looking for a wookiee

I think our family might acquire a new euphemism: “Looking for a wookiee.” It will mean ‘going to the toilet’!

No, we haven’t lost our mind, and if you have ever visited our house you might have a sense of why “Looking for a wookiee” might mean that. Last year, when I was convalescing following surgery, my children (allegedly grown up) gave me a book to keep me occupied: Where’s the Wookiee. It’s a Star Wars version of Where’s Wally (or Where’s Waldo if you’re in the USA) in which there are scenes from the Star Wars franchise of films and in each on Chewbacca the wookiee is hiding along with lots of other characters you also have to find. Are you with me so far? Some of you may be ahead of me.

After enjoying the book I decided that it might be the sort of thing that people might enjoy if they need to pass the time in our downstairs ‘washroom’. Subsequently I was given the sequel that was cleverly titled Where’s the Wookiee 2 and that has replaced the first one.

So if you need to use the smallest room in the house and want to be a bit more delicate about it, you can say that you are going to look for a wookiee.

Of course to most people that will make no sense at all when they hear it, especially if they have not read this bloggage or haven’t visited the house. But it means something to me – not only where I am headed, but also reminding me of my children – and you may hear it if you visit. I wonder what family euphemisms you have…

Of course organisations are very good at having their own language that nobody else can understand. They may start off as euphemisms, or may be terminology used to describe something technical. Perhaps even they are a shorthand for a lengthy description. Most of the time these things seem to become jargon…

Medical jargon is impenetrable to most of us. Computer jargon may as well be Klingon. Magicians have their own language that is actually designed to be difficult for non-magicians to comprehend. And Christian churches have their own jargon that many of us in church don’t understand, never mind outside!

I distinctly remember walking down a street one day and seeing a street preacher haranguing the passers-by with his big black bible tucked under his arm. Next to him were his minions. You could tell they were minions because they were small, yellow and shaped like tic tacs they had smaller black bibles under their arms. Most people were giving him a wide berth as they walked past and as I approached he proclaimed, “Jesus Christ is the propitiation for your sins!”

I should have stopped and asked him to explain what he meant but I was so gobsmacked I kept walking. I have a feeling that I may have been the only one who knew what he meant* (possibly including him!). I still use it more than 25 years later as an example of how not to communicate with your audience.

The problem is that the subject of his message is really important. But the content and delivery method made it so incomprehensible for most passers-by that he completely failed to communicate.

Successful communication requires the successful transmission of information, ideas, emotions, feelings and so much more from a person(s) to another (or others). If you have been heard but not understood you have not communicated you have only expounded. And since ‘ex’ can mean ‘no longer current’ and ‘pound’ can mean ‘to pummel’ an intended recipient is unlikely to be receptive of that approach.

I realise that this bloggage may not have been an example of successful communication, it may have simply been me expounding. If that is the case, I apologise. But if you will excuse me I don’t have time to explain further as I have to go and look for a wookiee.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*It refers to how Jesus made it possible for us to have a good relationship with God by dealing with the wrong stuff in our lives when he died – like when a bodyguard takes a bullet for the person they are protecting.

langwidge is confewzing

questionsThis morning I took another assembly at a local primary school. While I was waiting in the hall for the children to arrive I looked at their work that was displayed on the wall. One section was clearly the fruit (pun intended) of a project to get them to consider a balanced diet. The children had recorded what they had eaten during a week.

These were Key Stage 1 children, aged 5-7. I was delighted and amused to read some of their spelling, which was creative, imaginative and often showed that they were heading in the right direction. The one that stuck in my memory was the spelling of ‘Sugar Puffs’: ‘Shooger Puffs’.

If you say both of those out loud they sound the same, which is clearly what the child had done. If it sounds like ‘Shooger’ then that must be how you spell it. Genius!

Because of course the English language, like most others, has some ridiculous spellings and pronunciations. And then there are the words that read the same when they are read (case in point) or sound the same if they are read out loud, even if written in red ink.

Confusing or what?!

Yet somehow we master it. Somehow some people even master other languages. Somehow some people even master other languages written in different forms of script and characters.

So why is it that sometimes people don’t apply the same processes to reading the Bible? Perhaps because Ministers and Vicars tell us that it helps if we understand the original Greek or Hebrew words we assume it must be beyond us. Perhaps because of the length of time some of us preach about just a few words we assume it is complex. Perhaps we have been put off by the unusual names. Perhaps we simply don’t understand how it all fits together because it reads unlike most other books we have on our shelves – a mixture of all sorts of styles and types of literature.

One of my ambitions this year is to run a course at our church to help people understand the Bible: to tackle misunderstandings; explain the narrative; help with the different literature and encourage people to become avid readers. I’m still working on a good name for the course – any suggestions gratefully received – but if you have any subjects that you reckon we should tackle, please do lob me a comment on this bloggage.

And if you want to get a head start, how about reading one of the gospels from start to finish? Luke is my personal favourite but choose the one you fancy. Read about Jesus from people who were there, or who interviewed those who were there. It’s not hard work and it’s rewarding because I guarantee (money back on your subscription to this blog if it does not work) that you will be blessed by the experience and you will discover something new about Jesus (and yourself).

Be blessed, be a blessing.

This was posted in a question on Yahoo about why the English Language is so confusing:

“There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

“And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese? One index, two indices? Is cheese the plural of choose?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

“In what language do people recite at a play, and play at a recital? Ship by truck, and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?
When a house burns up, it burns down. You fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by going on.

“When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.”