Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pinch-Hitters, Pocket Rockets, Pitching Lips, and Perichoresis

"Bottom of the ninth, full count, runners at the corners."

"On the button, Texas Dolly flops the nut flush draw."

"Lowers was nice and hollow during the evening glass-off."

Not many people would be able to decipher even two of these phrases, let alone all three. Sure, we understand the words contained in them, but what their meaning is remains somewhat opaque. This is because the cultures represented by these sentences employ their own particular brand of slang which, to outsiders, sounds utterly foreign.

Moreover, when a channel-surfer comes across a TV program displaying one of the cultures represented by these sentences, he doesn't get angry with the commentator for using such obscure language. And conversely, if a long-time baseball fan were to turn on the game and hear the announcer say, "Runners at the corners, for all you first time viewers, means a runner on first base and another on third," he would probably be annoyed, and rightly so.

You see, every culture has its own unique way of speaking (which, if you think about it, is part of what makes a particular culture "particular" in the first place).

But for some reason, Christians are warned to avoid "Christianese," especially in church services. After all, what if a nonbeliever is there? What will she think if she hears the word propitiation?

Is it me, or is asking Christians to jettison Christianese about as silly as asking someone from Japan to quit speaking Japanese?