tag : bright yellow-green apples: the real spokespeople

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

the real spokespeople

figure 32.1. bashful rhetoric

Stop me if you've heard this one before. But since when was it either about being a faithful witness to our beliefs, on the one hand, and keeping silent on the other? I'm quite perplexed about this, most of all from the nature of current political discourse and the way public talk in religion is developing. It seems as if so many people are determined to show that the righteous or destined elbow their way into your heart and mind - by emotional cajoling ("vote for us or suffer them"/"convert or you're lost") or else by hard rhetoric ("that's enough"/"get tough on..."). While others still wish to show us that the noble way, or at least the normal way, is some weird notion of deference - where we see tolerance as an abstention from expressing any opinion ("I'm not bothered"/"they're all the same").

I've lost track of the number of times I've had to hold people up, and assure them that apologies are not necessary - and that they should just say what they think, or want. I've also lost track of the number of times I've seen people barnstorming around with their list of strong certainties to throw at us. Those who have the grace to really seek to share what they have - without being contrite for having something, or for sharing it - are a fairly rare commodity. When there's something to prove, such as the direction of the country or the state of a person's soul, this is difficult. But the real prophets shake things up, and challenge every statues quo, without falling into personal agenda or deference to norms. May there be more of them with time, to bless us, and may they be prominant right now to hold everyone to account.


Blogger mary said...

those sorts of people are indeed rare and lovely to find. but there's the fine line between saying what you think and want and hurting people, and whilst i usually splurge out the truth as far as i see it anyway, some of the ways i've done it have really annoyed others. what if what you have isn't for sharing? it's the whole personal agenda thing i suppose, and without letting that cloud it you could judge. i mean, you shouldn't be sorry for having something to express, but there are moments to express it. and that's who you're referring to i guess - the people who know what to say and when to say it. i suspect the reason why you don't meet many people like that is because humans are by nature so confused about what to say, we either blurt things out or keep them squished up inside. and tolerance is hard when views are so fogged over by experiences that you can't see your own truths. you've said most of this already, and i'm just regurgitating it from my angle really. it just seemed a time to ponder out loud. the balance you talk about is so hard to achieve, it usually takes a lifetime to work out how much to say and how to say it. i'm sure it will for me!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Perhaps I was waiting for such a prophet with the appointment of the new Pope. Perhaps many more people were waiting alongside me. And yet, without wishing to go over my guilty disappointment with the choice, we need a prophet now more than ever. It seems to me that the real people who have interesting things to say are the people who keep quite quiet. The monks, the nuns, the poets. If only we could find a William Blake for our times. Yet someone bigger than Blake in scope. Someone who could shake the world to its foundations. Christ did this quite literally, but presently he seems unable to make the difference he once did. I will pray for a prophet, but I'm not entirely sure s/he will arrive...

11:15 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

That was a rather grand ramble, Mary, thanks. I'll just pick out one little section for comment:

"i suspect the reason why you don't meet many people like that is because humans are by nature so confused about what to say, we either blurt things out or keep them squished up inside."

I do so wish it were easier to judge which line to take, a lot of the time. I crave honesty, and sometimes despair over myself for keeping so much locked inside - save for the odd cryptic reference in me art. But finding the words is hard enough when you want to. I suppose it's all the more difficult if you're cynical, as some seem to be with thier public discource. We probably all struggle, even the aparently unscrupulous politic-ing.

1:05 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Big prophets are far too easily mixed up with grandstanders and bombast, unfortunately. I wonder if there will ever be a chance for people like that to get through intact. Though there have been a few before, and could be again.

It's rather perverse in a way that the real prophets are the quiet and tangentially unknown - as you say, Andy. Very few really insightful people get much notice. The onus is more on the rest to try and keep an ear and eye out for them, and their smaller words (when they come).

1:09 AM  
Anonymous RobertB said...

I've been refreshing my memory of St. Ignatius of Antioch recently, and some of these comments have loosely brought back to mind some remarks I remember citing before:

In his Epistle to the Ephesians, he writes that "the more anyone sees a bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him." (Likewise in his letter to the Philadelphians he praises their bishop as one who "by being silent can do more than those who chatter.")

Another passage from the Ephesians, which I don't think I've previously quoted, he declares that "he who is truly master of the word of Jesus is able also to listen to his silence that he may be perfect."

I wonder if it is sometimes the silences which shake the world?

1:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

we shall have to get to know our spokespeople through poetry and ramblings, i fear- rants even.

But i think it will be more written. These days we feel freer on paper than we do verbally, having time to consider, unheated what we actually think.

Not sure i understood your post tho, if this is tangental then i def didn;t

10:48 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Rob -

That's a rather insightful quote. It does put me in some tension, though. I sympathise with it, even as I would like to see some of the quieter and wiser people speak up publically. I sometimes wish they'd come out and speak sense widely, even as I aknowledge those words.

But they can have an impact that goes way beyond appearing in the flitting world of newspaper and tv. media.

1:02 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Sarah -

I don't think I really did. So much of what I write, as I've said before, is simply throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks with other people. And in this case, what you say does chime with me.

Poets, ah! I think they've got so much to contribute. They deal with the world through the tengential eyes of wit and imagination. They come at the side, playing around and trying to spark off thought and feeling, where so many simply attack with simplistic words.

Rants are possible in any media, and not always totally unhelpful - even if they often unhealthy for everyone concerned, and anathama to any dialogue. But you're right to draw attention to what we can do, and how we form our words and attune our hearing. If we take care to cultivate sensitivity, we might hear better when the quiet voices of sanity are around us.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I have to say I always appreciate the images you choose for your posts. Regarding religion - to each his own. I have had people try to convert me from Catholicism (evil, evil stuff in the Bible Belt - Southern USA) to Southern Baptist or the like since high school. I don't think shoving a particular brand of religion (or moral philosophy) down a person's throat is the right approach. No one likes a nag of any sort, and there is a point where some Christians become outright unChristian.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Donna said...

Oh, that last comment was me. I forgot to put in my info. :-)

1:23 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Hellow there, nice of you to drop in :)

I'm a picture maker by inclination, so chosing the images is rather fun - as you can see I take a little time to chose a good one if I can!

There definately needs to be a greater sensitivity by some Christians when they're interacting with others - especially in evangelism. There's a whole lot of assumption, and lack of regard for the 'subject' as a human being. Without personal sympathy, it becomes a crude farse. Let's all play nice ;)

1:38 AM  

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