Yearning and Word Porn

I yearn. I don’t just long for or want or desire, I yearn.

A friend of mine is a Jehovah’s Witness and she was telling me recently how they came out with a new bible in modern day language. I doubt there will be LOLing in it, or twerking for that matter, but it is updated to make it easier for the vast majority of people to understand. She was quite excited by this. I was doubtful, but after getting a look at one I think it is terrible.

Regardless of what anyone may think of god, faith, or religion (which aren’t one in the same), or even if you don’t believe in any of it, you have to admit that the bible is a masterpiece of writing. It contains 66 books, nearly 1200 chapters, written by more than 40 people in 3 languages over a span of 1500 years. The language, the style of it, varies throughout. There is poetry and prose, historical accounts and prophecy. There are idioms, similes, parables, metaphors, and paradoxes. There is imagery, symbolism, personification, and parallelism. You will find even more great wordplay in the original language of the texts that was lost when it was translated to English.

Not that I read it really but I used to and I will still occasionally read something if I am going to visit a certain family member. It makes her feel good that I know it and we have some great conversations. If I didn’t read it I couldn’t properly question or criticize, or even agree which does happen. The thing is, I like the “old fashioned” romantic language of the bible I am used to. I like the yearning and charity, the thou and unto. I like the revelries, the palaces, the long-suffering and the worthy. Now there is longing for, love, you, and to. There are parties and houses, there are the patient and the good. Ok, so you understand the new words better, but why can’t you learn the old words, the beautiful words? Why dumb it down rather than teach people to understand? I don’t think the bible is the be all end all, but it is a great piece of writing and I hate seeing it dumbed down. It loses so much. Yearning, for example, elicits much more urgency than mere want or desire.

The language, even though translated, is beautiful. It takes some effort to work through some of the things the writers were trying to say, but that is what I like about it. It’s like breaking down a Robert Frost poem or a Shakespeare sonnet to understand its true meaning. The days of “See Spot. See Spot run” have long passed. If what I am reading doesn’t make me use my brain I’m not interested. And it has to be about more than the story. It has to be about the words and the way they are used, but it can also be about the story behind the story. I am a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s work but I am also intrigued by his life and the circumstances of his life when he wrote some of his works.

On to word porn. Now this is one of my favorite Facebook communities and Twitter handles. There seems to be a bit of repetition but I get something from it every single time they show up in my timelines. Some days it’s a quote or passage from a book, others it’s a new word. I finally found out want wonderwall means and how long ago did that song come out? I’m not going to do it here, but when I was in school and we’d have a list of new words to learn the meaning of each week I would always write a story with those words. We only had to use one or two words, but I have one I’ve kept that has a month’s worth  of words in it. Overachiever much? Yeah, that was me.

vocabularyThe quotes aren’t always thought provoking on their own, but the comments people make and the authors they introduce me to are. Take this post they put up last week. “Don’t underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary.” Decent? That’s what they said. Decent. My first thought was how sad it is that a decent is something great. What ever happened to being well read? Then another follower posted this response, “just a ‘decent’ vocabulary? what about the power of an expansive vocabulary or a remarkable vocabulary or an idiosyncratic vocabulary or a deliberate vocabulary or an unrestricted vocabulary or a vocabulary that swims through the more elusive parts of what it means to communicate emotions?” Well said!

It is just another symptom of dumbing down for the masses, of being lazy, rather than teaching them to learn. I met a young man not too long ago who wants to be a pilot. Problem is he graduated high school not being able to read or write. He graduated! No teacher thought it was important for him to be able to read or write. They thought he was smart enough to pass, to graduate and go out into the world to find a job and make a living for himself and one day his family. Sure, he can put down on his job application that he is a high school graduate, or he could, if he knew what the application was asking and how to write it. He’s had to go back to school to learn how to read and write on his own dime because there is no way he will make it through to be a pilot without being able to read the manuals and study them. Even if he wanted to be something else, he would never make it through college or university with the education he received.

It scares me to think of what school will be like for my son. I will have to push and teach him the things they no longer teach in the schools. I will have to give him words to learn. I will have to teach him how to write with a pencil and paper. I will have to show him how to do math without a calculator. I will have to teach him deductive reasoning. I will have to introduce him to books, real books. I will have to get him involved in sports and outdoor activities to get him away from constantly sitting behind a computer screen. I will have to instill in him a desire to learn and to not accept decent as being good enough.

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge ~ Proverbs 18:15

 

 

One thought on “Yearning and Word Porn

  1. I am now an atheist, but growing up in Catholic school, I agree that the bible is a masterpiece. Regardless of whether you let it (or God) dictate your life… the imaginary-rich stories and fact that it even exists is amazing. I’ve always had some sort of respect for it i those terms. Now a modern day version? Hmm.. I kind of want to see it. Morbid fascination. Great post! You were very fair and unbias in your retelling

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