Sunday, August 30, 2020

Passive Language

Sometimes in mental health listening we notice a use of passive or indirect language that is significant.  I don't say it always is, but that would be the general rule. "And then my mother was down," no word of how; "the boss was mad because people were late," no mention of who.  It's a bad sign. I knew a psychologist who thought if we just rounded everyone up who had the bumpersticker "Shit Happens" and put them away it would be a good thing.  Those who had merely said it should be given a warning, then locked up the next time. He had noticed this first empirically, then reasoned out what must be happening in the mind to make such an emphatic declaration.  Someone else at the table protested that it might actually be a good sign, because the person might be accepting of the reality...He cut them off.  Yes, of course it could.  But somehow it never is.

So I consider it alarming that when a Trump supporter was murdered in public - not the first - that an antifa comment was not only I don't care, which is a bad enough opening, but that a f-ing fascist died. Similarly the statement that Kenosha is burning, without any particular cause, as if, you know, things just burn sometimes. It is an evasion of reality to the point of denial.

I am not the first to point this out.  I first ran across it in print in 1979 in Richard Mitchell's Less Than Words Can Say, but as I recognised it instantly, I must have encountered the phenomenon before that. But that's what I'm hear for, to recall things that might be important and say them again for the good of the league, or occasionally to see something new, some combination of these odd bits in a new way. What I am not especially good at is knowing what happens next.  Many people claim to know if the church does x, then it will see result y. I think the American church is going to change greatly.  Difficult times are not always bad times for The Church, after all. As Bilbo said, "I have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them."

Yet we should not wish such things.  We pray for our Lord's return not because of the excitement of the final events we are assured must accompany that, but simply because it would be good to see Him. There is enough misery in the world that we should not invite any extra.  Trouble will find us soon enough, we needn't look for it.

Technology changing our interactions was already happening before the pressure of C19 accelerated it. Demographic collapse began decades ago. A sexual permissiveness that would not have been tolerated in most ages of the church is normal for us now (and of course we are sure we are right and they were wrong). Politicisation of the church has been usual everywhere, but we did hope to rise above that in America and perhaps briefly did. I may be only glorifying the recent past with that. It may never have happened.

The Church is caught up in yet another fad, as we always will be when we live by the news. Remember when illegal immigrants were the most important thing, and refugees before that, and health care for all before that, and pacifism before that, and saving the earth before that?  I'm sure I have left something out.  But underneath all these are the changes the Church really is making, and I cannot well see what those are.


Sam L. said...

You left out the Sweet Meteor Of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM. You can deal with it next week.

Sam L. said...


james said...

It's hard to see the things that don't happen.

If the church were getting better with love, joy, peace, patience, etc, how could you tell from the nightly news?

Texan99 said...

"Some people did some things."

I have a loved one whose most obvious "tell" when he's hunkering down and not thinking straight is to leave the subjects out of most sentences. It makes him say things like "do something about X," when he's not quite sure whether he means "I intend to do something about X and am just letting you know so you can plan around me" or "I wish you'd do something about X, but I'm not comfortable coming right out and asking you."