Lost for wordsJul 24th, 2007 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ministry
The dissertation has edged forward. Like a car stuck in second gear, the ground covered does not reflect the amount of fuel expended nor the amount of time taken. The word total has reached 10,500, another 4,500 needed. I seriously contemplated abandoning it altogether; would being able to put MA after my name make any difference whatsoever? No.
However, Herself, being the hard-nosed Protestant she is, pointed out that I had spent a lot of money on fees, that would be wasted if I didn’t finish the course and that I had jolly well better get on with it.
The problem is in finding words to express what I want to say. I believe that in order to effectively engage in mission the church must be an effective community, that the best Christian mission is achieved through creating community. We know when a community is strong, we know when we feel part of a community, we know when a community is special, but finding the words to articulate intangible qualities is a problem for me.
Ann Morrisy talks about a lack of vocabulary in Journeying Out,
“I remember when Classic FM first hit the sound waves. I heard music that I had never heard before; I found it very attractive and appealing. Unfortunately it was impossible and remains impossible, for me to share the pleasure that comes from such listening. The reason for my silence, and my isolation, and the difficulty of participating and partaking more of classical music, is that I do not have the language, or conceptual framework, that goes with classical music. I do attend classical concerts, but only risk clapping when others lead the way. I learned this essential the embarrassing way. I practise looking knowingly and nod sagely in the interval conversation in order to hide the petrifying fear that someone might ask me what I thought of the contralto.
Part of my difficulty is that I know that classical music is full of technical terms. I know that there are symphonies, concertos, codas and librettos. However, I neither know what each of these mean nor do I know how to form a sentence using such concepts. I know I can’t use colloquial words like tune, beat, song or lyrics without looking an oaf. So I stay silent, maintaining self-exclusion, because of lack of confidence about entering the explicit domain that surrounds classical music”.
I think I will get the dissertation finished, but I also think that it won’t say what I had wanted to say when I set out. I simply do not have the words necessary.