Several months ago someone challenged me to read an article by Marilyn McEntyre entitled “Letting Words Do Their Work.” Because I respected the editor who made the recommendation, I hopped right on over the the link.
Oh. My. Golly.
It’s not easy reading. Nor is it a “quick read.” But I’ll tell you what it is:
Powerful truth. If you’re a writer, speaker, agent, reader, or simply one who loves–truly loves–words, you’ve got to read this article. A few salient points that resonated:
“It is hard to tell the truth these days, because the varieties of untruth are so many, so pervasive, and so well disguised.”
“Imprecision had become acceptable in the interests of generalized good feeling—and perhaps in the interests of forestalling some critical scrutiny.”
“The practice of precision requires not only attentiveness and effort: it may also require the courage to afflict the comfortable and, consequently, tolerate their resentment.”
“The discourse of the church, the subtleties of biblical language and the nuances of translation, the ear for poetry and care for theological distinctions may be eroded when the language of popular media is allowed to overtake the dialect of worship and conversation among believers.”
“We can practice noticing how words are used and considering how they may be heard; we can pick them up from the dusty corners where most of the good ones have been consigned to disuse and reintroduce them, hoping to ambush the careless listener contented with cliché.”
We are a world of immediate information. Tell it to me quick. Break it down into bite-sized chunks and let me gorge. Who has time to linger? To savor? To taste each and every nuance of flavor?
Well…we all do. It’s not that we don’t have the time, it’s that we don’t take it. Too many of us don’t reserve time for reading that takes time and effort, for savoring beautiful word choices and absorbing deeper meanings. And my friends, we are the poorer for that.
So this is my gift to you today. This article. Take the time to read, ponder, and be touched by the beauty of the writing that resonates with thoughtfulness and truth.
If you want more from Marilyn McEntyre consider her book Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.