ACU Summit: Language Guide

Aliens and Light: Finding God in the DarknessI made it to the Summit (aka ACU Lectureship) last night, along with my fellow elders, preacher, and worship minister — all riding in an SUV thing from Saturn.

It was a little cramped, but a great bonding opportunity, that is, “bonding” in the sense that we were so tightly packed it required a crowbar and the Jaws of Life to get us out of the car everytime we stopped to eat.

We got here in Abilene in time to hear Rick Atchley’s excellent keynote address on being in the world and not of the world. It was truly excellent — and all readers should get a copy. He nailed it — and every church needs to hear this message, progressive, moderate, conservative, or what have you. Great, great message …

I think you can download it from the ACU Summit website, but the connection is so slow here at the Hampton Inn, I really can’t test it.

Now, in case there are any West Alabama folks here in West Texas, I thought I’d offer this handy guide to the local language, as there are some key differences.

West Texas Dialect / West Alabama Dialect

“Conservative” / “Progressive” (What we count as unbelievably progressive is, to them, old hat)

“Barbecue” / Beef brisket with some kind of a red sauce on it (not remotely the same as, you know, “barbecue”

“Close” / “Far” (The sense of distance around here is strangely affected by the ability to see 20 miles down the road)

“Not so close” / pack a lunch, a 20-gallon tank of fuel, and a compass

“Hill” / “Flat” (ACU is said to be on the “hill” — don’t even bother looking for the “hill” — it’s purely in their imaginations)

“River” / “Drainage ditch” (We wouldn’t bother to give these alleged “rivers” names)

“Creek” / Looks like someone washed his car and left the hosepipe running

“Forest” / “Weeds” (Imagine your yard after a month with no lawnmower and no weedeater)

“Flat” / You can’t imagine flatness this flat (you really can see 20 miles down the road at places)

“A little windy” / Hurricane without the rain

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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19 Responses to ACU Summit: Language Guide

  1. Price says:

    Step up on a tuna can and see you can get another 15 miles in view !!

  2. Jay
    I think you just explained the divergence between the various branches of the Restoration Movement !!!

  3. Nancy says:

    LOL! Jay, surely you noticed the forests when you traveled through east Texas. They grow 'em pretty thick there…did your route take you through the "BIG THICKET"?

    Thanks for sharing the theme of the keynote address. I have been convicted recently to be "IN the world, not OF the world" too. I keep hearing this over and over again from various sources. I know God is nudging me. I just hope I'm responsive so that He doesn't have to push me.

  4. When I lived in Lubbock, we used to say it was so flat there had to be signs to tell water which way to run. There were no Trees, except in a gorge on the edge of town where a few trees grew below the wind – so they made it a state park! We could sit in our living room and see four states – blowing by in the wind. Tumble weeds would pile up in drifts against houses out on the edge of town. I saw them all the way up to the eaves. All of that was strange to a Florida boy like me.

  5. JMF says:

    "Hosepipe", LOL

    That is funny stuff. I was lucky enough to get a hold of a CD of Jay speaking at the Lipscomb Lectureships, and it took me about 20 minutes to get used to the hillbilly accent. I don't know why I wasn't expecting it, but it was quite a shock.

  6. xray342 says:

    Hum… I wonder who the real "aliens" are at this conference. 😉

  7. Anne says:

    You must be in a valley if you can only see 20 miles!

  8. JamesG. says:

    If you stand on your rental car, you'll see 35 miles.

  9. Mark says:

    Ah the forest is behind the only hill just South of town. I call it a pine grove. But who is counting trees.

  10. Jay Guin says:


    I'm back from Abilene, and I've about recovered from the agoraphobia brought on by the wide open spaces. It may take weeks to catch up with all the comments, but I have to start here! I'm not a "hillbilly." Indeed, the use of the term misapprends the nature of the Southern condition is very serious ways.

    As should be obvious, a hillbilly lives in the hills. And I don't mean "hills" in the imaginary West Texas sense or even the real West Alabama sense. Hillbillies lives in Appalachian hills that we'd call "mountains." Or to be entirely plain, hillbillies are Tennessee fans — in the world of the Southeastern Conference. I'm sure some hillbillies also pull for other schools. But my experience is limited to the occasional trip to Knoxville to silence in incessant strains of "Rocky Top" — which seems to be the only song known to hillbillies. (And, yes, I'll be traveling there in a few weeks to witness the thrashing of hillbillies by rednecks.)

    Now, we in West Alabama could be properly referred to as "rednecks," and few would take offense. The sun shines brightly, we aren't ashamed to be in it, and our necks are often quite red indeed. "Redneck" is a working-man's term. But a hillbilly is someone else!

    Regarding "hosepipe," the best I can tell, this is a pure West Alabama-ism. I'm originally from Northwest Alabama — Russellville — and we call those things "hoses" or "water hoses." I was first exposed to the "hosepipe" term when I moved here for law school and rented an ancient house. We had to water the grass, and my friends advised the purchase of a "hosepipe" — and I had to ask the meaning of the word. I did. They thought me woefully ignorant for not knowing about hosepipes. What else would you call them?

    But that was long ago, and I'm now a card-carrying West Alabaman, and hence the owner a several hosepipes. And I figured if I was going to poke fun at the good people of West Texas, I should own up to my own redneckness.

    Yes, it's true. If you say "hosepipe," you just might be a redneck. But that doesn't lower you to the status of "hillbilly." That requires that you know the lyrics to "Rocky Top."

    (Interesting how many YouTube versions of Rocky Top also include the theme from Deliverance.)

  11. Laymond says:

    ." Hillbillies lives in Appalachian hills that we’d call “mountains.”
    How come they are not called "mountainbillies?

    I have hunted mountain goats, and some of them are "billies" 🙂

  12. Aaron says:

    University of Tennessee fans may be hillbillies, but I'd argue that there hasn't been a hillbilly actually on the team since Jim Bob Cooter back in 2005. Funny enough, he was a 3-year selection to the Academic All-SEC team, but was arrested last year for aggravated burglary.

    That being said, yes, Alabama will destroy Tennessee this year, and probably for the next, oh, 4 years or so. That's what 5 years of abysmal coaching, followed by said coaches' sacking or fleeing under cover of night will do to a football program.

  13. JMF says:

    I get it all depends on perspective. I use the terms "hillbilly", "Southerner", and "redneck" interchangeably.

    But like I said about perspective, it is similar to how people in the South use names like "yankee" and "Northerner" to describe people from New York, Virginia, Montana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Hawaii, etc.

    Man, I didn't know that about Jim Bob Cooter. I do expect the tn/al game to be quite a thrashing, though. I do admit, however, I'm not capable of the hatred I used to be filled with towards the Vols. They've been so terrible lately, and I actually like Dooley.

    AL does look quite unbeatable. Well, until a bowl game….oh wait, I forgot — all bowl games are played in 80deg temps so all the Big 10/12 teams get screwed. So yeah, AL will win their bowl game too. Alas, we can have that fight in January at the appropriate time.

  14. Jay Guin says:


    My experience with East Texas is limited to I-20, which looks pretty much the same from West Alabama to Dallas — then at Ft. Worth the trees disappear, the horizon widens, and the rivers shrink to trickles.

  15. Jay Guin says:


    "it was so flat there had to be signs to tell water which way to run"!! Great line!

  16. Jay Guin says:


    I'm guilty as charged. I felt totally alien. Wonderful fellow Christians everywhere (felt totally at home among the people) but couldn't get used to the landscape. I mean, they had cactus growing everywhere, like that's normal or something!

    One of the guys I was with had grown up there. He gave directions by hilltop. You know: "It's just over the next hill" … that sort of thing. We kept having to ask: "Was that a hill?"

  17. Jay Guin says:


    We in West Alabama would call the hills "mountains." The hillbillies would call them hills. Let me explain by way of example.

    Many years ago, my wife as a young girl was traveling with her family through West Virginia, from Indiana (which is also quite flat). They went up and down one hill after another. Each was steeper than the one before. Soon, they were going up "hills" that terrified them with their height.

    After topping and descending a mammoth, scarily-tall hill, the family saw a sign warning of what was next. It said: "Hill." We'd call it a mountain. They then found out what a "hill" really is to a West Virginian.

  18. Jay Guin says:


    I'm considering getting over my hatred for UT now that Fulmer and Kiffin are gone. But, then, if Tennessee can get outplayed by UAB, it's not that much fun hating them anyway.

    Around here, the fans are working up a good mad against Boise State. But Big Blue is a poor substitute for Big Orange. I'm going to Gatlinburg for the UA-UT game in a few weeks, and it won't be as much fun if Tennessee won't put up a good fight. Much of the fun in a great rivalry is the fear of losing to a hated team. So I'm hoping Tennessee recovers soon (because it's more fun beating a good team).

  19. Laymond says:

    Jay, concerning West Viriginia, back in "82" this flatland boy was sent to West Virginia to drill, complete, and produce oil and gas wells the company had bought, I had a new Ford Bronco with extra tall tires, and it would not make it to some of those locations. We needed a bbl. of methanol on one location where we had to have a D-5 carry it up. while at the same time pulling me and my Bronco along behind. Yeah, when you speak of West Virginia "hills" I know what you are saying.

    (because it’s more fun beating a good team).
    Jay, you must have been tickled to death, last Saturday. 🙂

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