Loving etymology when it works

Reflections

“At the moment much of our global community has the opportunity to explore a radical change, a change where we return to our roots, and reimagine how things could be different,” says The Rev’d Andrew Schmidt

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I recently heard this phrase which ‘sparked joy’ in me: “I love etymology when it works.” I love the idea that a word’s origin can tell you about its deeper meaning. For example, the word ‘radical’ comes from Latin radix or radic and means, ‘of or from the roots’. A radical change would, therefore, mean a change from the roots up, or perhaps a change down to the roots, and reimagining where we could be if things had been different.

At the moment much of our global community has the opportunity to explore a radical change, a change where we return to our roots, and reimagine how things could be different.

Foremost in my mind is the shift in teaching that is happening in schools in response to COVID-19’s challenges. Teachers are offering education through so many formats and channels, and I am sure that there are a lot of very frustrated professionals; however, a radical and necessary rethink might be possible, and the current situation is an opportunity for such a rethink.

And, returning to my love of etymology that works, ‘educate’ come from the Latin educere, meaning to ‘lead out’, to forge a path for those who come after. ‘Teach’ means ‘to show’ and stems from the Greek deiknunai. I believe our teachers can educate and teach, but I suspect that they will be pressured to return to old models, not because it works better for the future, or even for the children, but because it is convenient for our society that children are educated in a way that derives from an industrial model.

Speaking of radical reform, I am wondering what a return to a ‘from the roots’ regrowth of a worshiping community might look like. I do not have an answer, but to be Christian means to be from or of Christ, who lived his life in such a way that the truth was revealed. Through the resurrection, Jesus demonstrated the nature of God who brings new life and light, even into the darkest places.

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