Word Whistles

Word Woche 9.8.13

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You all know that feeling.  That tickle in your nose. It makes you wiggle it and squirm until all of a sudden

and this week’s word comes next:


Another one of those words we all know (sort of) how to say and probably have no idea what it means.  Gesundheit comes from the original idea that when someone sneezed, their soul left their body and in order to prevent the loss of your soul someone would yell “Bless you!”  Well, in several other countries, blessings come in other phrases.  Some say “salud.” In German, the term means “health” and when German Jews moved to America, the term caught more attention.  And it was safe to use because you’re not using God’s name in vain. 🙂

Word Woche

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After the first month of “Word of the Week” posts, I realized my category needed a little more fun.  So I renamed it “Word Woche” in honor of the fact I am taking German and “word for “week” is “woche.”  Also, in continuing with German–I will start with some German words. Finally, tomorrow is Labor Day, so this week’s word is :

Arbeit or “Work, Labor, Job”

The etymology of this word is pretty simple.  It has, even from Yiddish roots, had an association with work.  In fact, Japanese and Korean use the German word as a base for meaning something similar to work.

However, the meaning of the word is not the reason I chose it for this week’s blog.  It is because of its significance in history.  Maybe a another visual of this word will help

Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany

In several concentration camps within Germany and other regions of the German Third Reich, these words “Arbeit macht Frei” or “Work Makes Freedom.” It symbolized the cover-up the Reich portrayed the Jewish people and prisoners that hard work in their camp would bring about the freedom they desired.  What prisoners didn’t expect is the cost of freedom–the level of work that would kill millions if their stamina made it past the gruesome traveling conditions and selection process before entering the camps.  Many prisoner knew that “Arbeit Macht Frei” was a lie.

Today, I personally have seen the gate above and the gates below are from Auschwitz, one of the largest camps in Poland, are left up as a historical reminder to the tragedy the Holocaust.  In fact, I just read that in 2009 the sign at Auschwitz was stolen & broken in three places.  It was recovered, taken to the museum in the main camp, and a replacement was created where the gate stood.

Auschwitz Gates, Poland

Here in America, we celebrate Labor Day. A holiday celebrating the goodness of work.  Let’s remember the good work that stands and that work is not always good.

Word of the Week – Aug. 25th

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Every once and a while, I come across a word in the Bible (in Hebrew) that really touches me.  I almost think “dang, if we even came CLOSE to matching this word I would use it….” but many times English just does not. One of these words is “ruach” or “breathe, spirit.”

This word is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the spirit of God hovering over the blocky-chaotic water.  And yet, its the same word to describe the Holy Spirit of God. God’s spirit is like a breathe of fresh air, a wind.  Its unseen, a felt concept, and yet when it reacts with other things, both good and destruction can come from it.  The word just screams uniqueness.  Not only is it used in a very specific context in the Bible, but the underscore-looking item under the final letter chet actually is not common place in Hebrew.  Typically most Hebrew words are balanced between consonants & vowels. Rarely do you see two vowels next to each other.

As for the theological implications–the words relates to the breathe of life.  The Holy Spirit is meant to be God’s source in all life.  This is the word that describes God “breathing into ” humanity the breathe of life.  The imagery is just astounding.  And from my class w/ Dr. Tremper Longman last year, this image of God breathing is contrary to other Ancient Near Eastern stories, where gods live in the world, fighting, and create humans out of spite so they do not have to do anything. It’s an interesting perspective when you think of all the similarities from early creation stories to the Biblical story.

So next time you come across the term “Holy Spirit”, your meaning of God’ presence will grow deeper instead of thinking of white-sheeted floating people muddling “BOOOOoooo” in your face

Word of the Week!

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As promised, I’m trying to switch it up the languages in my Sunday “Word of the Week”

Today’s word:

lo/goß Logos


Language: Greek

Translation: word

This “word” in Greek has a plethora of meanings. Of course, its basic meaning can refer to an actual “word” or “element of speech.” However, in John 1:1-14, the term Logos has a much deeper meaning. John uses it to refer to what Strong’s accordance refers to as “The Divine Expression” or otherwise known as Christ. (Strong’e 3056-Electronic version)

Mostly recently, I read a book about Jewish expectations of the Messiah, and the importance of the word Logos in that context. A Rabbi indicated that “The Word” is a known concept in Judaism, referring to several Jewish texts and scriptures that connect the Hebrew equivalent devar to Logos represents Christ, the Messiah who is God. (return of the kosher pig , see my book reviews for book info.

Altogether, the term logos is filled with theological meaning as well as standardized meaning, giving it a unique character and value in any vocabulary.  Plus, its a fun word to use if you need a unique name for a Christian group 😉

Word of the Week!

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Again, in honor of doing “Fiddler on the Roof” at our church, i’m choosing a Russian word to balance out the blog a little.  And to give you something other than my Hebrew etymology.  Also, there are 5 daughters, and the word below can incorporate the metaphor described below.

The word is matryoshka, or 


This word is the name for the Russian nesting dolls.  For an interesting read on the dolls and their influence on Russian culture, see here! 
The word literally means “little matron”, coming from the word in its diminutive form for a formal first name.  (see wiki article.) I always thought it meant to “little mother.”  But in doing some research I discovered that the term matroyshka is also used as a metaphor description.  Similar to the onion affect, it means one object within a smaller object concept.  For example, in “Fiddler”, the 5 daughters each reveal a different layer in the incorporation of the changing times.  Almost as how the dolls reveal another new doll inside.
Hope this gives everyone a new perspective on an old tradition! TRADITION!