Spelling Words

    This would be harder if I were speaking to you, but we’re stuck with print. It’s a dinner party and a clutch of clergy are standing around. He says, “What’s stressed backwards?”
    I said with delight: Dessert!
    Fortunately I mumbled; the correct answer is plural. But it’s a neat discovery: lots of people are stressed out because of desserts; they can’t not eat them, they feel guilty, and so forth. And then to discover: the connection is right there, in the letters themselves.
    Another proof that English is the best language.
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    Well, maybe it’s not, but it’s my best language. Not that there’s a lot of competition.
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    I was the guest of a retired Church of England priest who lived in Monaco. Entering his apartment building, he left me to speak to the attendant, in Italian. I asked him how many languages he knew; I think he said eight. “My Urdu is a little rusty,” he said.
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    What does it mean to say the Word became flesh? Is the way we play with words and turn them around and mix them up some sort of analogy of God taking on DNA and dirt under his fingernails?
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    Susan loved crossword puzzles, and so when it came out in 2006 we went to see the documentary “Wordplay” in the local theater. There were cameos from Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, both of whom are ace crossword solvers. (Clinton starts in the upper left and moves diagonally down, finishing about as fast as he can fill in the squares.)
    The director was being driven around. The driver said—see that store? “Unkind Donuts.”
    Just move the D in the first word.
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    I was going under for a procedure, and my doctor asked me to spell “metaphysics” backwards. (He does that to see when the anesthesia has kicked in.) I said: M, E, T, A, P, H, Y, S, I, C, S, B, A, C, K, W, A, R, D, S . . . He gave me a sidelong glance. “Okay,” he said.
    I should have asked for dessert.
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    Out & About. I’m starting “Good Books & Good Talk,” a seminar discussion series that will take up a different book each time it meets. The first is Sunday, October 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas. We’ll discuss Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot; anyone who reads the text is welcome to the conversation. Registration is not necessary, but it would be helpful to have a rough idea of how many people might come: .

The Rev. Canon Dr. Victor Lee Austin is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Losing Susan: Brain Disease, the Priest's Wife, and the God who Gives and Takes Away."