Friday, December 12, 2008

Words Fascinate Me - For Instance - Pimp

Words have always fascinated me. My son is now a school teacher and one of the games we played as he grew up was identifying unusual or infrequently used words and employing them in sentences. This morning I was awakened by the intensity of a dream. I came to my parked MX5 car to find that it had been stripped. I had left it with the top down. Wheels, seats, steering wheel were all gone. Then the last thought before I awoke was “someone is going to surprise me by pimping my ride,” and there it was - burgundy leather seats, custom steering wheel and dash with GPS and small TV screen and rockin sound speakers.
That term comes from the popular MTV television show “Pimp My Ride,’ on which someone’s commonplace vehicle is made over. This use of the term reflects a new meaning that emerged from hip-hop and street culture as a transitive verb meaning "to decorate" or "excessively customize." The Urban Dictionary discloses that if something is ‘pimpin’ it’s very cool. It is likely something ordinary that has been ‘tricked out’ or made gaudy, ostentatious. It has been adopted commercially and people are pimping my space, my yearbook, my kitchen, my photos and more.
The origin of the word "pimp" is unknown. It appears in 1600 English literature with the same primary meaning it has today. A pimp is somebody, usually a man, who finds customers for a prostitute in return for a portion of the prostitute's earnings. The stereotypical pimp became popularized in the 1970’s with a flamboyant dress, swaggering walk and lifestyle. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was used to refer to informers and does so in Australian parlance. A pimp can mean "a despicable person" for evident reasons.
Here’s a twist. My Pastor is preaching Christmas theme sermons. The Old Testament book of Hoseah contains a tender and significant story to describe the grace of God to humanity. Improbably, God told Hoseah the man of God to marry a prostitute thereby liberating her from her past life. Her name is Gomer. Not long after Gomer left Hoseah and returned to her former lifestyle. God told Hoseah to find her and persuade her out of love to come back to him. In fact Hoseah had to pay money to Gomer’s paramour to purchase back his own wife. Hoseah’s marriage became an acted out parable of God’s relationship with Israel. The life lesson is that God would not give up on Israel either. Even though the people of Israel worshipped other gods, God loved them anyway and took them back. That’s a glimpse into God’s love that does for us what Hoseah did for Gomer, woo us tenderly, promise us hope and safety, and renew our vows to Him and consummate our relationship again in purity. Hoseah 2:14-23 contains the Bible’s tenderest love song. So here is another word with variant meanings one of which is the forgiveness or absolution for past sins at the cost of the life of the sinless Son of God.

Photo used with permission of Anita Gutschick, actress portraying Women of the Bible
A Dramatic Presentation, 410-647-6797,

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