Language Matters: “Name and Claim” Your Spot in the Christian Elite

Are you “born again”?  Have you been “saved” or know someone who is eagerly awaiting “The Rapture”?  These phrases, and others that have begun to appear in our language as Christian political-speak, may not mean what you think they mean.

Do you speak Christian? (, July 31, 2011)

There is a particular vocabulary to Christianity, key phrases to clue in those in the know that you’re one of them.  When someone mentions “second blessings” or praying to “name and claim” something, they are speaking a kind of jargon that not only includes them in a specific religious group, but also excludes those who don’t understand their special meaning.

The problem, according to some theologians, is that many of these Christian-speakers have it all wrong.

For example, many Christians use the word “salvation” to mean being released from sin or going to heaven.  But salvation in the Bible actually refers to turning from injustice to justice, as when the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt.

What about the “Rapture”?  Many think that the Rapture is an event predicted in the Bible in which those who are righteous will bodily ascend to heaven just before the end of the world.  However, there are no mentions of an event like this in the Bible, and the phrase itself did not appear until the 19th century.

These phrases have even slipped into the world of politics, providing a powerful means for politicians to show their inclusion in clannish Christian groups and ingratiate themselves into those powerful voting blocs.

When George W. Bush mentioned the “wonder-working power” of the American people, he was deliberately using a phrase that is especially meaningful to evangelical Christians.  Adopting the language of an insular religious group is an effective way of reaching out to that group and implying that you understand them.

While some phrases can be lost from lack of use, they can also fall into meaninglessness through overuse.  Some evangelicals are even rejecting the term “Christian,” claiming that it is overly broad and connected to politics, preferring the term “Christ follower,” instead.

Shared language, including unique terminology and phrasing, is one of the most powerful cohesive factors in social groups.  When this shared vocabulary doesn’t mean what speakers think it does, or when the meanings change over time, the social groups and what they believe also change.

Changing the language of Christianity is changing Christianity itself.

What do you think?  Have these religious words lost their meanings because of their constant use (or misuse) in political circles?  Or are they more powerful than ever?  Let us know in the comments!

Vocab Challenge!

Sure, you study, you quiz yourself, and you march forward to mastery, but vocabulary learning isn’t truly language knowledge until you can use those words in everyday conversation.  That’s what Vocab Challenge is all about!

For this Challenge, let’s look at the SAT: Design studylist.
Plenty of toothsome words to choose from there, eh?

Here’s how it works:

In the next week, try to use as many words from this studylist as you can in your everyday life.  Not just in conversation, but also in emails, text messages, school papers, and any other verbal interactions you might have.

"My, what an impressive vocabulary you have!"

That’s all.  Just keep those ten words in your mind and try to get them into your speech.

I can already hear you saying: But I have so many things to think about every day.  How am I supposed to remember this too?

A few ideas:

  • If ten words feels overwhelming, try focusing on two words a day to make it more manageable.
  • Write them on your mirror with a bar of soap so you see them while you get ready in the morning.
  • Post them on your Twitter or Facebook.
  • Write yourself a note on your smartphone.
  • Put them in your planner or your Google calendar.
  • Make them part of your life!

"The difficulties of riding a bike in NYC -- especially in heels -- are truly unparalleled."

Then, keep track of your word usage over the week or just take note of your more interesting interactions and tell us all about it in the comments.  I’m sure you’ll find myriad ways to incorporate the words, even if success seems elusive at times.

This post will stay at the top of the page for the whole week, so feel free to comment more than once and keep checking back for updates from your fellow VN-ers!

How To: Friends on Vocab Network

There’s more to VN than vocab!  Let’s talk about one of the features of Vocab Network that helps you on your journey toward language knowledge.

Here at VN we know that reaching vocab mastery often requires a little help or encouragement along the way, and who better to provide it than your friends?

That’s why the Friends feature is important.  Making friends on Vocab Network will help keep you involved, engaged, and moving forward in your learning.

So let’s get started!

1. Look at the Friends box on the left-hand side of your dashboard page.  If it’s empty, have no fear, for we will soon fill it with new and interesting people!

2. Click Browse People above the top right corner of the box.  

3. Find your friends.  You can search for a friend using their VN username, real name, or email address.  You can also find people by searching friends of friends, or by searching by country or interest area.

4. When you’ve found your friend, click their username to go to their profile page.

5. Click the “Friend” button to send them a friend request, including a personalized message if you like.  As soon as they accept your request, you’ll see them on your Dashboard page!

Now that you’ve found some friends, get involved!  Check out their profiles to see their studylists and their progress to mastery.  Share a studylist or a Vocablet or two with them, invite them to a Group, or send them a message.  You could work together on a new studylist, or challenge each other to a race to mastery.

Try this: Head over to Vocab Network NOW and friend a stranger based on common interest.  Then send them a message introducing yourself.  Who knows?  You may have just made a new lifelong friend!

How to: Sharing in VN

Vocab Network is not your typical flashcard site!  Look here for fun, interesting and useful features on Vocab Network that help to make vocabulary memorable for YOU.

Have you noticed this little symbol around the site?

It’s pretty useful!  It’s in your studylist manager…


at the top of every studylist in the Collections tab…


and underneath the picture on every vocablet.


It’s the Share Button, and it allows you to send a vocablet or studylist to a friend using their Vocab Network username or their e-mail address.  You can also share with an entire Vocab Network Group!

Sharing is a great way to connect with other Vocab Network users.  You can clue in your friends on studylists you know they’d be interested in, whether it’s unlikely animal friends or weather words.  Maybe you’ve made a studylist for your vocab test next week and you want to send it to your whole class via e-mail.  Or perhaps you’ve found a vocablet with a snippet that you know your “Sports Fans” group would want to know about.


-- Wait, what? Nooooo!

What are you waiting for?  Get out there and share some vocabulary love, and tell us your successful sharing stories in the comments!