Monday, September 19, 2022

Things not good to say

I'd looked up one Godspell song, so youtube offered me "Turn back, O man." The lyrics sounded a little off, but my ear for lyrics has always trended mondegreenish, so I looked it up. It turns out to be a hymn from 1916, though with decidedly different music and choreography. And the "off" bit is in the original: "Yet thou ... Still will not hear thine inner God proclaim".

When I hear "inner god" or "god within" I don't think of "indwelling Holy Spirit" but either Hinduism or the semi-gnostic do-it-yourself denial of "organized religion" that's been so popular in our culture. As far as I can tell, that's what most other people think of too, so as AVI points out, that's what the phrase means now--unless you preface it with an explanation.

So if we want to use the old hymn and keep the intended sense (at least I hope the intent was orthodox), we should probably revise it, because the words, though strictly accurate, are no longer good to say.

I wrote before that: A husband may say of his wife: "She is mine." That is true enough, but it is much safer to say "I am hers." Likewise "Mother of God" is a true title for Mary, but a dangerous one to try to use. And a Christian, given God's Holy Spirit, with a changed and increasingly sanctified life, may truthfully stand to pray "God, I thank thee that I am not like other men"--but I wouldn't recommend it.

I've recommended Charles Williams' works before--but I probably should do that with care, since he frequently uses occult environments, and I know of at least one person who became interested in tarot after reading Williams. (The underlying themes of his novels are Christian, but an on-ramp can become an off-ramp.) I'm not sure I ought to say "Read him" to all and sundry.

The slogan "Blue Lives Matter" seems banal enough, but that's not the way it's taken--I'd use the phrase with caution. It isn't always a good thing to say.

By the same token, "Black Lives Matter" isn't always a good thing to say either, without some explanation. Does it refer to the banal plain meaning, or the political slogan that stands for a lot of claims--some true and some lies, or does it refer to the corrupt organization whose main interest, if their children's education material is any guide, is unusual sexual claims?


Am I God to tell you what you shouldn't say? Quite a few Catholics will assure me that honoring Mary in no way diminishes from their worship of God--and I know that's true for some friends.

Will people die because you pulled an Andrew May?

Are you God to tell me there are kinds of knowledge too dangerous to be learned?

Granted, I think we can agree that if you discovered how to make a 25kT nuke from a speakerphone and a box of Oreos we should suppress that information. But I decline to believe that closing your eyes and pretending will have much effect on already active realities. (Grim is more hopeful than I about that writer.)

Yes, I self-censor. I tried to teach the kids to too. But I object to you trying to do it for me. I won't do it to you.


Korora said...

"You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it’s true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game," -- Screwtape, Letter XXIII

Grim said...

“That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within."