Posts Tagged ‘words’
Why I haven’t looked up the dictionary definition of gazebo until now, I do not know. We’ve been thinking about gazebos for months. I just haven’t felt the need to consult the dictionary, thinking that the significance of this thing lay only in what God wanted to say through it, not in the thing itself. And it is a simple word: it is not from the ancient Greek, not theologically significant, suggests nothing profound in its sound or sense (some in our community simply dislike the word). But when I finally saw the definition this last week, it sent me spinning into a reverie about the nature of grace and revelation.
A response to Monday Mtoy (MMT), who in this video decides to be a Monday guy in a Sunday world. (Video below for reference … bonus points if you can figure out the connection between this and my previous post).
I like what MMT says in this video … today. I wasn’t so sure earler in the year when he first posted it. But now I think I’m on board. What has changed? First a brief fly-over of the video.
What the MMT suggests in the video is that there are two worlds that a Christian might inhabit — the Monday world and the Sunday world. We have a different language for each, on Sunday ascribing just about everything, good, bad, and indifferent to God, and picking up an entirely different paradigm on Monday, where things ‘just are’ … good things are just good and bad things are bad, and nobody thinks to give credit to God.
Most Christians worth their salt will suggest at this point that our Sunday language should totally leak over into Monday, and MToy knows the score, even if he decides it’s not going to work that way for him. But I think that isn’t really the point, nor would it necessarily be the very best thing. Of course Sunday people should be looking for ways to have an integrated understanding of God who sees no difference between Sunday and Monday, Sacred and Secular. But if we’re honest, most of us, even if we are super sold-out Sunday people, do not talk Sunday-talk on Monday morning, nor should we. It would just seem weird to our Monday friends, as if we were living in a different world (and not in the approved sense). As an example, MMT brings up the language of Easter, one of many Christian event-categories populated with technical terms and in-house language. Without short courses in Latin, church history, New Covenant theology, and perhaps a clinic on Episcopal foot-washing thrown in, it would seem slightly irresponsible to say to an un-indocrinated co-worker that you are going to a Maundy Thursday service at your church, as you walk out the door. So MMT is trying to live the other way around. He resolves to live as the Monday guy (isn’t he really M-F MToy?) and see what it might be like to hang out with the Sunday folks. Inevitably, MMT is confounded by the in-house language and culture, as any of us would be if we were to come to church dressed in our Monday Best and resolved to be our work-a-day selves.
Now, about my reaction to the video: back when I first watched this, I was one of the Sunday People who were tossing around the sometimes esoteric language of Easter. In fact, I was banking on the attractiveness of it all: I’d written a devotional (a kind of how-to-pray manual) for Lent (the season before Easter) that had been enjoying a long and popular run on the web, and had just been published as a paperback. And in this work I’d made a real effort to communicate the meaning behind the mysterious elements of the church traditions that preceded Easter, the very elements that sounded so crazy to MMT. I was a little wounded, and felt a little crazy myself. Didn’t the MMT read my helpful explanations? The answer is, “No, he didn’t.”
But the Sunday MToy had.
Today, I realize that what I wrote is almost exclusively for Sunday people. As helpful as my explanations are, they assume a number of things: 1) that a person is thinking about Easter, 2) that that person wants to prepare for Easter, 3) that they understand Lent to be the name for that preparatory season, and 4) that a devotional is the help they need, etc. Like I said, it’s for Sunday people (and not many of them would meet all these criteria anyways).
The essential question seems to be, “Do the things that have meaning for Christians have meaning for the rest of the population?” When you think about it, most everything Jesus said and did positively vibrated with significance for the people of his world, as he had come to occupy a position directly in the center of their hopes and dreams. The only time he played the mystery card seems to be when he wanted people to want the truth enough to pursue it, and so he didn’t spell it out in plain language. Jesus did not use technical language that only the pharisees would understand.
So I like the idea of asking people to leave their Sunday selves at home, and inviting the Monday people to come out and play instead, even if this means that we waste a lot of time using descriptive language instead of rattling off a bunch of technical terms that only the initiated understand. Is it possible to find a way to tell the story that turned so many of us into Sunday People by using words that are totally at home in the Monday to Friday world?