Tag Archives: language

Defective articles and the Love of God⤴

from @ blethers

I've been catching up on an unread bit of a Sunday paper, and found an interview with actor James McCardle. In the light of what I've been involved in recently, this struck me:
People who live a heteronormative life might feel they are free but until we life a life that includes equality of sexuality, gender, equality of class, equality of race then no-one is free.
There's no freedom at all unless there is freedom for all. I understand there have to be labels when there is still a fight to be had, but that shift has to be cultural and it's never going to work if you keep dividing people.
Yes, you say - or do you? Not yet, it seems, if you're a certain kind of church member. And it pains me, as a member of the church for the past 44 years, to have to say that. Especially after the relief many of us felt when my own denomination (and yes - that's another division) decided at last to remove the barriers to equal marriage in our churches. And then it came to deciding where these marriages would be celebrated.

I don't want to go into agonising detail of my latest discoveries - the how, the when. But I want to ask a question. What in God's name is going on in the minds of the people - and I think and pray that indeed they are a minority - who stand, grimly or miserably, in the way, barring the use of "their" church buildings for the celebration of a same-sex marriage?

"It's the word 'marriage'" they insist. It means a man and a woman."

I can think, as my mind flounders in the face of their intransigence, of two things that I didn't get the chance adequately to point out. The first is that such a meaning of the word is but one of four in the quite elderly Concise Oxford that I consulted. The second is that it's a word. Not the Word of God, whatever I believe that to be, just a word. A different word in all the languages of the world, from the close relations of the Latin languages to the intricacies of Russian ... and take a look at this, from an excellent blog:
The word «брак», of course, has another meaning in addition to “marriage”. Its second meaning is “defective articles, discards”. While some marriages do end up discarded, the two «брак»s are not linguistically related.
Language is fascinating, but if I were to enter into any such detail in conversation I'd be accused of being intimidatingly clever, far too fluent for my own good. But for anyone to bar the way to an equal sharing in the love of God in the poor house that we humans have built to gather so that we can feel we are together in sharing that love, for anyone to use a pathetic, human concept, expressed in language that humans have made in order to communicate with each other as an excuse to reserve that space for their own selfish use - is that of God? We don't even need to use language in our deepest communication with what we call God - God who knows the secret of our hearts...

So I'll put it simply:

Language is not of God.
Love is of God.


Tolerant no more⤴

from @ blethers

I haven't been blogging much recently - short form social media has been bad for me; it makes communication easy and brief. But I've been driven back here by a meeting at the weekend, and the memories it stirred. The meeting was about Mission, and the memories involved me, blogging when it was The Thing, and the scorn heaped on any such thing by most of the church people outside the orbit of the Provost of St Mary's Glasgow.

I exaggerate, of course - always one for the soundbite. However, I'm not about the exaggerate now. We'd been discussing Mission - the hows, the who, the strategies. We'd argued the finer points of pew-removal, and whether this was A Good Thing. We'd talked about town-centre churches and churches stuck up a hill in the back of beyond; we'd pondered the desirability of holding discussions in a pub rather than in church after a service. It had been borne in on me anew that if the committed in any congregation are unable to demonstrate why they go to church by the way they refer to it, to what goes on there, and make it sound fun, frankly, then I wouldn't be tempted to visit. (I use the word "fun" loosely, you understand, for "fun" can encompass much - but it involves a spark however you find it).

There was also this business of language. (I'll get on to the blogging connection, I promise, but I'm started now ...) I suspect we're all a bit different in our reactions to the different language we use to discuss our religious experience. I'm turned off by a great deal of traditional evangelical terminology myself; I can see it's helpful to other people but it makes me run a mile. So we have to gauge our audience and communicate accordingly - and if that means I often speak about religion in rather unexpected language then that's fine. I've spent my working life sizing up my audiences (classes, if you didn't know - classes of adolescents) and making my subject matter accessible and interesting, and I've transferred that to any sharing of religious experience now. I reckon self-awareness is tied up with that - do we ever objectively consider how we come across to people?

And then there's social media. (Told you I'd get here). There are still people who "don't do social media" - and they say it as if there was a bad smell under their noses. Most of them are not exactly young, but it's surely more important to be youthful in our willingness to use whatever is available to make life easier? How on earth do you share anything with people who are (a) under 60 (b)total strangers (c)not exactly strangers but not intimate acquaintances, if you refuse to have anything to do with the vehicle through which they conduct an increasing amount of their social life?

And do you know something? I'm no longer prepared to allow that the people who react like this have a right to their own opinions. If that's how they feel about it, perhaps they ought to consider themselves out of the game, as far as Mission is concerned. If that's how our church is seen, it will die.

Happily, there are people who are not leaving the table (I'm hooked on Leonard Cohen's latest album just now, and it's supplying a soundtrack to this) - and some of them have been running the church, and some of them are prominent social media figures, and the interaction they engender by online discussion in popular forums (or should I stick to fora?) involves far more than just the members of the club. Now, at Synod, people are reminded of the power of social media and asked to tweet civilly - a change from the days when it was de rigeur to scoff at the silly names of the platforms instead. I've been scoffed at publicly in the past - but not any more.

So can we have the next generation of missionaries (shall I call them that?) who will incorporate the use of social media into their talk as naturally as they used to talk about coffee mornings? And maybe, for the people who would prefer the latter, a deliberate policy of education to enable them to continue to be effective?

But why bother writing all this? If you read it, you're using social media anyway. I'm preaching to the choir. But maybe it's just because I want to be less tolerant, and my own blog is a place to do it...

Tolerant no more⤴

from @ blethers

I haven't been blogging much recently - short form social media has been bad for me; it makes communication easy and brief. But I've been driven back here by a meeting at the weekend, and the memories it stirred. The meeting was about Mission, and the memories involved me, blogging when it was The Thing, and the scorn heaped on any such thing by most of the church people outside the orbit of the Provost of St Mary's Glasgow.

I exaggerate, of course - always one for the soundbite. However, I'm not about to exaggerate now. We'd been discussing Mission - the hows, the who, the strategies. We'd argued the finer points of pew-removal, and whether this was A Good Thing. We'd talked about town-centre churches and churches stuck up a hill in the back of beyond; we'd pondered the desirability of holding discussions in a pub rather than in church after a service. It had been borne in on me anew that if the committed in any congregation are unable to demonstrate why they go to church by the way they refer to it, to what goes on there, and make it sound fun, frankly, then I wouldn't be tempted to visit. (I use the word "fun" loosely, you understand, for "fun" can encompass much - but it involves a spark however you find it).

There was also this business of language. (I'll get on to the blogging connection, I promise, but I'm started now ...) I suspect we're all a bit different in our reactions to the different language we use to discuss our religious experience. I'm turned off by a great deal of traditional evangelical terminology myself; I can see it's helpful to other people but it makes me run a mile. So we have to gauge our audience and communicate accordingly - and if that means I often speak about religion in rather unexpected language then that's fine. I've spent my working life sizing up my audiences (classes, if you didn't know - classes of adolescents) and making my subject matter accessible and interesting, and I've transferred that to any sharing of religious experience now. I reckon self-awareness is tied up with that - do we ever objectively consider how we come across to people?

And then there's social media. (Told you I'd get here). There are still people who "don't do social media" - and they say it as if there was a bad smell under their noses. Most of them are not exactly young, but it's surely more important to be youthful in our willingness to use whatever is available to make life easier? How on earth do you share anything with people who are (a) under 60 (b)total strangers (c)not exactly strangers but not intimate acquaintances, if you refuse to have anything to do with the vehicle through which they conduct an increasing amount of their social life?

And do you know something? I'm no longer prepared to allow that the people who react like this have a right to their own opinions. If that's how they feel about it, perhaps they ought to consider themselves out of the game, as far as Mission is concerned. If that's how our church is seen, it will die.

Happily, there are people who are not leaving the table (I'm hooked on Leonard Cohen's latest album just now, and it's supplying a soundtrack to this) - and some of them have been running the church, and some of them are prominent social media figures, and the interaction they engender by online discussion in popular forums (or should I stick to fora?) involves far more than just the members of the club. Now, at Synod, people are reminded of the power of social media and asked to tweet civilly - a change from the days when it was de rigeur to scoff at the silly names of the platforms instead. I've been scoffed at publicly in the past - but not any more.

So can we have the next generation of missionaries (shall I call them that?) who will incorporate the use of social media into their talk as naturally as they used to talk about coffee mornings? And maybe, for the people who would prefer the latter, a deliberate policy of education to enable them to continue to be effective?

But why bother writing all this? If you read it, you're using social media anyway. I'm preaching to the choir. But maybe it's just because I want to be less tolerant, and my own blog is a place to do it...

Close Reading Challenge⤴

from

Please read the passage and answer the questions that follow:

Glasgow is a city which has experienced constant change and adaptation, from its period as a great industrial city and as the Second City of Empire, to its latter day reinvention as the City of Culture and the Second City of Shopping. This is a city with pull, buzz, excitement, and a sense of style and its own importance. It has a potent international reach and influence. Glasgow’s story continually weaves in and out of a global urban tapestry: following the trade threads of Empire, there are nearly two dozen towns and cities around the world named after Glasgow—from Jamaica to Montana to Nova Scotia. And there is even a Glasgow on the moon.

Glasgow’s constant proclamation of its present success story is justified on the basis that it benefits the city: confidence will breed confidence, tourists will visit, businesses will relocate and students will enrol. But, despite the gains this approach has brought for Glasgow and cities like it, there are signs that the wind is starting to come out of the sails. What felt radical when Dublin, Barcelona and Glasgow embarked on the city makeover path in the late 1980s and early 1990s, now feels derivative and is delivering diminishing returns. When every city has commissioned a celebrity architect and pedestrianised a cultural quarter, distinctiveness is reduced to a formula.

(a) Explain why, according to the writer, Glasgow was in the past an important world city. (1) U

(b) Explain why Glasgow could be considered important now. (1) U

(c) Show how the writer’s use of language (“This is a city . . . the moon.”) emphasises Glasgow’s importance. (2) A

(d) What does the writer mean by the words “radical” and “derivative” in his discussion of city development? (2) U

(e) Show how the writer’s use of language in the second paragraph suggests his doubts about the alleged “success story” of Glasgow. (4) A


Understanding Questions⤴

from

  1. Context questions – find the meaning of a word or a phrase from the context of that word (the other words around it.) You must quote these other words and define the original word
  2. Link Questions – go to the part of the passage as directed. Find a bit before that links to this and quote it. Then, find a bit that follows it that links to it and quote it. Also, quote any link words, such as “additionally,” “yet,” “despite this,” etc.
  3. Find information and quote.
  4. Find information and put into your own words. (default)

W.I.S.T.S.⤴

from

Word Choice

Consider the connotation.

Identify example and go on to say “this suggests that…”

Imagery

  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Personification

Identify example and go on to say “in the same way as…”

Sentence Structure

Climax – creates a climax or anticlimax through a build-up of detail

Repetition – through repetition, the reader’s attention is focused on something that you must identify

Inversion – the subject and the predicate are switched to focus the reader’s attention on the object, or to delay the subject

Parenthesis – used to add additional information that must be identified

Punctuation – focus on colon, semi colon, exclamation mark and question mark

Length of sentence – short sentence focuses the reader’s attention on the whole sentence. Long sentence will exaggerate the number of points being made.

Ellipsis - … will create suspense or will demonstrate that there is additional information that the writer has chosen not to share.

Identify the element of sentence structure and explain its effect

Tone

There are as many tones as there are ways of saying or writing anything. As such, we will deal with tone separately. In the meantime, consider irony, flippancy, anger and humour.

Sound

Assonance – where there is a repetition of a vowel sound, the reader’s attention is focused on the sound being described.

Alliteration – where there is a repetition of a sound at the start of a word, the reader’s attention is focused on the sound being described.

Onomatopoeia – where the sound that is being described is made by saying the word aloud. This will focus the reader’s attention on the sound being made.


Vernacular – a poem from a sermon. Sort of.⤴

from @ blethers

The opening two lines of this poem appeared unbidden in my mind as I was listening to the sermon in Holy Trinity last Sunday. Hugh, this is for you!

Vernacular

Abraham, Abraham - gonnae no?
Gonnae no dae that?
Is that how you might hear the God
these days, the moment that you’re poised 
to do whatever horrid thing seems suddenly 
a pressing need - the familiar
cadence of a homely voice? No
thundering winds, no wildfire roar
but unmistakably addressing you
with some urgency - no chance of
misunderstanding that.
You drop the knife right there, son,
and your boy lives.
How was it in the dark of night
when the Temple slept and the voice 
whispered through the echoing space
where the lamps flickered 
and the boy woke and heard
his name - Hey, Sam, Sam, 
gonnae waken up? 
And Elijah under his solitary bush?
Son, ye cannae sleep - Elijah 
eat your tea and get your strength and
get tae where ye’re gaun.
Are we bereft because we listen 
for the voice in perfect prose
preferably with a touch of
sixteen hundreds charm
and then we miss the total
urgency of what we need 
to hear, to heed, to know?
And so the cosmic words go on
in Babel tones among the crowd:
Écoute-moi - escucha -
 hören - ascoltare! The voice persists, 
the voice of  friend, of stranger
in a bar, a chance 
meeting by the way. So, all of yous
gonnae listen the noo?


©C.M.M. 06/13