Sometimes, I think my background as a sociologist of religion, ergo an observer of religious constructs and systems, makes me jaded. For example, this article in today's Washington Post.
Inquiry Sought Over Evangelical Video: Defense Department Asked to Examine Officers' Acts Supporting Christian Group
Year's ago, I likely would have read it and thought very little of it. But as it is, I try to pay attention to language and phrases as they are sometimes uttered unwittingly and overtly without intending to be offensive or short-sighted. And yet, they can be potentially stupid and offensive if you stand outside of what it is you're saying or you believe and you look in with objective, open eyes.
(Please note: I'm not saying that people of faith are stupid or offensive. What I am saying is, sometimes our use of language that is common to us and those who believe like we do seems perfectly normal. To us. And, we assume, by default, to others as well. But if we stand outside of our language and rhetoric and listen with the ears of those who are receiving our words, we may find that our language needs some modification in order for it to be better received.)
For example, the other day, the Post featured an editorial by one of America's foremost historians and commentators, Douglas Brinkley. In writing that historians should be cautious about declaring George W. Bush the worst president ever (which, may I say subjectively, he is, but that's not the point), Brinkley wrote, "Clearly it's dangerous for historians to wield the 'worst president' label like a scalp-hungry tomahawk (emphasis added) simply because they object to Bush's record." (Read the entire piece here, if you'd like.)
Did Brinkley really say that? I thought. Did he actually use the words "like a scalp-hungry tomahawk"? I even e-mailed him and asked, I was so astonished. I have yet to hear back from him, by the way.
Likewise, in the above linked article from today's Post, Army Brig. General Bob Casen is quoted as saying, "I immediately feel like I am being held accountable, because we are the aroma of Jesus Christ." (Emphasis added.)
My eyes came to a screeching halt on that sentence. Is this a new phrase in the evangelical lexicon? The aroma of Jesus Christ? What is that exactly? (See above parenthetical re: esoteric/common language.)
Did Jesus finally come out with His own line of perfumes and colognes? Should we expect a clothing line next? Something heavy in shrouds and the latest in sandals? Or maybe something more heavenly like white, flowing robes (though I have heard that brown is the new black this season. I wonder how He'll work that one in?)
Or, is Christ a bit smelly and moldering after all those years away from earth and, by some Roman Catholic-like miracle, His pungency alights on the faithful and gives them an odor that only the truly devout can ascertain through their supposedly anointed olfactory senses? Sort of like a secret handshake or something?
I don't mean to be sacrilegious here (or maybe I do), especially since I believe in Christ, but I'm not wrapping my head around this new moniker, the aroma of Jesus Christ. And, if you'll pardon my hubris here, if I were Jesus, I'm not sure I'd want to be an aroma.
"Behold, I am Jesus Christ, come into the world to... smell."
Hm. Nope. Just not the same as His original message.