Saturday, June 07, 2008
Language will cease.
My brother Joel is reading 1st Corinthians 13 during my cousin's wedding this evening (Congratulations Susan and Cliff!). The power of cliche, Joel observed, is devastating. And what I believe he meant is the way we shrink-wrap the passage to fit our greeting-card-sized, sentimental sensibilities (not that there's anything wrong with greeting cards). Joel says 1st Corinthians 13 is, among other things, a political critique, a critique that gets bypassed whenever we reduce Paul's privileging of real, live, doable love to something that 'sposed to happen in the sweet by and by. "Language will cease," isn't strictly "Just you wait." It's a relativizing of all our noisy gong/clanging symbol goings-on right now. Our carrying on over politics and doctrines and what we're mad about, when it's bereft of love, really is even now exactly nothing. And when people can't sense love in what we're going on about (e-mails, blogs, writings, opinionating), it really isn't going to get through. It might be full of sound and fury and sincerity but it signifies nothing. Joel sealed the deal (rather casually over coffee while the boys stared at Cartoon Network) when he noted that some e-mails are filed under "noisy gong" the moment he sees their subject heading. The scatter-shot, mass e-mails, I should clarify on his behalf, not when anyone's actually talking to him. Anyway, the idea that Paul was writing a letter to particular people in danger of forgetting what prophesying, pontificating, and prattling on are for (what people are are for) hit me anew today. Wanted to make a record.
A jarringly redemptive next week to everyone.