Monday, October 19, 2009

Ending Christian Euphemisms

Tony Jones has been blogging on ending Christian euphemisms. We've all heard them. "Pray for Johnny... he's (insert juicy gossip here)." "That person has an unteachable spirit."

There's all sorts of insider language inside of our faith, and much of it can actually be damaging. Some of our euphemisms are the spiritual equal of saying "Darn" instead of "Damn". It's the same heart, just vague words.

What are some of the euphemisms we use? Or, even better, what are some of the euphemisms that we Christians who are involved with emergent topics use?

From Tony Jones on BeliefNet...

I received loads of great comments about what Christian euphemisms we should drag, kicking and screaming, into the light of day in an attempt to euthanize them. I won't be able to tackle them all, but I'll highlight some of my favorites this week.

Chris Enstad nominated this beauty:

"The Lord laid it on my heart..."

Which is a euphemism for: This is something I want to do.

I grew up in a home in which, while faithful and Christian, we didn't talk a ton about faith. In fact, most Christian euphemisms were new to me when I went to college and got involved in an evangelical ministry. It seems to me that liberal Protestants have far fewer insider euphemisms -- that's probably because we're more "worldly" and "secular" (read, not residing in a Christian ghetto).

So I don't remember my parents ever blaming "the Lord" for one of their decisions, good or bad. It would have probably seemed highly anti-intellectual to them to do so.

Thus, it surprised me a bit when I started hearing people talk about their decisions, big and small, were directly influenced by the God of the Universe. And by that I don't mean that they brought biblical reasoning to bear on their decisions, but that God deigned to whisper in their ear about what they should do.

Of course, I don't mean to say that I believe in a non-interventionist God. I actually turn to God for aid in many decisions, big and small. But I can't say that I ever felt God actually stir my brain juices, which is what it always seemed like when someone used this phrase, "The Lord laid it on my heart," or something like it.

What's really most odious about this phrase is when it's used to justify something that's otherwise unjustifiable.


Sarah said...

Emergent Christian euphemisms - oh lordy this is a fun topic. (Disclaimer: I say all the following things. Somewhat frequently. But that doesn't mean I can't laugh at myself for them!)

"We're embracing the questions" = we are working on feeling good about not knowing anything

"We're finding a more holistic view of God/church/faith" = we're outside where we would have felt comfortable a few years ago

"Have you read any Brian McLaren/listened to any Rob Bell?" = are you in the club?

"The Bible wasn't originally written in English, you know" = I used to think it was written to me and now I'm not so sure, but I know it's still relevant but it's hard to explain why and that freaks me out

Emergent Christian buzzwords: relational, intentional, missional (but NOT "missionary"), urban, community, holistic, living the questions

Joshua Seek said...

Sarah: I love it!

Here's a few from me:

"So what's your story?" = Like, there's some assumption that you have a story. You must have gotten pissed off with traditional church to end up on Jim and Joy's couch with a glass of wine and a Shane Claiborne book. This type of statement disregards the fact that some people have actually grown up in an open, expressive environment.

"Embracing the questions" = I think you're right about this not knowing thing. A lot of places embrace questions, but then put an answer in that place. We're at the point of saying, "We have answers, but we're not willing to die on that hill."

Here's another one I'd like to put to death: Any stereotype of emergents. "All emergents wear glasses, have tattoos, and are young." "All emergents (insert here)." It's a stereotype used by both those outside, critiquing us, and by us too. It's unfair to the wide range of people who are involved with us. Paul, for example, does not fit into the stereotype (Although he does look like Brian McLaren, based on my joke with him and Jamie the other day). Neither does David, myself, Phyllis Tickle, and many others. So let's kill that one quickly.