Archives for posts with tag: language

As I write this I have been without television, internet, and phone service for 7 days. No Braves baseball, no webcam with the grandkids, no email, and no phone calls. Communication with the outside world has been cut off- unless I leave the house and go somewhere that has wifi.

apple, coffee, computer

It is a long story but the simple explanation is that a week ago we experienced a power surge at our home that disrupted normal life. The culprit was an underground device that regulates the voltage coming into the house. Light bulbs broke, one light fixture exploded, the oven quit working, two air condition units ceased cooling, my computer crashed, the internet router died, the coffee maker is dead, and a few other minor problems occurred.

No Power Words Electrical Cord Outlet Electricity Outage Stock Image

The internet service provider is supposed to be here tomorrow- the fourth one that has paid us a visit. I am hopeful that everything will be back to normal by the time you read this. But who knows.

This has been a frustrating week. Yeah! It has been a stark reminder of how much we/I depend on technology to be able to stay in touch and how helpless I feel when the devices fail.

Pen and paper

I don’t use pen and paper as often as I did in the “olden days.” So simple things like preparing a Sunday School lesson, a funeral eulogy, and writing a letter seemed almost impossible. My research for a series of upcoming classes was locked away in the metal box that houses the hard drive of my computer. It was complicated to make an appointment for service personnel to assess the damage and make repairs.

Concept Or Conceptual Abstract Word Cloud Stock Image

Under the best of circumstances communication is complicated. Words have different meanings to different people and at different times. Tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, environment, and a myriad of other factors make it difficult for accurate information and feelings to be shared. Effective communication is extremely important and incredibly complex.

Talk to God though short little prayers

I am glad that communication with God is not that hard. You don’t need any devices. Sometimes not even words (Romans 8:26). Our thoughts and intentions are known by God (Acts 15:8) so we don’t have to learn any technique or a new language. We can have confidence that our prayers are heard and, when offered with faith, are answered (Matthew 21:22).

 

The lyrics of an old gospel song has a simple message about how to communicate with God. “Jesus on the mainline, tell him what you want” suggests that the Lord is “on call” and you could just relay your needs to Him. Simple, huh?

Black Rotary Telephone at Top of Gray Surface

Although all our conversations with God should not be about “what we want,” talking to God is that easy. We can use our everyday vocabulary because God understands our language.

However we do it, we need to stay in touch with each other and with God.

Jamie Jenkins

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My grandchildren speak three languages. Don’t leave me now. I promise I won’t bore you with an exhaustive description of how wonderful they are. This is more than a story about my grandchildren. It is an attempt to offer a parable for living.

Jamie and Felicia were born in Tokyo and lived there until 4 years ago. They are now ages 14 and 11.Thus Japanese is their first language but they are fluent in English as well. They have just moved from Spain where they have lived for the past two years. Although they spoke no Spanish when they arrived, they were immediately enrolled in Spanish schools. As result, after two years of immersion in Spanish culture they have added a third language. At the end of this month they are moving to Mexico and will have to adjust to the Mexican version of the Spanish language.

The main train station.

I promised that this was not about my grandchildren and it is not. Rather I offer their experiences as an example of the importance and the difficulty of being multi-lingual. For the first years of their life they lived in a “Japanese world” in Tokyo. Except for spoken English at home and with a small group of other English speakers, everything was in the native language of their mother. Their parents intentionally spoke only English at home so the children became comfortable in the languages of both my son and daughter-in-law.

Two weeks after moving to Valencia, Spain in 2015 both children (ages 9 and 12) began school where all classes and assignments were in an unfamiliar language. Their lessons presented in the classroom and their conversations with classmates were in Spanish. Homework assignments had to be translated from Spanish to English and then back from English to Spanish. This was hard but as a result they now can communicate comfortably in the new language they learned.

Now what does that have to do with anything?

image of language learning - languages crossword  - JPG

We live in a world that is increasingly diverse and all of us could benefit from learning a second (or third language). The purpose of this writing is not to suggest that in a literal sense. However, I am proposing that there is another “language” that we need to learn for the well-being of ourselves and our world. It is the language of love.

Inscriptions of vandals in the fortress of Santa Barbara. Stock Photography

One does not have to look far or know much to realize that our civilized society shows many signs of becoming/being very un-civil. We are seeing all too frequent expressions of anger and hostility instead of understanding and mutual respect. There is the increasing need to learn or re-learn the language of love.

Yes!

The language of love is not easy but I believe it is necessary for our survival. Let me suggest an exercise that might help in this effort. Every day for the next week read Matthew 5:21-48 and Luke 6:27-42 in the Bible. Try to understand and to practice the principles of that “new language.” I believe it will make a difference in your life and in our world.

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

I have become increasingly concerned over the “Us vs. Them” attitude that I see and hear regularly. Too many groups and individuals operate on the basis that anything different is bad. “We” must oppose “them.”  More than that, we see “them” as the enemies of “us” that must be stopped or destroyed.

I understand that there are people who espouse harmful philosophies and I know that all ideas are not for the benefit of the larger community. However, I find it impossible to believe that “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong. Whoever the “we” or “they” are.

There are many people who subscribe to the “Us vs. Them” approach to all matters. I am not one of them.

Some folks see anyone whose culture or language as different and probably dangerous. I am not one of them.

Many people believe that everybody is out for themselves. Wanting something for nothing. I am not one of them

Many politicians and John/Jane Does propose that Red/Blue States have the right perspective on all political issues and the other will lead the country to ruin. I am not one of them.

The attitude of a lot of people is that if your skin color is different from mine, I have to keep an eye on you. I am not one of them.

According to conversations I hear and read from individuals in leadership as well as common ordinary citizens, it seems that it is alright to use demeaning terminology and derogatory words to describe others. I am not one of them.

It is common for people to assert that anyone who holds a different position on religion, politics, social issues or virtually anything is your enemy. I am not one of them.

Us vs. Them

Sports fans often depict fans of an opposing team as bad people to be avoided. I am not one of them.

Someone always wins and someone always loses. That is the attitude that I sense in many people. I am not one of them.

Old Way and New Way signs, Life change conceptual image

I know people who always see change as bad. It is better to keep things the way they are. I am not one of them.

There are Christians who believe that they alone interpret the Scriptures correctly and know the mind of God  I am not one of them

Jeff Chandler, writing about working relationships says, “On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way (to work together).”

“Unless we are very, very careful,” wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt, “we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.”

Loving and gracious God, help us to see our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with respect. Enable us to understand that “we” might be wrong and “they” might be right on some things. Help us to work side by side with each other to  “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.” So that others “may know we are Christians by our love.”

Jamie Jenkins

In today’s world it is certainly an advantage if you can communicate in more than one language.

Word 3

My grandchildren (ages 9 and 12) are bilingual. They were born in Tokyo and lived there until 18 months ago. Consequently their first language is Japanese although they are very fluent in English. A couple of years ago my grandson said he wanted to learn Chinese. When asked why he replied, “When Mom and Dad don’t want us to know what they are saying, they speak in Chinese.” There are many reasons for wanting to be fluent in more than one language.

In a couple of weeks those grandchildren and their parents are moving to Spain to live for at least a year. Their English and Japanese, or the parents limited Chinese, will not be of much value to them in this new country, especially when the children enter Spain’s public schools. They will quickly learn that the ability to speak and understand Spanish would be a definite advantage.

I took three years of Spanish in high school many years ago. Recently my wife and I participated in two 10-week Spanish classes. I know a little about conjugation of verbs and recognize a lot of words and phrases but I cannot communicate very well in Spanish. The primary reason- I don’t use the language in my daily life. Most of what I learned a long time ago has been lost due to the failure to use it on a regular basis.

Of course words are not the only way to communicate. Language is not always verbal. A smile can speak volumes. An embrace or a thumbs-up can be very affirming. Listening attentively to another person’s expressions of grief, frustration, anger, or dreams can be therapeutic.

Word 2

As a matter of fact, words sometimes are the least effective means of communication. They are often perceived as being empty and meaningless, and sometimes they actually are. The effort to verbalize may in fact obstruct communication.

It has been said that actions speak louder than words. Of course, deeds don’t actually create sound but they can clearly demonstrate understanding, caring, and compassionate in ways that words alone cannot. The Apostle Paul said, “If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1, Common English Bible).

Love in action 2

St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” There is a lack of evidence that indicates that he never actually said that. However, in his instructions on how the Franciscans should practice their preaching, he said, “All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.” Essentially he is saying make sure your deeds match your words.

 

Of all the languages we might learn and “speak”, perhaps the language of love is the most important. It always includes words and actions.

Love in action 3

Jamie Jenkins