Sermon: Thanksgiving Eve - 2017
32 minutes ago
Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms, in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (for example, naming a state of war "peace"). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language.Ha!-- but that is not what Orwell used; this is how far off I am, but:
In "1984" Orwell introduced us to the words doublethink and newspeak. A word he DIDN'T use - but which combines the two - is doublespeak.
Doublespeak is saying one thing and meaning another, usually its opposite.
In 1984 when BIG BROTHER and the Party say PEACE they mean WAR, when they say LOVE they mean HATE, and when they say FREEDOM they mean SLAVERY.
Throughout his life Orwell continually supported himself as a book reviewer, writing works so long and sophisticated they have had an influence on literary criticism. He wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens,
When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens's photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry—in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.
George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterized Orwell as much as his subject.
Tatsächlich schauen viele der jährlich etwa 43.000 amerikanischen Absolventen von Rechtsfakultäten gerade in die berufliche Röhre, unter anderem, weil das, was vor Jahren noch ihre Aufgabe war, inzwischen von Datenbanken oder von Indern erledigt wird: die Begutachtung von Dokumenten, das Finden von Präzedenzfällen, der Entwurf von Verträgen, das Bereitstellen juristischer Information.
Der Richter am New Yorker Appellationsgericht fand zwar, die Hochschulen mögen falsch informiert haben, aber nicht falsch genug, um verklagt werden zu können. Reklame, mag man sich das übersetzen, ist eben Reklame. Von einem verständigen „Konsumenten“ juristischer Lehre, so las sich die jetzt bestätigte Originalentscheidung vor einem Jahr, könne die Einsicht verlangt werden, dass der Markt optimistische Werbebroschüren obsolet mache.
"Indeed many of the 43,000 graduates of law faculties are presently side-lined career-wise. The work they might have been doing is nowadays often done by data banks or workers in India. This would have included work such as the evaluation of documents, the finding of cases of precedent, the designing of contracts or the finding of information... In the end, the judge of the court of appeal in New York decided that while the universities may have provided false information it was not false enough to warrant a law suit. Advertisement is advertisement. An insightful 'consumer' of 'studies in law' can be expected to be critical enough to realize that the job market can make optimistic advertisements obsolete."
"Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms... there are lifeless truths and vital lies... the force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it's true or false."
Earlier this week, I wrote a piece about the Christian concept of the resurrection. Does it matter, I asked, if Jesus' resurrection is interpreted metaphorically? My answer was that it matters a great deal, since "a Jesus whose physical body remains in the grave gives me no hope for a physically broken world."
A friend emailed me that I was reading the Gospels wrong, and that the resurrection was best interpreted metaphorically. To relegate the resurrection to a purely physical phenomenon was to read the Easter narrative in the most primitive way, at its lowest common denominator. The Resurrection narratives are given to each of us to interpret and enjoy in our own way -- literally or metaphorically.
The Easter stories, he reminded me, belong to all of us.
And yet before they belonged to us, they belonged to other people -- people who lived and thought and wrote within the first century. It seems to me, then, that if we are to truly understand what the gospel writers are trying to say, we need to contextualize them not first within our own world, but within theirs.
And it must be bodily because, after all, a dead Messiah -- no matter how spiritually alive he may be -- is still dead. He's especially dead if he's being experienced as a ghost. In the ancient Mediterranean world, a vision of a recently deceased loved one confirmed that he was dead... not that he was alive.
It's difficult to imagine the disciples saying, "God has warmed our hearts and caused us to experience the metaphorical presence of Jesus, and therefore we know that he's the Messiah!" Unless Jesus' postmortem appearances were experienced in a physical way, his disciples would have assumed that Rome had won again, and that Jesus, regardless of what they hoped, couldn't have been Lord.
For this reason, scholars of all persuasions are forced to seriously consider what happened between the event of Jesus' crucifixion and the event of his proclamation as Lord. As it turns out, the early Christians answer this question in their Easter stories. What convinced them that Jesus was the Messiah was that, unlike other people murdered by Rome, he didn't stay dead.