Once you have known me for a little bit of time, you will come to understand my love for learning different words. One year my dear friend gave me a daily word calendar. I sifted through each word and often was enamored with looking up the definitions before I even had a chance to read it. I was like a kid in a toy store with free reign. Affectionately, I have been called “Word Girl.”
Every year, journalists publish the word of the year. In 2016, Dictionary.com proclaimed “xenophobia” was their pick for the Word of the Year; however, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary coined “surreal” as their Word of the Year. It was used more than any other word in social media websites, newspapers, books, interviews and all forms of communication. While in the car, I heard a segment on National Public Radio (NPR) on January 3, 2017 by a book journalist named Petra Mayer who gave arguments for the “other word of the year” – UNHINGED! My ears perked up as I listened intently to the bradcast. This word resonated in my spirit and I was hooked.
The word unhinged can be defined as “mentally unbalanced; deranged, upset, unglued, unsettled, disordered or distraught.” In other words, this adjective is used to describe how critical you are of one’s behavior. I believe a more appropriate definition could be: “It is no longer working as it used to; it is disconnected, it is coming apart.” The latter descriptive can be used to talk about our political system, the dynamics of the home, and even our churches. The church has become UNHINGED because it is no longer the institution in which I was raised. Going to church every Sunday or even going at all has become an anomaly in our society. Kelly Shattuck (2015) stated, “17.7 percent of Americans attend church weekly. We know that over the past 30-40 years, we have seen a decline in church attendance across all denominations” (para. 4-5).
Is it possible to become UNHINGED about the plight of the church? Is it possible Jesus Christ has become UNHINGED towards the attitude Christians have taken regarding the church? In Acts 17:6 (King James Version), the church is described as “…these are they that turned the world upside down…” Can we honestly say the church of 21st century has the same tenacity the early church did over 2,000 years ago? I believe the answers are clear and alarming at the same time.
The NPR librarian surveyed a small size of online news sources and discovered a steady rise in the use of the word UNHINGED. Here’s what the data produced (the numbers indicate the frequency of the word found in all forms of communication):
2014 2015 2016
615 784 2,017 (Source: “The other word of the Year”, January 3, 2017, NPR)
This validates the increased popularity of the word. We will have to sit tight to see if this word makes it to the 2017 Word of the Year but for now I believe there’s enough proof to substantiate the win. This is “Word Girl” signing off with one question, “What’s your favorite word?”
Mayer, P. (aired January 3, 2017). The other word of the year, National Public Radio Books, Segment: Here and Now, Retrieved from www.npr.org
Unhinged. (n.d.). Memidex online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.memidex.com/unhinged
Shattuck, K. (December 29, 2015). 7 startling facts: An up close look at church attendance in America, Church Leaders, retrieved from www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastors-articles/139575-7