This week….

On the Care of Words and the Cultivation of Language

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

1 Samuel 3:1-20
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

Prayer of the Day: Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer, for the countless blessings and benefits you give. May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day praising you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

“Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.” Psalm 139:4.

It is more than a little unsettling to be told that we are so well understood that our very thoughts are known before they find their way into words. More disturbing still is Jesus’ warning that, on the day of judgment, “people will render account for every careless word they utter.” Matthew 12:36. That accounting came due with a vengeance last week. If the horrific events we witnessed five days ago have taught us anything, it is that words are powerful and speech has consequences. Words maliciously fashioned into lies and employed to trigger raw anger can incite violence. That is exactly what we saw on Wednesday as an angry mob sacked the United States Capital.

Sometimes, however, we misspeak without intending harm. Often, the consequences of our words do not become clear until after they have passed our lips. Who among us does not regret words spoken carelessly, ignorantly or in anger? One of the less fortunate characteristics of texts, e-mails and social media is that through them words carelessly uttered can spread faster and further to a larger audience than ever before. Moreover, once they are out in cyberspace, ill advised words are practically impossible to erase, recall or correct.

As one whose careers, both in law and in parish ministry, involved working with words, I take this call to circumspection in our use of language seriously. Read more

17 thoughts on “This week….

  1. I’m new to your blog. I like what your doing. The combination of spirituality, satire, humor and literature is great. I look forward to reading more.
    Best wishes,
    James

  2. Rare is the Christian anymore who seeks to uphold Jesus’ teaching, the Beatitudes. Instead, they rattle sabers and clamor for war “in God’s name.” It’s why religion, especially Christianity, is losing numbers steadily and, likely soon, exponentially.

  3. I am new to your blog. I found your recent post to be interesting. I do not believe that religion and politics belong together. What a unique idea that you can hear what anyone is saying if everyone is shouting and calling names.

  4. I just found your letter to frank, what a great job in expressing what everyday Christian’s feel. Preaching war in jesus name is not why I gave my email or donations to any television church. Thank you for writing a letter that represents why we choice to attend church and read the teachings of Christ Jesus.

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