In Frederick Buechner’s book Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC he defined predestination this way:

Predestination is the theory that since God knows everything else, he must also know whether each one of us is going to end up in heaven or in hell, and therefore the die is cast before we even cast it.

Theorizing about God this way is like an isosceles triangle trying to theorize the Great Pyramid of Cheops into the two dimensions of the printed page.

The fact that I know you so well that I know what you’re going to do before you do it does not mean that you are not free to do whatever you damn well please.

Logic is only cigol spelled backward.

I love this so much. To me, when I first read this it made me not worry about a lot of the theological hullaballoo out there. It was delightfully paradoxical and pragmatic. It “does not mean that you are not free to do whatever you damn well please.” This was a very satisfying definition to me. It has brought me a lot of comfort over the years.

And there’s Jon Stewart. In his book America (the Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Inaction he writes this description of the internet:

… the Internet, a magnificent new technology combining the credibility of anonymous hearsay with the excitement of typing.

Again, I love this so much: “credibility of anonymous hearsay with the excitement of typing.” Come on! That’s poetry. It helps some that Buechner and Stewart are two of my communication heroes, and it helps that I am suspicious of theological debate and the internet.

There are other books that contain fun definitions as well. The dictionary has some. But there’s also The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce which contains some gems. I must admit that I like the idea of it more than the execution. I might be a little too far removed from his age to feel the sting of a lot of his sarcasm. The definitions were written between 1881 – 1906. But still, there’s some good stuff in there:

Igonramus, n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about.

Once, adv. Enough.

President, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom – and of whom only – it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

Misfortune, n. The kind of fortune that never misses.

Those definitions keep bouncing around in my head. And partly because of that, when I sat down to write a definition of teenager this is what came out:


  1. The emotional equivalent of waking up Christmas morning to a gift you were hoping to get combined with having your doorbell taped down in the middle of the night and finding a paper bag full of flaming poop on your porch.

(see also: juxtaposition, paradox)

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