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Katie’s Musings – But/And

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 14 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about language and the way we use it to talk about life and each other and about God, particularly in the present covid/election/world-on-fire existence we are living.  Language matters, and the way we talk about God and the world and people inevitably can shape the way we see God and the world and people.

Now, I’m not exactly an expert on language, not when compared to the many, many experts in our congregation and general midst, BUT I know enough, and …..

There.  I did it.

Used BUT to rank the sentiments.

The use of BUT does that.  Our need to rank things, to put things against each other inherently by our use of language, is something to consider.

Example:  Strawberry ice cream is OK, BUT chocolate is my favorite.

Strawberry and chocolate are both excellent flavors.  I claim chocolate as my favorite, but that does not affect the deliciousness of strawberry.  Both of those things can be true at the same time.  Not EVERYTHING can be true at the same time, obviously, but often truth is more complicated than either/or.

The use of BUT ranks sentiments that don’t necessarily need to be ranked.  Or, in the words of an episode of Game of Thrones, when you’re listening to someone talk, everything before the BUT doesn’t matter.

This issue is bad, BUT this issue is worse.

This person might be bad, BUT this person did bad things too.

As if the latter thing cancels out the first thing, rendering it unimportant, and selling our own ability to reason short.

So what if… just hear me out, what if our need to rank things was part of our present problem?
What if our need to form teams we can be on and others cannot, to place our flag in our best thing and spit on the the flags of others, what if that is part of how we got here?  Grammatically, I totally get it.  Humanly…. I wonder.

So what if… just hear me out, what if, for now, we tried to use AND instead?

Allowed for the expression of truth(s) in all their messiness?  Because that’s what AND does.  It allows for things that are both and individually true to be true, without rank and file, without being so rage-inducing, without negating something else.

Strawberry ice cream is OK, AND chocolate is my favorite.

The Backstreet Boys were good, AND N*Sync was the best.

This issue is bad, AND this issue is bad too.

We can acknowledge multiple realities at once because our realities all do indeed look a little different.  And doing so right now might be really, really important.