Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why cliches are like speaking in tongues

The other week I got sent a great link to a you tube clip showing Qld Reds captain Will Genia being interviewed by the Fox Sports commentator. The humorous bit was in the top left corner was a counter that was counting the number of clichés Genia used during the interview.

For a long time people have complained about the way sportsmen and politicians speak in clichés. They roll out the same comments week after week and will actually answer a question without actually giving us a glimpse of what the really think. The winning captain will always say ‘we always knew it would be a hard game’ ‘the opposition never stopped trying’ instead of perhaps saying we were better than they were. They hide their true thoughts and feelings behind clichés.

Well sportsmen and politicians aren’t the only ones. Check out your Ministers sermon next week or what the song leader at church says between songs. We Christians are just as guilty of speaking in clichés. We use phrases and words that are only familiar to fellow believers. Words such as redemption. To a Christian redemption means what Christ did on the cross. To our non Christian audience redemption means getting even.

Now you can start to see why to most non Christians think all churches speak in tongues. Christians use words and phrases which are great if you are already a member of the in crowd. If you aren’t a ‘member’ then sorry you wouldn’t understand.

Other examples of words that only christians know are contemporary music and youth. Go to a record shop and and try and buy a contemporary music album. Cant. That's right because it doesn't exist as a music genre. Only in church do we talk about contemporary music and the non christians wonder what we are talking about. Even the word youth is only talked about in church. What is a youth? Is it a 12 year old? Maybe 15 or is it 20 years old? Not sure.

It’s like we need to introduce a plain speaking language for church. We need to step back look at the words we use and say does the common person actually understand what I just said. Even simple words like sin really aren’t used in every day language.

Let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today's Generation Gap

Is it harder parenting in the 21st Century than the 20th Century? The last couple of months I have been challenged with how little I know about the new technology that is sweeping the planet. At one stage I used to wear with pride the badge that said ‘I have never visited Myspace/Facebook/Youtube’. That was until my kids starting becoming old enough to want to dabble in that part of the web.

Now I’m beginning to understand the generation gap stuff that my parents warned me about. I used to think I was hip enough. Years of working in youth ministry and now over a decade working in the media made me believe that I was up with all the trends and technology. I knew I was relatively ignorant about computers (some would say scared) and my internet ability was limited to what I needed to use for research purposes at work. Recently I have had a cathartic moment that computers and internet are going to last longer than Amco flares or leg warmers.

I was wary because most of this internet stuff seemed to be self focussed. There was Myspace, youtube, iPhone, iTunes. I was fearful that perhaps today’s youth were growing up to be self absorbed. Even what I still call mobile phones really aren’t. They had become electronic communication devices that take photos. A lot of this web2.0 technology is certainly impersonal communication. It is less and less about personal face to face or even ear to ear communicating with people. It’s more about keeping in touch, letting people know you are around without necessarily having a conversation. Sometimes I think its more about leaving an electronic footprint that says I do exist. Prior to that I guess you could be alive on this planet but very few people would know that. Web 2.0 gives people the opportunity to announce via facebook, myspace or now twitter that yes I do exist.

So is it wrong? I’m still not totally convinced that it’s ok. I know it is not legally or perhaps morally wrong. In reality I know that my kids will eagerly embrace this technology while I somewhat unwillingly jump into this cyber maze. I do know that I still need to be vigilant in making sure my kids get enough social contact that is face to face without iPod earphones stuck in their ears. Places like church, sport and school will give them the opportunity to engage with real people away from any cyber personality they or their facebook friends have. I also need to monitor their cyber space stuff, making sure it doesn’t consume them. I also need to ask lots of questions about their cyber world and do my own research e.g. facebook/myspace is ok; MSN is fraught with danger.

And I know realise that today’s generation gap is not a battle over music or clothes like it was for my parents but is over the use of cyber technology.
Now more than ever us parents need to pray.