Decontextualize: (v) to remove from a context


What do we use it for?

  • We drink it.
  • We swim in it.
  • We clean with it.

Very simple.

This is the context for water.

So the young prophet shows up at the river and he wants to use the water to baptize people. Why?

Because it’s something we drink, we swim in it and it cleans us.

The context is clear.  Water is a symbol of life, joy and cleanliness.

What a great way to communicate a transition in our beings. Take us into the water, let us promise good things, let us believe better things. Then splash us beneath the deep and rise us up—cleansed.

Could anything be more beautiful than that?

Does it matter how the water is used?

Does the top of my head have to get wet?

How about my hip bones?

Is it less significant if my kneecaps remain dry?

Since we understand the context of water bringing life, joy and cleanliness, why must we decontextualize by insisting the style in which we enact this ritual is more important than the expression itself?

How shall we take our communion?

Should we use wine or grape juice?

How can we take the symbolism of the body and blood of Christ and trivialize it down to grocery store concerns?

Are you saved?

How do you know?

Did you confess?

Did you come to it on your own?

Did you do it in church?

Did you do it in public?

Do any of these things matter?

Is it necessary to take the context of something beautiful and change it to a complexity and make it nearly inaccessible?

How do you know when you’ve found something pure?

That’s easy.

When no one needs to explain it to you.



Coaster: (n) a small mat placed under a glass to protect the table underneath.

It’s one of those factors that determines whether you are a bungler or a baron.

There are many.

But when you find yourself with a glass of drink and there is a table in front of you, do you procure a coaster so your condensation does not leave a ring on the table, or do you just put your glass down and later act completely bewildered because your hostess or host was offended by your choice?

It’s where we teeter–all human beings teeter between understanding and arrogance.

Often we understand the purpose for matters, yet in our arrogance, we resist performing the courteous function simply because it seems tedious and makes us appear too subservient.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a bungler or become a baron. Would I be willing to learn the things that are important to my brothers and sisters, and simply avoid conflict with their tender conscience by doing them? Or would I stubbornly going to insist that it’s a “goddamn free country,” and proceed to take my pet bull off the leash for the latest visit to the china shop?

Coasters are not effeminate.

Coasters are not irrational.

Coasters may not be necessary–but you won’t know until you don’t use one. So why take the risk, especially on the chance that you might unnecessarily offend a friend?

But stubborn we are–all children of Adam and Eve.

Yet, if you want to get back into the Garden, you need to swallow your pride and discover the location of the forbidden apples.


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Beverage: (n) a drink, especially other than water

Dictionary BPerhaps one of the more valuable parts of my mission of writing this daily essay using the language that Webster offers to us is that I can occasionally warn you about words that should never be used.

I’m not going to make a comprehensive list right now, but instead, will use today’s choice as an example of such a misstep.

May it be declared from the Heavens and enacted upon the Earth that the word “beverage” should never be spoken aloud, at least in the Continental United States.

It is one of those words that makes it appear that you’re either very insecure about your education, or you are determined to pick obscure terms in order to make yourself look like the long-lost noble son of the Russian throne.

Beverage is not a word.

It is what we shall call an anti-word.

An anti-word is something that comes out of our mouths which we thought would communicate our sophistication, but instead leaves the room bewildered, perplexed or pissed off because we are acting superior.

You can feel free to say, “Do you want a Coke?” (That works really well in the South.)

I suppose it’s tolerable to say, “Would you like a soda?” (Even though in the North, “pop” is preferred.)

But the safest thing to ask is, “Would you like something to drink?”

So if we’re beginning a list of forbidden terms, let us start off with the word “beverage.”

Because quite honestly, anyone who asks me if “I want a beverage”… just might be training to be a serial killer.

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 



by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acapulco: a port and resort in southern Mexico on the Pacific coast; pop. 592,290, full name Acapulco de Juarez.

Since I don’t drink, gamble, have a beautiful body like a Greek god or enjoy dancing in the night life of an exotic resort, places like Acapulco never really drew my attention nor any of my interest. The things that would be of value to me, like the sunshine, water and some good Mexican food, are really available in my neighborhood.

It’s not that I am a curmudgeon who hates to be around crowds of people because I think they are dark and evil or different and weird. It’s that early on I discovered my own level of contentment and toleration for variation–and I love to stay within those parameters lest I find myself spending a lot of money doing things I don’t really want to do anyway, pretending they are the coolest thing that’s ever happened.

I don’t like to be overwhelmed by entertainment. So for me, going to a carnival which is set up in a shopping center parking lot, eating a corn dog, and trying to knock over a few milk bottles with a light-weight ball as I watch children use their tickets to ride on a rickety roller coaster is just as much fun as going to Disney World.

You see, I think there’s a danger in over-stunning our senses with innumerable sources of stimulation all at the same time, without having the opportunity to take in individual bonuses because we are so inundated.

I know I am alone in this.

But I’ve never wanted to be jaded by convincing myself that the only way I can have fun and sun is by going to Acapulco instead of stepping into my back yard with a pitcher of iced tea, a good book and some great music to listen to on a wonderfully sun-drenched afternoon.

It’s not that I’m simple–it’s just that I have five senses and I really don’t want to jam them up, so that they’re running around colliding into each other, vying for attention.

Stop for a moment and taste the iced tea. U-m-m-m. It’s good. Now, put your head back and let the sun warm your face. Excellent.

The one time I found myself at a resort like Acapulco I couldn’t get a moment’s rest or a chance for an idea to stretch its legs, because all the young cabana people were constantly walking up and asking me if I wanted to go deep-sea fishing, sight-seeing, hand-gliding or rollerblading.

I felt bad when I told them “absolutely not.” I wondered if they lost commission because I appeared to be out of commission. After that I decided to avoid such fruitless journeys, and instead, chose to tantalize my sense one at a time.

So you may go to Acapulco and you can even send me pictures.

I think I will just stop off at Taco Bell, pick up a couple burritos, sit in the sun, jot some notes down on a piece of paper, and after I become hot enough, dip the better parts of my body in some cool water.

That’s what I call … a vacation.