Friday, December 27th, 2013
I see people playing them all the time, mostly to pass the time. On planes, in waiting rooms, on trains, wherever people need something to occupy their minds. Mental health experts says it is one way to stay sharp the older one gets; but to most, it’s not a matter of retaining the acuity of brain cells. They just like to do them. I find them boring, but not to those obsessed with crossword puzzles. They wouldn’t think of starting the day without opening the newspaper to figure out, “What is a four letter word starting with H that means______. You may have done one or more crossword puzzles yourself but likely didn’t realize that they were originally known as “Word-Cross” puzzles. The first one was printed December 21, 1913 as “Fun’s Word-Cross Puzzle.” By January 11, 1914 they were called “Cross-Word” puzzles. The change came as a result of a printing error, the typesetter accidentally inverting the words. But the error stuck because it just sounded better and no one was yet vested in the original wording.
So much for a common diversion; but when it comes to theology, words have such significance that no inadvertent change can pass muster. For example, atonement, the reconciliation of man with God by the blood of Christ has been changed to “at-one-ment” by certain Mind Science and New Age cults. To these deniers of biblical truth, atonement means we become “at-one” with the “ultimate reality” by realizing our “inner spark of divinity”: AT-ONE-MENT. That’s not the same thing as orthodox Christianity teaches. For another example, Mormons these days speak of knowing Christ as their “personal Lord and Savior,” words Mormons never used to speak. Why the change? Their target audience is often biblically shallow Christians who are familiar with born-again lingo. But “salvation” to a Latter Day Saint isn’t the same thing as being “redeemed” is to a true Bible-believer. (Mormons are saved by believing that Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet of God and by being secretly baptized in one of their temples.) You can call a puzzle of fill-in-the-boxes-with-letters anything you wish, but if you speak of being “saved” you’d better get the definition of your terms correct!
Yesterday was “boxing day.” Maybe not to Americans, but to the English and our neighbors to the north in Canada. Some think the term came from “boxing” up all the unwanted or ill-fitting gifts and taking them back the store, hopefully with receipt in hand. Actually in the British Commonwealth it traditionally referred to employees getting a “Christmas box,” a special bonus from their bosses. On December 25 most Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. But it doesn’t end there. Every day after, December 26 and beyond, is a “boxing day” by which we receive a spiritual bonus of all the promises of God that came about because of the babe in the manger.