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Naming, Language, and Freedom

From Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

We cannot name or be named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles–we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than “the way things are.”

In [dictatorships], teachers are suspect; writers are suspect, because people who use words are able to work out complex ideas, to see injustice, and perhaps even try to do something about it. Simply being able to read the Bible in their own language made some… suspect.

I might even go to the extreme of declaring that the deliberate diminution of vocabulary by a dictator, or an advertising copy writer, is anti-Christian.

Everybody hates mankind these days, Christians no less than others. Of course, they are kind and sweet to the people they run into, but the things that make us human are despised. They get in the way of responsibility (i.e. profit-making). People hate the use of correct grammar, which is to say, those who respect language. They don’t think Christians should waste their time on the arts. Need I go on?

The point is, they hate the Divine Image in man. And they feel quite pious for doing so, because at the root of this hatred for man, is a self-loathing that even turns God into some not worth loving.

Hating mankind, they yearn to enslave those who seek freedom.

For him who has ears to hear.

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