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12 Responses to “Insufficient Funds”

  1. Tim Young Eagle says:

    Billiant! This is both great insight and an awesome commentary of our current culture. Working with and around high school students every day, I see this cultural chasm in the flesh. Compounding the issue is that teachers, coaches and parents allow it and to some degree facilitate it as they assimilate themselves the dominant culture in a desperate attempt to belong. There is no courage or desire to rail against this “machine” and reverse it’s Babel like effect on our communication with one another and our God.

  2. Tommy Rose says:

    This video, like, makes your point too, you know?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCNIBV87wV4

  3. marble says:

    heh! “People” may “swear they don’t talk this way”, but I would venture to say that they will acknowledge that other people (and especially Evangelicals) PRAY this way! Touché.

    Two points: One, the role of postmodernism and politically-correct-speak in dismantling the ability to say almost anything, definitively. [i.e., the – “who are you to say that a=b, or c=purple, or anything else, for that matter?!” – response to definitive statements.]

    Two, the work done by Charles Taylor and Jurgen Habermas to show the relationship between what you are calling the ‘sacred order’ or ‘canopy’ and the human ability to articulate value differences between competing “goods” or aims in life. Taken from the other side, Court of Appeals judge Richard A. Posner (who denies any role for either religion OR moral theory in the law) nonetheless acknowledges the need for a “real powerful vocabulary of condemnation” at law – and that the only source appears to be ecclesiastical in origin. Of course, he has “explanations” as to why it only appears so to be. . . .

    Habermas also speaks to the burden of translation, which so far has been solely on the side of the ‘religious’, who speak in terms of the ‘sacred order’. (His The Future of Human Nature.) That work echoes many of the points raised many years earlier by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Mankind.

    I’m not sure why, but I find it comforting to know that this is not some brand-new assault on a brand-new front. Indeed, it’s been going on all along. Knowing that, what shall we do?

    Here’s hoping that your article will put a sting into every ‘like’, ‘just’, ‘ya know’ and ‘whatever’ that flies out of our mouths, unheeded. And makes us heed what we say!

  4. Brody Bond says:

    Your critique of “you know” is stunning. It’s really our fear of scrutiny that makes us get perpetual buy-in to what we’re saying.

    Mike, I LOVE how you can take something as mundane as these speech patterns and draw such meaning and truth from them.

  5. Maria Cochrane says:

    I’m going to have my 8th grade logic class read this. We can’t get through any discussion without multiple uses of those filler phrases. Thanks!
    Summit Christian Academy
    -a classical school in Yorktown, Va

  6. Laura Pimentel says:

    Fascinating. I have been very bothered by “like”and its rampant use among nearly every young person I know regardless of level of education. I concur that it is cultural. My own explanation was the culture of relativity and reluctance to be perceived as dogmatic. No statement “is” it is just “like.” Wouldn’t want to offend, you know.

  7. David Byron says:

    The use of “like” as a coloring particle in language is quite ordinary and has always been an expected feature of natural languages in general and of informal discourse in particular.

    See http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000138.html for an illustration of how elevated, substantive diction includes syntactically and semantically equivalent tokens.

    Word-level criticism such as this is hardly an appropriate basis for making grand, sweeping claims about broad historical and epistemic domains. George Steiner, among others, would not endorse such reductionism.

  8. Tim Patterson says:

    Very interesting and challenging, Mike. Thank you.
    How about those who use biblical words and texts in their writings, speaking and other forms of communication yet ascribe other meanings to the words? Such is the case when they attribute the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1 as being anything other than a day. Are those who play fast and loose with the words of the Scriptural text any less guilty than those who are not able to use any words at all? I do not think so.
    Let us not only use the words of the spiritual canopy but be very careful about what we believe and say that these words mean.
    “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Moses, Deut. 4:2

  9. Mike Metzger says:

    David: You make a very good point regarding “like” as a coloring particle. However, I would refer you to linguists such as James McWhorter, who note a recent dramatic rise in the occurrence of slang such as like and “ya know.” I suggest there is more at play than simple coloring and wasn’t attempting to make any grand sweeping statements about this phenomenon. I am sure there are many other factors, but would also suggest the unprecedented increase in just, like, and you know cannot be accounted for by coloring.

  10. Mark says:

    Mike

    I like this article, as pointed out Postmoderism has done a great deal in destroying any trust in language (and also the use of reason) to point toward an objective and universal sacred canopy.

    A footnote on supremacy… language is the respresentative of ideas, I believe ideas are the most powerful thing in the world Humanity possess, if the vehicle (language) is slighted, then even greater still a sacred canopy (a “deposit” of ideas).

  11. Jeff Weaver says:

    “I would refer you to linguists such as James McWhorter, who note a recent dramatic rise in the occurrence of slang such as like and “ya know.” I suggest there is more at play…”

    1. An emerging generation that has seen a near infinite rise in informal language settings: AOL instant messaging, email, gChat, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and texting, all developing during their unwise, uncritical, and undiscerning years of youth development. All the while, undiscerning parents purchased cell phones for them for “emergencies.”

    2. An increasing and unbalanced practice within evangelicalism to preach that “Jesus is your friend.”

    3. An older generation that has failed to see their role to disciple, teach, and befriend someone younger than them. Nearly all of our influences are our peers.

    If you’re older than 35, don’t record my conversation, invite me out for coffee.

  12. Lazarus says:

    But is is really true that you can’t go home again?

    Was the Enlightenment and “death of God” really an irreversible revolution in history? Turn the page…

    And even if so, what has that do with us as Christians, since Jesus said, “Be not conformed to this world.” He also said to expect persecution because the world would not see us as its own.

    The Enlightenment may have ultimately spawned Nietzsche and nihilism, but these were mainly Western phenomena at the time.

    As for Eastern Orthodox Christians, we are yet hanging on to that mystical ‘twilight’ of the ancient Faith, although the ‘third canopy’ virus has now spread to the entire world.

    And ‘fairyland’ exists beyond this fleeting temporal order, outside of sweep of historical time, as does the Church and Body of Christ.

    And one day, the sky above the earth will split open, and the barriers between the worlds will come crashing down. The “cosmic egg” that is our present reality will then come face-to-face with the New Jerusalem. And THIS sacred canopy will transfigure all creation, everything shall be made new again, and we who are in Christ shall be like Him.

    In the East, we have a word for this: theosis.

    Some people read about Mystery and call it fiction. Others read about Mystery and call it non-fiction. A rare few live it, and call it Love. And fewer still call it Destiny…

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