Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Personal experience is, really, all I have.
While speaking of my own experience, I sometimes begin an observation with a blanket statement that is more than just imprecise. Depending upon the medium and the audience, it could be unhelpful. I pray that I remain mindful that my words be seasoned with salt, that they be spoken clearly, and be acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
Mom used to call it painting with too wide a brush (and slopping paint all over where it doesn't need to go).
Apparently, this is something I am concerned about. Since it pops up innocently with some regularity, I feel that a brief mention on my blog about it will be appropriate, and help me be more mindful in the future. I also hope that those who have been painted with the sweeping edges of the too-wide brush will recognize that this has happened and be able to forgive and proceed unhindered in seeking and doing the Lord's will.
Sentences that begin with "Quakers do" or "Quakers believe" or similar, and then proceed to fill in with their observations are very likely painting with too wide a brush. Those who identify themselves as Quakers are a large and complex bunch of groups and individuals. I understand that trying to be precise in language can be cumbersome and frustrating. But it seems to me that going to the trouble of adding phrases such as, "in my experience," "Quakers I have met," "I read in an article by so-and-so," gives more integrity to the communication. Friends I have met who belong to certain monthly or yearly meetings don't fit neatly together in one theological or cultural lump.
I can make this error on both the negative and positive sides, by the way. It's human nature, after all.
Still, I want to publicly resolve to be more careful in my speech, especially any that carries any sort of representation of others. I recall Seth Hinshaw's "Detraction," a very helpful tract to consider on a related topic.
Hanging on the wall in my Mom's kitchen for many years was this little rhyme:
Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff
and nudge me when I've said enough.