Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Solemn Retraction

When you write, every word is important. So make sure you use a word that means the same thing you are trying to get across. For example:

There is a word in Greek, sophroneo, that means self-moderation, to be of sound mind.

In Titus 2:6 ("Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded") it is translated "sober-minded." I think of sober as a word describing a recognition of the seriousness, the importance, the sow-and-reap nature of a situation.

But sober etymologically means "without drink." When we commonly use it as an opposite of drunkenness, that is its original intention.

So what about serious? Serious is probably the closest to what I mean, but still the connotation is gravity, weightiness. It has the historical association of being the opposite of playing or joking.

Solemn, the word I chose for my title on Sunday, has even more of a picture of formality and ceremony, which is not at all what I meant.

Earnest is a word that shows you are sincere and passionate about something. We use it to mean "honestly," but neither that is a correct usage nor as a synonym for serious.

Reverent might do if it were not so set on awe and formality. What I meant to communicate by the word solemn was "without irreverence," or conduct unfitting. Church services are a time for celebration, but not for jokes. God is a serious matter, but that seriousness should cause even more liberal, humble joy.

The reason for writing this post is to say that I cannot find an English word that carries the meaning I wish to communicate. When I wrote Solemn Joy, one of the main points was to describe that attitude for which we apparently have no English word. I hope this additional post has helped.

Perhaps I should say "Selfless Joy," for selflessness points to God. And the problem I have with irreverence is its self-centered motives. It is saying something to draw attention to oneself, or to bring pleasure to oneself. When the focus of our joy is on God, our importance is put into proper perspective, and we won't say or do anything to bring shame on Him (in the words of Titus 2, to cause the Word of God to be blasphemed).

To God be all glory.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I really like "Solemn Joy." You're right, nothing quite fits, but I think "Solemn Joy" accurately describes this reverent celebration of our Lord's death until He comes.
I like it. :)