Lee's Lexicon March 18, 2022

Hello Broadway!

So instead of a single word in some language this week, I thought I'd make use of my fancy linguistics degree and venture into the exciting world of linguistic phenomena, in this case what's called the dialect continuum. 

Basically, it's a name for the fact that there tend to not be clear geographic lines where dialects drift into being different languages. 

Say you have 26 villages, labeled from A to Z, and villages A and Z speak different but related languages. 

So, the question then becomes: where, exactly, is the divide? Village A can understand and communicate with villages B-P or so, but after that the language diverges enough for them to not be able to understand. Village Z can understand from around village J on, but nothing further than that, and M and N in the middle understand every other village in the continuum, despite there nominally being two different languages in play. 

There's a few more details, but that's the general idea and a good illustration of how complicated it gets. 

All that to say, languages don't delineate as clearly across geographical areas as political boundaries like to pretend. 

And honestly...can't we say the same thing about understandings of the Bible? Of God? Of faith? If we take different religions as being analogous to different languages, and different denominations as corresponding to dialects - how do we transcend that dialect continuum? 

How do we communicate interfaith and cross-denominationally, when the boundaries and battle lines seem to be insurmountable? 

Jesus' answer is simple; we love one another. Our neighbors. All of them. Not just the ones that speak the same language - whether that's literal language, or culture, or faith, or anything else - or not. 

And are the lines that separate us really so clear as they may seem at first glance? Or is it really just a continuum, just small degrees of differences that add up until we end up in a completely different language than we started in?

Jesus says that those lines are written in sand, not stone. And we are called to see the beauty in our differences, not let them become battle lines. To see how our diversity makes us strong, not weak. 

 

 

And to love across those differences, always. 

 

Lee M. Rollins

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