May 29th, 2009

I guess I’m not Laodicean

Nor are you, if you’re reading this blog.

But I had ever heard of the word before, and certainly couldn’t spell it until I’d seen it in this article.

Fortunately for National Spelling Bee champ (and aspiring neurosurgeon, but that seems to go with the territory) Kavya Shivashankar, she could.

[NOTE: I was taking the definition of “Laodicean” from the link, by the way, where it was defined this way: lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics.]

29 Responses to “I guess I’m not Laodicean”

  1. davis,br Says:

    To the church in Laodicea …

    It’s a pretty “famous” passage, actually …in both homelitics and in eschatology

    So yeah, I’d heard the word before, and could spell it. And it’s an easy and obvious one, at that …IF the young lady is a Christian of some sort (for the record, yes I am …pun purely incidental), of course.

    Rather surprising (and sad …and a bit shocking) to find that the word would be “new” to someone (anyone) actually.

    …but as I said: I am one, and so I s’pose a bit of a Luddite in such matters. Still ….

  2. jon baker Says:


    Go easy on Neo-Neocon. She is familar with the Bibical book of Ecclesiastes, and has made reference to it in the past. As far as the reference to the Laodician church which you referenced, Revelation 3: 14-22, some people, even Christians in some circles, may not have been given repeated sermons about it in their church. I know Baptist preachers especially like to preach this passage because of its warning about being a “lukewarm” Christian and its warning about mistaking earthly wealth for spiritual health.

  3. jon baker Says:

    it occurs to me, if the National Spelling Bee is supported by taxpayer dollars, will the ACLU feel the need to have the winner thrown out for answering a question based on Christian writings.

  4. Foxfier Says:

    Different styles of preaching, different likelihood of use; additionally, even if someone were intimately familiar with all things mentioned in the Bible, there’s no assurance they’d make the leap from a local church of the Bible to a current word.

    A lot of Christian churches don’t focus much on Revelation; many focus on the lesson over the history; I’m sure there are other reasons, as well.

    Amusingly enough, “Laodicea” shows up six times in the Bible.

    Quickly! Who is Nympha?

    (She’s the woman in whose house a church of Laodicea met; mentioned only once)

  5. gcotharn Says:

    I loved the 2002 documentary movie about the national spelling bee: “Spellbound”. I recommend it to anyone.

    Near the very end, the mother of winning speller Nupur Lala says something like: “In other countries, if you move there you are always an outsider. But in America, you can come and be an American.” And, when she said that, I burst in to tears in the theater. And then I had to try and hide it, b/c I’m a guy, and this was not some type of approved crying occasion for a guy. But I couldn’t hide it well enough, b/c I had tears coming everywhere.

    I saw that this year’s winner said Nupur Lala was her inspiration, which was nice.

  6. Charles Says:

    The National Spelling Bee is a truly remarkable event. I just love watching how they can spell words that they might not have even studied simply by understanding the origins of the word.

    I’ve also noticed that while they are competitors they do seem to support each other. For example, when one of them fails to spell a word correctly there is genuine condolences from some of the other spellers. I’m not sure if it is because of their young age, the fact they are all “members” of a small select group, or perhaps it is due to their proper upbringing.

  7. Gray Says:

    I’m a better speller than her!

    Try me–post me a word to spell!

  8. csimon Says:

    Jon Baker-
    You beat be tp the punch! Being Jewish, I have never heard the word Laudacean, nor a from of it, and given the controversy over Sotomayor’s decision upholding the invalidation of th firefighters’ tests on the basis of the fact that there seemed to be a racial divide among those passing and not passing the test, thus invalidating the test (the whole of which is now being considered by the Supreme Court, the first thing I though of was, “wait a minute, I’ve never been exposed to the Chistian bible and therefore never the word “………Think the ACLU will file suit on behalf of this “unfair” use of a word in a test that is derived specifically from Christian wiritings…….?”
    Coincidental? Or substantiation of the ACLU’s claim that
    test are devised for specific results……….?????????? Ahem…

  9. csimon Says:

    Pls. excuse all the terrible typos in post above! Yuck!

  10. rickl Says:

    I won the spelling bee in my elementary school when I was in 6th grade. The runner-up was my sister, who was in 5th grade.

    The finalists were seated on the stage, got up to spell, and sat down again. When the judge asked everyone who had not been eliminated to stand up, it was just my sister and I. The audience erupted in laughter.

    The next day one of my teachers said, “Does your family spell around the dinner table?”

    (The winning word was “icicle”.)

  11. csimon Says:

    Never let anything inhibit those tears! Especially the notion that some others might not consider such a display appropriate b/c I’m a guy, and this was not some type of approved crying occasion for a guy.”

    Sensitivity, is one of the sexiest and most attractive characteristics of a man (alll due respect to Mrs. Cotharn) — whether it be a display of sadness, or overwhelming appreciation of those notions you deem to be true about your home country, and the fact that every once in awhile we are remindid that there are many who “get it,” often those who hava sought to live here no matter the effort required. We rarely hear it expressed, and I, myself, find it even more profound when a young child who is an new immigant, or child of a new immigrant, finds freedoms and acceptance, even when expected, still startling and wonderful and confirmation that they are indeed home where they have come to belong. For all of the political debate we engage in, and the doubt we face these days, such simple expressions from the heart the heart that hit the mark, remind us of the reasons for the very foundation of America. Such acknowledgement SHOULD touch us at the core of our beings — reminding us to appreciate what we too often take for granted.

  12. jon baker Says:

    Here is a comment from Wiki, which is similiar to what I have heard in the past:

    ” It is thought that the Laodiceans were being criticized for their neutrality or lack of zeal (hence “lukewarm”). Based on this understanding, the pejorative term Laodicean is used in the English language to refer to those neutral or indifferent in matters of faith.[1]

    However, some scholars have suggested that this metaphor has been drawn from the water supply of the city, which was lukewarm, in contrast to the hot springs at nearby Hierapolis and the pure water of Colossae (Barclay). The archaeology shows Laodicea had an aqueduct that probably carried water from hot mineral springs some five miles south, which would have become tepid before entering the city (see main Laodicea article). Strabo states that the water was hard, though drinkable.[citation needed] The imagery of the Laodicean aqueduct suggests not that “hot” is good and “cold” is bad, but that both hot and cold water are useful, whereas lukewarm water is useless.”

    From article here :

  13. br549 Says:

    Leave it to the unnamed scholars referenced in wikipedia articles to pervert the Biblical source of just about anything. The printed version of the “History Channel”. Probably where the Obama administration gets its historical information from.

    Pravda has been interesting lately, eh? I get a kick out of the fact that even Pravda calls our movement toward Marxism a “decent”. All the nations that know better (from experience) even Russia, have been warning us. But one can’t find those warnings in our own MSM, as it is simply, purposely, ignored and excluded.

  14. br549 Says:

    Funny, the lefties seem to have given up on this blog.

  15. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Guess you could say that she “spewed” the correct spelling out of her mouth?

  16. Tatyana Says:

    based on definition in the post, could one be a Laodicean where religion is concerned and absolutely not – in politics?

  17. davis,br Says:

    Yes, Tat’.

    Older&tc., heh.

    Jon, not to worry: our Mistress is one of the Elect in blogdom IMO …that was more an indictment of an educational system gone awry.

  18. Tatyana Says:

    *davis, br: so, should I introduce myself as 1/2 Laodicean? And later clarify, which half?

  19. br549 Says:

    Crap. I left the “s” out of descent. My apologies to everyone who discounted the entire post because of that.

  20. Tatyana Says:

    No worries, *br549. That wasn’t the reason at all.

  21. davis,br Says:

    Tat? If you are lukewarm in your religious practice, you may be accurately described as having beliefs that are Laodicean.

    If you are an enthusiastic active participant in your politics, the same description would not be appropriate (and would indeed, be entirely inappropriate).

    So indeed you could be both wholly Laodicean (a superb pun) and wholly not Laodicean. At the same time. Tho’ as regards different attributes.

    …the term’s properly used descriptively as an attribute, not as a noun (well, unless you really are a member of said church/region …in which case we’d be at a bit of a quandary – and sans an otherwise excellent modifier – as to how best to “artistically” describe your unenthusiasm for religion).

    In other words, it’s not a gestalt. It’s more of a adjective.

    …tho’ the logical extension of the implication of the expression of the sentiment to/about someone as being “half lukewarm” would be an absolutely hilarious and quite witty indictment; Churchillian, actually**. Kudos for that, at least, dear.

    **Cf as example Churchill’s response to Nancy Astor when she remarked that if he were her husband she’d give him poison, and Winnie’s retort that if he indeed were her husband, he’d [happily] take it.

  22. davis,br Says:

    Tat? Your answer to br549 is another quite adequate example of a “Churchillian response.” Heh.

  23. Tatyana Says:

    *davis, br,

    dear, I appreciate your reminding me of another (one of many) inconvenience of English (vs. Russian) : geographical/national descriptive could be read as noun as well as adjective, whilst in Russian these are two distinctly different constructions.

    Still, if we are to understand Laodicean‘s primary stress on “lukewarm”, not either of two subjects of said lukewarmness (“politics’ and “religion”), how are we to perceive, which of the two socially prohibitive topics we’re suppose to avoid when attempting to communicate with a self-described Laodician guest?

    Churchillian remarks come to my lips much easier in Russian; please consider occasional one in English as pure accident of Brown movement.

  24. virgil xenophon Says:

    Tangential to the discussion, but how many of the winner’s in the last 20 yrs have been a) Home-schooled and/or b) children descending from parents of S.E.Asian or S.W. Asian orgin?

  25. virgil xenophon Says:


    Funny about writing styles, I would have italicized “were”
    rather than “her.”

  26. davis,br Says:

    Tat’ …would that all could ascribe Churchillianisms to Brownian movement so modestly. They were both delightful, nonetheless.

    And …I suspect that talking vividly about the weather may solve the quandary of which topic is best avoided, if you’re entertaining said Laodiceanist …but if they’re a Laodoceanite, I’d probably consider neither topic expressly verboten, but rather “play it by ear” until I’d further plummed the depth of their proclivities.

    Virgil: Heh. I did at first italicize “were”, but after rolling it around on my tongue, I decided it would sound better if “her” was emphasized … since Winston was reasonably happily married.

  27. davis,br Says:

    …and obviously I’d have lost the bee there, eh.

  28. br549 Says:

    Tatyana, forgive me. I had no idea you were an intellectual superior.

    I could volunteer to place a foot on each cheek, and a hand on each shoulder, and pry with all my strength, but I doubt that even the world’s strongest man could achieve the desired result.

  29. Tatyana Says:

    *davis, br:

    BrownIAN, of course! Here’s an example where, on the contrary, I should have followed logic of Russian – it uses adjective construction, too: БраунОВСКОЕ движение.
    Your proposal has classical elegance, but I’m afraid it’s only suited to very short cocktail functions and myriad attendees: for how long can you discuss rains in Spain?
    For practicality, can I suggest using Laodicean1 (‘lukewarmish towards religion’) and Laodicean2 (indifferent to politics)?

    Churchillianisms: aren’t they also Chandlerianisms
    (he preferred to simply call them “wisecracks”, though)?
    -You were smart, pal. You fooled me.
    -That wouldn’t make me smart.

    br549: oh no, no apologies necessary!

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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