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Monday, 5 January 2009

Please use plain English

On the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) e-list John Hunt has quoted someone from another list as saying, “Spirituality is distinct from religion, but I doubt you could suggest it could ever be secular.”

The word spirituality has become popular recently amongst religious believers because, I think, they feel it sounds modern and inclusive and does not put people off like the word religion. It is just a substitute word.

I don’t want to play along with their publicity campaigns so I recommend following the advice about meaningful discussions given by Epicurus in one of his letters 300 years before there were any Christians.

He said:

In the first place, Herodotus, you must understand what it is that the words signify, then with this tool we are in a position to test opinions, inquiries, or problems, so that our proofs may not run on endlessly untested, nor the terms we use be empty of meaning. For the primary signification of every term employed must be clearly seen, and ought to need no proving. This is necessary, if we are to have something to which to refer the point at issue, or the problem, or the opinion.

There is a lot to be said for plain English and simply asking others what their words mean.

1 comment:

mumfie said...

I have to say I no longer use the word 'spiritual', not that it was ever in my daily usage, purely because there is so much disagreement about its significance.

If there is a secular meaning to it, and that's quite a big if, it is surely overshadowed by religion's use and abuse of it.