Ponderings with Doug – June 17, 2016



Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana


What does the word mean?

We must consider the connotation and the denotation of the word. When speaking we encode the message and the hearer decodes the message. The encoding and decoding of the verbal message is run through several filters including gender, culture, educational and regional morphology. Do you want a pop? Or would you rather have a Coke?

When I moved to New Orleans I heard frequently, “I am running to Schwegmanm’s to make groceries.”

The opportunities for miscommunication are astronomical.

A few Sunday mornings ago I was waxing eloquent in the sermon.

I said, “The children of Israel had followed Jezebel into idolatry.”

One of my dearest church members told me later that she heard me say, “The children of Israel had followed Jezebel into Dollar Tree.” With my southern drawl, I’m sure I made idolatry and dollar tree sound very close. She was wondering for the rest of my sermon, why the children of Israel went to Dollar Tree. Everyone knows they are Jewish and are looking for the best deal on Dial Soap. The remainder of the sermon was lost because of a misheard or poorly pronounced word.

How many marital fights have been caused by a misunderstanding of a word? How many wars, by poor translation of words across languages?

I had my communication chaos thesis confirmed as I was having a conversation about last week’s article. I told someone that I had written an article on Hamlet. The nice lady said, “Oh gambling is such an important topic.” I seriously need to get rid of this drawl!

So I have stalled, do you know the meaning of the word, “run?”

Run is what you did as a child as the teacher opened the door for you to go outside on the playground for recess. I understand recess has been permanently recessed.

A person runs for a political office. I actually have found myself running out of the building muttering after most of the Parish Council meetings. I am saving up for a doozy of an article about the political process from the inside. I’ll probably have to move after I write it.

On a muggy summer day, like this one, you want your air conditioning running.

Last week, my bride in the middle of baking a cake needed me to run to the store for an ingredient.

In preparing for retirement, my financial adviser wanted to run some numbers before our conference.

In High School we were warned about the run on sentence. I am quite sure I have violated that edict several times.

“Honey, there is a run in your stockings.”

The Bible warns us, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

The tragic shooting in Orlando created the usual cadre of words. Radical Islamic Terrorism.Automatic Weapons.Gun Control.Terrorist.Immigration.LGBTQI.Fear.Muslim.Safety.Trump. Clinton.

What do these words mean?

One last thought from the book of Proverbs:

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Are we running from the truth?

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