Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

The Greatest Word Ever

Much to my chagrin, we’ve had a preponderance of UHT milk in our house lately. For the uninitiated, UHT stands for Ultra High Temperature, which is what you need to subject milk to in order to give it a nearly indefinite shelf life at room temperature. My chagrin is largely due to the fact that UHT brings back unpleasant memories of being at sea. But with three members of our household eligible for WIC, we get more free milk than we can consume each month. Perhaps more precisely, we get more milk than we have room to store in the refrigerator. Hence the UHT stockpiling.

Anyway, the other day I found myself reading the carton during breakfast (don’t scoff – you know you’ve done it!) and made an interesting discovery. The words are all printed in three languages, which is certainly not interesting in itself. Almost everything you buy in Europe is printed in at least two; what was interesting was the languages used. The UHT brand sold at the commissary, Arla, comes from Denmark, so naturally one of the languages was Danish. The second was of course English, the linguistic common currency of Europe. Can you guess the third? German? Nope. French? Nope. Dutch? Spanish? Italian? No, no, and no. Nor Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish or Portuguese. The third language printed on all the UHT milk in our U.S. army commissary is of course…

Gaellic. Yep, apparently they store a lot of milk out there in rural Ireland. Or they don’t have electricity. Or they just love that kinda odd aftertaste that makes me feel like I’m back in the wardroom of the USS Mount Hood enjoying some delicious oven-baked breaded meat patty on a ceramic plate. Anyway, I’ve had little exposure to Gaellic outside of chillin’ out to some Enya, and I have to say, that is one strange looking language. So my new favorite word for the week is (make sure your browser is on full screen): assigiiaaqqissqarsimasuuvoq. That’s right, a double U and a double Q in one word. You need at least four sets of scrabble tiles (and two boards) to play that baby.

I’m pretty sure it means homogonenized.


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Scrabble has two B’s.

Fabulous has one B.

The makers of Scrabulous went with one; I used two when I blogged about it recently. Since then, Scrabbulous! has been my most active post and that incorrectly spelled non-word has been my most common search engine hit. So in the hopes of getting even more totally random traffic through the halls of Logomanikos (and maybe a couple more challengers on Facebook), I just thought I’d post this strategically-tagged bit of a nothing post. If you’d like to play, click here or leave a comment if it’s not clear how.

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When I first heard a that you could play Scrabble through Facebook, I carefully avoided it. Once before I tried out Scrabble on the internet and found what a temptation it could be to be a major time sucker. While I can play a solitaire game against the computer in about 10 minutes, playing a full game against a real person typically takes over an hour. Plus I had a weird text exchange with some stranger in an online game room – creeped me out a bit. But two weeks ago, I caved in and tried Scrabbulous, and suddenly like throwing a light switch, the whole online social networking thing made more sense to me. What a marvelous thing – I can have games going with 5 to 10 people at once (or much more if I let it get totally out of hand), all of whom I know. I log in once a day and check my Scrabble boards, just like I check my email, playing on any that are my turn and perhaps sending a quick text chat message. In that same 10 minutes that I was losing to “Maven”, I can now have a quick recreational connection with several friends all round the world. Like anything “virtual” I suppose, it’s not quite as satisfying as the real thing and games may take months to play, but it’s still a beautiful thing. So don’t worry, if I challenge you, it won’t take hours of your time. At least not all at once! Wanna play?

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This is Part 2 of the family values series.

First, there are the obvious implications of integrity: honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, faithfulness, etc, all of course extremely admirable traits that we aspire to uphold in ourselves and train our children to attain also. Excellent, if not very original; it is that sense of the word which probably makes integrity a core value for all kinds of organizations and people. However, as Shannon and I kicked around the question of what values most define us (or in this case what we would most like to define us), the idea we had in mind here was more one of “wholeness” (think integer) or “consistency” or “sameness”. Armor has integrity if it is all one piece; a ship has integrity if it’s not leaking, no holes in the hull. I want to be the same person with my kids as I am with my adult friends, or the teens in Club Beyond. I want to be the same person with my Christian friends as I am with my agnostic friends; the same person with my Presbyterian friends as I am with my emergent friends as I am with my Catholic friends. I want to be the same person on my blog as I am in person. Inherent in this sense of the word integrity is vulnerability, a willingness to reveal ourselves and to be fully known. I think having integrity means going below the surface with people, pursuing conversations that get to the real me and the real you; being authentic.

In our family, we’ve seen the need for integrity most with how we talk to, discipline and treat our children. So often I catch myself blowing up at them and then thinking “Would I have done that if so-and-so were here watching?” The other day, we were taking care of some friends’ kids, and it struck me how differently we spoke to and corrected them – invariably gentler, kinder, more patient. Later that night I suggested to Shannon that maybe we should treat our own children as if they are someone else’s. I think that kind of gets at what we have in mind with integrity.

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This is the long-delayed Part 1 of the family values series.

In a sense, I feel like I’ve already blogged about this value after writing my Wordplay review. I think I’m just spring-loaded to focus on community. When Shannon and I started discussing our core values, this is the one that immediately sprang to my mind and formed a word in my mouth. Every time I read somewhere that “an emphasis on community” is a common trait of emergent Christians or postmodern thinkers or whatever, I do have to wonder: is that culture influencing my values, or are my personal values what make me feel comfortable in that arena. It’s both of course, but I do think this value is genuinely me. When someone asked me recently what my motto for life is, I immediately replied “It’s not about me, it’s about us,” which is also a concatenation of the last two sermons I’ve preached (I get to preach about once a quarter). I think that single word community sums up my whole ministry leadership strategy: my goal in Club Beyond is generally not to create great programs or teach great messages or build strategic relationships with key students, but to foster loving community. I believe that the call to follow Jesus is a call to community as much or more than it is a call to personal devotion. I would like for the church, the body and bride of Christ, to be (almost?) as attractive to those outside as the person of Jesus himself. I don’t know if that’s a realistic goal or even a good one, but right now I think it’s a distant goal.

How does this value impact our family? Last summer, as Shannon and I were searching for a new house closer to the base and the school, we attempted to rent an abandoned bakery. It had a small upstairs apartment and lots of space downstairs that could be renovated for common areas: a rec room, a coffee shop, a club room. We were planning to have Club Beyond at our house every week and open it up a couple nights a week for kids to just come hang out. We had such a strong sense that this vision was from God. Yet it didn’t work out. We wonder if it is a picture of some future ministry we’ll have – with a church, a para-church community center, a college campus, or even just an informal community of our own kids and their friends. We’ll see. In any case, the point is that we really desire to integrate our family into ministry and to somehow use our home as a physical center for community – in a way that goes beyond simple hospitality.

We definitely have a lot of room to grow in living out this value. First of all, I think it’s very easy for me to talk and think and read so much about community that I forget to actually participate in one. Strange but true. Secondly, we believe that authentic Christian community should include “the other” – people who are not like us. That might mean religion, race, economic status, political views – whatever. Right now, we recognize that almost all the people we regularly spend time with are a lot like us, white middle-class Christians, mostly married with kids. In particular, I think authentic Christian community should always include non-Christians. We can do much better in that regard. And while we are always conscious of Christ’s commission to “go and make disciples of all people,” I think we (or I anyway) need to be better at simply being friends with people who believe differently without considering them evangelistic “marks.” After all, it may be that God has something to say to me through them even more than the other way around.

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What’s UP?

Received this email forward yesterday. Seems appropriate given the title of this blog:

Lovers of the English language might enjoy this…How do non-natives ever learn all the nuances of English??? There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is “UP.” It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

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