The New “N” Word

By Joel Hess

Stop sign on side of school bus

This past week, a parochial pulp newspaper (if the term can be applied so loosely), unfamiliar to 99.9% of the world, severely misrepresented a blogpost of one my friends here at The Jagged Word. Well, let me be direct. It lied. It claimed the author supported a position that he very clearly does not.

Unfortunately, the reporter did not actually read the blog or does not know how to read. Of course, being the sole protectors of Christendom, they do not have time for reading.

Sadly we live in a world where slogans, memes, vines, bumper stickers, and billboards provide the only medium for discussing theology, politics, science or almost anything!

There is a new “n” word in this Brave New World: nuance. Like the other “n” word, it has been removed from our vocabulary. Unlike the other “n” word, our society is much worse off with its disappearance.


Not every position on the issues of the day can be summed up to fit on the back of your Audi Quattro or in a cute meme sticker on your Facebook page.

Nuance: a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression or sound. Do not mistake nuance with the favorite cliché used by weak people: “gray area”. I’m talking about details, nuances, and paragraphs that require thoughtful fleshing out and long conversations, preferably over a couple Negronis (the other “n” word that needs to be returned to its rightful place).

We should expect such shenanigans from politicians who desperately desire to one up each other by demonizing their opponent’s position with as large as brush strokes possible: the nuclear option. Yet this unintelligent form of argument has invaded the university, church and even coffee houses. Our nuance app has been disabled. You must either totally agree with my position or you are my sworn enemy and hater of mankind.

On a related note, a young friend of mine has begun a much needed exploration of the classical genre of music (I hate that description). Unlike Rock n’ Roll which by its very definition despises nuance in sounds, the great compositions from Bach to Berlioz compile a whole universe of sounds within 10 minutes. But, you have to listen intently and carefully in order to be rewarded by these masterpieces. Masterpieces that took more than 10 minutes to compose. Who has the time for that?

So it is the same in our debates. We have no time for nuance. We have no fine-tuned ear for distinctions.  We have no joy in details.

Perhaps the cause of this escalation in debate warfare is due to information overload. We simply don’t have time to read a long extended argument because so many arguments are flying at us on our various devices. The one with the catchy inflammatory title (yes, like this reactionary post) gets our attention first.

Perhaps our self-centered, overstimulated, sex and sugar obsessed minds just get bored after a couple of minutes, no matter how sexy the headline.


Maybe we are afraid of the “n” word.  We don’t want to be proven wrong in any area of our argument. We don’t want to find anything worth saving in the position of our friends. So we push the nuke button before we have to think too hard. It’s all or none.

Friends, please return the “n” word to your vocabulary. Don’t give up on engaging your opponents in long, even boring, conversations. Especially you, Jesus lovers.

Good Lord, our Lord has had patience with us. Talk about a justified nuke option! It is that simple. We all fall under one blanket stereotypical inflammatory bumper sticker headline: sinners! There is no nuance from the perspective of heaven. It is black and white.

Yet God filled every nuance: in a specific flesh, in a specific poor Jewish country girl, in a specific town at a specific time. They say the Devil is in the details, but so is God. He is rather obsessed with them.