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.

10 comments:

Josiah said...

Thanks for more great insights.
I heard you speak a few times at Calvin's Faith and Music conference in 07 and have since read a few of your books and kept up on your blog.

You're the kind of thinker I hope to grow up to be.

jdaviddark said...

Very nice of you to say that, Josiah.
Had a look at your reading list and I'll happily affirm that _Crying of Lot 49_ is (i think0 the place to begin with the Pynchon.

Thanks and all the best,
jdd

mister tumnus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mister tumnus said...

(sorry- i'm the one who keeps deleting their posts)

well i'm not sure if i've ever mentioned it, but i am a a big fan of your brother :) it is DW night in the mcmillan household and as i ponder the doc and the effects of yesterday's political clanging on our troubled island i will be thinking about these things too.

if it's not too cliched i'd like to offer a quiet hallelujah.

Dan Morehead said...

...and its a passage that springs out of discord, perhaps an ominous or truthful way to start a marriage.

anna said...

I can't count the times that "keeps no record of wrongs" has quietly chimed in the back of my head, prompting me to say, "Crap."

or to say crap.

Because i'd really rather keep records (and sometimes do, anyway).

Variations On A Theme said...

I do so love and miss your brother. Every thought of him is sigh and smile. Dear, dear man.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es_SH2RjJkI

Just thought you would appreciate this.

jdaviddark said...

bring on the quiet (alongside the cold and broken) hallelujahs.
so glad to know you're out there, AYT.
anna, i'm moved that you found time to offer the good and funny word among the new and wonderful demands in y'all's life. respect.
variations on a theme, why don't you invite the dude over? that's what we do. he's good with children.
and anonymous, thankee. them's people being lutherans is news to me.

party on dudes,
jdd

Angela Hart said...

reminds me of a song i was listening to just today in my car. it was my first listen (a cd of a friend from l.a.) and on the first song the chorus was, "i want love not understanding." that phrase has stuck with me throughout the day.

in therapy there's a communication craze that is happening. communication is obviously not bad, it's great --but communication it not the same as connection.

we are a curious people, too easily convinced that happy meals are actual culinary experiences.