Monday, November 21, 2005

Talk Like a Person

(R-rated language alert for those of tender sensibilities)
I need to preface this post with the disclaimer that I am in a foul mood. It all started this morning when my dog had an accident in the hallway -- an accident I discovered by stepping on it. I thought, as I hopped to the bathroom on my other foot, "Perhaps this event is a metaphor for the rest of my day." And it kind of was.

Anyhow, not too long ago I had an agitated individual inform me, online, that I was "drinking from the cup of Satan." The discussion wasn't about what you think; it was about women's ordination. Which made me much less angry than I could have been; it was a quaint sort of rebuke, like being yelled at for advocating bloomers and bobbed hair. (Which I do, by the way.)

But what made me go all Andy Rooney cranky -- Dontcha hate it when... -- was the purple prose. What is it about religious discourse that makes certain species of Christians start spouting verbiage straight out of the Osama Bin Laden Treasury of Florid Rhetoric? This drives me nuts. Ditto the faux King James English one sometimes runs into in some Christian circles: "The Lord has lain it upon my heart to pray that your iniquity might be hedged in lest it cause the weaker sisters to stumble."

Oh, for pete's sake: Talk like a person.

(Since we are a Fair and Balanced [tm] blog, tune in next week for Talk Like a Person: Mainline Edition, where we discuss mainliners' love of jargon-dropping first-year-seminary Greek: kerygma, kairos, metanoia, et al.)

One of the things that blew my mind, when I first began exploring the muchly Brit Ship of Fools website, was the out-and-proud potty language of some of the regulars. Their main discussion forums are divided into Heaven, Purgatory and Hell; if someone behaves badly on a forum, s/he may be summoned by others to Hell, and uncensored excoriation commences. I remember the first time I read through one of the Hellish topic threads, encountering Christians whose theological and social conservatism makes me, relative moderate that I am, sound like some sort of Spongian anarchist -- persons whose American counterparts tell me that I am, verily, drinking from the cup of Satan -- screaming breathtakingly crude epithets at their antagonists: bastard; wanker; fuckwit; colorful if anatomically difficult suggestions incorporating these terms. It was -- how can I put this? -- refreshing.

If Cup-o-Satan Man had just said, "LutheranChik, you fuckwit," or some variation thereof -- well, it would have just laid his cards on the table; short and to the point. What he said instead, translated into Talking Like a pretty much the same thing. So save some keystrokes and just say what you mean.


LutherPunk said...

Personally I am a big fan of directly being profane with folks, though I prefer the term fucktard.

I avoid most hostile blogs like the plague. There was a time when I was all up for the debate...indeed reveled in it. Now I can't tolerate it. The venom that is spewed is terrible. I prefer now to read blogs and threads where debate may emerge, but civility is the rule.

Tom in Ontario said...

I used to curse a lot when I was in highschool. In university, taking engineering, you'd hear a lot of swearing but among the crowd I hung with (not puritans by any means) you didn't hear it much. We even made fun of the students in lower years who had to put f**k into every sentence. Now I feel guilty when I tell my kids to shut up (my 3 year old tells me I said a bad word). I think I talk pretty regular. My grammar isn't even always correct. But I don't swear.

Verdugo said...

I am reminded of a great quote by Tony Campolo. Campolo was speaking at a conservative Christian college and remarked that, "10,000 children will starve to death today and most of you here don't give a shit." Then he went on to say, "but that isn't what really bothers me. What really bothers me is that most of you are more upset right now about the fact that I just said 'shit' than you are about the fact that I said 10,000 children will starve to death."

Sometimes we lose sight of the real obscenity.

LutheranChik said...

Or as my high school English teacher used to say, if you're up to your knees in it there's not much else you can call it.;-)

My big irritant, though, again, is that overblown fake-Middle-Eastern invective, sometimes interspersed with fake King James English. It's like bad sketch comedy. And these people have absolutely no sense of irony, so they can't seem to hear the silliness coming out of their own mouths. Talk like a person.

Sue said...

Great post LutheranChik -- I agree completely!! How can we really be serious about our "relevance" in today's culture if we're using all this church-speak? It's hard to get people to listen to you when they're busy thinking "Huh?"

Rainbow Pastor said...

I wonder if they think they're less abrasive or if they think it's more if abusing the English language will change how people think. "Well, if you put it that way!"
Re: the church-speak...Guilty as charged! Well, you didn't charge me, but I felt it! For me, it's a shorthand I got used to in seminary and among the board and active members--who all know what "time, treasure and talent" mean. I forget that I have to translate that for the rest of the world (i.e., the vast majority of people who aren't trapped in this ivory tower with me, LOL).
My pet peeve vis-a-vis language? Some sanctimonious twit telling me, "God has laid it on my heart to tell you that..." whatever my sin du jour is. Judgemental twaddle.
Or am I being too judgemental?

LutherHen said...

This just plain cracks me up! I have admittedly scary visions of a not-so-superhero called "Cup-O'-Satan-Man": he slithers around in holey boxers, no shirt, and sunglasses "laying things on the hearts of well spoken people everywhere".

Thanks for the good laugh, and the excellent syntax as well!

J.C. Fisher said...

Yeah, maybe that would help on Thinking Anglicans: Them "Fuck you!" Me "No, fuck you . . . up the ass---as you secretly crave, assholes!"

[But then I think of long-suffering Simon the Mod, and I refrain ;-/]

LutheranChik said...

I've often thought that Beliefnet needs a no-inhibitions Place of Id for people to just verbally lambaste one another, but it'll never happen. I don't think Yank Christians can swing it; most of 'em are too hung up on "swearing." (Partly because of atrocious religious formation, but don't get me started.)

LutheranChik said...

Come to think of it, it would have been nice to summon to Hell the homicidal freaks on the debate forum I no longer visit...the ones who told me that, should their jihad ever be successful, they think I should be executed, along with you and a lot of other people. Of course, in their moral economy saying a Bad Word is more of a sin than wishing other human beings dead.