Monday, November 23, 2009

Are You Laodicean?

I learned a new word this morning listening to Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" on NPR. It was the final word in the most recent national spelling bee, if I am remembering correctly. And while I actually am familiar with the source of this word, I never knew it was a word in its own right.

The word in question is "Laodicean". It means lukewarm or halfhearted (especially with respect to religion or politics, the on line American Heritage dictionary tells me).

I could have guessed the lukewarm meaning, drawn directly from the Book of Revelation (chapter 3, verse 16) in the section that portrays the Spirit of God addressing "the seven churches," sometimes commending but more often harshly prodding each one to overcome its particular flaws. "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: '. . . I know your works; you are neither cold not hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.'" In the days when I was trying to memorize Bible content in seminary, I did manage to remember that the sin of the Laodiceans was lukewarmness, largely because both words begin with the letter 'L'! The spewing out of the mouth bit was kind of catchy, too.

These days as I often find myself pondering things like passion, delight, and commitment, I can appreciate the dangers and pitfalls of being lukewarm. Probably not in ways that the author of Revelation had in mind, but that's OK.


  1. What the heck does that passage from Revelation mean?

  2. well, if you read on, I think you'll get it.