What do you mean?

I made an amusing discovery this past week. Mercy is generally a very good talker. She knows a lot of words and her pronunciation is great (except for blanket which is “biktet”, “bagdhad”, or “biltlek”, or some composite of the three). However, there have been two words that she uses with great frequency that have remained a mystery to us: “thank you” is “meeeenaaaak” and “spoon” is “muuuuuunsch”.

A couple of days ago I was reading the perennial classic, “Goodnight Moon”, to her and we came to the page that reads: “And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush” and as I looked at the picture I realized that what you see is a bowl with a very large spoon in it. Suddenly it made sense why Mercy just may believe that the proper word for “very large spoon” is mush.

This past week we had a congregational visioning meeting for our church. It was one of those meetings where we reflect together about the past, accomplishments and disappointments, as well as what we have learned and hope for our future together. There was a fair amount of emotion in the room at various points, and during one such moment, a dear individual grew quite passionate and said, “Maybe we need a new theology of neighboring.”

It was one of those O.J. Simpson verdict moments where half the room nodded vigorously in agreement while the rest looked on in confusion. I can imagine some people puzzling: “a theology of neighboring? What is that?????”

Now any self-respecting Southern California Intervarsity graduate knows exactly what that term, taken from the writing of Bob Lupton, means, as does someone like myself who owns all of Lupton’s books. Any first or second generation Latino, however, would not have a clue how a word they thought was a noun is suddenly working like a verb.

Language is so potent. And it can be so divisive. And sometimes the best you can guess is that “mush” simply must mean “spoon.”

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