Academic theologians, like most specialists, tend to develop jargon that is difficult for other people to understand. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was in the thick of it at the Unisa theological faculty, but I was also working in the Editorial Department, where we tried to make academic texts understandable to students.
At one point I developed the Conceptual High-Impact Phrasal Synthesiser, which was guaranteed to add depth and density to theological writing, whether undergraduate essays, journal articles, conference papers or full-length monographs. All one needed to do was link the phrases with suitable verbs and pronouns.
I ran it this morning just to see if it still worked, and here is a sample of its output:
Integrated laity challenge
Responsive global concern
Balanced structural dialogue
Integrated biblical awareness
Wide-ranging contextual encounter
Long-term fellowship approach
Relevant ecumenical perspective
Balanced dynamic awareness
Relevant structural outreach
Basic laity typology
Charismatic reciprocal challenge
Original serving paradigm
Open-ended alternative response
Basic serving involvement
Relevant serving challenge
Relevant twentieth-century situation
Relevant twentieth-century typology
Original global involvement
Flexible twentieth-century situation
Integrated reciprocal awareness
Nuanced ecumenical challenge
Ongoing serving critique
Wide-ranging laity encounter
Responsive dynamic protest
Issue-oriented alternative protest
Basic global approach
Responsive socio-economic encounter
Flexible multi-facetted perspective
Flexible laity dialogue
Ongoing caring approach
Unstructured structural critique
Issue-oriented fellowship protest
Long-term laity challenge
Basic contextual involvement
Relevant caring challenge
Balanced serving outreach
Issue-oriented fellowship approach
Nuanced dynamic response
Ongoing twentieth-century critique
Flexible ecumenical critique
Wide-ranging laity concern
Issue-oriented multi-facetted protest
Wide-ranging in-depth encounter
Issue-oriented community encounter
Flexible community critique
But then I looked at it, and of course was immediately struck by the thought that it’s so 1980s.
Obviously “twentieth-century” would have to go, and there should be a “discursive” in there somewhere.
But here’s my challenge to you, gentle reader (all two of you), my relevant twenty-first century challenge: what words would need to be added, and which ones dropped to bring it up to date for 2008?
Please give a list, and couple of sample phrases showing how they could be employed.
I probably never will bring it up to date, though. I think I’ve lost the source code, and even if I hadn’t, it was written in Turbo Basic, which no longer works on today’s processors. And I’ve decided that learning computer programming is a waste of time, because long before you’ve mastered any programming language it will be obsolete.