Thursday, 24 May 2012
Every profession, academic discipline, social group, and Harry Potter fan club has its own vocabulary or “jargon.” For example, when a friend of mine who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience talks about her discipline I wrinkle my forehead and nod knowingly, despite the fact that I don’t have a clue what she’s talking about. That’s because I know nothing about neuroscience, although I believe it has something to do with your head.
The problem with jargon is that it often comes off as pedantic or exclusionary. I think this is especially true of “Christianese.” I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve noticed that many of the comments on Revelife are written in Christianese. That’s ok; most of us know what these folks are talking about because we are fluent in Christianese. In fact, that’s pretty much the only language I spoke for many years.
I’ve made a concerted effort, however, to step outside of that paradigm over the last decade or so and my ears have finally begun to hear Christianese the way someone who is not familiar with that language might hear it.
In other words, it’s started to sound pretty silly.
Let me give you some examples. One of my favorites is; “I just received a word from God.” For those of you who routinely use that phrase it sounds normal, but try to imagine how that phrase sounds to someone who did not grow up in church.
It sounds like the person saying it is completely nuts.
In fact, when someone says that to me today I’m tempted to respond with something like; “and what was that word? Porcupine? Pogonotrophy? Perambulator? Did you get any words from the Increase Your Word Power page in last month’s Reader’s Digest?
I’m tempted to say things like to people because I am (as one of the commenters on a recent post so eloquently put it) an “a$$hat.”
Christianese becomes really confusing when someone strings several patented Christianese phrases together such as; “I feel led to intercede for you because of the chasm that exists between you and the savior due to your iniquities. I pray that you will heed God’s call to repent and seek his face as you accept his invitation to become a born again and spirit filled believer.” Huh?
Come on now, those of you with a background like mine; you’ve said something very close to that, haven’t you? You know you have, you can admit it.
So, to all of my fellow Christians out there, allow me to speak some Christianese directly to you: If you really want to be “salt and light”, stop talking like a televangelist with a bad suit and big hair. Just speak English.No hablo Christianese.
Are you guilty of speaking in "Christianese?" What are some "Christianese" phrases you're guilty of saying? Do you think we ought to evaluate the way we communicate from the perspective of those who might not be Christian? What are some changes you might be willing to make to way you write or speak in order to be more accessible to people who aren't Christian?