There is a website called Wordle (www.wordle.net) that allows you to submit a document and it will turn it into a graphic featuring the major words of the text. The interesting thing is that it weights the words according to how many times they are used. The more a word is used, the larger graphic it gets. It will make sense once you look at the attached examples. (We thank J.J. for giving us this idea.) What happens when you submit two recent papers on the future of the synod, one from President Kieschnick and one from Matt Harrison, to this test? More on that in a moment.
The point of this little exercise is that it makes obvious what is important to the author. For instance, we have all heard Pastor Wilken point out that sermons need to be about Christ. You could submit the text of your pastor’s sermon to this “werdle” exercise and see if it is really Christ-centered.
I thought I would try it with one of my recent posts. Because it was about “Rick” “Warren” those words were the largest. I was pleased to see that beyond that some of the other big words were Gospel, Christ, kingdom, faith, preacher, etc. Here is what the “wordled” version of my post looks like.
Here is where it gets really interesting. Both President Kieschnick and Rev. Harrison have written about the desired future our synod within the last few weeks. Rev. Harrison wrote “It’s Time” and President Kieschnick wrote a memo to all LCMS congregations concerning the synod’s goals for ministry and mission up to 2010. So it is a fair test. Each has written about where the synod needs to go.
Here is what Matt Harrison’s document looks like when it is “wordled.”
Notice that the words that are used the most and thus are the biggest are mission, Word, church, God, doctrine, Christ, etc.
Here is what President Kieschnick’s memo looks like when it is “wordled.”
Notice that the terms that come to the forefront are words like commissions, departments, targets, corporate, entities, etc.
The difference is literally visual. One text features word, church God, doctrine, and Christ and the other features commissions, departments, targets, and entities. One is churchly and God-centered and the other is corporate and business-centered. We invite you to pay close attention to the words of both men as the LCMS spends the next eighteen months considering who will lead this synod in the future. Listen carefully to their words. Words carry freight. Words mean things. When God chose to communicate to us he used the Word made flesh and the Word recorded as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast pray that the synod will choose a churchly man and not a corporate man to lead our denomination.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger view