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second languages

Today I have an essay at The Curator about how teaching English as a Second Language changed the way I speak the language of faith.  I hope you'll read it; it means a lot to me.

In the essay, I mostly talk about how my understanding of language and ownership changed while I was overseas.  Living overseas was the catalyst in pushing me toward ecumenicism, the understanding that each expression of faith weaves some unique color, some essential pattern,  in the tapestry of Christianity.  

Because of ecumenicism, I am forced to confess that my faith language is always under construction. I can never assume that I have the final say on what things mean.  

Take the word prayer, for example. Growing up, prayer was ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  It was individual, personal, disembodied, methodical and conversational.  It was good. 

But I also needed to learn about prayer from the Catholic church, where prayer was something communal and liturgical and sensual.  I needed to learn about prayer from the desert fathers and mothers, where it was constant, a way of life, and bound up with mundane tasks like weaving and gardening.  I needed charismatics to share their new languages with me, to help me become open to emotion and to the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. I needed to learn about meditation from Buddhists, and to learn from Muslims how posture and practice affect prayer.

And so my faith language shrinks and grows, by turns.  But read the essay, and let me know what you think.  

Have a jolly Thanksgiving!