The more and more I learn about my own spirituality the more and more I crave to communicate it with others. Interestingly enough, finding ways to share my views with out the use of jargon has almost always been the highest learning curve in my attempts to speak plainly to those who don’t have the same context that I do.
jar·gon1ˈjärɡən/nounnoun: jargon; plural noun: jargons
- special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.“legal jargon”
- a form of language regarded as barbarous, debased, or hybrid.
The other day I was asked by a couple of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training partners about what I do. As I launched into an explanation of Religious Science and what it is I found myself, even after all of these years of practice, fumbling around for a plain spoken version of my faith. While I did enough to help encourage continued dialogue it seemed that the overwhelming sentiment was, “Man, that sounds really complicated.” I had to admit, as they said it, and as I reviewed the conversation myself, it made perfect sense that they would have that reaction.
One of the advantages that I don’t have is an entire country’s culture of integrated understanding. What I mean to say is that because growing up in America there is a pervading understanding and narrative for Judaeo-Christian theologies it makes it easy to simply ferret out the specific differentiators of those who believe in Judaism, Catholicism, Mormonism and all the other countless flavors of these traditional theologies because the primary basis for all of them is the same. It’s been a VERY long time since I have had to explain to anyone who Moses or Jesus were.
This means that while those teachings can use all the jargon they want, that jargon doesn’t feel like jargon because everyone already knows all of it. The challenge I have is speaking to those who have no context at all for any of the vocabulary I might use to describe certain things. Even more importantly, in some cases (Most notably the word God) we are using the same word but applying a completely different meaning to that word. This makes communicating what I believe a bit more challenging mostly because I am literally starting from scratch.
Imagine all the stories, vocabulary words and structures of ideas that you would have to explain if you wanted to teach Christianity to someone who had never heard of the bible, God, Jesus, Moses, Egypt or any of the other complex pieces of context that Christian conversations occur in. This is why I have such a high regard for missionaries and the work that they do in places where this context doesn’t exist. Really want to bend your brain? Imagine you are the leader of a country that has little to no formal education in the Christian theology trying to build an international relationship with America and coming to find how much of that theology is intertwined into that kind of process.
This isn’t an isolated issue for Religious Scientists either. If I were to ask the majority of my community members to answer the questions I was fielding from my BJJ family members they too would have to overcome this penchant for our own jargon. This, in my opinion, is one of the many things that has made communicating our teaching to the world less fruitful than the feeling we have about how many human beings would be interested in it if they could just get the basics under their belt.
This is why I created a short video about 5 years ago to try and tackle this issue. I tossed it together on a laptop in about 2 days. It’s riddled with misspellings and technical glitches and yet it has managed to reach over 70,000 views on YouTube and countless views on Facebook and other social media sites. The idea was to take the jargon out as much as I could and speak plainly. What it taught me was that speaking plainly was a great starting/entry point for many people to share with their friends and start the conversation of, “What I Believe” and while the search to master this ability continues, I encourage Religious Scientists to consider the ability to communicate our teaching plainly and with out jargon to be one of the greatest spiritual practices we can be focused on.
The ability to explain what we believe is an ability worth our time to practice. Not only can we remove jargon from the way we communicate but is also helps us to better understand for ourselves what it means to practice this teaching and deepens our own understanding and convictions in the spiritual truths we hold so dear. Take time each day to explain what you believe to a stranger or a young person. It may be the greatest revelation of your own faith that you have that day.
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