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Friday, December 08, 2006 

"The Stuff You Write Isn't Even In English!"

I had a complaint a little bit ago and I apologize for not addressing this sooner. I was chatting with someone who said, “We can’t understand half the things you write. The stuff you write isn’t even in English!” What brought this up was my use of the word eschatology in addressing the Lutheran view of the Eucharist in my What’s Wrong With Ablaze! series of posts.

No, I don’t make up words intentionally. It’s true that a few misspelled words do slip by spellchecker because of my inability to type. Often I’m thinking a few sentences ahead and sometimes what comes out is a jumbled mess. I always look over what I write, but rarely is that helpful. I know what I mean to say but it usually takes my wife or my quality manager MorningGlory2 at work, to bring my mistakes to light.

I do try to choose my words carefully because often when talking theology, the some words will numerous meanings. For example; several years ago I was visiting a friend of mine up north. This very dear friend of mine “A” was concerned that I was going to the wrong “kind” of church, specifically a Lutheran church. She had every right to be concerned for me because of her background.

She and I were both members of the same Lutheran church just down the street where the Gospel was not preached purely and the Sacraments were not administered rightly. The only sermon that I can recall preached there was one on how good the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark was because it had Hollywood proving the Bible must exist because Spielberg and Lucas used the ark as a prop. Oh yeah, lots of Gospel in that one. Anyhoo, getting back to my point…

“A” was concerned that because I had wound up going back to a Lutheran church after a loooong absence, I was not going to get that spiritual food which faith requires. So for six years, every time I went up north to visit family, I would visit “A” and get grilled on how I “worshiped.” That’s all “A” seemed to want to know, “how do you worship?” And every time I would tell her the basic and general structure of the Divine Service. And each time I explained to her how the Divine Service is God serving us through Word and Sacrament and then us responding to the same. And each and every time I was told that what I was doing was not good enough.

The problem was that the word “worship” meant two very different things to “A” and I. For “A”, worship meant reading her Bible every day, memorizing verses, praying and fasting. For her worship meant living a pious life. I thought she wanted to know what I did on a Sunday morning. But because we kept talking past one another we kept failing to communicate.

Eventually we had a breakthrough and realized that not only weren’t we on the same sheet of music, we aren’t even in the same symphony. With that we made some headway and she was able to explain some of the reformed theology she subscribes to in a way that I could understand. I believe she’s wrong in couple of doctrinal areas and she knows what I think of her subscription to reformed theological points. (And she certainly thinks I'm wrong on a great many things to be sure!) But I love her dearly and I count her among the elect. By her confession that Jesus is the Christ I have no choice but to count her among the faithful. By her confession she is part of my family and I hers.

So what does all of this have to do with a little word like eschatology? No matter what I write, I try to convey exactly what it is that I mean. I would venture to say most of us do this whether we write or make a point in general conversation.

When it comes to theology, sometimes it’s not good enough to just say I believe in Jesus. Mormons say they believe in Jesus, but they say he was a reincarnated Adam, a created creature, who became a god. Muslims say they believe in Jesus, but they say he was only a prophet and the idea that He is one with the Father is so offensive it’ll get your head cut off in certain parts of the world should you mention it.

I use the word eschatological because it’s exactly what I mean. It the part of dogmatics that means having to do with the “last things.” It’s not a word that I just made up, I promise! The root word is the Greek word eschaton. (I wish I could figure out how to properly spell the word in Greek with my available fonts, but I’ve tried and I can’t) Again, it’s a real word that I thought fit the discussion on the Eucharist.

If you have a question, ask. If you think I’m making up words, call me on it. If you think you need to, you may do it anonymously, my blog has that option.

Anytime anyone wants to ask me a question, feel free to do so and ask away! I do take questions. For crying out loud, I wrote a 9700 word piece answering a question from a reader on what I thought was wrong with my synods Ablaze! program. (do you remember me saying I don’t type?)

While I do use theological terminology on occasion, I do write in english. Sehr gut?

I personally appreciate the "Frank-ness" that shines through in your language skills;)

Geez, I didn't realize that you were counting on me to point out your typos. I'll try to be more alert from now on!

About that "What's Wrong With Ablaze!" series...would I have your permission to print and distribute your seven-part series to the members of our congregation? We are trying to educate our members on some of the more serious deficiencies within the Synod, and Ablaze ranks right up there.

Thanks,
Quipper (Rick)

Quipper,
Who is the "we" in "We are trying to educate our members"? Is this education something the leadership of your parish is trying to do?

Yes, Sir. I am the VP and one of the Deacons of our congregation. The Pastor, Assistant Pastor, and Deacons are leading this effort. If you check out the Classical Pelican and Chaplain To The World links from my blog, then you'll have "met" our Pastor and Assistant Pastor, respectively. And, Die Schreiben von Schreiber is our Head Deacon.

Hope this helps.

Quipper,
First, I’m not a sir; I’m a Frank, which I guess is a fitting name. Second, that’s quite a group you list there. I’ve “met” them all.
Thirdly, you have my permission to reprint the seven part series as long as there are no changes made without my approval. I also will insist that the piece be attributed to me and the site. It took me a while to get those posts together, and I am a little protective of them. I also recommend that you print out Julie Martinez’s article that I reference several times as well.
This is sort of weird for me since I’ve never taken what write too seriously, ever. I just enjoy having a little fun with things.
And lastly, send me an email and let me know how things all worked out with the whole process. I’m really not concerned with what people think of my writing but rather what people think of proper catechesis.
Pax,
Frank

Frank,

Thanks for the approval. In my planned talk, I have already attributed the series to you and your site. I will be distributing your articles as you wrote them, without changing a thing.

I will also print Julie Martinez's article, and keep you posted on our results.

Thanks,
Rick

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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