, to the heat and humidity of Alabama.

Alabama took us to this story that Bonnie offered. Her four year old “great niece” lives in Alabama. When Bonnie was visiting her sister who also lives there a few months ago her great niece came up to her one day and told her that she had learned the “F Word” at her pre-school the previous week. She put her hand over her mouth to accentuate the shock of the new education.

“But I can’t tell you what it is!” she continued. Bonnie told her she understood and shook her head to communicate the unbelievable nature of this new discovery.

“But I can whisper it to you!” She approached her great aunt’s left ear, cupped her hand to the side of her mouth, and whispered the forbidden newly-discovered four letter word.

“Fart!”

Bonnie tried to express the dismay of such learned language, but as soon as her great niece turned away and headed out of the room she broke into a belly laugh that even made her arthritic knees jiggle and giggle!

Fart! That was the new F word! Bonnie thought “Oh, I wish that it were so!” Whereas another “F” word spoken can seem crass and demeaning, describing a moment of flatulence simply passes in a moment and is no more!

The “F” Word

June 26, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       June 26, 2017

My granddaughter recently used the “F” word. Her mom’s eyebrows hit the ceiling! She had used it in reference to Satan. Instead of “Defeat Satan”, or “Stand up to the devil!” she had used the “F” word as a verb in front of Satan. When my daughter’s eyebrows came back down from the rafters she asked her where she had heard that word. It had floated out of one of her kindergarten classmate’s lips, and she had heard it a few other times in other places.

My daughter controlled herself and taught her that there are certain words that are not appropriate to use. In a few years her daughter might ask her mom a follow-up question. “Mom, if it’s not appropriate why do I hear it being said so much?”

The question might cause her mom to have to think about the answer a good bit.

The “F” word is now the over-used expletive that seems to be accepted by many. Robin said, “Holy Cow, Batman!” My grandfather said “Lord, have mercy!” Beaver Cleaver said, “Gosh, Wally!” Now the “F” word is the word of emphasis, the word of anger, and the word that seems to flow fluidly from the lips of many people.

I remember using it one time my sophomore year of high school for no apparent reason in talking to my friend Dave Hughes. I called him the “F” word with the maternal pronoun in front of it. I was having an exaggerated moment of machoism and I thought it would make me seem taller than my 5’2’ stature. I remember his look of dismay because he knew it was out of character for me. My moment of a verbally raised testosterone level quickly passed and I felt stupid. Dave Hughes was forgiving and ended up being my best man about nine years later.

I figured out that the “F” word didn’t define me, or make me seem tougher and meaner. I was who I was, and my vocabulary was prone to stay on the more positive end of the spectrum.

I could put a list of reasons why people seem to use the “F” word more these days, but I’m not sure that would be helpful. I prefer to focus on the “F” words of scripture that mean more to me and are more about hope, promise, and building up.

Words that come to mind are “faith” and “faithfulness.” My faith in Jesus has set me “free” to be one of his “followers.” I hear the other “F” word often used in frustrated reaction to failure. My “faith” however assures me that Christ’s victory on the cross “finished” it! And now I cherish the “fellowship” that I enjoy with the other “followers.”

Don’t think too highly of me, however! I still use the word “Crap!” from time to time, usually after a miss a jump shot playing basketball, but never in reference to someone else’ s character.

Just some “food” for thought! What kind of “fruit” is coming from my tongue?

The Challenge of Speaking The Same Language…in Church!”

August 12, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     August 12, 2015

              

What is a hymn?

How you answer that question may actually say something more about your age…or lack of…than anything else.

If you answered that question with responses such as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, “In the Garden”, or “Blessed Assurance”, chances are you are over fifty years old.

“If you answered that question with such songs/hymns “Blessed Assurance” (again), “Majesty”, and “Pass It On”, you are probably under fifty by a few years or a couple of decades.

Why would I say such a thing? I hear quite often from the senior folk of my congregation the desire to sing more hymns. We try to balance our worship between hymns and praise songs. Recently, however, a revelation occurred to one of our musical members when she was talking about what hymns are. The younger folk she was in conversation with thought that a hymn was any song in our current hymnal…which includes each of the songs I listed in both sets of responses above.

That makes sense, in that they are in the…hymnal! But those who have been around for a few years would tell you that “Majesty” is not a hymn because…it just isn’t!

It speaks to the fact that any church that is a mixture of ages will have situations occur where people assume they are speaking about the same thing, but they really aren’t. It’s a cultural disconnect in the church.

When I was growing up and someone was asked whether they went to church the answer would be “yes” if they were there every Sunday. Some might even have said yes because in their thinking being a part of a church meant you were there every Sunday morning and evening, and every Wednesday night.

If that same question is asked today the answer could be yes, but the determining criteria for the one who answers is completely different. If a person attends Sunday worship once a month he characterizes that sa being intimately involved in his church. The typical church member now attends Sunday worship 1 to 2 times a month, whereas in my young days it was 3 to 4 times a month.

It is the same topic…are you very involved in your church’s ministry…but the definition of “very involved” is seen different.

What happens too often is that people, fallen in nature, misread other people they never  discover are speaking the same language in different ways. Instead of grace entering into the conversations sometimes suspicion and presumptions become the gap fillers.

The challenge for any church is creating that environment where people can hear those who are different than they are, while also feeling like they are also being understood.

58 and Cute!

August 30, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        August 30, 2012

 

58 and Cute!”

 

I had an interesting experience yesterday. I was in the speedy-no time to waste-self-checkout at King Soopers. As I was scanning my items an elderly lady who had been at the self-checkout right behind me finished her order and was starting to exit, but she stopped and touched me on the arm and said “You’re cute!”

Yes, she was in her late seventies, probably about five fingers away from my mom and dad, who are both 84.

I smiled at her and replied, “Thank you! I guess it’s not often that a fifty-eight year old gets told he’s cute!”

Well, you are! I know! I had five sons, and you’re cute!”

Okay! I’ll admit it! It pretty much made my day. Now…I have to give some of the credit to my oldest daughter, Kecia, because I was wearing the dress shirt that she had bought me for my birthday.

I had just come from the funeral of one of our neighbors, so a comment such as that lifted my spirits.

Two words. Isn’t it amazing how two words from a senior citizen at just the right moment can turn around a day?       The reality, however, is that the balance of two word comments are either negative in tone, or meaningless in content.

Love you!” gets outdone by “Hate you!” or some other verb in front of “you!”

Our word selection can bring hope or divide and separate. With the same tongue we praise God and curse men. (James 3:9) With the same tongue we affirm and defeat.

One disclaimer! I walked into Starbucks this morning and got a cup of coffee (Not unusual. In fact, I’m sitting in Starbucks right now drinking the coffee and listening to Spotify.) The employee preparing drinks asked me, “How is your day going?” I replied “Pretty good! How about yours?”

But by the tenth person in a row she asked the question to I realized she was following “the party line.” The answer to her question wasn’t really what she was looking for. She was seeking a quota. How many customers can I say this to?

That’s not all bad, except when you have the impression she wants to know how your day is going and then you find out she really doesn’t…it’s just a little too “fakey!”

Genuineness in our words puts a fragrance within them!

Meanwhile, if a sweet elderly lady comes up to you and tells you that you’re cute…I don’t want to know about it. I’ve whether live in the fantasy world, at least for a while, that I’m the only one.

The Confusion of Language

July 30, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                July 30, 2012

The Confusion of Language”

Carol and I are hosting two twelve year old Chinese boys for a week. It’s an organization that matches up host families with the students who are in our area to study the English language, as well as experience American culture. The experience has been…an experience! The boys are very polite, and to help us they’ve been given American names while they are here. Thus, we are hosting “Alan” and “Andy.” Those names are a far cry from their real Chinese names.

Quite often I’ll say something to them, and the response I receive is two confused looks. For instance, how do you explain to a twelve year old Chinese boy that we are having a garage sale? How do you explain garage sales anyway?

How do you explain “Sonic Drive-Ins?” How do you explain “grits?”

How do you explain worship to boys who aren’t familiar with the concept? Since they are learning English the sermon slides on the screen in the front of the sanctuary are a little…advanced! I’m saying one thing, plus the words on the screen are saying something else.

If I was a 58 year old in a Chinese marketplace I might run for my life!

So Carol and I took the easy way out last night. We took them to a Chinese restaurant where the owner speaks Chinese. They had a great conversation. We felt temporarily relieved. The owner did share with us that the boys wanted more rice. I said, “Great! Bring them another bowl!” She replied, “No, I mean they want more rice…everyday!” We quickly scratched mashed potatoes off the dinner menu for the next night and penciled in rice.

I offered yogurt to them for breakfast and they curled up their noses like I was offering possum. Of course, Carol also frowns at me if I offer her yogurt.

We also discovered an app for our iPhones where we can speak a sentence in English and then it will be translated into the written Chinese language. We show the translation to them and are greeted with nods and replies.

So many challenges, so many stories in the making.

It has made me think about my own prayer language. Although I pray there are times in my journey where I tend to think that others will do it. Kind of like yielding the owner of the restaurant to do the conversing…it just seems like it’s the responsibility of someone else. Or perhaps, someone else can do it better so I willingly hand off the duty.

Also, although God knows exactly what I’m saying to him, there are a multitude of times where he is speaking to me, but I’m not hearing him. I’m just not getting it! Sometimes I just don’t want to get it! It’s easier to remain confused! It’s more convenient to only hear certain things being said, to stay within certain language boundaries.

So I’m thankful for Andy and Alan. They’ve taught me a lot even though quite often we miss the connection.