No, really. Can we just drop that saying? I find it truly irritating because I’m not really sure it’s that explosive in this day and age. The word, a verb meaning to (well, we all know what it means), has been around since 1495, perhaps even earlier. That means when my Dutch ancestors arrived in New York (New Amsterdam at the time) more than three centuries ago, they had already been using that word for more than a century.
Somewhere along the line (no one seems to be sure when), people decided the word was vulgar along with many others we now say without thinking. When I was young there were many words you could not say on television not to mention body parts that couldn’t be shown. Today there is an entire video dedicated to Sawyer’s (of “Lost”) predilection for saying “son of a bitch” and plenty of nearly naked bodies.
On the other hand, at some point along the line, using God’s name to curse on television became standard policy. Why has it become accepted to ask our Lord to damn someone for us yet we cannot use a word that still means what it did originally?
If we allow one should we not allow all others? Would they not begin to lose their power as others have? The Canadians, always way of ahead of us progressively, now consider usage of the f-word commonplace.
My grandfather used to tell me (I had a pretty foul mouth as a teen) that those who had to use what was considered “bad” language to communicate were just not intelligent enough to come up with the words needed to express themselves in a civilized manner. I was chastened but it didn’t stop me.
Most of us have learned where and when we can use this type of language. Tom Hank’s accidental use of the f-word on “Good Morning America” aside (give the guy a break, he was in character), most celebrities and politicians watch what they say when interviewed. We watch our language at work, school and in church. If we can do this then why do we feel comfortable speaking differently in private with our friends and families? It has always struck me as an odd disconnect like a filter being turned off and on at will.
I keep telling myself that if I feel the need for an expletive then I should start using meaningless things like “Horace Greeley,” Sacre Bleu,” “Thunder Turtles,” “Schweinhund,” and the like. There are plenty of them out there.
So do I have a solution? No. Apparently, we will always use language to curse and offend people, to express our anger and frustration, and so on. The real question is: are four-letter words REALLY that offensive anymore?
While I was struggling over what to post this week, one thing kept coming up, over and over again and in different ways: Be Thou My Vision. I’ve always loved the Irish hymn and when we sang it prior to the Gospel reading this morning at church, I realized that not only should I actually meditate on what it’s trying to tell me, but that I should publish the lyrics here, as well. It is a beautiful song and there are a number of worthy versions worth listening to on You Tube.
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Be all else naught to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought in the day and the night,
Both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
Be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
Be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
Be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
Be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise:
Be thou mine inheritance now and always;
Be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of Heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of Heaven, thou Heaven’s bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won!;
Great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything. ~~Napoleon Hill
I have been thinking a lot about dreams, wishes, desires and hopes this week—from personal dreams, wishes, desires and hopes to those of family to those of the church. While at General Convention, our first Acts 8 meeting featured a time when we could stand and finish the sentence: I dream of a church that . . .
Napoleon Hill, one of the earliest writers of personal success literature, differentiates between desire and a hope or wish; obviously feeling that a desire is the much stronger emotion. Is that true? Is something more likely to happen if we desire it to happen? If we had been asked to finish the sentence “I desire a church that” would that have been a more powerful statement? Or have we simply lost the power behind the words?
We all have dreams, wishes, desires and hopes. And, some of those dreams, wishes, desires and hopes will come to fruition. And, just as obviously, many of those dreams, wishes, desires and hopes will never see the light of day.
The question is what makes one dream (wish, desire, hope) possible and the other, impossible?
The Bible tells us continually to put our hope in God. I think that may be the key to whether or not our dreams, wishes, desires and hopes will come to pass. As long as our hope (dream, wish, desire) is unselfish and directed toward God, there is no reason the thing cannot happen. It is when we allow those desires to be un-Christ-like (materialistic or sinful, for example) that we move farther away from God and into the realm of destruction.
There is a reason “May you get what you wish for” is often considered a curse, particularly if you’re wishing for something selfish and ungodly. People continually destroy themselves and those around them when their desire for something unholy blots out their better nature. Thus the need to say in the general Confession: We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
Instead, we must stay deeply rooted in Hope. We must “put our hope in the Living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10).
If our dreams, wishes, desires and hopes for ourselves, others and the church are unselfish and directed toward God, great things can happen in our lives, in the lives of others and in the life of the church.