brexit stage right?

I have tried to resist the change, I have tried to make a stand, I have tried to persuade others, but in the end it seems inevitable that ‘Brexit’ has entered the English language. It’s such an ugly and clumsy word – a lazy amalgamation of ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’ to denote the decision in the EU Referendum last year for us to leave the European Union.

way out signEvery time I hear the word it sets my grammatical hackles rising. I wondered whether the Bible had anything to say about it and found this verse (out of context) Proverbs 8:13:

 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behaviour and perverse speech.

Surely the word ‘Brexit’ counts as ‘perverse speech’ doesn’t it?

But I think I am going to have to accept that ‘Brexit’ is a word now. It has entered common usage and also entered our dictionaries. It doesn’t mean that I have to like the word, but I should recognise that my one person campaign against it (predominantly through passive resistance by not using the word – yes, I know, I’m a real RADICAL!) is not going to change anything.

I wonder how much emotional and physical energy is expended by people trying to protest against the unchangeable and trivial?

It’s important to notice two things about that rhetorical question:

  1. I am talking about the unchangeable and trivial. We can get hot under the collar about the most minor things and turn them into a point of principle. If you don’t believe me, read historical minutes from Church Meetings in the past where there will have been lengthy discussions about the colour of carpets or even (shock! horror!) about rotas.
  2. Notice that I wrote energy that is ‘expended’ not ‘wasted’. Some energy is wasted on protesting against the trivial, but some is well-spent influencing and affecting decisions. We should not meekly accept change that is unjust, that heightens inequality or that diminishes other people.

So where is all this leading? I don’t think I am likely to embrace the word ‘Brexit’. I will continue to use ‘leaving the EU’ or a similar phrase if I want to talk about it. But I will try not to allow the use of ‘Brexit’ to carry negative emotions and shape my opinions about other people who choose to use it.

If you look at the verse from Proverbs 8 in a slightly wider context (verses 12-13)we read:

‘I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behaviour and perverse speech.

Prudence, knowledge and discretion are all associated with wisdom, which is primarily about how we relate to God and others. If I let something trivial rile me it will only erode my relationships! Whether or not someone chooses to use the word ‘Brexit’ is surely less important than how I relate to them, isn’t it?

Be blessed, be a blessing

 

new words

Those of you who are unfortunate enough to be regular visitors to this blog (and the fact you keep coming back suggests that you are doing it deliberately as opposed to those who have stumbled on this repository of bloggerel on t’internet) will know that from time to time I like to invent words. I have created such marvels of the English language as ‘ambitextrous’ – able to text with the thumb from either hand and ‘technoloiterate’ – comfortable hanging around with technology. And of course the words ‘bloggage’ – an entry on my blog, and ‘bloggerel’ – the words and content that comprise an entry on my blog.

Today I introduce you to the latest word to come from my confused mind: ‘ambisomnorous’. I will leave you to work out what you think it means whilst I tell you a little story.

At the beginning of August I had some minor surgery on my right shoulder. It is getting better but it is not yet completely pain-free. There are some things I still cannot do (for example, my golf clubs have lain undisturbed for the last couple of months – and probably grateful for the lack of mistreatment). But the most frustrating thing that I’m not yet able to do is sleep on my right side. That is my favourite side to sleep on.

I don’t think I’m alone in having a favourite site to sleep on, am I? I don’t know why it is but I prefer to sleep on my right hand side. It’s not as if I can’t sleep on my back or my left hand side but if I’m on my back I’m more prone to snoring (apparently, although I’ve never heard it myself so I can’t be sure) and if I am on my left side but somehow doesn’t feel as right (pun intended).

To provide some internet balance against all of the cat photos...
To provide some internet balance against all of the cat photos…

As I was lying awake last night musing on this the thought occurred to me that there must be some weird people who are actually capable of sleeping on either side without a preference. I have decided that these people are ambisomnorous.I have checked on a well-known search engine and it does not have a record of this word existed before today so I am claiming this as a new English word. When the Oxford English Dictionary finally get around to include it in one of their editions they will reference this bloggage is the first incidence of the word being used publicly.

I suppose alongside ambisomnorous should be ‘monosomnorous’ – someone who can only sleep on one side and ‘monopreferosomnorous’ (which is what I am).

As I was dropping off to sleep (on my left hand side) following these musings I reflected on two things: first of all my brain goes to some very strange places when it’s half awake (and/or half asleep); and secondly I was reminded of a paraphrase of a Bible passage that I wrote recently:

“When I think about how I’m made I tremble in wonder.”

That’s not big-headedness, it is giving credit to the imagination and skill of the Creator.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Pontificating

Pope John Paul II monumentSo, that one caught us all by surprise didn’t it? I did not hear of anyone who was claiming credit for predicting that the Pope would be resigning yesterday, nor that he would announce his resignation in Latin! I don’t want to get too side-tracked by this, but I wondered what the Latin word for ‘resign’ is… Google Translate tells me it is ‘abdicare’, which makes sense. It certainly sounds better than ‘concludicus’, which was my guess.

As a non-Catholic I watched yesterday’s news reporting about Pope Benedict’s resignation with a certain amount of detachment. When we are told that our country is increasingly a secular society, the resignation of the Pope might be expected to be lower down the running order in the news. According to the BBC website there are apparently about 5 million Catholics in this country, although less than 1 million of them seem to attend Mass regularly – about 1.5% of the population. There are apparently over 1 billion Catholics on the planet, which makes them a much higher percentage of the world population (15% or so) so I guess in terms of the impact of the news on a significant number of people it is newsworthy*.

I first came across the news on social media and I wondered initially whether it was a joke. Then I wondered if the Pope had been tweeting and the predictive text on his phone had sent the wrong message. But it soon became clear that this is indeed happening. In two weeks’ time he will be an Ex-Benedict.

Because this has not happened for hundreds of years there are many questions: will we have to come up with new language to describe him –  will he be ‘expontificus’? Will he be like US Presidents and still keep the title even though he is no longer in office? Will he retain the name ‘Benedict’ or revert to Razinger?Where will he be living? What are his plans for retirement (I can’t imagine him playing golf)? And how will his successor cope as pope knowing that it is possible that people will go and ask the former pope what he thinks of any controversial plans?

But I think the thing that was most significant for me was when a reporter told a Catholic woman in the street outside a Catholic Cathedral and she was visibly shocked. It is the ordinary people in the street and the pews who have looked to the Pope for vision and leadership who will perhaps be most affected by this. On a much smaller scale, I imagine it is a bit like when a minister or vicar announces to their church that they are leaving to go to a new church, or retiring unexpectedly. The people in the pew are affected by a change in leadership, but need to be reassured that God’s plan and purpose does not depend on any particular leader.

In our evening services at the moment we are exploring the early chapters of Acts: the beginning of the Church (used in it’s correct sense here); the moments when Peter started to fulfil the commission Jesus gave him (and which Popes claim to receive in direct succession from him as Bishop of Rome). The book title is often ‘The Acts of the Apostles’, which puts a lot of focus on these fallible people who seemed at times to be making it up as they went along. I think that it should be called ‘The Acts of God’, which then reassures us that God had a plan and we can be amused, delighted, impressed and inspired at how God helped the Apostles to work out what he wanted them to do.

The Acts of God are still being written today. Leaders will come and leaders will go, but Jesus remains the same and the Church that bears his name will remain. God’s plan will still be fulfilled through it. Our task as leaders is, with God’s help, to try to help the individual people on the street and in the pew to fulfil their part in God’s mission calling – so that we can all be good free samples of Jesus wherever we are – Colchester, Daventry (not sure where that came from in my subconscious!), Croatia, Vatican City… we all have the same mission calling regardless of what we do and who we are, regardless of whether we are active in employment or have announced that we are abdicandae.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*and yes there was still some sloppy reporting of what was happening to ‘the Church’, assuming that it was all Christians, rather than ‘Roman Catholic Church’. This is something that is commonplace and will probably continue to happen, but I am making a small Reformation-style protest about it here [sfx: sound of hammering a nail into a door].

another new word is born

In my ongoing quest to create new words to enter common usage in the English Language I am proud to announce the birth of a new word (you’ll see how relevant that description is in a moment):

To describe the period of time for a church when their Minister is on Maternity Leave (or possibly Paternity Leave) – interpregnum.