Saturday, January 9, 2010

Banned Quaker words 2010

Yesterday--I will admit I did do this, as I am in a confessional mode-- yes, I really did do this ... I contributed the word that is "fingernails on the chalkboard" to me to the New York Times ... I was contributor 257 or 258 ... meaning nobody will see my word. Therefore, I am putting it here.


I can't stand that word. I seem to hear it all the time. It may be supposed to be postmodern, hip, self-ironic, complimentary in the mode of "you be bad," etc. ... but I hear it as snide, superior, snarky ... don't like it. Anybody know where, when, why Eurotrash came into vogue? And maybe... hope springs eternal ... maybe it's already so yesterday ... but unfortunately, not in my life.

Wasn't "white trash" bad enough?


This led me to think about Quaker jargon and overused platitudes, etc. we might want to ban for 2010. I have a few contenders (and don't get mad--I put these ideas out there mostly poking fun at myself as sometimes (usually?) the worst offender:)

OK--How about no references to or quotes from the poet Hafiz in 2010? And while we're at it, Gerard Manley Hopkins ... there really are OTHER poets out there! And not to be too radical ... but some female poets ... OK, nuff said.

Mindfulness. I kind of like the word... but it also gets under my skin ... why is it so much cooler if we do things mindfully rather than attentively or thoughtfully ...

Other ideas?


Lisa H said...

At a first pass, I can think of lots of overused Quaker references: elders of Balby, Isaac Penington's "sink down", and lots of hearkening to Gandhi and Dr. King for inspiration. Mary Oliver, for that matter, if you're looking for female poets. Pithy. Good reminders.

Isn't the point to go beyond the words themselves, and be open to the possibility that any source might help to spark continuing revelation for one among us?

It probably wasn't until the 1,000th time that I heard "Puff the Magic Dragon" that it moved me to tears, after wanting to tear my hair out a bunch of the other times.

chelavery said...

I have a couple candidates. One is when we disagree with each other in passive voice so it sounds like someone is offering a criticism, but certainly not I. "I am reminded that we attempted something similar . . ." or "It occurs to me that this action could be perceived as . . . "

Another is when we say no to a proposal by saying, "yes, when God makes us." E.g., "we will proceed when way opens" or "should anyone be led." When the truth is, no one actively objects, but no one really wants to either. This one is particularly applicable to the suggestions of Young Friends.

Bill Samuel said...

Unprogrammed - This is a word which crept into Quakerism only after the rise of pastoral meetings. It says, basically, "We're not one of those."

And if a meeting is not divinely programmed, is it really a meeting for worship?

The old Quaker term "waiting worship" is still much better. Isn't waiting on the Lord the purpose of Quaker meeting for worship?

Anonymous said...

I gave up on the d word when someone was disappointed we were out of yellow copy paper, because they had "discerned" this announcement should go on that color. My real dislike is important words getting watered down. Meg

Tmothy Travis said...

I agree with you, Bill. "silent worship" should be considered carefully because silence is not the purpose.

So many of our terms (e.g. "continuing revelation") are ambiguous to the point that they mean totally opposite things. It may lack integrity that we go along with "that of God in everyone" meaning both "something in us that belongs and responds to God" and "a piece of God in each of us" but it does preserve unity in a religious society that has become so centered, over the years in theology and so prone to division over things no one can ever really know and that are not a part of the process of transformation toward perfection.

Anonymous said...

First, a much overused word - "led." Too often, people will say "I feel led" when what they really mean is "I want to do this." The original idea of divine direction has mostly disappeared. Why not say "I feel a strong sense that the Lord is directing me to do this" instead?

Second, I would like to encourage everyone to read the entirety of the text of the Balby letter. It is excellent, but for some reason we usually only hear the one sentence.

Chuck Fager said...

This calls for a referral to a vital new project for our Religious Society, namely The Committee for New Quaker Cliches, or CNQC.

More on this at my blog:

Anonymous said...

The word Quakerly drives me to want to make a cynical comment. Does anyone say cathollicly, or Lutheranly. No. Because it sounds stupid and is intended to be a complement that one is behaving...(fill in the blank) or is intended to indicate you were not a good girl or boy. At least. not a good as you could have been had you been a superior Quaker, further underlining the elitism that we have among us.