Divine Passive

This following is a true story. The names have been eliminated for the protection of the innocent…except for mine…
…also, please ignore this if you hate grammar. Just skip on to another post….

Yesterday a fledgling small group of church folks met during the day. One of their regulars is no longer able to attend, and the rest of the group missed this person.

I wanted to tell the person about group missing them, and as I considered how to share the sentiment, something terrible went through my head. It was a phrase uttered by many mindless pastor-types:

“You were missed.”

Ew…who says that? Why do pastor-types talk so funny? What the hamburgers does that even mean?

I pondered and ridicules myself for thinking in pastor voice, finding that such linguistic oddities occur in pastor-types for two main reasons:
-Pastor-types speak Biblish
-Pastor-types like to sound gentle

The first reason, that pastor-types want to sound gentle, isn’t very helpful either. Pastor-types use this in sermons when they don’t want to sound pushy (“It will be greatly appreciate if…”), but it usually winds up confusing.

Secondly, the grammatical passive voice (what?! grammar! I didn’t sign up for this…zzzzzzzzzz…just go to the next paragraph)

Ok fine…Basically the Bible (particularly the New Testament), translated from Greek, often employs phrases like “You will be blessed,” instead of “God will bless you.” It’s just the style they wrote. Seminary professors drill into pastor-types-in-training how interesting this is, but if you’ve ever heard a sermon about “the divine passive,” you probably slept through it.

In the Bible, when there is passive voice, it almost always means that it’s God doing it, hence “The Divine Passive.”

If the passive voice is the divine passive, and pastor-types are using it so often, it must mean that the pastor-type intends one of two things:
-Theophany (a direct appearance from God)
-A divine pastor-type

In the case of “You were missed,” or “You are missed,” or “You will be missed,” a theophany would mean that the skies would be rent asunder, a light would shine down from the clouds, a pigeon (yes, a pigeon), would come down from the sky and a voice would say, “Hey ________, I missed you at our last get together.”

If it was an actual divine pastor-type, then your pastor-type was probably possessed or something, which would be pretty weird. I’ll leave to your imagination how you could benefit from that (direct revelation, book deals, miracles…pick your poison).

Of course there is a third possibility. It’s possible that they didn’t intend anything at all. It’s very likely that your pastor-type is just so accustomed to speaking and reading Biblish that they have forgotten how to speak like a normal person.

To any pastor-types reading this: Please don’t forget how to talk like a normal person. If you feel yourself slipping into Biblish or pastor voice, please stop what you’re doing and watch something mindless like a sitcom or some football.

Break the cycle of Biblish. It sounds pretentious, even when it’s in your facebook posts. (Yes, we’ve all seen them!)

Pastor-types are supposed to speak the vernacular. The Bible was written in the language of the people, and has been translated into the language of the people repeatedly over the ages.

So pastor-types (and anyone else…): Just talk normally! Otherwise you run the risk of sounding like an out-of-touch goober.


What I intend to tell the person is: “They missed you.” Because it’s normal…and it means something.


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