Tuesday, May 12, 2009

in praise of bent discourse

'Ah, but,' the objector says, 'If analogy is the only way you have to talk about God, why talk at all?
Stick to statements in which words can be used with one meaning only.'

Well on that basis, nobody will make very many statements about anything. One of the biggest pieces of mischief is the assumption that talk about God is a special case... Admittedly, God himself is a special case; but our talk about him is just plain talk..

Let me rather arbitrarily divide human speech into two categories: straight discourse and bent discourse: or a bit more formally, into unrefractive and refractive uses of words. Straight discourse will cover all those uses in which words simply mean what they say: 'Pass the salt.'
..'Pass the salt' got us salt and simplicity. 'You are the salt of the earth puts us in another ball game.
We are now playing with salt..the word is no longer simply a grip on the outside of what salt does; it has become a probe into the mystery of what salt really is..

Straight discuyse is potent enough: it delivers the goods, be they salt shakers or earth movers. But bent discurse is more powerful still, for it alone has light to shed on the Mystery which is our real home. True, it is inconventent, volatile, and inflammable....

..(But) the Word of God, when he most reveaks himself, speaks with bent tongue; if you have been brought up with nothing but straight talk and jargon, you will find him almost impossible to follow."

-Robert Farrar Capon, "Hunting the Divine Fox," , p 12, 29-30.

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!