Relationship: Here is a word that is used to qualify, justify and honey coat just about every nefarious, sleazy or reprehensible union between almost anybody and anything. Recently on an edition of the Jerry Springer show a guest was about to be interviewed who was getting it on with a very close relative. Heckles, and murmurs flowed through the crowd from the moment they entered the room and much of the way through the interview. Everything quieted down instantly when Springer asked the question, using in this case the great justifier. He asked how long they had been having this relationship. The audience quieted at first then began to add their opinions and advice as if the word relationship provided all the civility and credence needed to put this obviously perverted affair back into the realm of respectability or at least acceptability. The word is used today to describe everything from marriages to the on-goings between a farmer and his barn animals. This is an overused word that has elevated some of the worst unions in history to a place they hardly deserve.
Love: The word love has but one general definition in the English language but in contrast there are over forty definitions for it in the Greek. Unfortunately definitions for this word are almost always unknown, ignored or drawn from only the basest and lowest of human response. Usually it is defined by physical attraction. If it goes beyond that it wouldn’t be intelligence that got it moved up the ladder but mostly time. That is, the longer a love has existed the less it requires pure physical attraction to exist. The Greeks speak of three distinct types of love, physical, brotherly and Godly. In America we don’t get that fancy. It is a great loss that we do not ponder the glib use of this majestic little word, and the few who do have given it the value that turns our heads, pricks our ears, provokes great writers, enables hero soldiers and motivates the most notable philanthropists of our nation. If it were possible to tie the hands and secure the tongue of any average teenager who claimed to be in love the whole affair would in most cases endure less than twenty four hours. This is not meant to show disdain for youth or young love but only to invoke a search for a more practical definition of love as early in life as possible. A good definition to adopt or at least ponder might be Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. JesusJohn 15:13
Fun: The word fun has become a three letter giant in the American psyche. It would seem that it can cover any kind of bad youthful behavior, adult excess, or fickle feathered phantasm that festers in any fool, foul up or clown on the continent. We seem to think that we have a right, no a mandate to have this poorly defined aspect of American behavior ready to engage us at the freeing of any moment we are not doing the other thing Americans do when not engaged in funwork. We are constantly reminded that Americans work hard and play hard. This notion is great for selling trucks but leaves a lot to be desired when trying to gather meaning from what is left in between. Fun is just that fun. It is healthy and provides a natural resource of rejuvenating energy for almost everyone. It is the driven pursuit of fun that causes others around the world to think of Americans as mindless party animals who don’t take life very serious. I don’t like that assessment anymore than anyone else but I can hear a tiny voice over my shoulder sayingif the shoe fits.
Psychiatrist: A newspaper headline over twenty five years ago in a New Orleans newspaper readPsychiatry Fast Replacing Religion in America. I could never get that headline out of my mind and now twenty five years later I must say it is largely true. The price for this transition from religion to psychiatry has been costly and disheartening at best. In the interim many headlines and reports have told us that psychiatrists have the highest rate of suicides and the lowest success rate for helping their patients than all others in the medical profession. One can almost see a microcosm of the entire profession over the last quarter century by comparing three fairly well known psychiatrists from television. No insult intended to those in the profession. Once again let’s be reminded that perception in America is the better part of reality. First we see Sydney the spry little psychiatrist from the famous MASH series with Alan Alda. He solves almost all shellshock, homesickness and phobias in soldiers with only a few minutes of counseling, hypnosis or shoot from the hip diagnoses that perhaps an eight year old adolescent might have come up with if given a chance. Whether this was possible doesn’t matter. It was the beginning of the takeover of religion and we wanted to believe that it was working. Next came, Bob Newhart, taking a little more time on matters, conducting sessions and follow ups that left us with one thing if nothing else. Newhart assured us that all we needed to do is, get in touch with our feelings. Ah, there’s a good replacement for religion. Enter Frasier, a psychiatrist who bungled his own suicide attempt to go to radio show psychiatry. He provided pop psychiatry for those to busy to make appointments or who wouldn’t take him too seriously anyway. His answers to his callers often being as silly as his show, but after all it was good clean fun, remember that word, but lets close in for the bottom line. Should we trust our very minds to a profession whose history so closely parallels these three TV shrinks? Psychiatrist, is an overused over rated word that will be lowered a few notches in any serious reality check.
Religion: Now we can look at the word used for what was supposed to be replaced by modern psychiatry. Religion if nothing else is an enigma. The word has almost as many definitions as the people you ask to define it. Some people say all religions are like roads that in the end will all lead us to God. This is a lot like saying that if you leave Boston and go due north in time you will come to San Francisco. In case you have a very poor sense of direction, do not take that route because you will never be heard from again. Some say that religion is a word that means different things to different people but in the end they are all praying to or worshipping the same God. Oh really! I am a Christian and I know when I worship God I am not worshipping the God who will give me fifty virgins if I go hurt someone who doesn’t believe like me. In fact that is a God I wouldn’t want to worship. To others the word religion conjures pictures of the austere life with strict rules and long hard lists of dos and don’ts.
The Bible says it isn’t what men do or don’t do, but what Christ has done for them that make things right between God and man. Personally I like having the imaginary scale of good deeds and bad deeds that plagued my conscience removed by the concept of the grace of God. Gods’ ideas are always easier to bear than the ones we devise in the name of religion.
Most people think they could turn to the Bible for many good definitions for religion. You Can’t. The word religion is used only five times in the entirety of scripture and only once is it given a definition. James 1:27 Religion is thought to be anything from the adoration of nature to dancing over a bed of coals. It is an extremely over used word that should not be left to those who often utter the phrase about never discussing either politics or religion. It also should not be left to those who don’t believe in God at all. If I want to learn how to fly I wouldn’t consult the books written by Jacques Cousteau. It has taken on a connotation that is too large for the whole world. I think I’ll stick to the gospel of Christ and the simple definition offered in James 1:27
Romance: If you asked the next ten people what their definition of romance would be you will undoubtedly get ten very different but very personal definitions. It is perhaps one of those words that most people think is only open to a personal definition. If you ask men this question you may get some to answer, some would ignore you and the remainder would freeze up or change the subject at super sonic speed. Women would give you answers that if collaged together would comprise the typical singles add in the women looking for man section of the paper. Long walks on the beach, intimate conversation, humor candle lit dinners and holding hands. Is this romance? Or should I say is this all it is? Maybe the definition of this word should be left in the wide gray area where it is now, an area of wispy feelings, mystery and heart choking moonlight flower strewn landscapes with gentle music in the background. Yeah I like that too but in the end it isn’t what is in the end. Romance can include these scenes but unless our eyes are wide open and our sense of tomorrow is engaged to temper the other five senses romance will go the way of all flesh. Romance then is an embellishment that is used to spice the furtherance of the real stufflove, remember that word? As far as I know romance has not yet been found to produce world peace or build the world’s tallest skyscraper but it holds its own for what it is supposed to do, with or without a universally clear definition.
Commercials: Here is a word many people love to hate. Television, radio, internet and all other media bombard us with messages, ads and pictures about everything from soap to potatoes. If someone has the particular statistics on just how many commercials we watch in a day or a lifetime I don’t want to know it. I don’t need a statistician to tell me when I’ve had enough to eat. We try to add dignity to them with phrases like, a word from our sponsor, we will return right after these messages, or we’ll be right back after the break. Who will give us a break from the commercials? The commercial busting technology of Tivo started slowly but now DVRs are popping up quickly to fill the gap. These are wonderful electronic devices that enable us to skip through all the commercials and keep watching the programs we started with. At last for some this means the cessation of the bombardment and the end of the constant insult to our intelligence. Internet providers have gone all out to provide us with spam busting technology isn’t it about time someone has finally gotten after the rest of the media. Magazines at least leave us with the option to read or not to read. Billboards and outdoor ads are another matter that won’t be so easily solved. One example of what happens when outdoor advertisements are scaled down could be seen by taking your next vacation in Vermont. Roadside billboards and indiscriminate signs and posts are unlawful there. May seem a bit harsh but hardly anyone who has ever visited Vermont wouldn’t agree that it is one of the most beautiful states in the country. We really haven’t abused the word commercials but with or without a succinct definition we have greatly abused what the word has come to mean, Interruption.
Rev Bresciani is from New Orleans La and the author ofHook line and Sinker or What Has Your Church Been Teaching You, PublishAmerica 2005 andAn American Prophet and His Message, Questions and Answers on the Second Coming of Christ, Xulon Press 2005. His website is,