Some people label me as too “preachy” when I firmly state my convictions. Others praise me by emphatically exclaiming, “Preach it!”, “Preach!”, or “Amen!” after I express myself in such a manner.
Let’s take a closer look at the word “preachy”.
Preachy (adjective): marked by obvious moralizing: DIDACTIC.
:put off by the speaker’s preachy tone.
Didactic (adjective): 1a: designed or intended to teach; b: intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment: didactic poetry.
2: making moral observations.
(Definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1828)
So, “preachy” is related to teaching. The word “didactic” is in capital letters in the definition of preachy which makes it the core of its true meaning. I expected to find at least one negative meaning in the definition of “didactic” but it is not there. So, when people use this word they simply do not like the “tone” of the preacher/teacher. The tone is indicative of the powerful expression of conviction by that person. Without absolute belief in one’s teachings it is pointless to preach – pack up and go home.
It seems that the tone of the preacher is only a problem for those who are not on board with what s/he is saying. The same tone is inspirational for those in agreement with what is being communicated by that person.
Preaching was once strongly associated with priesthood. It just so happens that “priest” is embedded in the meaning of my surname – Papadopoulos (papa = priest + poulos = bird; “nestling”, “chick” – a symbolic word for “child” in Greek): the priest’s child.
Interestingly enough, priesthood originated way before Christianity for the Ancient Greeks. Ordinary men and women could be priests performing ceremonies, etc., during religious gatherings. The Ancient Greek theology was Paganism, or Polytheism. Paganism was once known as Hellenism. Pagans were called “Hellenes” – the Greek word for Greeks. (This also happens to be the title from which my first name is derived: Helen. The real meaning of this name is “light”, or “bright”.)
Hellenes had great freedom in relation to how they worshipped: there was no church (i.e. central place of worship), hierarchical priesthood, or Holy Book. Individuals were autodidactic (self-taught) when it came to the understanding and experience of their faith. They performed their own rituals, offerings and prayers, whenever and wherever they wanted to, in their own unique ways.
Long before I knew this about my heritage, I practiced this type of individualized, Pagan priesthood. Such practices symbolically represent what lives within me. They will only be effective if they are meaningful to me (i.e. not enforced by some religious authority, or anyone/thing else, for that matter). This individualized embodiment of spirituality is the foundation of true conviction.
Preaching is encoded in my DNA. My “brand” of preaching does not enslave, for it is impossible to manipulate, or exploit anyone via authenticity and transparency. Some are irked, others uplifted, by my preaching. Either way, I will continue to do what I was born to do, in the manner in which I was born to do it.