Saying What I Mean

This has always been a challenge – finding the words to say what my mind is churning over at a very rapid rate! This is when it’s so easy to lapse into jargon. And the reason I’m thinking about this is because of another strange conjunction of several episodes today – another instance of synchronicity (see earlier post!) I completed a unit on “communication” with the 10-11 year olds down at the local school this morning. It had a lot to do with clarity in sending a message and attentiveness in receiving it, examining the techniques used by Jesus in his teaching. Then came Harry Hayward’s letter in today’s issue of The Australian Christian lamenting the lack of clarity in new church buzzwords such as “missional” and “incarnational.” Soon after, passing a book store, I noticed a special deal on Don Watson’s book against “weasel words” and packaged with a “Weasel Words” 2006 diary! Most of Don Watson’s objection is to fashionable managerial language – much of which has even found its way into church administration. I have a few retired teachers in my congregation who pull me up when I use words that are beyond the call of duty, and I think I am grateful to them. After all, if no-one knows what I’m talking about, why bother to talk?

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Okay Boomer - that I am. But not one of them know-it-all ones! Still learning that the more I know, the more I have yet to learn. What I do know, however, I know well.

4 thoughts on “Saying What I Mean

  1. Yes, words only have meaning as they are understood in community. Perhaps that is why shared experiences can help a group to come to a better vocabulary about its experiences. As to whether some words are appropriate or not, isn’t the issue that we use them if they work for us?
    This goes back to a significant question – do we use words because they are in the dictionary or are words in the dictionary because we use them?

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  2. Hmmm – the perennial chicken vs egg riddle. And I think you are right about a community developing “shared meaning” with words habitually used through discussion and exploration. The danger is in the imposition of a language and system of communication that has been reduced to “sound bytes” and that begins to infiltrate communities from powerful saturation entities such as media and purveyors of particular philosophical points of view (eg economic rationalism).
    On the other hand it’s probably just as well that, according to some communication gurus, words only comprise about 10% of a communicated message!! (Limits this medium somewhat, doesn’t it?!)

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  3. Consider a phrase like “kingdom of God.” Now, there’s a doozy. Just what does that mean? God as king? God’s reign? What is a king? Yes – a sound byte won’t do – we have to have meaningful, long term conversations about such issues – probably around food. Such conversations could have the power to subvert the media messages which don’t seem to convey a kingdom message.

    What does the “Words are only 10%” of communication reality mean for blog devotees? Does there, at some point, need to be face to face communication? Easy for me, as anonymous, to consier!

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  4. Ah yes. The kingdom of God – closer than our very breathing and at the same time “not yet.” See the international blog community eventually gathered around a sumptuous feast and remarking, “so that’s what you really meant!” -and “that’s the 90% that was missing!”

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