Tag Archives: Word choice

Logical Gal – the word not chosen

4 Feb

Words

I’m beginning to be more intrigued by what is NOT said than the choice of words actually made.

Look at the prayer Jesus provided when asked by his disciples to teach them to pray.  If we take just a phrase, we can formulate some questions and implications:

Our Father, who art in heaven

1. Our  –

  • What other pronouns could Jesus have encouraged us to use?  My Father, the Father, or Your Father (talking to Jesus about His dad)
  • The fact that we are to pray to God with a collective pronoun of  ‘our’ emphasizes the position of prayer in a community.  We don’t always pray alone, but with sisters and brothers.

2. Father –

  • What other role could Jesus have picked as primary?   the mythical gods of Greece & Rome exercised dominion over different parts of creation.  God could have been a dictator, a puppeteer, a tyrant, a caretaker, or even an indifferent creator
  • Father implies responsibility beyond begetting.  It invites a relationship, a trusting dependence.  It evokes closeness, communication and even playfulness

3. Heaven –

  • This God is NOT on earth, or part of the universe.  He is somewhere else, somewhere beyond.
  • He’s therefore not part of the created order we know.
  • Heaven is that GOOD place, evocative of the best of all realms.
  • No matter what happens to the created order, this heavenly Father won’t be destroyed or affected because He is transcendent

In considering the other choices the author could have selected, I’m left with the impression that each word is important because of its intentionality.  A reverse implication is then this:

Do I make MY words count?  And if not, how can I begin to be more thoughtful?

Logical Gal and the value of what something is NOT!

21 Oct

I didn’t grow up in a house that valued critical thinking or questioning.

There were right and wrong views. My father expressed his views with the weight of authority.  He was older and he had experienced some of the historical events that were our topics of discussion.   Except, there wasn’t ever any discussion.  He expressed his views.  Teenage Maria voiced hers.

Two watersheds in my life introduced me to critical thinking and questioning:

  • I began to be shaped by the truth of Old and New Testaments
  • I was hired to teach Logic in a classical school

Learning that changes us from the inside out takes time.  My twin abilities  to think clearly and ask specific questions have grown ever so slowly.  I need LOTS of practice.

But once I can articulate something to YOU, then I am heartened by this evidence of a deep, multidimensional knowledge.

A useful habit I am practicing is the art of asking what something is NOT.  For example, let’s suppose you show me a tool that I’ve never seen nor heard  about and you tell me that this THING-A-MA-JIG is good for XYZ.

What helps me gain understanding is to ask you questions like:

  • what do similar tools in its category do?
  • what can this widget NOT do?

It seems that by seeing what something is NOT, we can see what the idea or object actually is or does

The other day I was reading for the umpteenth time, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6b)  For the first time I asked myself;

  •  If people are not traveling in their spiritual journeys through Jesus,  then where do they arrive?

That question birthed  a thought new to me.  I  recalled  a quote I had read a couple of years ago that “All roads lead to God – for judgment!”

My questioning and asking what the statement was NOT saying helped me make the distinction between God as judge and God as father.

I’m beginning to see that every proposition is essentially saying what something IS and IS NOT.

  • An apple is a fruit

Okay….so what is an apple NOT?  Maybe what it is NOT is far more revealing than what it is!

Word choice matters and what is NOT said is sometimes more powerful than what is explicitly communicated.

Where have you seen this in your life?