Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Selah

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
Psalm 15

We live in a culture, in an era, when our language is constantly changing. Words and idioms and phrases bob to the surface of collective conversation with astonishing speed. YOLO. Hashtags.


These new phrases find rapid birth in our social experience and then find rapid adoption into our chats and conversations and understandings. Today's new catch phrase is tomorrow's valid dictionary entry. It's fun.  It's creative.  It opens up new imagery and cultural expansion.

We are creating new levels to our language at a dizzying pace.

In our flurry of creating new words and developing new definitions, an interesting phenomenon presents itself. Our understanding of language becomes more relative. Our definitions become more fluid. 'Sick' doesn't mean an illness...it means amazing. To 'kill it' doesn't mean murder...it means to perform at a high level. Shades and shapes and forms of meaning, all shifting and morphing in a connotative blend.

But in our creativity of expression, we may lose something important. If we're not careful. If we're not intentional. If we allow language to become all form with no substance.


We have taken the construct of truth and we have allowed it to become soggy. In our quest for expression of our perceptions, our feelings, our shades and nuances, we can be in danger of allowing the construct of truth to devolve into a vague concept.

And that vagueness comes with our ever-blurrying definition of 'truth'.

Somehow, truth has become whatever I want to define it to be. I don't have to own that my 'truth' might be based on faulty assumptions or fractured communication with another person or my unwillingness to seek understanding. I can just peruse a situation, plug my emotions and preferences and experiences into it and come out the other side declaring 'truth'. And then I can use that fluid, vague, formless word and judge others by it.

This 'truth' I've developed.

Is it 'truth' I'm seeking? Or is it really just 'proof', proof that my assumptions and justifications and judgements are 'right'?

Truth is too precious a word to bundle into jargon. It's too pure a construct to lump into self-seeking individualism.  'My perception', fine.  'My experience', great.  But to slap a label of Truth on my personal view without including fact and selflessness and seeking?

It's sloppy.

Using clean language isn't just about avoiding profanity.  It's about not allowing the holy to become profane in what we declare.  In what we verbally throw around.  In what we casually define.



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