grammar and vocabulary… or, why I could never be a theologian

The highlight of my first Systematic Theology class was the author of “A Breviary of Sin” choice of words when he used “jackassery”.

Why can’t theologians (and scholars for that matter) talk like normal human beings? The way this has been explained to me by my good friend, the Reverned Doctor Jeff Keuss, is that all these words actually MEAN something else that can be explained with much simpler words. Can you believe THAT?!?!? For instance, “qua” actually means “as”. Isn’t that WEIRD? Ironically, I was graded down on a paper because I did not italicize the letters q-u-a when used together to form the word “qua”. Which makes me wonder…

Is being a theologian JUST about proper grammar, correct punctuation, and confusing the masses with vocabulary?

I have even started to wonder if contractions might be a tool of the devil as no serious theologion would ever juxtapose the words, “One can’t comprehend what you’re saying.” I suppose the more letters you use, the more important the words are, the deeper your insight is.

Could not Barth’s famous “nien” been better expressed as “shut the fuck UP!”

And, this is why I will never be a serious theologian. Did you see that? I actually STARTED a sentence with a preposition. So, this paragraph must not have much value to the kingdom of God.


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  1. And Jesus said unto them, “And whom do you say that I am?”

    They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed.”

    And Jesus replied, “What?”

  2. Actually, you started your sentence with a conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so). Prepositions indicate position (usually – e.g. by, toward, over, etc). Sorry, just trying to put my BA in English to good use.

  3. I was waiting for someone to say, “Nein, Brannon! Nein!!”

    Actually, your English teachers will tell you there’s some hard-and-fast rule that you shouldn’t begin a sentence with a conjunction, but then you’ll see that “respectable” (whatever that means) writers do it all the time. So then if you push the English teachers on the subject, they’ll tell you that, yes, Hemingway did it, as does Dave Eggers (or whoever), and that it’s more of a guideline than a rule, like grammatical training-wheels for the still-learning that can maybe come off later, once you’re more experienced. You have to know the rules before you can break them.

    Or something like that. Nein, Brannon! (sorry.)

  4. Now I have seen everything… Hemingway and Dave “I am a marketing machine unto myself” Eggers mentioned in the same breath AND as “respectable writers”(!)

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