I spent this last weekend with a lot of glue and tape thanks to re-discovering a children’s science/art book I had put aside some time ago.

So I’m thinking sticky thoughts, and, in my infinite free time (please chuckle along with me), began to wonder about the etymology of adhesives.

Fortunately, my handy dandy Word Ancestry book has an entry, from which the examples below are largely taken.

Lucky us!

Haerere, or haesum, means (sit down for this one) to stick.

Hence, you have an adherent to a religion.  Someone has inherent traits.  You have a coherent system, or incoherent thoughts.  Someone hesitates because they are “stuck” to a thought or a pattern.

One of my goals as a systematic theologian is to move people to consider their religious framework.  I try to encourage people to reflect on whether their belief system is coherent within itself, and with the world.

So, for example, if one believes that God is all-forgiving and all-loving, can one support the death penalty?  If we believe that God is merciful, is there a limit to God’s mercy, and what would that then be?  Or if God is Almighty, how does one fit Auschwitz in one’s thinking?  Or if we look at the gorgeous sunrise and say, “How can someone not believe in God,” how do we make sense of Katrina or Haiti?  Or if we belong to a denomination which ordains women (despite there being references in Scripture which would call that practice into question), can we refuse to ordain gays and lesbians in committed relationships on the basis of Scripture?

It is a question of stickiness, though I’d never thought of it quite like that before.  To what do our thoughts, our faith claims, stick?

This is a helpful exercise, to consider to what we adhere, because it makes us reflect upon whether we are coherent in our thoughts, or make decisions based on something else to which we are stuck.

It’s a helpful exercise, but a tricky one too, and on occasion a bit scary.  It forces us to ask, “Well, why do I do/believe/say/think that?”

And is it ever o.k. to have an exception?  A contextually driven, “Yes, but….”  Can one legitimately be incoherent?

To what do you adhere, and why, and when?