Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's not always what you think

I was on my way into the church this morning when I saw a sign that caught my eye. "Horse Boarding" followed by a phone number. Now, with everything in the news about waterboarding as a form of interrogation and whether or not it was reallytorture, that sign particularly jumped out at me. Were they making some kind of political statement? Were they trying to say that waterboarding isn't torture? Were they trying to be funny, advertising for the torturing of an animal? No, they were simply advertising that you could house your horse with them - stable them, for lack of a better word. And I realize that words are important. We can't go throwing them around without acknowledging that they are connected to other words, and other meanings that may have no direct link to what we mean by the words we use.

As Christians, we need to be especially diligent about the words we use, and I don't simply mean speaking nicely to others. We need to understand that the words we use, even though we may be using them in their original "sense," still may have connections and unintended consequences in people's minds that dredge up images we never thought of. So we have to be careful, and aware, that our message, God's message, is very easily entangled simply because of the way we are given to impart it. But after all, that was Jesus' method wasn't it? Verbal transmission of what he had done and taught and what the disciples and we who have followed them have witnessed. Just a reminder that the job is difficult...

1 comment:

Higgins said...

I can agree with what you're saying on this one, Don.

2 years ago while I was serving at a church, one of the names of our ministries was "Revolution". It was not a name I chose, rather I inherited it along with the ministry portfolio I was managing. To make a long story short - there were a large number of seniors at the church who really did not like the name and were completely uncomfortable with it. At first, to some of the younger people, this looked like an unreasonable dislike of a name they felt was exciting - one which conveyed the idea that Jesus completely revolutionizes things. However, most of the seniors were sensitive to the name because of the war context from which they come out of. Many of them were old Germans, immigrants to Canada just after WWII. Unfortunately, the church was unable to resolve the dispute over the name in a fair way. The younger people insisted on the name (and never showed up at the ministry), while the older people had to settle for it (and were alway present at the ministry to participate and support).