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Speaking in plain English

24 September 2022

Speaking in plain English

Not ghosting God if his message speaks to us 

Words James Burns

When I first heard the term ‘cancel culture’, I realised I had a problem. I had no clue what that meant. 

Now I know that language is a concept that changes and adapts, and I had long ago realised that young people have their own way of communicating, but when it’s in adult conversation, that’s another matter. 

So, expressions like ‘woke’ (alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism), ‘gaslighting’ (making someone question their reality) and to ‘ghost’ someone (to disappear by not calling, texting or talking to a certain person) have come into our everyday speech. Not mine, by the way, but well done if you already knew what they meant. 

When I worked as a civil servant, we were encouraged to use plain English when writing to members of the public. Now, of course, whether speaking to someone or writing to them, it’s important that we make our meaning clear so that there is no room for misunderstanding or offence. And how much more important is that when we dash off a quick text or tweet and then regret how it’s been perceived? 

But when it comes to verses in the Bible, they don’t come any plainer than John chapter 3, verse 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (New International Version). 

Apparently, cancel culture is a social environment, including online, where publicly boycotting or withdrawing support for people or organisations regarded as promoting socially unacceptable beliefs is widespread. 

Hopefully you find the positive message in that Bible verse a belief that you find personally acceptable. 

Oh, and if that verse specifically spoke to you, please don’t ghost God. 

James Burns is a freelance writer from the Dunstable Salvos in the United Kingdom. 


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