From the Tradition of…

September 15, 2017 Justin Peter Gudel

I’ve been thinking about tradition.  It’s become a catch phrase/word in certain Christian circles.  In fact, it’s one of many new vocabulary words that churches and believers have begun embracing.  




It’s not that the word has changed in meaning.  I can point to any church, and they will have a litany of traditions.  I’m not talking about its usage in that context.  English, like many languages, has a fluidity or semantic change that happens to the definitions of its words over time.  Sometimes terms change in meaning.  Sometimes what changes is how we use them.  Instead of stories where believers have shared their Christian faith, I’ve begun catching the phrase that they’ve shared the Christ/Christian tradition.  They are trying to say the same thing.  We can talk later about the implication of the change.  Right now I’m asking why we’re looking at new ways to say the same idea?


Let’s pretend — stay with me as I do lots of pretending — that you’re about to make a personalized fragrance.  Whether it’s a perfume, cologne, or even a batch of beard oil, you will need a few ingredients.  The primary requirements are a chosen aroma, a carrier, and a fixer (some skip the last and are less for it).   The carrier is what will apply the smell.  The fixer effects the perfume’s potency and increases longevity.  Common carriers include jojoba oil, argan oil, and alcohol.  Fixers are a bit trickier.  Because of the cost, synthetics have largely replaced the natural ones.  But if you’re looking for the best of the best, might I suggest ambergris, aka whale vomit?  Yes, whale excretions are so potent that at one point in history, they were amongst the most valuable substances known to man.  Why, because it matured over time and it ensured your aroma would endure.  


I like that word endure.  One of its definitions is to remain in existence.  


We’re talking about the applicator and preserver of the cologne.  Or, if you see past my pretentious example — the language and the truth of the message.  Sometimes connotations are as important as the words we use.


Sometimes we need to make gluten free stuffing.  


Thanksgiving has become my favorite family tradition.  Each year, on the eve of the holiday, my little sister crashes at our house, generally road-tripping it straight from her place in Chicago.  The following morning she’s my sous chef.  I bark out orders, she giggles over coffee, and together we prep and cook the lion’s share of the meal.  Each year the food changes a bit.  Each of the past three years new dietary concerns have demanded new recipes. To accommodate the naps of children, we’ve changed the time we eat.  We used to feed six, last year we fed fifteen.  


But Thanksgiving is still Thanksgiving.  We still come together to celebrate family and the blessing of food and time together.  Even with the changes in our tradition, the meaning of coming together has stayed true.  


I laugh more than I should each time I get to explain that Punkchiridion has nothing to do with changing the meaning of Christianity.  We desire to be a catalyst for how the church/Christians go about things.  The information remains unchanged.  We might adjust some old traditions or create our own.  But those are the carriers to the truth.  The truth/message will always be man’s search for purpose/meaning.  It will always be God’s redemptive power embracing men and women.  It will always be Christ crucified for our greatest need.  


As PunkChiridion continues, and you with us, you’ll notice certain words being used to convey more precisely what our tribe needs to hear and express.  Realize that this is normal.  Each group begets customs and language.  When you hear these phrases and messages, realize that they aren’t just our words… they can now also be yours.  


Take them.  Share them.  Make them part of your identity.  


And to those people in your life, contiue to beget.