Everyday Language

Photo Credit: Peacay Here at Church in Progress we are big on using everyday language. Our spiritual journey can seem a bit overwhelming at times and we think the language we use to talk about God Stuff is important. We like to use language we understand. If we don’t understand it, we like to ask what it means.

I was fortunately enough to spend some time with a local wise man the other day (John) 🙂 He shared with me this piece from a neat book – Hoff, Benjamin. 1983. The Tao of Pooh. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books which really sums up how I feel about how we use language.

. . . you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.

“By the way, Pooh, how do you spell Tuesday?”

“Spell what?” asked Pooh.

“Tuesday. You know—Monday, Tuesday … ”

“My dear Pooh,” said Owl, “everybody knows that it’s spelled with a Two.”

“Is it?” asked Pooh.

“Of course,” said Owl. “After all, it’s the second day of the week.”

“Oh, is that the way it works?” asked Pooh.

“All right, Owl,” I said. “Then what comes after Twosday?”

“Thirdsday,” said Owl.

“Owl, you’re just confusing things,” I said.

“This is the day after Tuesday, and it’s not Thirds—I mean, Thursday.”

“Then what is it?” asked Owl.

“It’s Today!” squeaked Piglet.

“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

Ours, too. We wonder why the scholars don’t think much of it. Perhaps it’s because they Confuse themselves thinking about other days so much.

Now one rather annoying thing about scholars is that they are always using Big Words that some of us can’t understand .. .

“Well,” said Owl, “the customary procedure in such cases is as follows.”

“What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?” said Pooh. “For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.”

‘It means the Thing to Do.”

“As long as it means that, I don’t mind,” said Pooh humbly.

. . . and one sometimes gets the impression that those intimidating words are there to keep us from understanding. That way, the scholars can appear Superior, and will not likely be suspected of Not Knowing Something. After all, from the scholarly point of view, it’s practically a crime not to know everything.

But sometimes the knowledge of the scholar is a bit hard to understand because it doesn’t seem to match up with our own experience of things. In other words, Knowledge and Experience do not necessarily speak the same language. But isn’t the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn’t? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around—walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing.

“Lots of people talk to animals,” said Pooh.

“Maybe, but… ”

“Not very many listen, though,” he said.

“That’s the problem,” he added.

… Did you connect with this story in any way? Write down your thoughts in the comments box below 🙂

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