Tuesday, 2 January 2018

'WORDS BECOME FLESH; SO USE THEM WITH CARE'

ARE WORDS BECOMING AS DISPOSABLE AS ANYTHING ELSE? 


Mark Oakley (who we were lucky once to entertain at Wychwood Circle) wrote an end-of-year piece about what he looks back on after nearly 25 years of ministry.  It included, amongst much else that he modestly said he owed to his many teachers and colleagues, the following wise words about words and our contemporary culture :
This is not an easy time for words. We are living at a time when we are spending money we don't have on things we don't want in order to impress people we don't like.  Consumerism makes words seductive rather than truthful, as they lure us towards our wallets. Technology, for all its brilliance, now also give us too many words; we trip over them as they come at us from every direction, and the danger is that our care for words decreases as the words proliferate. We make them as disposable as anything else. 

COMPETITORS NOT CITIZENS

Then there are our political leaders who, in many parts of the word, now campaign in graffiti, and govern in tweets.  The way that words are currently being used by some influential communicators - with continual talk of "individuals" rather than "people"; or "losers", "swarms", and "sad" failures - all makes a world where we see ourselves as competitors not citizens, consumers not communities.  It leads to a world in which, as has been observed, if you are not at the table you are probably on the menu. 

WORDS AS CARRIERS OF TRUTH AND MEANING 

In the end, nations are largely the stories that they feed themselves: if fed lies, they will, in time, suffer the consequences.  That is the other Christmas truth that I want to live out better in 2018: words become flesh; so use them with care. If words are not respected as carriers of truth and meaning, this quickly leads to human beings' not being respected, either.  

ULTIMATELY, REALITY IS TRUSTWORTHY 

The same ears as listen to politicians, salespeople, and news commentators are listening to the person who is trying to point to the rumour of God, to the transcendent sense that, ultimately, reality is trustworthy. Sadly, the language with which we do this as a Church can reflect the superficial or clinical vocabularies of the hectic newsroom or the droning boardroom, the Church at the moment occasionally sounding as if it simply offers us the choice - in Brian McLaren's words - between "ignorance on fire or intelligence on ice". 
The full article from which these paragraphs are taken can be found in the Church Times dated 21st December 2017.  

Join us at Wychwood Library on January 14th as philosopher Dr Tom Simpson from the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University addresses questions about truth and trust. 

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