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Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills


As it sayeth in the second book of Genesis verse 18: 'And the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone".' And so the Lord God created organisations. He did also create clubs and societies and all manner of getting together in some common cause. And He did create membership cards as well, for he knew that they would come in handy too.

Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the first thing that any group will do after its formation - once some sort of coffee rota has been sorted - is to start creating its own esoteric vocabulary. For what indeed is the point of being in any sort of gang, association or institution if one cannot experience the thrill that comes from excluding outsiders?

Christians, of course, are past masters at this. Indeed, one can't help thinking sometimes that it would be a kindness if churches insisted that any hapless non-Christian who happens to stumble across their threshold should produce a passport. At least that way the interloper would be mentally prepared to enter a place where a foreign language is spoken.

You think I'm exaggerating? Well, yes, all right, you've got me there, I was. Not by as much as one would like to think though. For instance, where, outside of a Christian setting, would you hear any of the following words used: missional, liturgical, incarnational, transubstantiation, quiche? Congregations (that's another one) don't start to sing, they 'move into a time a worship'. Preachers don't explain the Bible, they 'open up the Word'. Christians 'feel led', 'have fellowship' and, rather than just talking, must always insist on 'sharing'. That's when they're not 'discipling' or, Lord preserve us, 'visioning'. Infuriatingly, they never talk about male-to-female sex changes either, it's always 'penal substitution'.

Anyway, since none of us is entirely innocent, it behoves us all to visit The Up-Goer Five Text Editor (, where visitors are encouraged to 'explain a hard idea using only the ten hundred most used words [in English]' (from which we may deduce that 'thousand' didn't make the cut).

The results may not always be Shakespearian in their beauty but it is an excellent exercise in the avoidance of buzz words. Try explaining the nub of the gospel message, only you'll have to forgo 'gospel', 'convert', 'sin', 'lordship', 'condemnation', 'reconcile', 'creator', 'crucified', 'wrath', 'righteous', 'holy', 'salvation' and 'glory' (oh, and 'Jesus', 'Christ' and 'Lord' - 'God' is okay though). With all the churchy patois stripped out you're forced to seek out words that might be understandable to someone not soaked in the spittle of a thousand sermons.

And once you've mastered that, it's a simple step up to Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God. (Tip: you can have 'a' but not 'priori'.) n

Dixe Wills