Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

Psalm 139:4

September 3, 2014

My first year in college was at a local junior college and of course one of my first classes was Psychology. I was nervous my first day and the tension continued to build as we all sat waiting for the professor to arrive. It was deathly silent and I watched the clock in front of the room a little disappointed that the professor was already 5 minutes late.

Then one brave student spoke up, commenting that because the teacher was only an associate professor we could leave after waiting for only 15 minutes. This sounded good to me. It seemed that this broke the tension and a conversation took off from there. Another student asked it anyone knew anything about the teacher and there were numerous answers. He was a hard grader, another commented that he was strict, one girl said that she heard he gave an overabundance of homework. There were numerous comments after that and most were not very complimentary. There were a lot of jokes at the teacher’s expense.

Finally, the student at the beginning who seemed to know the rules, stood up and said, “Well, it has been 15 minutes but I’m not going to leave. In fact, I think I will stay and begin today’s class.”


Psalm 139:4; Hebrews 4:13

Rules for Writers

March 29, 2013

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946

One written word is worth a thousand pieces of gold

November 17, 2009

In A Thousand Pieces of Gold the author retells a little her grandfather’s story. “…when he was a boy growing up in Shanghai he saw… large red boxes placed at major street corners. Each had… four gilded characters written on it…’jing xi zi zhi,’ or ‘respect and cherish words.’”4 Men with bamboo poles would collect all of the trash on the ground with written words on it at a great expenditure of energy for the Confucian paper burning ritual at the temple. Candidates who had passed the imperial examinations could attend this ritual to give worship to Heaven until all the paper had turned to ashes. There were boxes on the way out for donations; each was labeled with the famous proverb, “yi zi qian jing,” or “one written word is worth a thousand pieces of gold.”

cf. Adeline Yen Mah, Watching the Tree, p.58

We need to make a distinction between the claim that the world is out there and the claim that the truth is out there

November 14, 2009

We need to make a distinction between the claim that the world is out there and the claim that the truth is out there. To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states. To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations. Truth cannot be out there–cannot exist independently of the human mind–because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of the world can be true or false. The world on its own–unaided by the describing activities of human beings–cannot.

Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, Solidarity, CUP, 1989, p.5

But Rorty has assumed that language and thought can only exist in the human mind, and thus ‘truth’ only comes into being with human thinking. But God created and described the world before man existed (Genesis 1.3f. ‘And God said it was good’) and human language is a subset of God’s language (the image of God, Gen.1.26), the speaking God who spoke all things into existence Gen.1.

Sickness goes into the mouth, disaster comes out

November 11, 2009

Sickness goes into the mouth, disaster comes out.

Chinese proverb on the result of careless words.


A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

Nursery rhyme

The Greeks have but one word, logos, for both speech and reason; not that they thought there was no speech without reason, but no reasoning without speech

October 29, 2009

The Greeks have but one word, logos, for both speech and reason; not that they thought there was no speech without reason, but no reasoning without speech.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Part 1, Chapter IV


I used to think I was poor.

September 16, 2009

I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I wasn’t poor, I was needy. They told me it was self-defeating to think of myself as needy, I was deprived. Then they told me underprivileged was overused. I was disadvantaged. I still don’t have a dime. But I have a great vocabulary.

Jules Feiffer

This reminds me of the politically correct brigade who change the words of (usually negative) things (e.g. ‘fat’, ‘self-indulgent’, ‘greedy’ etc.) to cover reality – rather like the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The non-creedal creed of the Emerging Church

February 6, 2009

Statements of faith are about drawing borders, which means you have to load your weapons and place soldiers at those borders. It becomes an obsession to guard the borders. That is simply not the ministry of Jesus. It wasn’t the ministry of Paul or Peter. It stated to become the ministry of the early Church, and it abated somewhere in the Middle Ages and blew back to life in the time of modernity. For the short duration of time that I have on this planet to do my best to partner with God and build his kingdom, I don’t want to spend it guarding borders. I’d like to spend it inviting people into the kingdom. Statements of faith don’t do this. They’re a modernistic endeavor that I’m not the least bit interested in.

Tony Jones, Relevant magazine

So is the Mormon my brother (in the same sense that Jesus is Lucifer’s brother?!)? Is the Arian and the JW? If there are no boundaries, does the word ‘Christian’ mean anything? And is it worth being, specifically, a Christian at all?

Surely Jones’ use of the word ‘kingdom’ has a definition. And if a word has a definition it has a boundary. Sure there is semantic range, but semantic ranges have edges.

Words cannot be revoked

October 1, 2008

I have recently discovered that there is a facility on our work email system to remove an email you have sent from the recipients inbox. This can be helpful if you need to reconsider what you have sent. Here’s a quote from before emails (did such a time exist?)

The moving finger writes and having writ moves on, nor all thy piety nor wit can lure it back, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it!

Rubiyat of Omar Khayam