Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People

So tell me, does this sentence sound normal to you?

“In our efforts to live intentionally as an authentic community of believers, we seek out the small-group dynamics of passionate discipleship.”

To speak effectively and realistically as Christians, we do well to take time and gather our thoughts. Gathering Thoughts, original oil painting and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition fine art print at Great Big Canvas

If you answered no, Thank God.

If you answered yes, it’s highly likely that you are a regular church attender, and your life, your vocabulary, and your walk as a Christian have been infiltrated by contemporary pulpit-speak, kind of along the lines of an Oregon wheat field being contaminated by genetically modified wheat.

I don’t know where the gurus at the top are getting this language — oh wait, maybe I do: 21st century corporate business, education, and government — but an increasing number of Christians are earnestly talking about “being authentic,” “intentionally living,” and “moving forward with passion.”

I am so, so, so glad that Jesus didn’t speak this way.

I would so, so, so appreciate it if Christians would stop doing so.

It’s so . . . obsequious somehow to abjectly emulate the abstruse speech of superintendent hegemony in the effort to convey simple truths. How ironic that, when we want to say, “I seek to be real, genuine, and approachable,” we express it with the term, “effective authenticity.”

Does anybody outside of the group — or even inside of it, actually — understand this term, whether they’re living intentionally or not?

(And as a side note, what does it look like to live unintentionally? Does that mean that you’re dead?)

If you want to be real, then be real — not “authentic.” Be Yourself poster by Steve Henderson, based upon the original painting Spirit of the Canyon

I don’t know much about ancient Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke while He was on this earth, but judging by its translation into English, Jesus talked in a fairly straightforward manner, frequently conveying simple yet complex ideas by telling stories. Proper and improper group dynamics, something so vital in contemporary churches, meant little to a Savior who interacted with people one on one, looking deep into their souls and beyond externals like tattoos, rough language, or whether or not their bra strap was showing.

It really didn’t matter to Jesus that he sounded erudite and smooth; He wasn’t concerned that followers would drop away if He didn’t use PowerPoint; He never wore a three-piece suit — and yes, I know that they didn’t exist then.

What did matter to Him was a strong, central, unwavering message: “God loves you. So much that you can’t possibly comprehend the magnitude of that love. Accept that love. It’s real.”

What does love look like? Gentle, kind, protective, unconditional. Dandelions, original painting available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition fine art print at Great Big Canvas

Now, how are we, as Christ’s followers, going to convey that message to the people around us? While words matter, actions matter more, and the first step is to bask in, believe, and soak up Christ’s love into our own souls, so that we can pass it on to others by being loving ourselves.

The second is to be real — not authentic, not intentional, not incomprehensible by relying upon weak, corporate-based vocabulary to essentially say nothing.

But real. Ourselves. Using language that fits who and what we are, not copying pseudo-speak that gives the illusion of intelligence and perspicacity.

And lest you get me on the last word of the last paragraph, I really do talk that way, being one of the few people — actually the only people — I know who uses the word “obfuscate” in ordinary speech, but if it’s any help, I tend to mispronounce it.

Be real real real — your amazing, unique, one of a kind self. Aphrodite, original sold; licensed open edition fine art print at Great Big Canvas

It’s unintentional. Ah, at last, the word used sensibly.

As Christians, we will always seem weird to people who are not, but let it be for the right reasons: because we touch the untouchables, speak out and speak up for what is right and honest and good, make decisions based upon principle as opposed to monetary gain.

Not because we obfuscate.

If you want to learn to write — and speak, more clearly, check out my book Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like “Do I say him and me or he and I?” $8.99 paperback and $5.99 digital at Amazon.com.

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8 Responses to “Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People”

  1. Renee says:

    I saw the title to this post in your comment on Simply Helping Him’s link up! I also have a link up and would love for you to join in (** cute little plug, no?) This title made me laugh! Genius! “. . . that gives the illusion of intelligence . . .” Nail on the head right there ;) and I love the art! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing it in your post.

    • Hello, Renee — I’m glad you found me, and I’m glad that you found the article. As a Christian, I spend a lot of time thinking, meditating, cogitating, and talking to God, all wrapped up into one. I want to know who He is, to be comfortable in His presence, to be secure in relying upon Him and believing in His goodness. This is a goal, I believe, for all Christians and seekers, and there are so many unnecessary impediments thrown in our way, not the least of which is this language thing from today’s religious establishment. Through my writing, I seek to express — in as original of language as I possibly can — what I am learning, and am gratified when I connect with others.

      I would be delighted to join your blog hop — thank you for the invitation. I will look into it today. As This Woman Writes, I try to post three times weekly — Mondays is Start Your Week with Steve, the inspirational newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art; Wednesdays are my God/Christianity day, exploring what I am observing and learning about following God in this rough little culture of ours; Friday is my fun day, encompassing anything that strikes me throughout the week. The Friday article is generally what I post in the blog hops. Because many of the hops in which I participate are religiously based, I am circumspect about introducing a note of potential contention. (Believe me, there are times I am tempted to come out swinging, but that’s definitely the wrong attitude to do good to anyone!)

      I’ll see you at your hop! I hope you visit here again. — Carolyn

  2. Renee says:

    First paragraph- me too ;)
    Second paragraph- LOVE your themes for your Wed and Fri in particular! “a note of potential contention”- I call that, “getting your cranky on”. I like cranky- a lot. I’m a Christian but, like Jo from Little Women, “I rather crave violence” so, you go ahead and post your cranky on my link up any old time you want to. I was serious when I wrote, “the post you most want others to read”. Blessings and thanks again for linking up!

    • Renee — Thank you. I like your attitude, your persona, your honesty, and your sense of joy. You make me smile and bring warmth to my heart.

      I confess: I never could finish Little Women. It’s a lovely story, and like you, I love Jo, but I’m constantly thinking, “Edit edit edit edit — can you tighten this up a bit?” It’s like the book North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell or even, (Oh, this is a hard confession!) some of the passages in Jane Eyre in which Bronte got a little long winded. But these are beautiful books, with deep, deep messages that we discover anew each time we read them. Recently, I finished reading the Forsythe Saga by John Galsworthy after seeing the series first on Netflix (strongly advise: watch the mini-series first; the book runs you pretty quickly through stuff that the movie took time to draw out).

      And of course there’s always Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which is sheer perfection. Even if I had any criticisms of this book, I would hesitate to voice them. My College Girl would be on me in a minute, as well as multi-million Austen fans. What an amazing woman she was — an example to all of us of the power of being ordinary.

      Ah, I digress. In our limited digital interaction, I feel as if I know you somehow, and I’m thinking that you like to read a very good book and muse on it. You know, I think I’ll give Little Women another try, thanks to you! — Carolyn

  3. Tracy says:

    While I enjoyed this post, I do find it ironic that someone who claims that Christians who use the word ‘authentic’ are weird, and then uses words like: obsequious, abstruse, superintendent, hegemony, perspicacity and obfuscate.
    I also think you might be a little off in Jesus’ “strong, central, unwavering message”. God loves us, for certain, but Jesus’ central message is for us to love God, and be in relationship with him. Also, to show that same love to our neighbors by loving them, including our enemies, as God loves us.
    I also found it hilarious that your last sentence ends in a verb, but the message immediately following it is an ad promoting your book, Grammar Despair. :)

    • Tracy — Thank you for your thoughtful observations. I appreciate comments like yours, that represent a person truly reading the article and providing sincere feedback (you ought to see my spam pile, but if you have a blog, I’m sure you have one of your own!) Regarding the obsequious/hegemony/abstruse issue, I confess that my irony is heavy handed, but drives home the point. The actual meaning of the sentence, “It’s so . . . obsequious somehow to abjectly emulate the abstruse speech of superintendent hegemony in the effort to convey simple truths,” is lost in the overuse of ponderous words.

      I do see what you mean about Christ’s verbal message to love God and our neighbor — it is indeed what He teaches us to do. But . . . We love God because He first loved us. Christ’s actions were those of loving us first, and we could not respond to His two primary commandments if He did not enable us to do so. Throughout human history God has always reached out to us first, in love, drawing us into His protection and embrace.

      When I first became a Christian, I was drawn by the constant barrage of being told, “Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you.” Shortly after my conversion, however, the message changed to, “Okay, now you’re following Him, and this is what you’ve got to do.” No more discussion of Christ’s love, except in the context of my doing what I was supposed to do, and then He would love me.

      I am not alone in receiving this message — it is the primary one I have heard in every church we have attended. I believe it is one of the reasons that people have so much trouble truly trusting God, because they are taught to believe in a Being who loves them conditionally, as opposed to unconditionally. I wrote more on this in my article, What Unconditional Love Looks Like.

      There is much evil in this world in which we live, and the only hope is in Christ. We who are Christians are His messengers, and unless and until we get a firm grasp on this love of His — so deep and wide and tall and long that it’s beyond comprehension, actually — we will continue to stumble in our efforts to show the world this love. And, sadly for us, we will not fully experience in our own lives that miraculous love.

      With you, and other Christians, I walk daily on the path that He gives me. — Carolyn

  4. [...] Read more about language and how it is used and mis-used in my earlier article, Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People. [...]

  5. [...] posts you may enjoy: God Is Not a Tinky Doodle, What Unconditional Love Looks Like, Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People, Dropping the Name of Jesus, I Want to Be [...]

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