My word of the week.
I recently read some advice for successful writing and publishing today that boiled it down to this: write your passion, but don’t use words that people have to look up, and don’t. use. long. sentences.
One simple word for that.
Boring. And definitely not chthonic.
Dare to serve more chthonic fare!
When saying, chthonic, in the US we treat the “ch” as silent (“thon-ic”), but it’s much more fun to ever so slightly pronounce the initial “ch” as you would in Greek and thus say, “keh-thon-ic” – just don’t linger over the “keh” too long.
I came across chthonic as I finished up Longenecker’s book, Quest for the Creed (I think I’ve mentioned Longenecker a time or two – I like him; he writes complex sentences and makes me look up words). Here was the section where I met chthonic:
“The conception that fused earth and heaven was accomplished by the power of God that Christians call the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some weak ghostly figure that floats about like ectoplasm. Instead it is that fiery, chthonic force that rumbles at the heart of creation from the dawn of time. The first words of the book of Genesis hint that the same brooding, gestating and conceiving power was there at the beginning. The Holy Spirit constantly broods over the bent of the world to bring forth new life.”
Ah yes, chthonic force. What a way to refer to the Holy Spirit – a fiery, chthonic force that rumbles at the heart of creation. I also love the picture of the Spirit brooding over a bent world to bring forth new life…
Chthonic is from the Ancient Greek χθόνιος (khthonios, “in or under the ground”), from χθών (khthōn, “ground”).
I thought it looked familiar.
χθών never actually makes an appearance in the Greek New Testament. It only appears in the compound form καταχθόνιος when Paul affirms the universal sway of Christ in the coming age (“every knee will bow and every tongue confess in heaven and on earth and under the earth” Philippians 2:10).
So we’re talking earthy, subterranean, deep.
Try complimenting the pastor this way next time: “Wow. Very chthonic contemplation today, Pastor.” Or perhaps you could tell him or her, “That was far too chthonic for my taste! (and please stop using words that I have to look up. And speak. In. Shorter. Sentences. Thank. You.”
And of course there are variations on chthonic. There’s chthonian. I suppose a chthonian performance would be the opposite of one that’s stellar.
Or how about we start the Chthonic Church – in fact, the early church in Rome meeting in those catacombs was literally chthonic, wasn’t it? Ultimately we’re all going to be chthonicized, aren’t we?
The Gospel is so chthonic.
Typically we think of God and Gospel as so otherworldly, so out of this world, so not of this earth. We’re back with Plato and Aristotle insisting that we point up while others point down, forgetting the chthonic reality of the incarnation. God spans heaven and earth to its chthonic depths and unites everyone and everything through that fiery, chthonic Spirit pulsing at the center of creation.
We love and serve a chthonic God who has really gotten down to earth.
Perhaps we should follow suit…