Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Words eh? What a problem they are. I communicate with you doesn't necessarily mean you hear me. I speak doesn't mean you understand. I teach doesn't mean you learn.

This is particularly close to my heart this morning as I go off for the day with the Christ Church / Tickenham staff team and readers. I have an hour to look at communication, or how we perceive each other and things differently.

Last week's headline in the Church of England Newspaper, and reported in many other places, was, 'Anger over Bishop Schori's reluctance to call Jesus 'Lord'.'

Bishop Katharine Schori is a woman. Reading the article you discover that she is not so much reluctant to call Jesus 'Lord' as reluctant to start there in conversation because words such as 'Lord' and 'Saviour' are so hard to translate these days. She says she would start with 'friend' or 'prophet' because people understand these.

Listen to this critique from the Rev'd George Curry, Chairman of the Church Society, put in the words of Ed Beavan, CEN writer. 'Mr Curry wondered if Ms Schori's problem with the title was an effort not to offend, and could also highlight the main problem of humankind is his sin.'

It's a pain isn't it? You sidestep the puddle and fall in the lake. All that effort to change mankind to humankind and then you give the lie to your vain attempt at inclusivity by choosing the pronoun 'his'.

It may be a generation thing. I am one of the oldest people I know who has made a desperate attempt to change and even I stumble a lot (although when I call women 'babes' there is a crashing sense of irony - trust me). Changing our language may not change our thoughts but it does remind us that there is a need to change. Stopping to think before using inclusive language will, pleasingly, slow some down. It will also be an acknowledgement that language means something and if we speak of humankind as male it reveals a bit about how we think.

So let's not be over hasty to criticise someone who, for a change in Christian leadership, doesn't want to Lord it over others.

1 comment:

anna p said...

Hmmm, yes. All very irritating.

(Equally annoying as the listener who doesn't hear is the talker who isn't really mindful of the listener when he speaks.)

This kind of thing happens when someone's reaction to the other person in a conversation is based entirely on what they thought of them before they started speaking/listening.

As for good old KJS - who must have the patience and self-assurance of a saint, I reckon, if only because of the job she's in - ....most discussion of her that I see around the place makes me want the Lord to send a bolt of lighting on quite a few Christians (men, mainly.....)