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Associate Minister's Column

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    There are two types of linguistics: prescriptive and descriptive (hang with me here, I promise this is interesting). Prescriptive linguistics describes how language should work: never end a sentence with a preposition, for example. Descriptive linguistics assumes that there are different cultural uses of language. It does not presume that one is right and the others are wrong. Instead it simply describes how language is used by groups: soda, coke, or pop, for example.

    I wonder what would happen if we had less prescriptive faith and more descriptive faith. I wonder what our world would look like if we weren’t so obsessed with imposing certain types of theological rules. Because many UUs are proud of how they have rejected said theological rules, I wonder what our world would look like if we didn’t define our faith by how opposite we are from the same prescribed theological rules.

    A descriptive faith recognizes that there are personal and cultural differences in expressing one’s beliefs. What would the world look like if there were a church that didn’t try to change other people, or fix them, or tell them they are wrong, but instead explored how different people express their deeply held and often contradictory beliefs?