In Praise of the B Sides

In Praise of the B Sides — Write RightI trade in words. If I were to go back to school, I would probably study linguistics and etymology. I like history and learning about how words morph in spelling and definition. They delight the senses, and the perfectly placed word—it’s an experience hard to describe. It prompts delight, occasions a “yes!” or an “oh” and scribbles in the margin.

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The Power of Words

The Power of Words -- Write Right“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.” – N. Scott Momaday

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Tricksy, False

Tricksy, False -- Write RightThe longer I work with words, the more I realize how malleable they are. Tricksy, Gollum would say. I have to agree with him. Words are tricksy, false.

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They can also be true, hence their malleability. James perhaps puts the reality best in his letter:

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.

James speaks of the tongue, but written words have the same potential. Blessing and cursing; life and death.

My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

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They shouldn’t, but they are. My words are both weapons of war and weapons of peace. Sometimes, that war is for a good reason but more often not: it’s a knife thrust between the ribs, twisted.

I can be a violent person.

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Paul understood the struggle:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

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This may be one reason why Solomon urged people to guard their mouths and tongues. It protects the soul from troubles and keeps one from falling into sin.

He who restrains his lips is wise.

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And yet, words can be good. They can give life, make the heart glad. Solomon says this in the Old Testament; Jesus says it in the New.

The secret? The words aren’t sourced in myself. They flow from eternally fresh streams of water. Such words are true, good. They belong, not to this wretched body, but to the One who sets it free. They have been redeemed from their tricksy, false nature and restored to truth and light.

Image: Sara (Creative Commons)