Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bad Words

When I was in Junior high I was infamous for my foul mouth. I made my science teacher, Mr. Long, cry once because of my language and another time because I put Mercury in the fish tank. (Not the nicest kid I know) I'm sure my foul mouth like many other things came mostly from my Mom but I had refined the art of the F word and made it something all my own. Then I learned about Jesus and how he doesn't want you to talk that way and I reformed my foul mouth for a good six years. Nary a 'Hell' or 'Damn' escaped my lips let a lone an F bomb, or an Al Levy as I call them now. Slowly there started to creep some 'mild language for color' as Kate called it in a letter to an old friend, nothing that would make a sailor blush or anything but gateway words that could lead to medium or even spicy language down the road if left unchecked.

I write all of this because lately I have been listening to the language I use more and more. I have a mental block when it comes to the Al Levys but there is still a whole palette of Colorful words that I don't remember starting to use again. Don't get me wrong I don't have any moral issues with profanity this is merely a personal study of my own language patterns. I think I have grasped on to some Post-Modern, hip, Christian, picture of the guy that knows his C.S. Lewis as much as he does his John Irving and can rattle off a line or two of either as the situation dictates. I find my self slipping in a curse word or two in conversations to some how show that I am not one of those fundamentalist that we all quietly fear, but my words are grating on me more and more as they escape my lips to breath on their own.

Along with the bad language my mother taught me the love of good words. She would often highlight great words used in letters or articles and email me some of the better ones she had found through out the day. Her mother before her instilled a love of words as she fought against prejudices and spoke with an authority and vocabulary that belied her education, or lack there of. Now I have my Beautiful, and her love of words, in my life and I am often passing my book over to her to find out what a particular word means. When I read her writing I am amazed at how she makes words dance in and out of each other with every turn of the phrase and turn of the page. When I was young I changed my vocabulary because I thought thats what Jesus wanted me to do. Now I know that Jesus is more concerned with my heart and my hands then he is with my language (and yes I know about Mat 12:34). Now I want to change my language because I want to be more like Debbie and Faye and Kate. I want my words to dance.


Jamie said...

Thank you for that James.

Linsey said...

I remember that letter! It wasn't to me, but I was around when it was written. When Kate couldn't make the words work properly, her frustration was adorable -- and then the look on her face when she found the ones that fit...