Have you ever played Mad Libs? If so, you know just how important grammar and semantics are to the art of storytelling. You also realize just how important words and context are to communication and understanding. I have my first post as part of the UU Collective on Patheos today in which I talk about the difference between words and language, and the many difference languages of the Spirit (mine happens to be music, for others it might be food or nature or art). Below is an excerpt but you can read the entire post here.

“Being the intelligent humans that we are, we try to explain that which is deeply felt with words, explanations, and sound bites. And, as a result, any inherent commonality to our human spirit gets lost, the beautiful complexity of differences gets diluted. The words – and labels – that we use become more important than the ideas. So much division and dissention is created and exacerbated by the labels and linguistic limitations that we put on matters of faith and spiritual belief – concepts that are, quite frankly, too big to fit into any label or verbal representation. Perhaps, we need to focus less on the words of faith and more on the language of faith. Perhaps we need to stop getting lost in the semantics of God and, instead, learn the languages of God – ones that are spoken and heard in a number of ways.

Music has always been my language of God. I love to sing (off-key) and can clumsily tap away a few songs on the piano, but I am far from what you would call “musical.” Yet music has always been a profoundly moving spiritual experience for me. Whether I’m swaying to a church choir singing “Amazing Grace,” listening to Bon Iver on my iPod, singing along to Bob Dylan in the car, or dancing like crazy with my kids in the kitchen, few things have the power to move me like music. Music creates an internal communication with the Spirit that washes my soul clean, as if I have stepped into a warm shower with the lyrics and melody rinsing away the grit and grime of everyday life.”

Why don’t you give it a read and let me know what you think. What is your spiritual language?



  1. The words – and labels – that we use become more important that the ideas.
    Typo? ‘than the ideas’

  2. I concur, the ability of the Spirit to transcend the physical performance of art, music, dance, theatre, etc and our recognition of this power within us is monumental in our spiritual journey. Because the Spirit takes us to unknown places, and emotions whilst we perform. I can’t wait to read the full articel!

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