Monday, September 14, 2015


Learning To Talk Good

Chaplain Mike discusses the difference between language and lingo:
The authors and speakers and friends I love rarely if ever fall into this trap. I never know what they’re going to say or how they’re going to say it. They speak epiphanies. They build metaphorical worlds that carry me away and I am along for the ride: rising and falling on an open sea inhaling sharp salt air one moment, feet sinking into a spongy forest floor the next. It’s fairies and rabbit holes, wardrobes and windswept plains, ball yards and small town backyards, hobbits and desert saints and boarding school wizards, slums and palaces and log cabins and creaky old Victorian mansions.

But it’s not just the pictures they paint, the metaphorical worlds they create, it’s the medicine they give: words fitly spoken. Words that turn my head, that cause my jaw to drop. Words that make me stop and turn around. That make me shiver. That wrap me in a warm sherpa throw. That make my heart bleed ’til it’s whole again.

Not the same old lingo. Not tired trade language. If ever they use such words, they do so only as a foil for that which is clearly genuine.

Don’t let me settle for it, Lord. Put fire and hammers and balm and blankets in my mouth. Heal the sick, raise the dead, comfort the brokenhearted. Make the story real and build a new world.
The right word at the right time is a big deal, but too often we let that goal stand in the way of maturity. Too often we reach out to people and we "speak their language" in order to reach them. But when you are talking about something like the gospel, you reach out in order to pull them in. At some point you need to quit speaking their language and ask them to speak yours.

Let me give you an example. I studied chemistry in school. There is an instrument we use in chemical analysis called and "atomic adsorption spectrophotometer." Very useful device and in today's computer driven world (when I learned to use one you had to be capable of serious math to interpret the results but nowadays the built in microprocessor handles that for you.) you can train just about any one to use it. But those that are trained how to use it and read the answer are readily differentiated from those that really know the machine by what they call it. "AA," "Fire analyzer" are just two of the nicknames I have heard. Most cannot even pronounce "spectrophotometer." These people can use the machine, but they do not understand it - often they do not even know when the machine is giving them bad answers becasue something is out of adjustment.

Lingo is lingo when it is words thrown around without really knowing what they mean. The words themselves are not bad, it is that they have no genuine meaning in the conversation that is the issue.

So many in the church today can use the lingo, but it has not yet advanced to language. The reason people are turned off by the lingo is becasue of the absence of meaning, not the words themselves.

If we want to quit using lingo and start using language, maybe we don't need to change our words, maybe we need to infuse our lingo with actual meaning.


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