Monday, June 27, 2011

Sometimes It Is Just Semantics

     Even after observing the passing scene for over 80 years, I am still amazed at the emotions that are aroused by some words. In his 1933 work, Science and Sanity, Alfred Korzybski coined the phrases, “The word is not the thing” and “The map is not the territory,” indicating that knowing the name of an item does not mean that you know everything about the item itself. He recommended that new entities be observed on the silent level – a time for observing the reality without preconceptions. But it seems that many people fail to appreciate the wisdom of keeping these bits of advice in mind.
     I live in a church-sponsored retirement community, which is in the process of constructing new facilities: a chapel, theater, gift shop, a small meeting room and a large community meeting room.
     As explained at a recent residents' meeting, the administration discussed various names for the meeting rooms. For the smaller room, the choices boiled down to “bistro” or “pub.”
     One definition of bistro is “A small, modest European-style restaurant.” Since neither food nor anything else is going to be sold in this room, that name was rejected.
     Although some pubs are taverns, an alternative definition of pub is “A public room or house,” so the smaller room became a pub.
     While a majority of residents accepted the explanation, a few reacted as if it had been decided to call the room “the den of iniquity.” Although the naming of facilities is beyond the purview of the residents, it was even suggested that we put the name to a vote. However, most of the residents seemed to think the subject was not even worth talking about, so eventually the discussion moved on to other matters.
     The room in question is a nice little place to hold small group meetings or receptions (maximum capacity 29), play cards, or just sit and talk with friends. It has a few tables and chairs, counter, refrigerator, sink and even a dishwasher; in short, it's just a small gathering place.
     So I got to wondering why the word “pub” would raise such a violent reaction. I realize it may have a connotation of tavern, which is a place where alcoholic beverages are sold, but this innocent little room is far from being a tavern.
     Granted that some of our residents are conservative Christians, I still didn't quite understand it. Christ changed water into wine, not grape juice. One would think if he really was against it, he would have changed it into Koolaid or vinegar. So I dug a bit deeper.
     The God of the Israelites had many proscriptions against wine – apparently he was a teetotaler. But while in the New Testament there are many passages against drunkenness, it has very little to say against wine itself.
     I found the answer at 75 Bible References On Drinking Alcohol:
“ ...verses to show God approves of wine are speaking about unfermented juice. Verses that expose the evils of wine are speaking about intoxicating wine.”
     You must realize that the Times article appeared over one hundred years ago, so most of the jokes appearing therein are so out-of-date that modern readers wouldn’t even understand them. For example, one has to do with women’s suffrage, and was probably very funny at the time, but today it falls flat with a loud thud! So to spare my readers, I shall attempt to find jokes that are more up-to-date than 100+ years of age.
     Introduction – There Are Only Seven Jokes.

     “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

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