Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Beauty of (True) Words

I was challenged a few days ago to read an article by Marilyn McEntyre entitled "Letting Words Do Their Work." Because I respected the fellow editor who made the recommendation, I hopped right on over the the link.

Oh. My. Golly.

So much powerful truth contained in this article. If you're a writer, speaker, reader, or simply one who loves--truly loves--words, you've got to read this article.

Here are a few salient points that resonated:

"It is hard to tell the truth these days, because the varieties of untruth are so many, so pervasive, and so well disguised."

"Imprecision had become acceptable in the interests of generalized good feeling—and perhaps in the interests of forestalling some critical scrutiny."

"The practice of precision requires not only attentiveness and effort: it may also require the courage to afflict the comfortable and, consequently, tolerate their resentment."

"The discourse of the church, the subtleties of biblical language and the nuances of translation, the ear for poetry and care for theological distinctions may be eroded when the language of popular media is allowed to overtake the dialect of worship and conversation among believers."

"We can practice noticing how words are used and considering how they may be heard; we can pick them up from the dusty corners where most of the good ones have been consigned to disuse and reintroduce them, hoping to ambush the careless listener contented with cliché."

Check out the article and let me know what you think.



Lynn Squire said...

Great article!

We should not be ashamed of the Truth, of Jesus Christ and the salvation He provides; and in my opinion, this is what modern evangelism has done - tried to make us more like the world so that we don't have to be ashamed that we are different.

Precision language, understanding the Word of God precisely as it is written. At the level of Scriptural interpretaion we've drifted from truth and end up with cliches we don't really understand or incorporating ideologies that don't fit with Truth, with God's Word. We've failed to take a literal interpretation, failed to make an indepth study, failed to compare Scripture with Scripture, and end up compromising Truth - this then infiltrates all that we write - our casual approach to Scripture is reflected in our casual approach to devotionals, to short stories, to poetry, to novels and the truths we think to expose in them.

We've become afraid to be distinct and so in the hopes of "fitting-in" under the disguise of "living peaceably" we throttle truth.

Teri D. Smith said...

Thanks for pointing us to that article, Karen.

The thought of a stewardship of words impressed me. One of the tools reccommended was a simple solution we often teach our writing students: use precise nouns and vivid verbs.

Lots to mull over in that article!

Theresa Lode said...

This was so refreshing after editing an article that had me lamenting the plummeting standards in communication.
She also hit upon one of my pet peeve,the ridiculous overuse of the word "awesome!" He's a awesome man of God! Dinner was awesome! God is awesome!
We had a young man and his dad over for dinner the other night. I was delighted to hear him use the word "lugubrious."
Perhaps there's hope for the next generation? That would be so, so....Awesome! ;)

Cara Putman said...

wow. That is thought-provoking and challenging.

Lynette Sowell said...

I think sometimes we need to stop writing like we're advertisers composing ad copy and use the best words we can. No more, and no fewer than necessary. Does anyone remember the days of writing college papers, trying to "add" and "pad" words to get your paper long enough? Those extra words really mean nothing.

Sometimes I think we also speak words out of habit, without really thinking about the meaning we're trying to convey.

Great article.

Anonymous said...

Timely article, Karen, thanks for pointing that out. It is disturbing that the meanings of words have become blurred. We know one of Satan's favorite tactics is to confuse, so it's easy to see who's behind this.