Tag Archives: the Word

God Writes His Love in One Word

I love words. Perhaps I’ve not fallen into epeolatry yet, but it’s always fun and interesting to meet a new word. (Like “epeolatry,” which is “the worship of words.”)

One of the best places I’ve found to discover new words and interesting things about words of all sorts is through the free e-mail publication “A.Word.A.Day” offered at www.wordsmith.org (since 1994). Last time I checked (which was years ago), their daily subscriber list was passing 600,000.

I like that (even though a quick look at the list of “organizations” they “support” would be a great help if I ever need to make a list of organizations I do not support). It’s good nonetheless to know that somewhere out there are still some folks, endangered species though they may be, who think that words and the thoughts and ideas they convey are important. Word-lovers tend to believe that our society not only needs the technical know-how to make things work and build great new gadgets, we need to know how to think and speak about where we’ve been and where we’re going. Even though we’re making excellent time on the trip, it might be nice to consider if we’re pointed in the right direction at a destination worth reaching. Words help us consider such things.

A recent “Word of the Day” from Wordsmith.org is a particularly interesting one, but I’m afraid you’ll have a hard time slipping it into ordinary conversation down at the coffee shop.

Univocalic. (Pronounced “yoo-niv-uh-KAL-ik.”)

“From the Latin uni- (one) plus vocalic (relating to vowels), from vox (voice).”

Univocalic is “a piece of writing that uses only one of the vowels.”

Wordsmith gives an example of univocalic that uses only the vowel “e”: Seventh September. And they note that the longest one-word univocalic is “strengthlessness.”

They also mention that according to Ed Park’s article in “Village Voice,” Canada’s best-selling poetry book ever was Christian Bok’s work, Eunoia. In the main portion of the book, each chapter used just a single vowel, producing sentences such as this: “Enfettered, these sentences repress free speech.”

If you’ve got a little extra time, you might try your hand at writing univocalic in just a sentence or two. It is difficilt, if nit ilmist imp . . . Oops. I probably shouldn’t say that.

Oh, well. Words are fascinating, and univocalic is interesting stuff. But I’m thankful to have at my disposal a deep bucketful of words that use all the very fine vowels English makes available.

Still, univocalic is intriguing. “I think I’d writ it jist in fits” and “never get these endless sentences enfleshed.”

When God speaks, he uses many vowels all pointing to one Word, “Jesus,” and one word behind every letter of His Word, “love.”



   You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“So, Bob, Would You Hand Me That Thingamajig?”

Thingamajig. Doohickey. Dillybob. Whatsit.

Those are, of course, all words we use to refer to things for which we are unsure of the actual word, if there is one, for the thingamajig in question.

There. I’ve written “thingamajig” twice now, and my spell-checker has thus far resisted the impulse (do spell-checkers have impulses?) to squiggle a red line under the word, thereby calling my spelling into question. “Thingamajig” is evidently now a bona fide word for something we don’t know the word for. Ditto for doohickey.

Yes, but dillybob and whatsit still get red squiggles. Since I usually write these columns using software which, perhaps like its owner, tends to straddle American and British English spelling a bit—its preference for “anesthesia” or “anaesthesia” is mostly anesthetized, not to say completely anaesthetised (red squiggle just appeared; the “s” did it)—I often double-check the spell-check.

So I just did. Now the gate arm swings up and whatsit strides on past the spell-check check point. Dillybob is still being held at the border, though the Urban Dictionary (not, I admit, the highest authority) recognizes its usefulness. The Oxford English Dictionary must be dilly-dallying and hasn’t given dillybob its official papers yet.

Still, you know what I mean when I use the word. We need words for thingamabobs, whatchamacallits, doodahs, and hoobajoobs. (Sea of red squiggles now, but I’ll stake my English degree that these whatsitsname words for things unknown or as yet unnamed exist to answer, rather creatively and with a touch of heart-tickling whimsy, a real need.) The language would be much poorer without them.

We need a word for the crunchy little tidbit left on a corn dog stick when the dog is doggone. And along that line, what about a word for that little smidge of chocolate sticking to an ice cream stick until you lick it off?

What about a word for that disgusting little puff of smelly air that hits you in the face when, after delaying a bit too long, you bag the kitchen trash and then lean over and pull the plastic drawstring tight?

Often you discover that a word really does exist for the whatsit you wondered about. It was a fine moment when author Madeleine L’Engle taught me that dragon droppings are called “fewmets.” It’s a shame to accidentally step into something and not know its official name. Now I’m fewmetically safe. (Definite red squiggle.)

And is there a one-word description for a dweeb with a weird sense of humor? I guess so. (See dweeb. Or dork. Or nerd. Maybe doofus.)

I stepped right into that one, but I’m still smiling. Words can sting a little or a lot. But they can also morph wonderfully into delightful whimsy. And they can fly to heights of breathtaking beauty and awe-inspiring mystery.

And, yes, sometimes you just need a word and don’t have one. But our heavenly Father knew exactly what this world needed when, out of infinite love, he sent us his Son, the Word.



     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Short Words Are Best” and Three Are Best of All

“Short words are best,” asserted Winston Churchill, “and the old words when short are best of all.”

So may I suggest three—very short and very old which when lined up and strung together are the best three that could possibly be.


These words are chiseled into the rock, woven into the fabric, of the universe. More than that, if anything could be more, they are living and implanted by the Author of life into its every cell, resonating in every breath and heartbeat. How could we not feel the life of those three short words pulsing all around us? Ah, perhaps in part because they are so much around us that we live in them and swim in them like fish enlivened by but largely oblivious to the very thing that gives them life.

God is love.

Note that in this short, old, and every morning new, equational sentence, the verb, the multiplier, and the fulcrum is IS, to BE. Yes, eternally. And, yes, of course, the “great I AM” will always be and will always be exactly what He always is, love.

Those three words mean that as long as our Father wills the universe to be, the stars to twinkle, the worlds to spin—if packed in every grain of sand on every sea-washed beach was a million years and all of those mini-mega-grains were stretched across creation at attention in single sand-soldier file—the dance of the cosmos, the symphony of space, and the music of the spheres, will still play on because God is GOD, and God always IS, and God will always be LOVE.

The order of the short word-cars on this magnificent train matters immensely. “God is love” is a breathtaking stream flowing with the life of the Creator and wash-singing, joy-splashing, over every rock and crevasse of the universe. “Love is god” is an idolatrous sludge defiling its worshipers and leaving a black trail of death, desolation, and the tears of despairing children in its sad and slimy wake. The first sings with the life of the Creator; the latter stagnates and festers in the stench of death-ridden darkness.

And, yes, in a fallen, sin-sick, and sadly twisted world, darkness is real and too often seems utterly pervasive. But no eclipse is forever. The sun’s corona glows around the blackness, impatient to blaze again unfettered, and we have the promise of Eden’s Creator that one day unending joy will again be the watchword of the universe. The first Adam fell, and we see the wreckage and the pain, but Adam’s word is not the last.

Because of the three short words that find their fruition, culmination, and crowning glory in the one Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

Does it sometimes, even often, seem unbearably dark? One Word “shines in the darkness” and will banish it forever, all because of the three short words: God is love.


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

Man’s Best Friend, Outside of a Dog


“Outside of a dog,” wrote Groucho Marx, “a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Groucho is also the one who said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

When you think about it—and reading and thinking have always gone together—reading is well nigh miraculous.

Pick any amazing historical figure you care to mention. If they wrote anything, or if anything worthwhile has been written about them, you can get deeply inside their heads, think their thoughts, view the world through their eyes, listen to them deal with questions, handle criticism, overcome challenges. You can get on board with them as they live their lives—even if they quit breathing centuries ago.

No writer has influenced me more than C. S. Lewis. He died just as I was learning to read, but reading is why his death is no barrier at all. And I agree with him: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

You can travel anywhere, do anything, be anyone, through the pages of a good book.

Just this morning, I spent a little time trying not to get caught as I wormed my way through tunnels dug by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. I didn’t stay there long.

On this same morning I tendered my regrets to an Episcopal bishop who’d asked that I serve as interim rector at a picturesque though presently troubled little mountain church.

Not that long ago, I spent over forty days afloat in the Pacific after my bomber was shot down in World War II.

A week or so ago, I was in the room listening to Clementine Churchill telling Winston, soon after victory in Europe, that the lost election costing him his post as Prime Minister might be a blessing in disguise. I heard him growl back, “If it is a blessing, it is very effectively disguised.”

What books do for us is utterly amazing. Got questions? Really big ones? Read a book!

Does God exist? Why does he allow pain to exist? What is his will? Is Jesus his Son?

Read the Bible, the best of books, and let the Author use it to shape your faith. Read it even if you’re not a believer. Why? Because no one in a world shaped like ours can afford the incredible ignorance of not reading the book behind so much of the shaping.

If you’re a believer, why would you not read the words, in the Bible and elsewhere, of the most amazing believers this world has ever known, and learn from them?

Weary of this world at times? Who isn’t? So who in their right mind would stay in it all the time? Take a trip to Narnia or Middle Earth or even Mitford or Harmony or Lake Wobegon or . . . absolutely anywhere.

You can go wherever you want to go. Just open a book.

It’s no accident that God’s Son is called by the Apostle John “the Word.” And no wonder the Apostle Paul, even in prison, asked Timothy: When you come, bring my books.


   You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

%d bloggers like this: