Defining “Holy Guacamole”

I’m not sure where I first heard this story, but it was love at first sight (hearing? reading? whatever!). In 1962, Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce walked into the oval office.  She had been thinking for a long time of what she wanted to communicate to then President John F. Kennedy, and she finally had it.  She walked into his office and said: “A great man is one sentence.” And then, she dropped the bomb: “So, what is your sentence?” Luce feared that Kennedy was trying to do too much, that he had too many priorities and too little focus.  He didn’t have a sentence.  He had a cluttered paragraph. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, had a sentence.  It was: “He preserved the union and freed the slaves.” Franklin Roosevelt’s sentence was, “He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.”  Luce’s question was

Following Hints (more or less)

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “It means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”  I love it. Someday, I am going to read the whole Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland book. I missed it the first 50 plus years of my life, but one of these days I am going to get to it. And, why, you may ask? Because I am “curiouser and curiouser” about who gets to define words. Now, I’m not worried about who gets to define the word, “Christian.” I think Jesus ought to be the master of that one. Hence, when he says, “a Christian is someone who follows him,” that settles it for me. However, the word

To Plagiarize or Not to Plagiarize

Let’s start off today with some thoughts (and these are thoughts that I personally have thought and no one else has ever thought before). And because I know these thoughts will be a big hit once they get out in the public, I’ve even put my thoughts in a form for easy quoting. Behold my thoughts. . . . A plagiarist should be made to copy the author a hundred times. Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal. The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. Anticipatory plagiarism occurs when someone steals your original idea and publishes it a hundred years before you were born. All work and no plagiarism make for dull sermons! Okay, so maybe these weren’t quite my own thoughts. As Jonathan Swift once wrote: “Fine words! I wonder where you stole them.”  So, time to come clean. I stole them. The first quote is

Thinking about Definitions

Jean-Jacques Rousseau said: “Definitions would be good things if we did not use words to make them.” I couldn’t agree more. But this whole series is about coming up with a definition; and if we can’t use words, it is going to be a very short series. But maybe it would be helpful to think about the whole art of defining words because I would like to contend it is not as easy as we often think. To this end, I offer this script. Some of you may have seen this before (some of you may have even been readers before!). As an apology for making you read a script, instead of reading a narrative, I offer this insight: Shakespeare wrote in scripts. So, friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your eyes, for what light through yonder window breaks? It is a script!  Now, to read or not to read, that

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