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On the value of words

July 13, 2010

Language is sacred. It is holy. It is a vehicle of the communion for which we have been made. The WORD became flesh, sanctifying language and communicating with us through it and thereby raising us and our language to new heights.

But we have trashed language, not merely by speaking vulgarities and banalities, for we live in an age in which words have lost their sign value. They no longer actually refer to any objective reality in our minds. When one sees smoke, that signifies fire, but words no longer offer a direct link to concrete realities. They don’t really mean anything. We don’t stand by our words, thus language has become impotent – unable to communicate the truth of ourselves.

Indeed many of us have become abstracted from ourselves. We know a certain thing to be true, good, beautiful, but because the words no longer effectively signify, we have diffuclty reconciling our lives, our actions, with these truths. For our words to have authority we must be willing to defend them with our blood, our lives. We cannot determine whether we will ever be asked to stand by our words at such a price, but like the WORD, we must choose to do so. Only then can we hope to effectively communicate love to others.

However, this is difficult. Not only because we are to varying degrees formed by a society of deceit and half-truths, but also because this idea itself often fails to meaningly signify, to take root in us.

In a world which features the dis-integration of persons how can one overcome self-abstraction to stand by his words? How is one to live according to Truth when she so often recognizes it without standing by it, without living in accord with it? How is one to help others, family members, friends, students, etc., to stand by their words, to hear his words, or the words of the Gospel, as integrated persons, such that they are moved to communion and to a reciprocal and authentic communication?

How can I experience metanoia if the words which point to the WORD have been made impotent?

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One Comment
  1. July 14, 2010 12:43 pm

    This is related to a post I wrote about a year ago on the Violence of Words.

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