Lingo & language

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

I had a great friend who grew up “on da Sout Side.” Specifically, “69t and Sout freaking Loomis” to be exact. You see, my friend grew up in what is locally known as the South Side of Chicago. For your edification, those who grew up on the North Side seldom pronounced it “da Nort Side.” Is there more than a geographical difference? I’m not sure, but I have digressed. My friend, whose name was Jim, had many other expressions, terms, and way of saying things–to the degree that we all said that he spoke another language, and we called it Loomis Lingo. He didn’t speak Jimese–he spoke Loomis Lingo. Not everyone associated with, or who came in contact with Jim always understood what he was saying.

The picture above is a shot of one of the greatest things ever invented. Braille! The hands in the picture are “reading” those pages. That’s because the man “reading” the book is blind or severely sight impaired. Without braille, which could be considered (am I stretching it here?) a “language”, or perhaps lingo, millions of folks would be denied the opportunity to read and perhaps learn. Interestingly, however, we never hear of someone reading, or communicating in braillese. And not everyone can understand what is being said in braille.

Another type of lingo and “language” is pig-Latin, a favorite of youth in my time, utbay i’myay otnay uresay atthay it’syay illstay inyay oguevay ithway ethay idskay ofyay odaytay . But alas, not everyone can understand it either. Should it perhaps be called pig-Latinese?

There is a particular lingo or language that always seems to bother me. It’s called Christianese. People who are “into” Christianese are an interesting lot. They are all generally very nice well-meaning people, and I have seldom, if ever, met one who wasn’t a Christian. The issue is what, often when, and how they say what they are saying. Often folks into Christianese simply sound as if they are regurgitating Christian words or phrases that they have heard and are using them specifically at that point in their comments or conversation because “it sounds good”, or “it sounds right”, or “it’s the right thing to say”, or “it’s what I should say in this kind of circumstance.” Christianese terms are also often words or catchphrases that have become a regularly used part of one’s vocabulary.

A classic example of when Christianese is heavily utilized is in prayer. I sense that we Christians feel somehow that what we communicate in prayer must fill some sort of mold, must conform to some sort of standard of conversation, or that somehow God simply won’t be pleased with how we speak with Him. (Actually, the bigger, more important part of prayer is listening, but that’s another topic for another day.) It’s not uncommon to hear people actually struggle when praying (particularly when not alone). It’s clear that they are searching for words that will “sound right” (to whom?) or proper. It’s painful to witness. Here’s a little shout out from your old Uncle Joe–God doesn’t give a rat how you sound like folks. He surely doesn’t want you to think that you have to impress anyone with your fancy words or phrases, let alone Him. He simply wants your heart–raw, transparent, unedited. It doesn’t take a lingo that many don’t understand to do that.

Finally, there’s a wakeup call here. If you are into Christianese, please let it go. Just be you. Just be real. Just be honest. There are people out there who don’t need or are unprepared to hear all the perfect words and phrases and the perfect way of saying them. To those people Christianese sounds phony and unreal. Words from your heart to their ears will carry much more water when it comes to reaching them. Secondly, I don’t know about others, but I know that I have a BS sniffer. And it works well. If someone is all about Christianese in their conversations or prayers but their life doesn’t reflect a true Christian life, my detector goes crazy–just as if one is fully into Christianese just at specific times (like church) but not others.

So, there you are friend. I’ve laid it all out there in my easiest to understand lingo and language–Millerese.

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