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Koinonia

Karthik Nemmani receives the championship trophy after winning the National Spelling Bee. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

Let’s have the required etymological look at the winning word and get it over with:

Koinonia (/ˌkɔɪnoʊˈniːə/) is a transliterated form of the Greek word, κοινωνία, which means communion, joint participation; the share which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc.

As for the spelling bee and its charming winner: I admit to finding these masterly little spellers irresistible, and so does most of America. The grand finale was carried on ESPN, for God’s sake. There’s a reason for ESPN’s interest, and that reason is eyeballs (as Esquire explains).

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So, here we have a rare unifying national treat, and what do we do? We politicize it immediately, of course.

Within hours of the Bee’s wrap, Christianity Today’s headline was bragging that all good Christians (meaning evangelicals) who watched found it “easy” to relate to the winning word.

Um…I kinda doubt that. But what I don’t doubt is that the ​​millions of white evangelicals who still stand solidly behind Trump​, even on separating immigrant families—families made up overwhelmingly of fellow Christians—will never know what “koinonia” means.

peter laarman 2018

Peter Laarman
Religion Dispatches

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