Tonight I learned a new word. My wife Catherinanne, who is a virtual hogshead of intelligence, was heard to use the word “persnickety” So sui generis is “persnickety,” that spell check does not recognize it, even though it recognizes “sui generis.” I had never heard that word and was quite taken by it. According to Merriam-Webster persnickety means “fussy about small details or having the characteristics of a snob or requiring great precision.” What a great word really. I want to use it in a sentence. Let’s see… I find that my wife can be very persnickety about where I place my dirty underwear. How’s that? I think it works. OR In order to be a perform bypass surgery on a mouse one has to be very persnickety. How about that? I once tried to speak to Eric Lindros but he walked by as if I was not even there, causing me to think to myself, “Eric, you are so persnickety.”
Good word Catherinanne. Thanks for the enlightenment. Some of the antonyms tossed about for this word, are “undemanding, easy to please, accepting.” Upon further reflection I feel confident beyond any diffidence I do not see God as persnickety. Nope – not a chance. It seems that there are plenty of pernickety forces at work in the church these days. We have bishops who argue strongly that there is only one way to be “the church.” So persnickety are they about the whole business that they are prepared to walk away the rest of us, and will not even associate with us. While God is about accepting, loving and embracing, persnickety forces are still fussing about details. I think that there are two approaches to scripture for instance – There is the contextual approach and the persnickety approach. Two approaches to liturgy – the joyful and spirit filled approach and the persnickety approach. There are two approaches to parish governance – the permission giving and life giving approach and the persnickety approach. This word is really pragmatic – I really wish that Catherinanne had taught me this work sooner.
Another, not so uncommon, word that I looked up today is “magnanimous.” According to Dictionary.com magnanimous means: “1.Generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness. 2. High-minded; noble. 3. Proceeding from or revealing generosity or nobility of mind, character, etc.” So we have PERSNICKETY on the one side and MAGNANIMOUS on the other. That which is pernickety is of darkness and is not life giving. Magnanimous on the other hand now that is all about light and it is very life giving. God is all about being magnanimous. In this season of Advent I am so pleased that God is not persnickety when it comes to me and my short comings and my failings. I am so happy that as I journey through Advent I can be honest in my repentance and return to God feeling free. John the Baptist proclaims that we need to turn away from our ways and come home to God. That would be like a long trip to the vive-principals office if God were persnickety – but alas – it is not like that at all. We should be very confident acknowledging our won failings as the God who breaths life into us is “free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness.” That same God is “generous in forgiving.” Our God is MAGNANIMOUS – not to be PERSNICKETY, but don’t you think that’s reason enough for us all to take a good look at ourselves and find ways to seek to love God, love neighbour and love self better? I think it’s a great reason.