Friday, April 2, 2010

Language Care and "Good" Friday

Language is important. I'm talking about which language(s) you speak or how well you speak them, although those things are important. I'm also not talking about cussing, like when your mother, a legal guardian, or a school teacher tells you to "watch your language," although that sort of language is important, too.

I am talking about vocabulary, sort of. Watching your language is wise, if this 25-year old has any wisdom. Instead of stepping into an unfamiliar pulpit and preaching against being "deaf to God's word," you might, instead, encourage people to "heed God's word." Such a subtle change in language could greatly impact how one interprets God's words on your lips. You never know who in your hearing might love someone who is deaf, but is reasonably turned off by people who constantly portray deafness as a malady. Many deaf people don't think they have a malady just because they speak a different language.

I'm not talking about being "politically correct" for the purposes of being "politically correct." I am a big fan of being "PC," but not for popularity or diplomacy, but rather because being "PC" equates to loving people with your language (most of the time).

I don't say "she or he"--or avoid gendered language all together--because it is "PC," but rather because everyone wants to be included and feel special. When I say "server" instead of waiter/waitress or flight attendant instead of steward/stewardess, I am going out of my way to include women and men. I am letting my readers know I think they are special, regardless of their genitalia.

Today, I was thinking Good Friday, seeing how it is the Friday before Easter.

I've heard people note how Good Friday isn't so good, generally followed by a sermon mentioning how Jesus' crucifixion made salvation possible, how Jesus' death satiated the bloodlust of a terrible god, the sacrifice of a loving father's son to himself (cf. naked pastor's Good Friday cartoon). After all, there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood.

Why is there no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood? Why are the wages of sin death? Why should these maxims make sense? Why would an omniscient God who knows for-sure the future create rules requiring the death of God's own son?

Before Jesus, God redeemed people. Without sacrifices, God redeemed people. In Micah 6, the text portrays God saying justice, love, and companionship are wanted more than the cultic rites of sacrifice and bloodshed. If God set up the sacrificial system, it was not as a rule, but as a guide. God did not need the blood of Jesus to forgive sins and redeem humankind. God is not bound, not even by God.

Today should not be remembered as a good Friday. Jesus' death is not something I look back upon and call good. Yes, good things came from the Jesus' death, but those good things do not erase the pain and suffering of Jesus. Pain and suffering are never good.

As of this morning, I will try to eliminate the phrase "Good Friday" from my language. I'll use it when appropriate, like when I have to explain to people why I don't use the phrase "Good Friday" (or when talking about someone else's theology, which is why I sometimes use the masculine pronoun referring to God).

And instead of "good," I will lean towards adjectives like "Holy" and "Black."

I hope you have a meaningful weekend and a blessed Resurrection Sunday.

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