No Pun Intended—or Is It?
by Dianne Neal Matthews
During a Bible study on spiritual gifts years ago, everyone jokingly agreed that I have the gift of puns. I know that’s not in the biblical list of spiritual gifts, but God did scatter puns throughout the Bible (although many are revealed only with Hebrew and Greek word study tools). Guess it’s no surprise that the One who invented language enjoys a little word-play.
Maybe there’s a genetic tendency toward puns. When my older son had just turned three, he asked why our toothpaste looked different from the paste I normally bought. “Oh, I know why it’s called gel,” Eric said later. “It’s because it puts the germs in jail.” I would have immediately recorded that in his baby book, if it had included a page for First Pun as it should have.
Last year my middle brother posted a photo on Facebook after he and his wife attended Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. I saw it that evening and the two of us swapped bovine-related puns until bedtime. (And Johnny, I’m ready for another Pun Off anytime you are.)
I’ve always gotten a kick out of hearing people make puns without realizing it. Like a former pastor who shared an update on our parking lot expansion. “It’s due to be completed by May 30,” he said. “But that date is not set in concrete.”
And my friend who taught on the last chapter of John and the events following Jesus’ death and resurrection. Carolyn explained that a few disciples went fishing one night—back to what they had known before, because at that point they weren’t sure of what they were supposed to be doing. “They were floundering,” she added. I almost knocked her down after class in my rush to point out her brilliant pun.
The other day I made an unintentional pun myself. An online writers group decided to create subgroups for specific genres. I added one new member to my category by emailing “Welcome aboard!” As soon as I typed it, I remembered that for the past year, Grace and her husband have actually lived on a sailboat.
A couple of group members complimented my clever pun. So, yes, let’s go with that. I meant to do that.
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through her Facebook Author Page or Twitter.