I’m back from vacation (and thanks to the several of you who wrote kind notes encouraging me to come back!), so I want to aim high. Here it is, then, faithful readers: the perfect blog post.
Indeed, it’s not just perfect. It’s great, awesome, and more.
At least, it is by the standards of our current vocabulary.
Rich Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, posted recently about how servers in restaurants all seem to greet his orders now with the same response: “No problem.” I get that a lot, too, as I’m sure you do. But I’ve noticed a different trend.
Servers used to say, “Very good, sir.” Well, not to me, but they did at clubs and restaurants I see in old movies.
Enthusiastic servers in my own, more downscale, experience used to respond to my order with “Great!” And that always made me feel good, especially if I had been struggling over whether to go with the fried cheese sticks or the spinach dip.
A few years later, however, my ordering had improved so that servers were pronouncing it “awesome.” That emboldened me to devote even more attention to the craft of ordering well.
In the last few years, I rejoice to report, my ordering prowess has elicted spontaneous cries of “Perfect!” from many serving staff.
I now aspire to that special moment when I specify an appetizer, main course, beverage, and dessert, and my waiter or waitress drops his or her pad and pen to the floor, exclaiming, “Pluperfect, sir!”
Such devaluing of language does have its theological and ecclesiastical implications, of course, as all linguistic changes do. With all these cheapened expressions suffusing the verbal economy, it makes it pretty hard for songwriters, or liturgists, or pray-ers, or preachers to speak properly of God and of divine things. There’s not much linguistic headroom when “awesome” and “perfect” are applied to dinner orders, is there? It’s Gresham’s Law for adjectives.
It’s time, then, to reach for the thesaurus for the Big Things. And it’s high time to watch our language for everything else, being careful not the “spend” the great words for the merely good.
There, now: that’s the greatest, most awesome advice in the whole world.
And–oh, no, no, no–don’t thank me! It was (sorry about this) no problem.