Thursday, August 23, 2012

Doublespeak (Zephaniah 3:9)

Then I will restore pure lips to all peoples,
                   that they may invoke Adonai by name
                   and serve God with one accord.
Zephaniah 3:9

Angry Words 2 by Helena M. Langley

What does a new world order look like? Certainly it is more than the present vision of Pax Americana, which is anything but peaceful.

For Zephaniah a fresh start to the earth is “pure” or unified speech. Proverbs reminded us of the power of words to shape reality (see the post “Slurs”). Zephaniah reminds us that words fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and form an image. Unified speech presumes clarity of communications where the thoughts and emotions inside us are articulated so that others may experience and understand our point of view – so that others can comprehend our piece of the jigsaw in the larger picture. Unified speech also suggests that others can do the same so we may understand their self-articulation.

Admittedly, this is an odd vision of a new world order. Odd, unless we understand the old world order it replaces - garbled speech and the inability to communicate or to comprehend. Garbled speech removes safety from the forum of conversation. As is demonstrated in Helena M. Langley's piece - angry words layer, weigh down, and crowd out. The term doublespeak, which alludes to the excessive blurring use of words so that the hearer no longer recognizes their meaning, may best describe a world in which we continue to talk past one another.

Queer people talk about "love" while our detractors talk about "perversion." Queer people talk about "marriage" while our detractors talk about "erosion." Queer people talk about "diversity" while our detractors talk about "pollution." You get the picture.

In our time with the proliferation of mass media words are cheap. Words that mean nothing are even cheaper. The present climate of the exchange of ideas has been greatly poisoned and polarized by the easy use of heated words spoken from a place far from the heart of God. In the volley of verbal warfare the security to articulate and to listen has long been a casualty. Indeed an inability to communicate is its own kind of hell.
In this passage it is the praise of God which becomes the cause of meaningful speech. How calmer the present climate would be if the purpose of our speech was to acclaim the Holy instead of criticizing each other. How more genuine our words are when the Sacred in me recognizes and communicates to the Sacred in you. How much more listening would be undertaken to speech that is integrated and safe?

Being on the receiving and giving end of cutting comments I look forward to the day when speech is pure once again. The day when in unity speech is aimed in praise of the One who made us loud and quiet, noble and proud, straight and queer.

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