Finding a new God-talk

From an article by Susan Wise Bauer, professor at William and Mary and author of The Well-Trained Mind, about fiction:

American evangelical rhetoric has so trivialized conversion, the presence of God, and the privilege of membership in the community of God’s people that almost every way of speaking of these realities has become trivial as well.

In a culture where every phrase of God-talk has become a cliché, finding a new God-talk requires a journey into an unknown land; and dragons wait on the other side. To reach beyond the trivial, to use words about grace that are different from those used before, to give a startling new take on conversion, is to risk having stones thrown at one for heresy. The evangelical shorthand is not only simpler, but safer.

How true. Hearing someone talk about grace, or getting saved or sanctified, or virtually every other Christian reality becomes a chore that goes beyond interpreting dialect. It’s worse than Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck words (witchyadidja: “You didn’t bring your truck witchyadidja?”); it’s like Marcus Brody in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” stumbling through the market asking, “I say, does anyone here speak English?”

It’s like someone saying they were glad to get some meat from the pastor on Sunday; I immediately think of barbecue, a bit steaming pile of pork on the Communion table. The pastor reads the Scripture, prays, and says, “Y’all brought a fork witchyadintcha?”


One thought on “Finding a new God-talk”

  1. I see you worked the BBQ in… 🙂

    I find this same difficulty in talking to my peers and the students here at school. It’s like they’re at one extreme or the other…either they have been churched their entire life, so they know all the lingo and think it’s all bunk anyway, or they are new Christians who don’t understand the Christian-ese, and don’t understand why you have to label everything.

    Why is it so hard to honestly express our feelings about the greatest experiences of our life in Christ? Why do I sometimes feel it’s all a bunch of cheesy cliches?

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