The Power of Words

The sun in the sky, the warm air, the cadence of the sea as it touches the shore, the sounds of people laughing, and a good book. That's a real holiday for me. A good book - I am constantly amazed by writers who have the capacity to put information together, weave it into a whole and lead the reader through a story.

I was interested to read recently reflections from an author who has written a biography. Her reflections were about how biography influences the reader in their opinions of the main character and how that person's reputation is in the hands of the biographer. She expressed it in terms of the main character's afterlife being in the hands of the writer.

The thought has remained with me. Clearly, I am not a 'writer' and if I aspired to any kind of writing it would not be biography. I consider myself as an 'essayist,' sharing what I see with my eyes and feel with my heart.

But there is a sense in which we are all biographers, writing the reputations and creating the after-lives of those whom we know. We do that writing in the pictures we paint, in the stories we tell about them, in the tone of voice we use about them, in what we choose to tell and what we choose to leave out.

In whispered and suggestive tones we can contribute to the destruction of another person's reputation. We can so easily set in motion a chain of thought and conversation that sees to it that the other person's reputation is destroyed.

No wonder the New Testament warns us that the tongue is a fire. In James we read: The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Lord God, help us with our tongues, which misrepresent so easily, both in life and after. Give us the integrity to know that we hold each other’s after-life in trust and that You mean us for resurrection and not for death. Teach us how to be bringers of life in the words that we use today. Amen.

And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature... James 3:6


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At 13:32, Anonymous L Smithson said...

Father Bill you may not consider yourself as a writer but I think you are one of the finest writers I have ever come across. You grab at my heart the way you use words and openly share your feelings even when they are sorrowful. I have read your blog for several years and I am impressed with the way you guide me to faith instead of pushing me. That is something the churches need more of. God bless you. Laura Smithson


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