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The Naked Noun

Redefinitions


If I, even for a moment, accept my culture's definition of me, I am rendered harmless.

A healthy noun doesn't need adjectives. Adjectives clutter a noun that is robust. But if the noun is culture-damaged or culture-diseased, adjectives are necessary.

Pastor used to be that kind of noun energetic and virile. I have always loved the sound of the word. From an early age, the word called to mind a person who was passionate for God and compassionate with people. And even though the pastors I knew did not embody those characteristics, the word itself held its own against its exemplars. Today still, when people ask me what I want to be called, I always say, Pastor.

But when I observe the way the vocation of pastor is lived out in America and listen to the tone and context in which the word pastor is spoken, I realize that what I hear in the word and what others hear is very different. In general usage, the noun is weak, defined by parody and diluted by opportunism. The need for strengthening ...

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Posted:
May/June
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