20 May 2009


First, an apology. If the last post was too harsh in demeanor or tone, i'm sorry. I did not mean for it to be. As a member of the Church, it makes me sad to see us less than effective, only because we have failed to grow in our language. Just as a young child grows in language and moves from 'Da' to 'Daddy' to 'Dad,' so we should as we grow in our faith. As well, the Church as a collective should grow in language as we grow collectively. Even if we are 2000 years old, we can still grow, we still have things to learn. So our language should grow and expand with us.

But i don't see that happening. Instead, i see our language digging itself in, making a home in a place that was never intended to be permanent.

The ideas and thoughts we hold inside that are bursting with creativity and excitement and potential are wasted on language that can convey none of that. Everything starts to sound the same. What is new and growing gains the appearance of the old and wasted.

So if i sounded despondent or angry in the last blog, i apologize. It upsets me that we have come to this place of stagnation through language.

It's not just based on one phrase from the book of Job, either. That is just one example of a wider phenomenon. As any culture, or sub-culture, does, Christianity has its own sub-language. It's an inevitability that any culture will create words and phrases that have idiosyncratic meanings. Ask a gamer and a biologist what 'spawn' means, they will each answer according to the culture they are part of. The gamer will tell you it's being 'reborn' in a game, after you have died. You spawn at your last save point, or at a spawn point. The biologist will say it's about reproduction, particularly in large numbers.

Same word, different meanings, both centered around the culture of the individual. In the same sort of way, Christianity has gathered around itself idiosyncratic phrases and words that have different, or no, meaning outside of its borders.

It's a language i call Christianese, and we speak it subconsciously and freely among our own.

If we were to read as literal the phrases 'accept Jesus into your heart,' 'moved by the Spirit,' 'called,' 'walk with the Lord,' or 'placed on my heart,' we would find meanings that are far different from their use within Christianity.

I am not saying that all of these phrases are empty and worthless. There is some value to them, which is why they are in existence. Nothing exists that is useless. Yet, their value has dropped significantly since their inception because of their overuse.

To be 'called by God' is supposed to give this image of God waiting for you to follow after him. He has called after you, like a man calls after his son who has fallen behind on the trail. So God is waiting for you to join him someplace else. What it has turned into is the idea that God has taken specific interest in our lives. It's not that he doesn't love you too, but he called me specifically into this, so i have a special task or ministry or job that needs done. But this only applies to Christian ministry. You don't feel a calling into custodial management. You aren't called to be a starving artist. God doesn't call people to take out the trash every Thursday night.

See how ridiculous this can get? Even the beginning of that last sentence sounds funny. 'God doesn't call people....' Or its reverse, 'God calls people....' We are called by God? What's his number?

The problem i have with Christianese is how limiting it is. We cannot effectively explain our faith in the language of Christianese because we then have to explain the language we use to explain our faith. Language should open you up, allow you to explain what your thoughts are. If the language you are using needs to be explained to be understood, it is not doing the job it was made for. It fails.

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