Thinking Out Loud

August 15, 2011

The Buzzword Effect

Google Labs has an online app. whereby you type in any given word or phrase, and in a split-second, it scans everything in the Google Books database and tells you, in graph form, the relative recurrence of that word or phrase in the last 200 or so years.

I decided to have some fun with some Evangelical buzzwords, starting with Evangelical itself; if your current window is not restored to full size, you’ll want to click that first…

Next, I tried the phrase, spiritual formation.

Next, just to get silly, I tried the phrase, seeker sensitive

Okay, that wasn’t very productive.  How about social justice?

Of course, there’s no guaranteeing that the particular phrase didn’t appear in an entirely different context.

The system also lets you compare two different words, and so, in keeping with what’s been on a lot of minds this year, I searched Heaven + Hell.

Words matter.  I’m sure some of you can find more meaningful uses for this application in ministry.  Here’s the link one more time.



  1. Fun. I did Old Testament, New Testament and set the range from 1900-2011. Curiously, 1921 was the only year where more attention was given to the Old Testament. Thanks for the tip, Paul.

    Comment by Jon Rising — August 15, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  2. How about this: Deuteronomy,Galatians,Ephesians? And remember, the tool is case-sensitive. Okay, back to work :-)

    Comment by Jon Rising — August 15, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  3. I tired Holy Spirit and Anti-Christ and both times it was off the charts in the early 1800’s! REVIVAL!

    I expected the Anti-Christ to be more in the minds of people with the signs of the end approaching, but was suprised to see a rather flat line from the 50’s onward..

    Comment by Cynthia — August 15, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    • That got me thinking so I tried ‘rapture’ but of course it had/has other meanings.

      Jon, who posted the first two comments here, wrote this to me later in the day: Thanks for introducing me to a vicious form of crack … lol.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 15, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

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