When in Vienna…

Hello Friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written up a blog, but now more than ever would be an appropriate time for me to do so. Why? Keep reading.

If you haven’t heard yet, I’m actually in Europe right now; Vienna to be precise! That’s right, 7 hours ahead of you Central Standard Timers. And in order to be as cliché as possible, I’ve decided to do some travel blogs! Because you know what they say, “When in Vienna…”

Among the conversations I’ve had with my fellow study abroad-ers, and even in conversations with friends before my departure , I’ve come to realize something about traveling or the notion of traveling. Something that I think will apply in a strange way to most of life. So bear with me through the clichés, as I ramble on about travel.

Picking out seasoned travelers, as an unseasoned traveler, seems easy enough to me. Those who have experienced several nights in an airport because of delays simply have a way about them, a way that says, “I’ve been through a lot worse.” Even more so, seasoned travelers have a type of insider language, a type of insider experience that only a few would recognize and resonate with. See the following mock conversation between hypothetical experienced travelers and an unexperienced one (me):

Friend: “Oh have you been Cinqueterra?”

Other Friend: “YES! It’s gorgeous!”

Me: “Uh, no what’s that?”

Friend: “You know, in Italy? It’s Italian for five lands. Here, look at some of these pics of me when I was backpacking through Europe! Have I told you about that? We found this little café on the side of the road…” *continues talking about travel experience*

Other Friend: “Oh the café with the red roof and the excellent chocolate croissants? Here’s a picture of me with the owner!”

Me: *looks around uncomfortably* “Oh yea, I knew that… Oh nice. Cool pics. Here’s some of me… and my engineering homework… that I turned in last year…”

Again, while such a conversation may be fictitious, most can relate to being in a situation where there is a definite line between insider and outsider. The line grows more and more stark when people employ the things I mentioned earlier, insider language and experiences. But these situations extend beyond just the world of traveling. One can find notions of insider language in almost any community or area of life (see below for examples).

Business: ROI, ForEx, synergy, vision statements, empower, leveraging the best practice

Literature: Steinbeckian, Kafkaesque, Goethan, Wiesel’s trilogy, novel of Spenserian magnitude

Electrical Engineering: PWM, EMF, ASCII Code, binary, Java, C++, Photovoltaic cells, passive RC filter

These are a few of the areas that I know well enough to be able to claim some amount of knowledge of insider language. Words, phrases, looks, experiences can all fall under a broad category of insider-ness.  Again, the areas truly are endless. Humanity has a knack for creating secluded communities that utilize languages and experiences intentionally or unintentionally to divide and separate. Even within the church, one can hear insider language.

Church: Prayer warrior, believer, get into the Word, accept Jesus into your heart, fight the good fight, “how’s your heart?”, traveling mercies, hedge of protection, bless her heart, non-denom, sweet time of fellowship, and so on and so forth.

I could continue for a while, but I’d prefer not to. Here’s why I bring all this talk of insider/outsider language up in the first place. Two reasons:

  1. I think humanity creates such communities because each individual needs to feel accepted or validated, and oftentimes the best way to get such a sense of belonging is by excluding others. Because what’s the point of having a special club if everyone could be in it? Then no one would be special, right? Regardless, the fact that such language exists reveals that deep down inside most sane people (and I’m a mostly sane person, and also last I checked I have this need) is a need to be accepted, wholly, completely, whether or not said person meets a certain standard. This need has to be met, otherwise bitterness, isolation and despair can creep in.
  2. The church should be the last place, and I mean, the LAST place someone would feel a sense of insider/outsider language or experience. I believe most churches don’t intend to create an environment that fosters otherness, but I wonder how much someone who never grew up in the church would understand from a traditional service in Bible Belt Oklahoma. Seriously, next time you go to a church service, place yourselves in the shoes of someone who knows little to zero about the church culture and see what you would feel. I think you might be surprised.

Look, if any of this makes sense, or even if it doesn’t, I want to ask you to do one thing. Be aware of the type of language you use in a group. Could everyone understand what you’re saying? Be aware of the group. Is there anyone in the group who is looking confused? Or is trying to employ insider language, and in doing so, revealing himself or herself to be an outsider? Those are the one’s you really ought to look out for and include.

After all, you know what they say, “It’s not about us.” At least, I say that, and I firmly believe that. Jesus never excluded. Ever. Jesus led the way in reaching towards the outsider. He used parables, the language of the commoners to express deep truths that all could understand; however, Jesus was more than just an example for us. He is the way by which we are allowed into the presence of God. Jesus brought the outsiders in, but in order to do so, he had to go outside the city. He had to become an outsider, rejected, scorned, and forgotten, so we could become an insider, loved, redeemed, and accepted.

Christians: Next time you’re in a group and you find yourself slinging terms left and right, or sharing experiences with only a few in the group, take a step back, remember who you once were as an outsider and what it took to get you to become an insider, and then make the move towards the outsider in love! You’ll never regret it. Some of my best friendships have come from stepping towards the outsider.

Non-Christians: Remember that deep sense of belonging that most normal people feel? Well that’s not going to go away, and every time you think you’ve found it in a group or another human, that group or human will eventually fail. You will be disappointed and crushed because no one can grant you what you most desire. There’s really only one relationship that will do that, and I want to invite you to take a hard look at what Christ has to offer in relationship, and see if it’s something you want. I have a feeling if you are genuinely seeking truth, you will find it.

Let me know your thoughts!

What are other areas of insider/outsiders that I missed?

What are words and phrases in your own groups and circles that drive you crazy?

Email: Seth.Brown@eagles.oc.edu

Post Script

Travel Things:

So I discovered that I absolutely love architecture. And Vienna has some beautiful architecture to offer to the discerning traveler, as well as other hidden surprises. Some of my favorites so far are below:

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I audibly gasped when I saw Karlskirche. Especially with the moon. I mean, wow. It was stunning.

Music Things:

John Mark McMillan finally released his new album and it is absolutely fire. Seriously go check him out. I recommend Gods of American Success and Persephone on his new album, Mercury and Lightning. But you really can’t go wrong with any of his songs, or any of his albums for that matter. Deeper cuts: Carbon Ribs, Closer, Dancing on the Doors

Also King’s Kaleidoscope came out with a new album, The Beauty Between. Excellent album that briefly comments on race in America. Sticks and Stones stands out as a favorite so far, followed directly by Playing With Fire (feat. Propaganda). Lead singer Chris Gardner has a strongly recognizable voice and the band has a distinct style often utilizing brass to create a slightly jazz hip-hop pop feel. Deeper Cuts: Gone, Light After Darkness, Trackless Sea.

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