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I’ve written before of my love of distillations that capture the essence of otherwise ungraspable things.

One of my favorites is the concordance, which ranks the frequency of words in a given text. In that long-ago post, I compared the concordance of Parenting Beyond Belief with that of What the Bible Says about Parenting by John MacArthur. It’s a word-wonky post, but I had a ball writing and researching it.

Words like THINK, QUESTIONS, and IDEA are prominent in Parenting Beyond Belief (#14, 22, and 31 respectively) while OBEDIENCE, SIN, DUTY, EVIL, FEAR, AUTHORITY, DISCIPLINE, COMMAND, COMMANDMENT, SUBMIT, LAW, and INSTRUCTION are all in the top 100 in What the Bible. I find that revealing.

You’ve probably seen wordclouds as well — a kind of graphical concordance. The more often a word occurs, the bigger it is. A few months back, I generated a wordcloud for this blog using Wordle. Liked it so much oi hung it on the wall in me study, oi did:

memingwordle

Struck me funny at first that the most common word I use is “one,” but looking back I see that it’s among my favorite ways to start a paragraph, as in “One of the most…” or “One way to…” That word is followed by Just, Religious, Kids, Parenting, Know, Like, and Children, with Religion and The Great I Am rounding out the top ten.

Erin (11) was apparently the most mentioned of my kids at that point, followed by Delaney (7), then Connor (14). And my dearest love and co-parent is mentioned about as often as Jesus and Santa. That just ain’t right. She’s done infinitely more for me than those two put together. Let me correct her infrequency here and now for later wordclouds:

Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca
Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca Becca

(Good luck catching up with that, J.C.)

Wordcloud for Parenting Beyond Belief
Wordcloud for Raising Freethinkers. (God gets a severe demotion in RF.)
Generate your own wordcloud from any text

Oh hey P.S. In response to repeated requests from Memlings Who Tweet, the Meming of Life is now on Twitter! I don’t plan to tweet much, but I’ve set up a nice application that sends followers a tweet every time there’s a new post here. So if you’re into it, follow me. (And tell me if it works. I don’t follow myself, so I wouldn’t know.)

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.