Sunday, December 10, 2006

We interrupt this program to request a semantic change

Minor Rant Warning
The following statements could be put in a much more positive way that doesn't sound so judgmental, but to be honest, arguments over semantics are pretty much impossible to get around and so I figure I might as well just drop the gauntlet having faith that my dear readers know I am merely hoping to get a conversation moving along. So, with that in mind:

1. Please don't say "church" when you are referring to a congregation, building or a 1.5 hr gathering - it confuses folk, and makes it easy to pass the buck.

2. It would be great to have the term "we want(ed) to DO church differently" removed from common use - just say you want(ed) to live differently.

Questions for further reflection (hint - use the comments, and one is a trick question):
1. What words would you strike/return to their dictionary definition?
2. How useful is a conversation about semantics which takes place over the internet?


AJ Renton said...

Queer - I love that word but use it very seldomly at most.

Worship - Simple. Again, similar to 'doing life' argument.

Very useful indeed. Lets converse and take each other out of context because the context doesn't really exist. Sounds like fun doesn't it?

James Kingsley said...

there's probably a "matrix" joke in there somewhere, but i've only seen the film once, so id'd have to really stretch for it.

and regarding "worship" - randy did a great job pulling the idea apart last night eh?! i should have the notes and podcast out shortly here.

AJ Renton said...

The internet is the matrix. However, we think we only spend time 'on' the internet when really we are clearly 'in' it. I have learned html and such the last year and it is remarkably similar to the 'code' they read and see in the Matrix as well.


nehamashira said...

Havung just watched the matrix tonight, these comments are most interesting.
Just as an aside, the word for 'worship' (in Hebrew) is the same word for 'work'-"avodah". So in reality, what ever we do in the way of living- our actions, words, the walking out of our every day relationships, the 'work and stuff of life' IS in fact our worship. I believe Paul calls it our "reasonable service" (the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices).

Anonymous said...

Hmmm I happen to be a lover of words. My favourite word as a child was shishkabob. I love both 'queer' and 'worship' (all the more lovely conversation if one could use 'queer' more often...) I'm leaning towards maybe giving 'fellowship' a funeral. Sorry, I don't know what the word semantics means. Maybe someone could explain that... (Too lazy to look it up- I want to cook my breakfast really...) I'll check back later...

James Kingsley said...

semantics is, in a nutshell: the study of the meaning of words. dictionary definitions and common use aren't always the same thing and this is where one can quibble and bicker, or, conversely, take the time to lay an agreed-upon foundation for what words are going to symbolize.

Anonymous said...

the study of the meaning of words... in a nutshell... okay I think I know what you are getting at...although I don't think it can be captured really... things are in constant change- that is a good thing I think

Anonymous said...

Yes, maybe that should be included in our 'definition' of semantics:

The study and discussion of the changing face of language, it's uses and forms.

Anonymous said...

Just testing to see if this will take my comment

Anonymous said...

Okay it's working now so I'll redo my original comment.

What I was saying was that I think it's fascinating that you've brought this subject up James. (Although there are sometimes technical difficulties involved I really like the internet as a tool of communication).

A word that should be dropped is 'service'. I think that although people who lead in various activites are performing a service, this should be the last thing on their minds. Using the word separates and causes distance between the one(s)leading and those partaking in.

A word that should be spoken of more often is 'Eucharist'. It's a beautiful word and it captures the essence of the act beautifully. I was speaking with someone recently and I used the word a few times. The person indicated that they didn't know what the word meant. I don't think words should be avoided because some might not know what they mean. I think they should be used more often so that people can adopt them.

James Kingsley said...

great points there paige! "service" is a very interesting and problematic word indeed....personally, i like "gathering."

and the thanks-giving aspect of the Eucharist is beautiful indeed - let's use it more!

Anonymous said...

Yes, gathering was the word I was thinking of too. Look at the difference how these two examples of 'gatherings' are perceived. It takes work to get around the word 'service' but it's worth it. (Good work James)

1. Candlelight Christmas Eve Eucharist gathering, hymns of the season & scripture reading Dec.24 11:00 pm.
(an experience to partake of that will further enrich our lives by strengthening the bonds of our faith community)

2. Please join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Carols, Communion & Reading of the Scriptures Dec.24 11:00 pm.
(a service being offered that we are free to partake of or observe at our own leisure. Being asked to join denotes that we are not already joined.)

I really think it's fascinating how subtly the use of words forms our perceptions.