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.

 

Comparison

Comparison: (n) the act of comparing

“Most of the world …”

I think we all have to agree, that’s a pretty bold generalization. To claim that “most of the world” does anything or is anything might be the soil for the seeds of prejudice.

But it is safe to assume that a good portion of this planet gets up every morning not certain there will be anything to put in their food bowl by nighttime.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Even though in the United States we have poverty, hunger, to some degree, has become a choice. There’s always someone offering something at some location for individuals who can’t put together enough “bread” for their bread.

But there are people in the world who cannot benefit from such altruism and generosity because those around them suffer under the same lack, and there are a limited number of ways to divide up a tomato.

So when we make comparisons between people in our country and the souls that live on other parcels of land on Planet Earth, we need to be cautious.

Because when you remove starvation, deprivation, filthy water, constant exposure to the elements and inept and often dangerous government, you discover that you possess a treasure trove of blessings.

We are America.

We must learn to judge ourselves by our own talents, fortunes and abilities–not by producing a comparison with countries that dig in the dirt, attempting to grow one single plant from which to eat.

 

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Chemistry

Chemistry: (n) the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people.

Who would ever have expected that hydrogen and oxygen could blend together to make water?

Of course, hydrogen has to bring twice as much of itself to the mixture to make it work. It is H2O.

Yet the two separated do not resemble the combined.

It’s a great principle of relationship. As long as two parties insist on maintaining their integrity without any merger of purposes, then
nothing really ever happens. In this day and age, we’ve become obsessed with individual achievement, therefore limiting the possibility of mutual effort.

And sometimes, just as with water, somebody has to give twice as much to make it work. But the end result is something valuable–something commonly put into practice.

What is the chemistry of spirituality? Is it God reaching for man, humans reaching for God, or humans reaching for one another and therefore finding God?

What is the chemistry of politics? Is it the power of the vote choosing excellent candidates who enact great ideas, or might it be the great ideas determining what candidates receive the votes? Or has it become the candidates telling everyone how to vote while setting aside great ideas?

What is the chemistry of education? Is it teaching facts, hoping that those who hear them will turn them into action? Or is it displaying action and stepping back to study the facts?

Just as in chemistry, if the unit of oxygen decides to try to be equal to the two units of hydrogen, then you have H2O2–which is hydrogen peroxide, which is not recommended for drinking.

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Baptism

Baptism: (n) in the Christian Church, the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church Dictionary B

It is very difficult to recognize arrogance when perched in the permeating presence of arrogance.

Arrogance often appears to be good judgment, sound doctrine, faithful thinking and maturity when not examined for its elements of pious snobbery.

I grew up in a church that believed you were supposed to dunk people in water to baptize them. They not only believed it–they thought that any other form of baptism was errant, and would not be accepted at the Great Judgment Day, when the Holy God of All came to check out our baptismal certificate.

I developed an arrogance about it to match the arrogance of those around me who arrogantly thought they were following an arrogant message from an arrogant God.

In the process, the significance and symbolism of baptism mostly escaped me.

Baptism is really simple. To me, it’s similar to acknowledging that since I’ve gone into the bathroom and used the toilet, there’s a great possibility I might need to wash my hands.

For you must know that human life not only sullies our efforts, but also dirties our souls.

The symbolism of baptism washing us from the foolishness of the past to allow us newness of life is breathtaking–especially when you consider that the One we place our confidence in was baptized himself.

Yes, Jesus felt it was necessary to be baptized.

And since we have deemed him “perfect,” then it is a good idea for us to consider the significance of what can truly be a fulfilling cleansing.

 

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Aquarius

dictionary with letter A

Aquarius (n): the eleventh sign of the Zodiac.

“This is the dawning of the …”

The next part of this lyric from the song in Hair is “…Age of Aquarius.”

I happen to really enjoy that production and the tune, even though I grew up in a religious environment which believed that all astrology was “of the devil.”

Yes. Leave it to Satan to come up with a practice where everything is left to chance and the moving of the stars.

So as a kid, it was difficult to sing the song, share the song or even refer to the song around grownups. They would warn me that I was welcoming in dark demons, which would later infest me with horrible attitudes like failing to pay my electric bill.

It was difficult–because truth is much like water. It tends to come from everywhere and surprise us with how similar it is, considering its divergent points of origin.

Some water comes from the mountains through melted snow.

Some from the sky.

Some from wells from deep within the earth.

But pour it in a cup, drink it down and it’s refreshing.

I have to be honest with you–the off-Broadway musical, Hair, did more to enlighten me, generate social consciousness and make me compassionate than any sermon I ever heard in church.

It was raw, a little silly and laced with too much hopefulness.

But without that kind of childlike faith, we all become cynical growling adults. And deep in my heart, I wish there was an Age of Aquarius. I dream of how wonderful it would be if the stars would shift, Jupiter would align with Mars and attitudes would improve.

But I think I’m stuck with the symbolism–or maybe I’m Jupiter and my brother is Mars and the truth of life is still stuck in the closet somewhere … of the seventh house.

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Albeit

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Albeit: (conj) although E.G.: he was making progress, albeit rather slowly.

Maybe we do need an old-fashioned word like “albeit” to address the contradictions in our society. For instance:

  • Politics–albeit a government for the people, by the people and of the people.
  • Immigration–albeit including a race and nationality … other than mine.
  • Truth–albeit a personal war on lying.
  • Emotion–albeit something more expansive than melancholy and crocodile tears.
  • Spirituality–albeit an idea that does not include religion.
  • Abortion–albeit “a personal responsibility for birth control.
  • Family–albeit expanding the borders to include “water” instead of just “blood.”
  • Republicans–albeit governing patriots.
  • Democratsalbeit open to differing opinions without considering them ignorant.
  • Women–albeit equals.
  • Men–albeit human.
  • Entertainment–albeit entertaining … and inspirational.
  • Healthy–albeit practical and affordable.
  • Health care–albeit sensitivity to the Golden Rule.
  • International affairs–albeit Disney‘s “It’s a Small World.”
  • Laughter–albeit with less cynicism.
  • Interaction–albeit with more courtesy.

I know I have stretched the definition of this word to its limits and the tearing of its seams, but I do believe that in a world that is frightened of contradiction and flip-flopping, a bit of willingness to be wrong …. is quite charming.

Accelerant

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accelerant: 1. (n.) a substance used to aid the spread of fire.

There are really only two things you can do with fire. You can douse it or you can spread it.

Funny thing about fire is that sometimes it’s a really welcome warming, and other times it can be quite destructive.

So it’s good to have an accelerant around, like gasoline, when you’re trying to get your fire going.  For instance, anybody who’s ever barbecued knows that charcoal lighter is one of your better friends.

And then there are times when fire gets started and you would like to inhibit it from burning down your house. Then the presence of water is suddenly essential.

Here’s what I think–somewhere along the line in our country, we have gotten these two ingredients mixed up. We often pour gasoline on fires that should be put out and we douse pleasant fires with water, which would be ideal for toasting our marshmallows.

I don’t know how this happened. I think some folks just think fire is bad. They think anyone who gets excited, passionate or enthusiastic in any shape or form needs to be hosed down.

Then there are other folks who worship fire and believe the more ablaze the world becomes with controversy, anger and frustration, the better the outcome. I think we need a lesson in utilizing these two elements. Let me make a list:

1. When you see young human beings being creative, even if you don’t understand their particular rendition of talent and ability, bring gasoline, not water.

2. When you’re watching television and two people are arguing, with no intention of listening to each other, throw a bucket of water on it.

3. If you’re in church and everybody’s being quiet because they’re afraid of God, sprinkle some gas and light a match.

4. If you’re in a learning situation and some loudmouth is trying to take over the room and infuse ridiculous ideas into the surrounding hearers instead of freshening them with generosity of spirit, turn the squirt gun on him.

5. If you’re listening to a candidate talk about our country and all you hear is complaining, frustration and promotion of his political party, please apply H2O.

6. But if your four-year-old grandson is asking a bunch of questions about life and is thirsty for knowledge, light the fire.

We could sure use an accelerant in this day and age–to burn off stupidity and welcome a planting of a whole new forest of ideas.

We also might want to back up a water truck to some existing flames which are doing nothing but destroying beauty, and see if we can’t save the landscape.

Water or gasoline?

I do believe that all of us will eventually be evaluated by the next generation on how well we implemented each resource.