Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Musings on Words

I know that this is not the first time I have spent some time musing on language and the important of words.  I blame my education for that ... but I came upon an interesting article the other day that once again got me pondering.  The article is about the importance of how we talk to young girls and a reminder that our language matters and shapes how we think about things.  I noticed this again on Sunday when I caught myself referring to God as "he."  It was not a deliberate choice but something that just slipped out as a side reference.  It was probably as much an issue with the lack of a good third person, neutral pronoun as it was with how I imagine God.  Even if I do not mean to be gendering God (if that is the right way to describe it) by referring to God with male language, it can be an unintended effect, just as talking to girls about how pretty they are (and what little girl, or boy is not cute in our eyes) incidentally reinforces the notion that beauty is something the child should desire and seek to obtain.

Language is amazingly powerful ... how we speak about kids can change how they perceive themselves ... so what if we used it in a positive way, encouraging them to be desperately seeking to be better learners, more creative thinkers, better stewards of the earth?  Why don't we use peer pressure to teach them to value all these good things instead of beauty and popularity and these other things that seem so destructive to our society.  At the same time why don't we spend more time talking about God in variety of ways.  The Hebrew scriptures alone have so many names for God.  I know I tend to think in very limited terms, loving God, gracious God, wondrous God, all of them are basic adjectives combined with God.  Instead maybe I need to use a greater variety.  In doing so I will begin to expand how I see God, how I experience God, and in turn how those around me see and experience God.