Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Art Of Saying Nothing At All

I really do think that theology falls into this category. I've spent some years listening to the views of various respected theologians, and I'm firmly of the camp that they are guilty of some of the worst excesses of verbosity to ever leave the mouths of men. The penny didn't drop right away, however, and I only began to recognise deficiencies when reading and watching people outside of it who used words with real efficiency and verve. Not for them hiding behind jargon and bluster or mealy mouthed inanity. As soon as some people speak you know what they mean, and the force of their arguments smash home with ram rod power. I contrast this with some word salads I've had the misfortune of wading through. At their worse its like pulling teeth without anaesthesia, a flat drone, constant and sleep inducing.
To write with economy and precision is a real art. When I pen something, the least I expect is that it be understood. I don't worry myself whether you agree with me, but you should at least be able to know what I've said and understand why I've said it.
There's another risk when it comes to the writings of theology. Because it tends to produce works bloated with obscure terms and rhetoric, for the gullible it's too easy to assume that what is being said has merit. Take it from me it ain't always so. In fact I'd argue that theology is the classic example of a naked emperor. Nobody quite has the audacity to suggest that it's not wearing any clothes.
Trust me people it's stark naked. For all it's heady claims about ultimate truth, about Gods ineffable ways it really is quite the exhibitionist, proverbial willy flapping limply in the breeze. And it's ok to say so. In fact it's vital that we do. Who wants to be fooled by this nonsense anyway? Isn't a good dose of truth more liberating?
There's a wider message here. Don't allow yourself to be impressed by people who use obscurity as their primary language. If they can't make themselves plainly understood then I wouldn't waste time imbibing what they have to say.
Sometimes our eyes glaze over for good reason.

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