Disappearing Words, Part IV: What do we do about it?

Read Part I, Part II, and Part III first.

So are there reasons to worry about the rise of right-brain culture?
Should we continue to fight for the primacy of words?

There are two separate answers to these questions: the answer that we might give as Westerners, children of the Enlightenment, heirs of a print culture; and the answer that we should give as Christians.

Let’s start with the second answer (the specifically theological one).

If we are not a print-centered society, if reading fades, if the book loses its place, we might see destructive changes in society. It is possible that a left-brained culture is, in some way, healthier than a right-brained culture. Perhaps the victory of the right brain over the left will indeed, as Postman and others seem to think, lead us into a totalitarian state. Maybe a right-brain culture will give up linear reasoning and propositional logic. Maybe our attention spans will shorten and our memories alter.

(I’m not convinced that this is going to happen, by the way.)

But what if it did? What if all the worst-case scenarios are true and we’re facing a digital apocalypse? What does that mean for our faith?

If a digital apocalypse weakens the Christian faith, it means that our hope is not in fact in God, and his power to work in the world; but rather our hope is in the book.

I think that this is where many of the Christians writing on this issue have gone; without noticing it, without realizing it. They’ve found another savior: Our faith will survive and triumph as long as we can keep people reading.

Actually, western culture as we know it will triumph as long as we can keep people reading. To conclude the same about Christianity means that, after all these years during which we should have learned better, we’re still equating the spread of the kingdom of God with the flourishing of western European culture.

Listen to this conclusion from Arthur Hunt:

The Middle Ages demonstrate that when a society lapses from the written word, the vultures of incivility and irrationality begin to circle overhead. It was true then, and it is true now. Likewise, New Testament Christianity faded, in part, because the word faded. If the spirit of the apostles were to revive, it would have to revive under a return to the word.

Do you see the parallels?

Middle Ages: no one reads; incivility and irrationality; Christianity fades.

Renaissance; people start reading, civility and reason spread; Christianity returns.

This is nonsense.

To start with, it equates New Testament Christianity with Reformation Christianity, which I think we should not do. But more seriously, it takes the “improving health” of a society, its absence of superstition and its rules of decorum, as proof that Christianity is gaining power.

That’s historically insupportable; it requires us, among other things, to conclude that people–humanity–were further away from God during the Middle Ages than during the Renaissance. That is a very weak argument, particularly since the rise of print was one of the primary engines that drove the secularization of modern nations.

But even more than that, this assertion that Christianity revived after the Middle Ages thanks to the printing press suggests that God had less power to communicate with man during times of widespread illiteracy.

Literacy’s a great thing. There was a tremendous amount of destructive superstition in the Middle Ages. There was magical thinking that led to massacres, burnings, pogroms. Widespread literacy put a big dent in those destructive superstitions (although it also brought us the French Revolution, where it was simply another class of people who got massacred).

Widespread literacy didn’t actually bring us closer to God; compare the preoccupations of the twelfth century with those of the eighteenth.

But that is what a “Christian exhortation” to hold on to print, to treasure it because that’s how God communicates with us, suggests. That literacy bridges that gap between us and God. We call this “another salvation.” A visible one, a tangible one. One we can do something to help out with.

Our creed says, “In the beginning is the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” But God is not word. To make him so ties his power to the extent of public literacy. It limits his ability to communicate with us, to work in human history; it limits his servants to those who have well-developed left brains.

I earlier quoted one of my cultural commentators as saying that “bulging left-brain muscles are an essential tool for understanding the Bible.” Maybe that’s true, although I wonder why God would reveal himself to all peoples, before the age of the printed book, in a manner that requires a print-inflated hyped-up left brain to understand the message. But I suspect that what that sentence really means is: bulging left-brain muscles are an essential tool for understanding God.

That is a conclusion we have too often come to.

In a debate with Camille Paglia over print verses television, Neil Postman made an assertion that many evangelical writers have echoed: that writing was the way God revealed himself because only writing could do him justice, because

unlike pictures or the oral tradition, the written word is a symbol system of a symbol, twice removed from reality and perfect for describing a God who is also far removed from reality: a nonphysical, abstract divinity.

I have enormous respect for Neil Postman and am a big a fan of his writings, even when I disagree with him, which is often. But there’s a certain theological tone-deafness in this assertion; I find it disturbing that a number of Christian thinkers have picked up on and used this as explanation for why words are better than images. God can best reveal himself in symbols which are twice removed from reality because he is an abstract divinity? No, actually; Christians worship a God who is thoroughly engaged in reality and who made himself flesh. Words are an important way in which he reveals himself, but to place his presence only in words is to remove him again, far, far from us.

The digital age has made us aware of something which perhaps we were not aware before. And this danger is not the disappearance of words. This danger is the idolatry of words.

On the flip side of imagophobia is grammatolatry: the giving over to the medium the power that rests in the message. Worshipping the words rather than the Word-giver, the creation rather than the created; there is also something about that in the Ten Commandments.

So am I saying we should stop complaining about the rising influence of digital culture and devaluation of the written word? Stop fighting for the book? Stop reading difficult books and teaching our children to do so?

Not at all. That brings us back to the first answer to my initial questions. As concerned members of society, should we continue to fight for the primacy of the word? Should we join Nicholas Carr and Maggie Jackson and Arthur Hunt and Ed Veith and Neil Postman in the “we’re going to hell-in-a-handbasket” chorus?

Sure, if you want to. Jump on the bandwagon. Knock yourself out.

I’m not convinced that our culture is heading for a totalitarian dark age, but I love books. I make my living with books; my entire professional career is dependent on people reading. I publish curricula to help people read and write better. It’s part of my calling. I don’t want it to become obsolete.

But I don’t think that if my calling becomes obsolete, God’s kingdom is in trouble.

What I have been trying to get across in this series is that there is no solid theological underpinning for resisting image-based culture–that, in the words of Ken Myers, the decline of reading, what he calls the “epidemic of aliteracy,” should be “deliberately and unapologetically resisted by Christians,” not because they are academics, or writers, or cultural conservatives, but primarily because they are Christians.

An image-based culture would be different than a print-based culture. Those of us who love print may fight the death of the book, because we love print, because we love books, because we see our livelihoods disappearing, because we miss grammatical sentences, because we get hives when our students keep mixing up its and it’s.

What we can never do is fight because we are Christians. The preservation of the book cannot be the banner we wave as we march into yet another holy war against our corrupt culture.

Those never end well.

Working passionately to avoid print, or working passionately to develop new image-based media are both legitimate passions for Christians–just as Christians in the U.S. can feel strongly that if Republicans get hold of Congress, our country is in real social trouble, or that a Democratic leadership is going to be truly terrible for personal freedoms. Those are both convictions which our Christian faith must inform; and I think that one of the ways God works in this world is to give opposing social and cultural passions to different members of his flock.

But those passions are not at the center of our identities as Christians. At the center of our identity as Christians is the cross.

To the best of my knowledge, you can be a Christian Democrat or a Christian Republican. You can be a Christian and devoted to books. You can be a Christian and never read; before the printing press, when, contrary what many historians will tell you, God was alive and work in the world, many Christians were unable to read and yet were drawn to God, nurtured by a faithful Christian community and a priest.

And of course they were also nurtured by the Word of God, read aloud in the parish church. I repeat again: I am not saying that the Bible is unimportant, or that God’s choice to give us words is incidental, or that we should give up reading the Bible.

I am saying that a culture that does not choose to read as its primary method of getting information and exchanging ideas cannot be argued, on theological grounds (or really, on historical ones) to be less open to God’s power than one that does. Once again: Your average peasant, in the Middle Ages, did not have a clear doctrinal understanding of the Bible, because he didn’t have one. But neither did your average tradesman in the Age of Reason; he’d been reliably informed that it wasn’t necessary; he had his brain instead.

So what as Christians do we do, if we shouldn’t campaign for the preservation of the book? And what as Christians do we do if the gloomiest of predictions comes true and our culture spirals into some sort of social chaos?

We remind ourselves, to start with, that every culture dies. The death of any institution always seems like the end of the world to those who are heavily invested in it. But cultures, and nations, have risen and fallen again, and again, and again. Things have been bad before; they will be bad again; and when we ask ourselves, not: “What will God do if people stop reading?” but rather, “What do we do if it all falls apart?” it becomes much easier to find an answer. There’s one in 1 Peter:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. that day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

That is what we do as the book dies.

We have, in the Scriptures (which, remember, I’m not suggesting that we stop reading) and also in our church communities, some very direct guidance about what it means to be holy and godly. We are directly exhorted to love each other, to put the needs of others above our own, to be faithful to each other, to be honest, truthful, peacemakers, patient, self-controlled.

We are also told to work out what else being godly means, in our own time and place, diligently and carefully and seriously.

There are aspects of digital culture that we should fight against, not because they are “not print” but because they are not godly:

The anonymity which allows us to lie and deceive each other;

The easy access to pornography which allows us to take part in the degredation, the use, the exploitation, of those with less power, and which poisons our own relationships;

The overwhelming encouragement to spend and spend and spend. (Nobody ever talks about the demonic aspects of that “one click” button.)

None of these temptations, in their essences, are new: deception, lust, greed. Our call is to respond, in whatever culture we find ourselves, as a people of God. And as much as I love to read and write, I do not see liking books as making it into the list of what it means to be godly. Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets when challenged, like this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the secnd is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Interestingly, the second commandment doesn’t make it onto that list; nor does “Knowing how to understand and handle the written word.”

I think many of us have fallen into a trap: we have identified the evil of our culture not as sin (which is also inside us), but as digitalization (which is conveniently external), and now we can begin to fix it. We can campaign for the preservation of the Book.

This is reliance on a savior which is not Christ.

As people of God, in an age of speedy instanteous communication and overwhelming information, how do we think about images and words? As creations which need to be redeemed.

This series has been trying to do something which may be impossible: to encourage you to loosen your fingers on the idea that good Christians read without also saying that the primary thing we read–the Scripture–is unimportant.

But I think when we recognize that salvation is not found in words, there is also a certain relief that always accompanies the letting go of an idol. Idols are tiring. We expect them to solve our problems and then we set about making that happen, and it’s grim and hard and frustrating.

In The Message in the Bottle, Walker Percy writes,

The American Christian novelist faces a peculiar dilemma today….His dilemma is that though he professes a belief which he holds saves himself and the world and nourishes his art besides, it is also true that Christendom seems in some sense to have failed. Its vocabulary is worn out. This twin failure raises problems for a man who is a Christian and whose trade is with words. The old words of grace are smooth as poker chips and a certain devaluation has occurred, like a poker chip after it is cashed in…

If our salvation is in words, we have a hard road in front of us. Words, like all created things, wear out, change meaning, and lose their efficacy. It is only Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever; only the living Word who actually causes us to hear and to understand, and to follow.

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14 Responses to Disappearing Words, Part IV: What do we do about it?

  1. Nathan says:

    Susan,

    A very thoughtful and informative piece. Thank you for sharing it freely, as I know it is the fruit of much labor. I struggle with your conclusions though.

    I think I agree insofar as you talk about the *written word* – i.e. words understood as visual symbols – but not words in general. In one sense, I think we can definitely say that words are creations. But in another sense, is speaking words really “creating” – or is it only possible to conceive this a way of thinking after the advent of writing? After all, words can also simply express who a person is and what they are like, think, etc. (not in the sense that it can stand alone though: i.e. apart from all other forms of communication – gesture, for example). Our words, which have real power, are projections of us and almost seem to be a part of us – of who we are. And if we believe that the Word was God, we know that the Word – the Son of God, the Logos – is not a creation, but is “eternally begotten”. This “Word” reveals who the Father is, what He is like, thinks, etc.

    I think of how key *hearing* the word is: Paul writing in Romans 10:17 that faith comes through the hearing of the Word (i.e. there is no “Wordless Spirit”) and Jesus, for example, saying in John 6 “my words are Spirit and Life” (also elsewhere: “truth”). “We live by every Word that comes from the mouth of God”. How does the Christian receive the Spirit – and to begin to understand the instruction of the “Spirit of Jesus”? Through the Word. It seems salvation is found in Words!

    Within this or that “culture” (I use this word as a useful fiction, arguing that it’s a practical way to think about how humans are influenced and organized), can we not confidently say that there is at the very least base agreement over the most common or usual “sense” or “meaning” of utterances/words that are attached to certain human things, actions and characteristics (that seem to clearly be common and unchanging)? Again, given the relevant knowledge of another’s “culture” and “language” (again, as we can use both of these terms as useful fictions), are not general translations of these words from one language to another possible (even if additional words are required to interpret a word whose subtle meaning might otherwise be lost)? Does not human experience cross-culturally (and even trans-historically) have more in common than it does not when it comes to things like this? In other words, is the context of each individual communicative act really that unique?

    It seems to me that if something like this is not true, then it would not be possible to have any real confidence that we can understand the message of the Bible (and hence, the Reformation has no real intellectual standing – absolutely everything simply becomes a matter of self-authentication and the various “Catholic”, “Eastern Orthodox” and “Protestant” groups should see that trying to really understand the Bible better is definitely not the key, or even *a* key, to Christians being able to agree about things). Pilate’s “What is truth?” could go hand in hand with “What of ‘it is written’?”

    It seems to me that if what you say is true, it follows that no matter how comfortable one may feel with the context of an ancient text and its contents, real confidence that one is beginning to understand its author’s message is never really appropriate. If it is, on what basis is it? Why are you a Reformed Christian and not a Lutheran (like me)? Perhaps what is necessary is only acting as if one can begin to understand – for the express purposes of engaging in discussion with those who actually do think they can begin to understand…?

    This is where I see your argument going – but I would love to get your viewpoint as well.

    Best regards,
    Nathan Rinne

    • Susan says:

      Nathan,

      these are interesting and careful thoughts. I will do my best to respond later this week, but just wanted to briefly point out that I *don’t* identify myself as Reformed. Church membership is here: http://www.peacehill.org.

      SWB

  2. Nathan says:

    Susan,

    Thanks for the note. I am sorry about that. I don’t know why I had that impression, but I think it was formed after reading the 2004 version of a Well Trained Mind (thanks for that book, by the way).

    You must understand though, for a Lutheran, in one sense to say “Reformed” basically means anyone who disagrees with them who isn’t RCC/EO : ) (just like all non-denominational churches are in practice Baptist, who, yes, are also Reformed : ) )

    Other than that though, you are right – I did choose my words very carefully….

    Regards,
    Nathan

  3. Nathan says:

    “It seems salvation is found in Words!”

    words (lower case w).

    ~Nathan

  4. Sylvia C says:

    I guess I should first position myself as not a Christian, although I was raised Christian, attend a Christian church, and read quite a bit of theology.

    As I understand it the word, the truth, the life in Christianity is Jesus himself. Not scripture. Scripture is a witness to Jesus. It seems to me that those who obsess about the words of scripture as primary are idolizing their own interpretations of that witness. It seems to me a powerful kind of arrogance to “to have any real confidence that we can understand the message of the Bible,” as Mr. Rinne puts it.

    Finally, what I find truly interesting is this passage:
    “We have, in the Scriptures (which, remember, I’m not suggesting that we stop reading) and also in our church communities, some very direct guidance about what it means to be holy and godly. We are directly exhorted to love each other, to put the needs of others above our own, to be faithful to each other, to be honest, truthful, peacemakers, patient, self-controlled.
    We are also told to work out what else being godly means, in our own time and place, diligently and carefully and seriously.”

    I find it interesting, because I see nothing distinctly Christian here. This describes all ethical humans, as I see it. I think there is something much more important that Christians are supposed to be doing besides being ethical human beings, but I’m not a theologian, so I won’t try to express it in a blog comment. But I can say that they are not supposed to be idolizing their interpretations of scripture, nor claiming to possess the “truth” based on scripture. As I see it, the truth, the word, cannot be possessed, since they are Jesus. That would be rather presumptuous, wouldn’t it?
    It seems that the word that is Jesus is not going to disappear with the ink on the page. And if a person’s faith is based on ink, then it is not a true witness to Jesus.

    • Ashley McG says:

      “It seems that the word that is Jesus is not going to disappear with the ink on the page.” Very well said, Sylvia!

      “As I see it, the truth, the word, cannot be possessed, since they are Jesus. That would be rather presumptuous, wouldn’t it?” … An interesting thought and question. Can we possess Jesus—and thus possess the truth? I believe Scripture says we can “possess” Jesus, so to speak:
      “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
      “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
      “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” And there we have it—Christ in us, a great mystery!

      Elsewhere, you wrote: “Does that mean we shouldn’t use scripture? Not at all. To me, it means rather that we approach scripture with humility, to learn what it has to teach us, but that we should never allow ourselves to feel confident that we understand what God’s message is, or even that we are beginning to understand.”

      What a wise admonition—that we should always approach Scripture with humility. So true, and so important to remember! And while I agree with you that much of God’s Word is a mystery and we may only scratch the surface, I do believe we can hope to understand His message if we seek with humility, as you said, and right motives. Proverbs says: “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.” Later in the same book, wisdom herself says: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” (This calls to mind Jesus’ words in the New Testament: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find … For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds …”) If God’s revelation of truth through Scripture were only to remain a veiled mystery, I’m not sure why He would have given it to us.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. You seem like a neat person to have a good conversation with over a cup of coffee!

  5. Nathan says:

    Sylvia,

    You said:

    It seems to me a powerful kind of arrogance to “to have any real confidence that we can understand the message of the Bible,” as Mr. Rinne puts it.

    What if I had said: “to have any real confidence that we can *begin to* understand the message of the Bible”

    Or *any* ancient document for that matter? Don’t historians at the very least act as if they are capable of *beginning* to do this all the time?

    Speaking specifically about the use of Holy writings in the Christian Church, Jesus Himself, according to the Gospels, seems to be operating under the assumption that the O.T. Scriptures should be sufficiently clear – not just to Himself, but to others…. Further, that they have Divine authority.

  6. Sylvia C says:

    Hi Nathan,

    I love how clearly you write, and appreciate your question.

    “Begin to understand” and “understand” are the same thing in the context of that sentence. “Hope to understand,” now that’s a different creature. Historians do act as though they understand documents, but all written history is narrative created by humans. Theologians also act as though they understand documents, but theology too is human. And anyone interpreting documents is doing so through the lens of their own human experience. In other words, I see written history always only as an attempt to understand the past, and written theology always only as an attempt to understand divinity and its expression through the texts of historical religions. As I see it, human understanding can not possibly reach the level of divine understanding.

    You write:
    “Jesus Himself, according to the Gospels, seems to be operating under the assumption that the O.T. Scriptures should be sufficiently clear – not just to Himself, but to others…. Further, that they have Divine authority.”

    Jesus does indeed speak as though the scriptures should be clear, but he also makes it clear that the priestly orders have misconstrued God’s meaning, even though they have mastered the scriptures over their long history. It seems clear to me that Jesus and God are the only ones in a position to understand God’s meaning, and to express God’s authority. The rest of us can only hope. Does that mean we shouldn’t use scripture? Not at all. To me, it means rather that we approach scripture with humility, to learn what it has to teach us, but that we should never allow ourselves to feel confident that we understand what God’s message is, or even that we are beginning to understand. It is not the attempt to understand that is arrogant. It is rather the end of the attempt, the decision that we have found “the truth.” It is in essence spiritual materialism.

  7. Nathan says:

    Sylvia,

    We have different ideas of theology. I think that theology is, to some degree, thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Hearing, understanding, and confessing something to be true. Saying “Amen”.

    That is theology at its simplest. Using our human reason, theologians have built up “systematic theologies” as well, which attempt to explain the “whole counsel of God” – leaving more or less to mystery. I have less confidence in much of this not-so-childlike theology.

    (I have a whole blog about this: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/)

    Re: history, I am not sure what you mean by hope to understand. I think Susan, for example, thinks there is much she knows and understands about the Ancient world, and for the most part, I trust her. Certainly there are things in her book that are “consensus” knowledge, and of course some of this stuff is more certain than other things. I don’t think she thinks she hopes to understand, but has begun to understand. And I benefit from the fruit of her good labor.

    So I speak of human confidence of knowledge. I do not even know how I would begin to compare this to the Divine. I am not claiming we can be confident of knowing all things, but only some things.

    “Jesus does indeed speak as though the scriptures should be clear, but he also makes it clear that the priestly orders have misconstrued God’s meaning, even though they have mastered the scriptures over their long history. It seems clear to me that Jesus and God are the only ones in a position to understand God’s meaning, and to express God’s authority. The rest of us can only hope. Does that mean we shouldn’t use scripture? Not at all. To me, it means rather that we approach scripture with humility, to learn what it has to teach us, but that we should never allow ourselves to feel confident that we understand what God’s message is, or even that we are beginning to understand. It is not the attempt to understand that is arrogant. It is rather the end of the attempt, the decision that we have found “the truth.” It is in essence spiritual materialism.”

    Jesus makes the case that the Pharisees and scribes (at least those he opposed) had not really mastered the Scriptures, because they spoke of Him (John 5:39, Luke 24, Luke 7 [the Isaianic sign]) but they did not come to Him for eternal life. They missed the plot. Others, like Nathaniel, Simeon, Joseph, Anna, Mary, Zechariah etc, evidently did not. Jesus is *very clear* – they are culpable, they should have understood.

    I am confused as to why you are so concerned to use the Scriptures and to learn from them when the Scriptures themselves say that they are all about Jesus, and if you’ve missed Him, you’ve missed everything (you yourself said you are not a Christian). I don’t know what “spiritual materialism” is. Matter is not evil. Words are not evil. They are good, but infected with the venom of Satan, the curse of original sin, brought on the world by man. Our fault. But Jesus pulls us out of that, for His Words create forgiveness, life, and salvation – they turn us from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. This is how God “enlightens” people – through His Word.

    Mark Twain got it right, I think: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

    Exactly. There is much that is hard to understand. But there are clear passages that any child can understand. And I believe in those clear passages God has made everything clear that is necessary for our salvation – this means things like this: http://www.cph.org/t-topic-catechism.aspx

    We submit the unclear passages to the clear and priceless ones of which the catechism expounds, not vice-versa.

  8. Sylvia C says:

    Hi Nathan,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. You and I approach written texts so very differently that there really is no way to figure this out in poor Susan’s blog comments (sorry, Susan). We just don’t read in the same way. Nothing wrong with that–in fact, it goes to the very heart of what I’m trying to say here, and which I probably didn’t say very well.
    Best wishes,
    Sylvia

  9. Nathan says:

    Sylvia,

    Thank you for your gracious reply. I wish I could understand you better.

    Susan,

    No pressure, but I am eager to hear your thoughts about my post when you are able to make the time.

    I read your post again:

    “What we can never do is fight because we are Christians. The preservation of the book cannot be the banner we wave as we march into yet another holy war against our corrupt culture.”

    I agree – and think your reflection is necessary and valuable. Still, is God’s salvation and unity in Christ found and delivered in the oral words/utterances we hear? Do they really have the creating power the Bible says they do (Romans 4:17 comes to mind to, and the passages about his words accomplishing his purpose)? And if this is the case, given that words “wear out, change meaning, and lose their efficacy” how does the Bible, historically seen to be the very Word of God, fit into this picture? Are its texts something that we can *begin to understand*? (like Twain above). If this can not be done with the Bible, can it be done with other ancient texts (given some knowledge of a “language” – again, useful fiction)? If so, why?

    Please note, in asking all of this, I do not mean to deny the importance of experience – what each one of us brings to a text. Certainly this can make a huge difference and their are all kinds of “levels of understanding”.

    Perhaps ultimately we ask this?: Given the importance in both cases for words and a belief in the importance of actually happenings on earth in time, how does Christian knowing differ from the knowing of the historian?

    ~Nathan

  10. Nathan says:

    Susan,

    You also might find these posts on the linguist Roy Harris (as he talks about history) stimulating:

    http://worldagainstmerages.blogspot.com/search/label/Harris_%28Roy%29

    In my estimation, its not “off-topic”, but perhaps gets to the very heart of things…

    ~Nathan

  11. Suzi Kahn says:

    Love the thoughts. Would love to know your thoughts on video-gaming, specifically, in the context of digitalization.

  12. AJWoods says:

    Susan,

    This is well said. Slippery slop arguments are all too pervasive. The power of god in the acts of the apostle’s moved not through written word but through people guided by the holy spirit. As you well know, logos is not simply translated as ‘word’. I think better connotations are speaking or reasoning. If I recall correctly the French translation has ‘the speaking’ in John 1:1. This resonates with the Hebrew tradition that in the beginning god spoke – god said. I think the ramifications are more relevant to actions and relationships than to words. I am reminded of Plato’s reluctance.

    The fact that people simply do not read is a travesty. It is a travesty in Christianity that due to a lack of reading many Christians simply do not know the tradition. Oh the depth of riches found in the desert mothers and fathers. However, thankfully salvation is not contingent upon knowledge. The greater travesty is the complacency of many Christians in the face of overt and covert oppression.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

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