The Wonder of Words

news-graphics-2007-_445463a

“Our culture has made a radical shift in the last century from a word-based society of readers to an image-based society of viewers. The media of our time are movies, television, and the Internet, not books. As a result, unlike our forebears of just a few generations ago, we don’t know how to read. To a large extent, we’ve lost that art.” – Howard G. Hendricks

It would be hard not to agree with Hendricks’ statement at least somewhat. The fact that I’ve never heard of the word “forebears” is a small testament to it. Noun. Ancestors, forefathers. There we go.

I love to read. Books, articles, blogs, handwritten letters, whatever. I haven’t had a stack of less than six books at my bedside since 2007(ish). I am absolutely fascinated by words.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

I’ve always been a movie junkie. ALWAYS. My mother raised me on what I consider the good stuff. Shag. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The genius Trifecta mentioned in my previous post. Dad tried to get me into Top Gun and such. Didn’t quite take. Though there were the occasional surprises like the Jurassic Park movies that we enjoyed together. : )

Around high school, I began to take a little bit of interest in movies of the Jane Austen genre (an interest that would skyrocket a few years later). I was entertained, but I remember thinking, really each time I watched, “What did people really do back then? It had to be so booooring.” I knew what they did. I watched four straight hours of them socializing, going to balls, eating together, playing rather mild sports, taking strolls through meadows, and reading reading reading in the A&E/Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. What I meant was, though I was a little embarrassed to admit it to myself because it might mean I had an obsession with entertainment and no real hobbies of my own, “They didn’t have movies or TV! How did they survive?” I couldn’t bear to think of life without…you know…the little boxes we sit in front of ev.ery.day. Honestly, I was a little concerned that I considered the situation that horrific.

Since, I have indeed come to terms with the fact the every other generation since the beginning of time has survived, thrived even, without TV, movies, and the internet. It’s funny. Now I actually long for a “simpler” era when I would have seemingly endless time for my now-favorite activity.

Television, movies, and the internet are not bad things. They are great things! We get to see stories, stories that need to be shared, and shared visually and beautifully. We hear and see the news when it’s, like, actually very new. We can communicate with each other in a probably inestimable number of ways. My real-time face can see your real-time face when your real-time face is not physically in front of me. That’s crazy.

But. Back to Hendricks. Is it true? Have we let one art form, the one that has carried the history of God and man century after century, be squashed by a thousand others?

I don’t think it’s been squashed. But I do think it’s in need of serious attention.

I am so interested in bringing back the wonder of words.

Practice

I’ve heard that writers need to write, even if it’s just a little, every day. I guess it’s like that with anything. If you want to be good at something and comfortable doing something, you have to, you know, do it. Practice! That’s what it’s called. And this is why I’m on post-overload. Stretching the aging and flabby writing muscles.

Concerning observation in Scripture study (and life in general) that I discussed briefly a few hours ago, I’m really digging it. Today was our first day of homework with the study (Living By the Book) and we were prompted to make observations about one verse. Just one verse. When was the last time I spent thirty minutes looking at one verse? Honestly, it was grand. We looked at Psalm 93:1.

“The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; He has put on strength as His belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.” 

Try it out if you’d like. Some good questions to think through when observing (not necessarily trying to find meaning just yet): Who is the author? Who is the audience? What terms or phrases are repeated? How are all of the words connected? What does it say about God, and us? Basically just dissect it.

I really focused on the word “majesty” this morning. Good word. I keep finding when I take time to really look at the Word, slowly, not racing through it, something always surprises me or delights me in a new way. That’s the Spirit at work. I love that!

 

the remains of the day and some c.s.

Do you know Kazuo Ishiguro? He has written two well-known novels (and probably many more): The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. The latter is relatively recent – 2005, I think. I had to read it for a world lit class in college – and loved it. I reread it recently, prompted by the movie version that came out late last year. Oh, how I’m dying to see it! Of course, it didn’t play in theaters here. I’m from a relatively small town. It has its advantages and disadvantages, and this has always been one of the worst disses.

And now, I am reading Remains. It’s the story of an English butler in the 1950s, looking back on his life and his career, a career he takes great pride in.

I really say all of this because I want to share a new word I learned from it. It’s a word we all know. August. No, no, it is not just a month. It is also an adjective. Exciting, eh? The line reads,

Of course, I had heard these same sentiments expressed by his lordship on many occasions before, but such was the depth of conviction with which he spoke in this august setting that I could not help but be moved afresh.”

Doesn’t it make you want to read the book? Ah. Well, here’s what august as an adjective means, as it is used above: “inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic”.

Also, a quote from C.S. Lewis that I read yesterday, and have read before, and really need to read every day because I am such a pride-puppy when it comes to my artistic tastes (obviously – see above). What a snob I can be. Barf.

A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride.”