I heard it, but I did not understand.
When my wife was a teenager she worked at the Spotted Bear Guest Ranch. One day, as they prepared potatoes, Connie, the other cook asked her: "What did you call these?"
"Hog rotten potatoes."
For years, Darla heard others talk about hog rotten potatoes, but never connected them with the written words: au gratin potatoes.
When we listen to music our minds struggle to make sense of lyrics that we can't quite understand. One woman heard the Rolling Stones' lyrics: "I'll never be your beast of burden" as "I'll never leave your pizza burnin'." When the Beatles recorded Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, John Lennon sang: "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes." Some, however, heard it as, "The girl with colitis goes by."
Because of their perennial popularity, Christmas songs are inevitably prone to misinterpretation. One kid was caught singing, "Dashing through the snow, with one horse, soap, and sleigh," and ended the verse with, "What fun it is to write and sing, a slaying song with knives."
As a child, Sylvia Wright's mother read poetry to her. She remembered a 17th-century ballad, "The Bonny Earl O'Moray." She heard the end of the first stanza as:
They have slain the Earl O'Moray
And Lady Mondegreen.
Years later, she read the ballad and was surprised to learn the last line actually read: "And laid him on the green."
Wright wrote about her mishearing of the words in a magazine article in 1954, and now "mondegreen" has been accepted in English dictionaries to define an error resulting from a mishearing of something said or sung.
The people in Jesus' day loved to discuss Scripture. The give and take of civil, but spirited debate with those of opposing viewpoints was a healthy way to correct mondegreens and sand off the rough edges.
Access to various beliefs and ideas has exploded in our generation. Yet, the trend today is not to engage in discussion with those of opposing beliefs. Instead, we find religious and political groups huddling together and discussing their beliefs only with those who agree with them. The result has been an increase in misinformation and the growth of whacky ideas.
Unless you feel very insecure about your understanding of the Bible, discuss it with others -- especially those who disagree with you.
It was only when the four-year-old Canadian, Ryan, began singing that his parents had the opportunity to correct his version of the national anthem. The last line says, "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee" rather than " . . . we stand on cars and freeze."
(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)