November 16, 2010

Verbal Typo's

It's no secret spelling is not my strong point. Ask my mother to spell any word you can think of and in a minute she'll rattle it off to you. Ask me and there is a good chance I'll fire up a word document or a Google search browser to figure it out.

Spell check was made for people like me. And it has done wonders for me. No longer do I have people squinting at something I wrote trying desperately to figure out what word I was aiming at.

Instead my major problem is wrong words. I am sure if you have read this you have noticed incorrect words sneaking into my posts more often than I would like. And they tend not to be the obvious ones, you know the 'there, their, or they're' or the 'witch, which', or 'whether, weather' which plague many of us. Instead the words are just plain wrong. They are words that I didn't know how to spell, guessed at it, got wrong, and allowed spell check to fix; only to correctly spell the wrong word.

The annoying thing is I edit and re-read my blog posts three or more times before I post them. And yet those wrong words miss my editing, thankfully they don't miss my wife's eyes. The problem is I read the wrong word as if it was the right word. In my head I know what the word is supposed to be and I read as if it was the word that was in fact there.

This set my mind to wondering; I wonder how many verbal typo's I make on any given day? How many times to I talk with people using words that I think mean one thing, but they hear something else?

I think a lot about it when we sing "classic hymns of the faith". I cannot help but wonder when we sing about being washed in the blood of Christ how many people hear "saved" and how many people think "gross". Likewise, when we say "here is a song everyone should know"; we may mean "sing along you should like this one" but those people who don't know the song may hear, "you don't belong here".

This problem is even more prominent in my mind when I am talking with teens. My sociology degree has made me ever so mindful of different sub-cultures, and every youth group night I drop myself into one. When I talk about God, I am never sure we are on the same page.

There has been a lot of talk about what I have heard called the Starbucks experience. The idea that people have to adjust to us not us to them. The analogy goes; If I went to Starbucks and ordered a large coffee the clerk would smile politely and tell me they do not have large coffees they have grande coffees. The argument goes the church ought to be the same. We don't change our terminology we either forcefully or gently make others adjust to it.

Maybe it's just me, but the first time I ordered a grande coffee I had to force out the words; I felt dumb. Now when I find myself in Starbucks I can do it more naturally but I'd still rather order a large. Saying grande still sounds stupid to me. I wonder how many other coffee lovers feel the same.

Likewise, I wonder if it is wise for the church to try to convince our pluralistic society which values; freedom, individualism, and choice, that not only is there only one way to God (biblical) but that there is also only one way to talk about God (non-biblical).

Let's watch our words.

And remember: Bad spellers of the world untie! Oh I am so punny! Oh boy I'm on a role. All wright all write I'm finnish.


  1. Pointed and humourous as usual... and note I used the older and non-American spelling with "ou" instead of "o", which I favour being raised orig. in NFLD which was British till 1949!

    Some things don't necessarily have to be changed, but explained like the meaning of "Ebenezer" as "memorial to God" in the great hymn "Come Thou Fount".

  2. Good point Dave! The problem is more the assumption that without any attempt on our part that people will eventually know what we are talking about. When I think the reality is that people will more likely get frustrated and give up.