Decontextualize

Decontextualize: (v) to remove from a context

Water.

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.

 

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama: (n) formerly the ruler and chief monk of Tibet

Religion reminds me of taking a machine gun to battle house flies, the premise being that the more bullets you have to destroy the varmints, the greater your chance for success.

The problem?

Unfortunately, you destroy everything in sight with your machine gun, just to dispel some annoying fly-bys.

As a human being, I am fully aware what qualities I appreciate in other human beings—and what I do not.

For instance:

I don’t like to be cussed out.

I don’t want to grovel for attention.

I like to be able to speak my opinion and have it heard, if not honored.

I can survive a bit of grumpiness as long as it’s followed by a season of smiles.

I like to be right.

I like to feel healthy.

I like someone to notice when I’ve done good work.

And I like people to forgive me when I’ve stunk up the joint.

What I’ve just shared with you is a summary of the true value found in religion. Everything else is legalism, prejudice, ritual, outlandish oversight, and rules and regulation—frequently about issues that have not been pertinent since the fifteenth century.

They say there is a man in Tibet called the Dalai Lama who is full of wisdom.

I don’t doubt that.

If you climb into my van, I’ll drive you down the street to the nursing home, where we will walk through holy ground and meet many such men and women.

These are the traveling souls who have worn human skin and discovered much foolishness and settled on simple things, like a small squirt of whipped cream on top of their tapioca pudding.

The Dalai Lama may be just fine.

I don’t disfavor him because he is not of my faith.

But I do not believe that his mere lineage from some dude grants him the license for a holy genetic order.

I think we should listen to the Dalai Lama just as intensely and feverishly as we do the Dolly Parton.

Bell

Bell: (n) a hollow object, typically made of metal, that sounds a clear musical note when struck by means of a clapper inside.

Dictionary B

I was sitting in my car on a hot, summer’s day, becoming more frustrated with each moment of sizzling waiting. I can’t recall what was keeping me from progress, but I was totally disgusted.

All of a sudden, there were bells.

Apparently a church in the middle of town had a ritual of ringing bells at noonday from its belfry.

I was suddenly translated to a simpler mindset.

I had the feeling that I was in the middle of a Normal Rockwell painting, sucking in a bit of Americana through my nostrils and allowing my eyeballs to be transformed to see something other than my aggravation.

The bells did it.

They harkened to a better part of me which remembered, from somewhere in my youth, such clanging–to stimulate a sense of celebration or an inkling of hope.

I don’t know who came up with the idea of putting bells in a church and what committee decided to ring them to inform the community of the presence of a house of worship, but damn…it works.

There’s no doubt about it.

A religious system that is beleaguered by too much tradition and obtuse theology is actually much better represented by the chiming of the bells … than the rhetoric of its ding-dongs.

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

 

Affiliate

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Affiliate: 1.(v) to officially attach or connect to an organization 2. (n) a person or organization attached to a larger body

“Who are you affiliated with?”

“With whom are you affiliated?”

Whenever I hear either of these questions, I realize I am encountering someone who is discovering that I am not qualified to do what I do and is out to expose me or at least discredit my efforts.

It fascinates me that we live in a nation of freedom, liberty and supposedly independent thinkers, but we all scurry to the corners like cockroaches when the lights come on, making sure we have our little nest of individuals who agree with us, as proof of our credibility.

I don’t mind affiliating. I love to be around people. I enjoy folks. But I’ve always been a person who follows common sense with a side of spirituality and heartfelt emotion for dessert. Honestly, sometimes it’s difficult to sign on the dotted line with the causes made available to me because they don’t necessarily agree with that criteria.

  • I don’t make a good atheist–mainly because I believe in God.
  • I’m a horrible agnostic because I have actually seen faith work.
  • Republicans sniff me out and know I’m not part of the flock because of my generosity to people in need, and I am not totally convinced in the doctrine of “every man for himself.”
  • Democrats walk away shaking their heads sadly because I support the value of personal responsibility and don’t think that the taking of human life in any form, including abortion, possesses viability.
  • I’m a horrible Muslim. Bad knees. Can’t kneel on a carpet.
  • I can’t be Jewish. Too much ritual. Like my bread leavened.
  • Honestly, I don’t make a very good Christian because I like my life to be sparked by ideas instead of traditions.
  • I suppose in some ways I don’t make a great American male because I’ve never found pleasure in making fun of women when they’re not around.
  • Yet the females don’t accept me because … well, I guess that one is obvious.

I don’t have anything against affiliation. It’s just when I start following the butt of the person in front of you without seeing clearly where the crowd is heading, well … it makes me a little nervous.

So I have decided to try to get along with everybody the best I can, and in my private house of thought and worship, to allow the wisdom that trickles my way to rule the day instead of polling the masses.

So who am I affiliated with?

I guess anybody who’s willing to take me as I am.