Amen! vs. Aha!

Amen! vs. Aha! March 28, 2013

In some segments of Christianity, shouting “Amen!” is encouraged, and at times even requested with a phrase like “Can I hear an 'Amen'?”

This isn't a Biblical way of using the word. But even if it were, it would still be problematic. It is asking for immediate assent to what is said, based on enthusiasm or assumptions, rather than on careful reflection and investigation.

I was struck recently by the contrast between this sort of 'Amen' and the exclamation 'Aha!'

'Aha' reflects a discovery, an understanding, usually coming after a significant process of investigation and pondering.

I think we need to cultivate a Christianity that puts less emphasis on amens, and more on ahas.


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  • Joshua Paul Smith

    An excellent observation. But I must confess that the first thing I thought of when I read “Aha!” was the band A-ha singing “Taaaaake onnnnnn meeeee.” Yeah. Thanks for that.

    • I thought about including some music, or a picture of them. If this turns into a movement, given the focus on research and discovery, our theme song could be “Hunting High and Low”! 🙂

  • Wayne Ferguson

    An “Aha!” once in awhile would be great–or perhaps an “Ole!” Quoting Elizabeth Gilbert:

    “centuries ago in the deserts of North Africa, people used to gather for these moonlight dances of sacred dance and music that would go on for hours and hours, until dawn. And they were always magnificent, because the dancers were professionals and they were terrific, right? But every once in a while, very rarely, something would happen, and one of these performers would actually become transcendent. And I know you know what I’m talking about, because I know you’ve all seen, at some point in your life, a performance like this. It was like time would stop,and the dancer would sort of step through some kind of portal and he wasn’t doing anything different than he had ever done, 1,000 nights before, but everything would align.And all of a sudden, he would no longer appear to be merely human. He would be lit from within, and lit from below and all lit up on fire with divinity.

    “And when this happened, back then, people knew it for what it was, you know, they called it by its name. They would put their hands together and they would start to chant, ”Allah, Allah, Allah, God, God, God.” That’s God, you know. Curious historical footnote – when the Moors invaded southern Spain, they took this custom with them and the pronunciation changed over the centuries from “Allah, Allah, Allah,” to “Ole, ole, ole,” which you still hear in bullfights and in flamenco dances. In Spain, when a performer has done something impossible and magic, ”Allah, ole, ole, Allah, magnificent, bravo,” incomprehensible, there it is — a glimpse of God. Which is great, because we need that.”

  • Sometimes a Hmmmm? is appropriate.