Archives for posts with tag: Huffington Post

A word is a unit of language, a sound or a combination of sounds, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. At least that is the definition. However, there are many words that I hear which do not fulfill that purpose. Meaningless words.

I know that the meaning of words can change over time. And words can have multiple meanings depending on context and a variety of other factors. But a word ought to mean something.

Homer, the legendary author of The Iliad and the Odyssey said, “Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.” I agree. Yet in everyday conversation and in the media I often wonder exactly what is the point of the word or phrase that is used.

In Little Women, Louisa May Alcott said, “I like good strong words that mean something…” Me too, but daily I am bombarded with meaningless words.

For example, there is a commercial for an adult beverage that claims to be “colder, crisper, and cleaner.” A drink? A financial institution claims it is “the bank of here.” Not the bank of “there.” OK. A fast food chain urges you to “Eat like you mean it.” Huh? A popular hotel chain’s tag line is “Travel should take you places.” Duh! Meaningless words.

Also there are the words and expressions that we toss around without any intended purpose. “Bless your heart” certainly is not what it sounds like most of the time. Caroline Rogers, in Southern Living, says “It’s a versatile phrase that has a thousand meanings—and just as many possible responses. Southerners know that the meaning of the phrase depends on the tone in which it’s spoken, and a slight change in inflection or volume can make all the difference.” Meaningless words.

Another expression used by us Southerners is “Y’all come to see us.” That is just a friendly way to say goodbye. We don’t have any expectation of the person following up and actually paying us a visit. Meaningless words.

When I make a purchase at Home Depot or pay for my meal at Wendy’s drive-through window I am likely to hear “Have a good day” or more often than not it is “Have a good ‘un” as I leave. Meaningless words.

The Huffington Post suggests that “Our everyday language has become littered with terms, so nondescript and ubiquitous that we barely even register their presence.” The writer goes on to list the 12 words that have been so overused they really don’t mean anything anymore: literally, unique, awesome, amazing, totally, basically, incredible, really, very, and honestly.

Conversations and writings often utilize words like liberal, conservative, moderate, and progressive. The meaning of each of those words is so loaded according to the individual’s political, social, or religious position. Seventy years ago, George Orwell wrote the prophetic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” in which he noted that politicians, journalists and academics were increasingly using meaningless words and euphemisms to make “lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and… give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” I wonder what Orwell would say today.

I wonder if “Christian” is in danger of suffering the same fate.

Jamie Jenkins

What are other meaningless words?

Do you think “Christian” is becoming a meaningless word?

 

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Seen on a billboard: “Live generously and life will reward you royally.” I don’t know what it had to do with the well-known brand of liquor it was advertising but I liked the slogan.

A recent Huffington Post blog reported that researchers have discovered that the area of the brain that is responsible for our cravings and pleasure rewards, lights up when we give to a charitable cause showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure. They assert that “this response to giving is the physiological reason behind the ‘warm glow’ or that good feeling you get when you give and why you may choose to spend money on others or charity compared to yourself.”

A couple of years ago the New Republic published an interview by Jordan Michael Smith with sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, authors of The Paradox of Generosity, which presents the findings of the Science of Generosity Initiative at Notre Dame. Researchers for the initiative surveyed 2,000 individuals over a five-year period. They interviewed and tracked the spending habits and lifestyles of 40 families from different classes and races in 12 states, even accompanying some to the grocery store.

 

The result is among the most comprehensive studies of Americans’ giving habits ever conducted. They concluded that people who are generous with their money are healthier and happier.

The sociologists believe that “it’s circular. The more happy and healthy and directed one is in life, the more generous one is likely to be. It works as an upwards spiral where everything works together, or it works sometimes as a downward spiral if people aren’t generous.”

These two reports agree that our brains seem to suggest that the joy of being a gift’s giver may eclipse that of being its recipient.”

Maybe that is what Jesus meant when He said “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold” (Luke 6:38). It certainly affirms the words of the Apostle Paul that it is “more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I like the way The Message puts it: “You’re far happier giving than getting.”

Although we are happier and healthier when we give, the purpose of generosity is to benefit others. Tom Stoddard understands that we will give sacrificially for our children and those whom we love and he rightly states, “The trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbor, your village and beyond.”

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

Perfection is a goal that can never be achieved. No matter how good a person is, no matter how hard one tries- nobody is perfect.

PERFECTION 2

It is seldom that our imperfection appears for all the world to see. Stephen Gostkowski was not so fortunate last Sunday.  Over 51 million people were watching his shortcoming and millions more read or heard about it through news media or friends.

Gostkowski is an American professional football player for the New England Patriots. He is the most accurate kicker in the team’s history and one of the most accurate kickers in the history of the National Football League. He holds the record for highest average points per game scored over a career (8.67 points per game as of the end of the 2014 season).

He is the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, the team’s all-time leader in field goals, and he holds the NFL record for consecutive extra points- 523 times the kicker has successfully executed the point after a touchdown.

Nine years since he missed one- until last Sunday.

ESPN said the missed kick early in the game “had lasting ramifications throughout Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.” If he had made the extra point, his team would not have had to attempt a two-point conversion that was intercepted with 12 seconds left in the game resulting in the Denver Broncos winning 20-18 and advancing to the Super Bowl.

Gostkowski said after the game that he felt like the miss “lost the game” for the Patriots. “It was my fault, 100 percent. I just didn’t hit a good kick.”

PERFECTION 3

Teammates and coaches rallied to Gostkowski’s defense. They acknowledged his contribution to the team’s winning efforts all season long. “It’s not Stephen’s fault at all,” special-teams captain Matthew Slater said. “We definitely wouldn’t be here [in the AFC title game] without him.”

Teammate Rob Gronkowski said. “It’s a team game. It’s not one individual’s fault. You can’t put it on the hands of Stephen.”

Cornerback Logan Ryan called him “the best kicker in the league”and other teammates had similar messages. In spite of all the support, Gostkowski said. “I never would have thought missing a kick in the first quarter would be the difference in the game, but that’s why you’ve got to be good all the time.”

PERFECTION 1

Stephen, no one can be “good all the time.” Everybody makes mistakes. No one should give less than their best but nobody is perfect.

What do you do when your best is not good enough? Winston Churchill said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.”

Lawrence D. Elliott said in a Huffington Post blog, “Admitting when we just don’t measure up is difficult for many people. They believe it’s a sign of weakness to admit one’s deficiencies.” He goes on to say, “Although it does sting, the realization that you’re not good enough should not be an ego-crushing experience. It’s a recurring thing in our lives, so we’d better learn how to deal with it. It happens in all areas of our existence.”

PERFECTION 6

Christian singer Amy Grant confesses, “I did the best I could, and in some arenas my best was not good enough. I’ve made some bad choices.” That is true for all of us but we must learn to forgive ourselves. Most importantly, we must learn to accept forgiveness and affirmation. Nobody is perfect.

Forgiveness is a divine attribute. We need to learn to accept it for ourselves and to offer it to others.

Jamie Jenkins