Marilynne Robinson on Finding the Right Word

Sep 25, 2017
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Even in a technological age such as ours, the word retains its ancient potency.  Christians will know it as a theological implication of being made in the image of God.

There is no more profound declaration of the potency of the Word than the richly expressive language used in John 1:1, which states that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

Marilynne Robinson, one of the great writers and critics of our day, observes how the enduring effect of the Word of God is also reflected and enriched through the literary works of human authors:

“Most of us are not the creators of those things, but we possess ourselves of them — or they possess us of them. And each successive work of literature expands the possibilities of our language, deepening our expressive capacity. In almost every major literature there are works that make you love being human, and make you love and revere the humanity of other people. That is the great potential of any art.”

She also notes with some rue that a debased use of words has a similar, though dehumanizing, effect.

Psalm 85:10 states of the Messianic kingdom that “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

Robinson’s words are worth reading in a culture where love and faithfulness too often part company, and righteousness and peace exchange blows.

In Matthew 12:36, Jesus declares: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”

Prayers of repentance seem appropriate.

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