When a Noun Becomes a Verb

I sent an email out to the ‘Parish Group’ saying that I might not be able to attend the parish and that I wished them a great time of ‘fellowshiping’ and debating. After hitting ‘send’, I realized that the properly-spoken English language didn’t have the word ‘fellowshiping’. I had just made up a very odd sounding verb of a noun. Not that I am a stickler for grammatical correctness, I couldn’t care less. Technically, ‘fellowship’ is itself a verb. But still, I sort of felt embarrassed and wanted to salvage my pride at least by trying to find some seemingly insightful rationale behind it. Or may be, it is a week since I have written anything on my blog and I needed an excuse to ramble on something.

So I started thinking… When ‘google’ became ‘googling’, a noun had become a very odd sounding verb. Whenever a noun becomes a verb it signifies a very powerful paradigm shift in how people perceive life. When noun becomes an odd-sounding verb, it morphs into something much BIGGER – in google’s case worth billions of dollars too. 😛

In order to find a way to restore my fallen (vain) glory, I had to ask myself what paradigm shift the word ‘fellowshiping’ signified? Was it worth at least 2 cents? Two thought tumbled out… 1) Young urban progressives living in the midst of a very ‘fragmented society’ have a deep need for fellowship (as a replacement to real family-ties). 2) Friendship/fellowship was never meant to be an end in itself. Any good friendship is always a means to something MUCH bigger.

C.S.Lewis in his book, ‘Four Loves’ talks about friendship as a relationship in which two people stand side-by-side and look at the same thing admire it the same way. They are not preoccupied with each other (as in the case of romantic relationship), friends are preoccupied with the beauty of ‘something’ MUCH bigger than each other, ‘something’ that could potentially be earth-shattering. In fact, the famed circle of friends that C.S.Lewis was a part of , the ‘Inklings’, also had another prominent writer, the great J.R.R Tolkien. The Inklings shared many a conversation over many a night. C.S.Lewis even read the original manuscript of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and discussed it with J.R.R Tolkien.

What C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien shared was the friendship of the highest order. Tolkien was very influential in C.S.Lewis’ conversion. It is impossible to overestimate the impact of the Inklings on either writers and a thousand other writers that try copycat, the greatest among these being J.K.Rowling who makes no bones of the fact that she owes so much to the above mentioned writers. When noun becomes an odd sounding verb, when fellowship becomes fellowshiping, eventually, there is bound to be something spectacular.

Having thought through this I was sort of happy. I had managed to use the names of some legends using some circuitous logic and reasoning to salvage the damage that my vain ego felt at having coined so queer a word as ‘fellowshiping’. Nevertheless, my ambition knews no limits. I was still thinking about how I could further salvage my pride by finding other uses for this inadvertent mistake… Lo and behold! another context came to my rescue. It happened at the parish meeting which I eventually made it to…

The question on the table was about how to engage an ‘urban progressive’ culture with the Gospel. I made my customary (slightly) long-winded speech about using artistic inclinations of people as a contact point to engage the culture. Kyle, a sharp guy in the group said, “so what you are saying is we need to something like – invite people and screen the movie ‘Tree of Life'” (Kyle and I had just had a deep conversation about movie ‘Tree of life’ and how it related to the gospel). I replied, “precisely! and we need to talk about how the movie is so godless even though it appears to be FULL of the idea of God”.

After the meeting was over, I told Kyle, “You know what, we shouldn’t JUST screen ‘Tree of Life’, we should MAKE one like that”. Kyle replied, “Yes, something that is deeply metaphorical”. My rejoinder was, “Precisely, something that a few will understand, but when they do, their hearts and minds would be on fire!” This conversation made me feel even better about the impulsive coinage of ‘fellowshiping’. After all, fellowshiping can have BIGGER goals…

When a noun becomes a verb, it is powerful. The MOST powerful example of this is when the Lord of the Universe changed the meaning of the word ‘love’ on the Cross. He SHOWED in real-life ACTION how the noun becomes a verb in a very powerful way. When the world go about ‘petty ways’ of making loads of money off of changing nouns into verbs, there is a huge lacuna for Christ-like ones to step in and SHOW the world how POWERFUL verbalizing a noun can be really be, as in ‘fellowshiping’, or better still ‘truly loving’ as Christ loves us! 

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

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