I have recently been revisiting A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, I had forgotten how humorous it was amidst the dark subject matter.
The scene was Mr. Cruncher’s private lodging in Hanging-sword-alley, Whitefriars: the time, half-past seven of the clock on a windy March morning, Anno Domini seventeen hundred and eighty. (Mr. Cruncher himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes: apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.)
In today’s world the language of the Church is also misunderstood, maybe not with such comical results but certainly with as much drama.
In the early days of the Church Christians were accused of being cannibals because people had heard that they drank blood and ate flesh. Today such charges might not be made however that doesn’t mean that there is more understanding of what Christianity is about or indeed what its words mean. I think most people are well aware today that terms such as redemption, salvation and grace are not understood by non-Christians in the same way as they are understood by Christians, however, it is far bigger than that. Recently I have come across an intelligent teenager who thought the blood spoken about in Christianity was some kind of black pudding to do with cooking as he had been taught about the importance in their being no blood in Muslim and Jewish cookery. I have come across a lady well up in years who has spent all her life until recently believing that she couldn’t be baptised because her parents – a shocking thing back then – weren’t married.
How we portray ourselves is not only about the way we act, the love we show, the compassion we demonstrate but also the words we use. What do the words we use say to those who are hearing them? What message are they really communicating?