Monday, March 4, 2013

Scandalous Jesus: Diction

Note: This is the second post in a my Lent series. For the introductory post, click here.

Scandalous: Adjective
1. disgraceful; shameful or shocking, improper
2. attracted to or preoccupied with scandal

             Scandal: Noun
1. a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc.
2. an offense caused by fault or misdeed.
3. damage to reputation; public disgrace.
4. defamatory talk, malicious gossip.
5. a person whose conduct brings disgrace or offense.

Diction is a lost art in today's world. The word "epic" is so over used that it can describe a car ride or an imaginary world full of mystical plant people. (Yes, the movie is actually called EPIC). Once upon a time, "epic" described heroic, majestic, or impressively great ( events. I'm not convinced that this can describe car ride to the grocery store or this specific movie. Epic has been cheapened in order to sell products. Daily I am challenged to continue using my adult vernacular, but define the "big" words I use so that my students are both exposed to challenging vocabulary and can still comprehend what I am trying to communicate. Word choice is significant in our journey to communicate with others effectively. 

That is why I started my reflective journey by first defining the word "scandalous".  Overall, the literal definition of scandalous or scandal seems to be any action or personality quirk that would ostracize you from society. Postmodern scholars will push back and question who decides what is disgraceful, improper, or offensive? What may offend people in my mom's generations, the baby boomers, may be a drop in the bucket to one of my peers. On the other hand, things that were normal in the 50s, like racial slurs, would be highly offensive to me today. Acceptable social behavior is influence by so many factors, like age, gender, religion, socio-economics, etc. So who decides what is scandalous? 

Well for the sake of this blog, I do. But in general, I would argue that if Jesus is not pushing our buttons - no matter our generation, gender, income level, ethnicity, religious background, or political party - then he is no longer scandalous. Jesus needs to remain offensive to all of us or his message is no longer challenging. If his message is no longer challenging, then why should we listen? If we aren't changed by our interactions with Jesus, then why should we follow him on a daily basis?

I may get on board with some of the things Jesus did in his ministry, like allowing women to be  disciples with the men (Luke 10:38-42) or feeding the hungry (Mark 6:30-44), but there are other things that challenge me. For example, when Jesus says those that mourn will  be comforted (Matthew 5:4), I often reply, yes, but when Lord? Some pain is perpetually inflicted or so deep that it takes years to heal from it. Will I really ever be truly comforted in this life? Will others who struggle with depression ever see freedom? I struggle with this promise. Another story that bothers is me is when Jesus call Peter, Peter walks on water, and then Peter fails. That just sucks. I know there are bigger truths to this story, but I still struggle with the fact that Jesus seemed to ask Peter to fail. Peter could have succeeded, but he didn't. He failed and I don't like that Jesus sometimes asks us to follow im into situations or places where we will ultimately fail. It makes me uncomfortable. 

I am going to see if Jesus' meaning in his actions would be considered disgraceful, shocking, improper or shameful today. Whether or not you agree with my use of the word scandalous or the way I define it in future posts, I hope the meaning of what I am trying to say comes through: Is Jesus still challenging us today? Does he make us uncomfortable in social circumstances? Does he push us to the outside of what is normal? 

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