Showing posts with label Speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Speech. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A Hill Worth Dying On

“You need to dial down the language,
  Mr. Patout,” I said.

“Don’t you lecture me, boy,” he said.

— From The New Iberia Blues
by James Lee Burke

Some subjects are difficult to talk or write about without giving offense. The use of appropriate language is one of them.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Mouth Almighty

Mouth almighty, that is what I’ve got,
 Mouth almighty, telling you
    what’s what.
 Mouth almighty.
 I wish I’d never opened my mouth
    almighty …

— Elvis Costello (1983)

Some years ago, I was working at a Christian summer camp.

By all evidence, it had been an excellent year — many children’s lives touched, many young people growing in knowing God, good friendships formed, spiritual growth on every side, and a safe and successful physical program.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

No Greater Burden

“Nor must we speak evil of the dead. Let nothing but what is good be said of the departed.”

— Francis Spirago,
The Catechism Explained

“And he departed with no one’s regret.”

— 2 Chronicles 21:20, concerning
Jehoram king of Judah

During his last few years, my father resolved to clear his office of as much clutter as possible rather than leave behind a mess for others to deal with. Almost every time I would visit, he’d invite me to take a few books home with me. I carried off perhaps twenty hardcovers in all, heavy on the writings of the fourth and fifth generations of Plymouth Brethren. Those faded spines were artifacts of my childhood. After Dad went to be with the Lord, I resolved to read every one of them. Presumably he had, so I could do it too.

And I did. It was an interesting experience. Times have certainly changed.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: Shut Your Trap

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Does everything that ever crosses your mind deserve to be aired?

By way of illustration, the Toronto Star prints this piece on “Moms who regret motherhood”. I’ll second the opinion offered by the writer of the story, who says, “All my pity is for the actual victims in these stories” — that is to say, for the children of the mothers who regret them.

Tom: IC, this brings up an interesting question: How much of what flashes through human synapses actually merits further scrutiny?

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Promoting Fellowship

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”

Over four hundred years later the risen Christ asked two of his followers, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other?” It is a question we sometimes need to ask ourselves.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: How Do You Read It? (5)

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: We’re in the middle of batting around commonly misunderstood Bible verses. Here’s another frequently-quoted line for you, IC, this one from Proverbs:

“As he thinks within himself, so he is.”

I mentioned in another post a few weeks ago that I’ve often found other people understand individual proverbs very differently from the way I understand them. This one is no exception.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Louder Than Words

“Words, words, words,” says Hamlet.

He’s not enthused. And rightly so. Sometimes there are just too many words.

The Bible says, “God is in heaven, and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.” It’s talking about prayer, of course, but the point carries more generally: even the smartest of us is pretty limited in knowledge. The Lord can use as many words as he wants, and every one of them will be right; but when we human beings talk too much, we make mistakes. Sometimes, we even roll right into sin.

So we’re encouraged to be careful, talk only about what we know, use our words precisely, and not to multiply them without due attention to what we’re really doing. After all, teachers receive a more serious condemnation if they do a bad job.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Wrong Word

Sometimes we’ve just plain got the wrong word in our Bibles.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know translators are highly skilled people. In almost every case when it was first translated it was the right word. It was clearly understood by its audience. It was the best English equivalent in its generation for a particular Greek or Hebrew expression.

But languages evolve. Meanings morph. Sometimes they even reverse themselves. Words that worked in one generation no longer transmit the intended message without causing confusion, eroding our ability to grasp what the writers of the word of God were trying to tell us. More than a few beloved expressions hang on well past their expiry dates.

My candidate of choice? The word “grace”.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Unhinged Racism

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Jonathan Merritt contributes to The Atlantic and has been named one of “30 young influencers reshaping Christian leadership” by Outreach Magazine. All good so far, provided you don’t mind your “Christian leadership” flavored with a big honkin’ tablespoon of social justice.

Tom: He also just called Doug Wilson an “unhinged racist”, and Doug has sensibly called foul right here in one of the funniest posts I’ve read in a long time.

IC, these accusations of “racism” are getting so common today as to be almost meaningless.

Immanuel Can: Yes, along with the words, “sexist”, “homophobic” and “Islamophobic”, they comprise today’s “Four Horsemen of the Horse Manure”.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mouth Almighty

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Louder Than Words

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: How Do You Read It? (5)

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (27)

We are 27 posts into this series, and I should point out (a bit late, perhaps) that this is not going to be my attempt at a commentary on Proverbs. It’s quite a bit longer than I planned or expected, sure, but nothing remotely approaching comprehensive in scope. There are just way too many bits of sound advice in this book to touch on even a tenth of them. Most must await your own consideration and meditation to reveal their wisdom and impact your life.

The best I can hope to do here is offer a few thoughts and bits of research that seasoned readers of the Old Testament may not yet have encountered, and to offer the occasional incentive for younger Christians to make Proverbs part of their regular Bible reading regimen.

And of course I can tell you which verses jump out at me. Your mileage will surely vary.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Have you see that short form online? Know what it signifies? Your kids do, guaranteed.

“TLDR”, “tl;dr” and other variants simply mean “Too Long, Didn’t Read”. They are an admission of intellectual laziness delivered with trademark millennial bravado; a backhanded shot in the chops to a writer who probably labored over words about to be summarily ignored. They are also almost invariably accompanied by a disparaging comment about the thing not-quite-read.

Farhad Manjoo over at Slate has a fascinating piece about how people read online. The upshot: they don’t. Well, not very well at least.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Wrong Word

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, July 03, 2017

On the Value of Frank Speech

A couple of stories about calling it as you see it.

The first was in a video lecture by Dr. Jordan Peterson. Pointing to a particular vignette in the Hieronymous Bosch triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, Peterson improvised:

“That’s the lion lying down with the lamb. So that’s this idea that’s maybe projected back in time that there was a time — or maybe will be a time — when the horrors of life are no longer necessary for life itself to exist.

And the horrors of life are, of course, that everything eats everything else and that everything dies and that everything’s born and that the whole bloody place is a charnel house and it’s a catastrophe from beginning to end.

This is the vision of it being ... other than that.”

Boy, you could have heard a pin drop. He had the attention of everyone in the room.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Let’s Just Back That Up A Step

From the Department of Missing the Obvious: I appear to have missed the obvious, and for most of my life. Funny how that works.

The more seasoned believers who read and comment here occasionally are welcome to have a giggle at my expense, though I know some of you well enough to be sure you’ll be considerably more gracious.

This is how the Christian life goes, right? So I throw this out there for any who are as thick as I am, which may well be nobody.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Unhinged Racism

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Mouth Almighty

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Shut Your Trap

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

INtent vs. CONtent

I’ve harped on this one before, but I keep hearing people applying Paul’s instructions to Titus just a little too broadly:

“Remind them … to speak evil of no one …”

Correctly understood, this is sound advice that makes for consistent Christian living (not to mention it’s the word of God). But applied to everything we don’t like willy-nilly, it quickly degenerates into silliness.

Not every negative statement is “speaking evil”.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Breaking the Spirit

“No one gives up on something until it turns on them, whether or not that thing is real or unreal.”
― Thomas Ligotti
Ligotti’s statement may or may not be true, but there is something to be said for people who live consistently.

Those who have become disillusioned by Christians are among the most intensely disillusioned people I have ever met. They are the hardest to reach, the hardest to talk to about my faith, the most difficult to even know where to begin with.

How do you initiate any kind of dialogue with those who believe they have already taken the measure of your faith and found it wanting?