A Perfect Blog Post

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.

0 Responses to “A Perfect Blog Post”

  1. Peter Thurley

    I remember growing up, my mother would not allow us to use the word ‘awesome’ unless it was used in reference to God. I thought she was a stiff, though now I see exactly why she felt it so important to instill in her children an understanding that certain adjectives lose their grandeur with repeated and unnecessary use. Thanks for the reflection.

  2. Brian Francis Hume

    Hmmm…I think I am indeed guilty! Nonetheless, I appreciate the simple, but insightful posting. If I want my words to carry a measure of weightiness about them, then I must weigh carefully what I am going to say.

    Thanks for the challenge!

    Brian

  3. Ethan Magness

    Thanks for your excellent blog and post. I was a youth minster for 10 years and during that time I was ruthless about correcting misplaced superlatives. I found that every time a kid said “awesome” it was an opportunity for me to direct them toward a better understanding of God and of creation. After a few years, I didn’t even need to intervene, all the kids loved the game of realigning their adjectives (as we so geekily called it).

    In a very odd way, this linguistic exercise helped shape the theology of those wonderful kids.

    Thanks again,

    -Ethan

  4. Tim

    Agreed. Let’s leave superlatives for those things and that One who is truly superlative.
    And sloppy language is a problem for its own sake.

  5. Bennett

    Hmmm. Text messaging will have profound implications on the next generation I guess. That post was hela sic.

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