Five things Friday roundup: Watch how you use words

Autumn leaves , photo by David Augsburger Autumn leaves , photo by David Augsburger

Watch how you use words, like how you say “Thanksgiving.” If you put the em-PHASIS on the wrong syl-LABLE, the meaning is transformed — no —actually deformed from what it is truly about.

1. How do YOU say “Thanksgiving?”

Where you put the accent makes a radical difference. If one says “THANKSgiving,” it means let’s not forget to express gratitude and appreciation; if one says “ThanksGIVING,” it means let’s remember to show that gratitude by giving to those who lack, contributing to what is good, sharing with those in need. So to be grateful is to be gracious, to be thankful is to be generous, it’s inevitable in practicing discipleship. The first is warm emotions, the second is compassion in action. When we worship together as Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference next week, we will be talking about gratitude that has actual hands for giving and feet for following. And we will note that it is different if one says, “Gracias, or  Merci, or Danke, or Kamsa Hamnida,” or one of our many other languages.

2. COVID Quarantine

Ten days of COVID quarantine by David distanced Leann from his viral contagion, five more and he still tested positive. In the middle of the night, Luke the evangelist visited the infectious isolated David (see Luke 17:11 to 19) to teach him how to cry the warning “unclean” in koine’ Greek again. He pledged to be among the covid-lepers who return in gratitude when he tests negative at last. Perhaps tomorrow? Travel to Virginia and a hundred hugs was worth it, he keeps telling himself.

3. Ad nauseam

More than a billion dollars worth of political TV commercials were run and rerun again and again in the last month as if sheer repetition might correct lies told and retold ad nauseam. What a relief to return to the usual propaganda — like on-screen prescriptions of big pharma and other massively funded spots that now replace the candidates’ attempts to create the promised tsunami or rogue waves of votes resulting from swaying public opinion with 30-second spots. Did they work? Or did they largely confirm opinions firmly set on opposing sides? Billions for media, billions for “This message approved by X, Y or Z.” There has to be a better way to provide data that would actually help people think, choose and act for the best of everyone.

4. “The Perils of Christian Nationalism”

Wish we had said that! Visiting our sister Ann Good in Lancaster, Pa., we saw the full-page advertisement posted in the local paper by her church, Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren. Headlined “The Perils of Christian Nationalism,” it clearly and tersely outlined the key beliefs of those who blend and emulsify faith and beliefs with a pseudo-patriotism and white domination. They end with a great paragraph, “Which Jesus?” contrasting the American, hard-nosed, armed and dangerous Jesus with the Jesus of the Gospels. Wherever you live, log on to or check out their website.

5. “Sorry Spectacle”

We are looking for friends who also read The New Yorker. We want to talk further about the article, “Sorry Spectacle”  in the Nov 14 issue by Harvard professor of history Jill Lepore. It is her critique of apology as a sorry practice of glossing, denying, distorting in self-justification and blaming the other while pretending regret via phony regrets. Having spent my life writing on apology and repentance, it is so moving to read others’ perspectives on the forgiving as faking in false face. If you are not a subscriber, make a trip to your public library and bring along tissues for when it evokes tears or makes you break a sweat. Then, tissue in hand, go home and read Luke 17 or Matt 18.

David and Leann Augsburger

David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people (CA school psychologist, Fuller Seminary professor) who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Read More

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