Exact Language

Language is one of those interesting things to look at.  Language and praise and language can punish.  Sometimes, if we wish to be understood, we need to carefully choose our words to convey our meaning.

Back in seminary, the professor I had for dogmatic theology made that statement that there is a fine line between orthodox and heresy.  Sometimes it is only one word or one letter that causes someone to cross that line.  For example the Greek word homoousios meaning “one essence with the Father”  Meaning that Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity has the same essence with God the Father the first person of the trinity.  The First Ecumenical Council of the Church, held in 325 AD, dealt with this issue during the creation of the creed.  At issue was the word I used above verses the word homoiousios meaning “similar essence” in other words they did not share the same essence, not the same person, but were similar.  Notice that the difference in the word is the letter “i” that is it one letter in one word and you were burned as a heretic.

Recently the rhetoric has been ramped up about the proposed Mosque in Lower Manhattan near the place called Ground Zero.  I have been guilty of using the phrase Mosque at Ground Zero and on several occasion I have been upbraided for using this term.  So let’s look at the situation.

First off this is not a Mosque in the sense that we think of Mosque’s already in existence.  This “Center” will be just that a center of Islam with a room for pray that I guess one would call a chapel, if one can use that word in reference to a Muslim prayer spot.  So that is the first thing.  The second point is this “Center” is not a Ground Zero but two blocks away.  As Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition pointed out this morning a city block in Manhattan, New York is much different than a city block in Manhattan, Kansas it is all in perception.

The folks who are against the building of the center use the phrase “Mosque” and the phrase “Ground Zero” to stir up emotions in people, to stir up people to protest.  Protest is good.  As I have said before protest is what gave us the United States of America so protest is good.  But protest that is fueled by hate and misinformation is not good.

This article is not about the sanity of building this center where it is proposed but about the language we use.  Newt Gingrich uses the tern Nazi, a favorite word of the anti Obama folks by the way.  Another word that is being used to skew what is really going on.

I have had to reevaluate my own language when speaking of this issue and I do not think it is being “politically correct” as some have charged to make reference to this build as “the center” and to say it is “near Ground Zero.”  Using words, that are not necessarily true, is not helpful in this situation and I would suggest that we start to use the correct terms.

As an Orthodox Christian we have an obligation to speak the truth at all times.  We do a disservice to the faith when we try and skew the debate by using inflammatory language.  We all need to take a step back, take a breath, and relax.

1 Comment

  1. Amen! After you eliminate all the emotional language, I want to be clear, one can still be against the building of Cordova House. But at that point, I think there is very little logical reasoning to support you and the only thing left is something entirely unAmerican

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