Taboo, Anyone?

Posted: January 1, 2009 in Uncategorized
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A couple nights ago, I went to a singles’ group social. We hung out for awhile, played some pool and Round Robin (a fun game to play with a large group and a ping pong table), and then we played Taboo for awhile. If you’ve never heard of Taboo, it’s a game in which one person has to try to get his team to guess the word at the top of the card by describing it, sort of like Catch Phrase. The hard part: there are 5 words below it that cannot be used to describe the word. For example, if the top word is Kangaroo, some words below it might include Pouch, Hop, Animal, Australia, and Captain. Accidentally use one of the words, and the point goes to the other team. It’s a great game that requires quick thinking, wit, and articulation. Taboo is possibly my favorite game because it challenges you to construct your language thoughtfully and carefully, while being extremely fun (especially with a large group).

I got to thinking later about a sort of Christian Taboo. What if we took the Taboo concept and applied it to some Christian jargon or cliche phrases? Would we be able to describe the words or phrases we often thoughtlessly use by using original ones? For examples, suppose my phrase was “evidence of grace” (a cliche phrase at least in part of my church circle, including me). How would I get my team to guess it without using, let’s say, Proof, Encourage, Point Out, Identify, or Timothy. Thinking in such a way would push me to actually evaluate the meaning of the phrase in order to convey the message to another.

Perhaps we could benefit from challenging our thoughts in a similar way in small group conversations or our prayers. One of the suggestions I read yesterday in Simplify Your Spiritual Life by Donald Whitney (excellent book, by the way) was, “Don’t pray the same prayer over and over.” He didn’t mean you shouldn’t pray about the same things repeatedly, but rather that we shouldn’t use the same wording and phrasing all the time. In doing so, he says, you lose most, if not all purpose and meaning behind the words you parrot out. For example, I tend to pray before each meal, “Dear Lord, thank you for this food. I pray that the rest of the day will go well and that you’ll be honored in everything I do. Amen.” Perhaps a good prayer in some respects, if thoughtfully spoken. So often, though, my thanks for food flows without any real gratitude. I don’t know what I mean by a day “going well,” and the part about God being honored is sometimes rushed through to get started with eating. Such prayers are called “vain repetitions” in the Bible.

After all this rambling, my main thought is this: I want to be more thoughtful and careful about the words and phrases I choose, not simply repeating phrases I’ve used or heard over and over to the point I’ve exhausted their power to provoke thought. That way, my thinking about God will be clearer, and my speech will be more uplifting in its expressiveness. May God be honored in this pursuit; it’s all meant solely to expand my perception and others’ perceptions of God.

  1. Josh says:

    I love Taboo.

  2. Daryl says:

    Thanks for making me stop and think. I love your blog and I like Taboo.

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