Protecting Our Words From Eroding into Idiocracy

There is a brilliant movie that everybody should watch called Idiocracy. The premise of this gem is that two average people are frozen in time, which is the perfect start to any plot. The story goes that as time goes on, the brains behind the whole freezing operation are driven out of power and the experiment is lost. A cryogenically frozen man and a likewise cryogenically frozen woman end up being frozen for centuries before they are unearthed. Are you with me so far? It’s a pretty stellar plot, right?

Anyhow, when they finally wake up, the two average people have become the smartest two people on the face of the planet. Evolution, so the story goes, has hit its peak and the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve have spent all their time and resources in efforts to make life easy. Corporations have taken over the cultural landscape and even doctors have spent their gifts for cosmetic surgery and further Viagra-esque research. Humanity has degraded to the point that simple problems are impossible to solve without say-so from the gigantic out-sized conglomerations running things.

Language has noticeably devolved into a despicable amalgamation of street-slang and obscenity-laced shouting. I think it is sort of prophetic.

The best part in the movie is when the main characters, in efforts to find their way back to the present day, are promised that there is a time machine in, of all places, Costco. Costco has become so grotesquely gigantic that they have everything from livestock to a law-school. And as they enter Costco, they are greeted by a doorman with vacant eyes who says:

Welcome to Costco. I love you.

The English language has degenerated to the point that even those three precious words mean nothing. And now the comparison gets frightening. Is that very far off from the way we live?

As Christians, we love to talk about community, grace, love and the gospel, but how many days go by when we shut ourselves away, preach the law to ourselves and selfishly demand our own way?

We want love but we do not receive it because we do not ask- and when we ask we ask with false motives. The great Bay Area band Tower of Power sums it up well: the more things change, the more they stay the same. It has always been true that our words are only as powerful as the action behind them. We can spout the right words all day long, but as long as we are unwilling to love our neighbor, what is the point?

Our words are constantly in jeopardy of becoming empty sounds in the ears of the people who need heralds of the gospel. We are called as bearers of a message. We are called as witnesses. We are called as prophets, whether we get paid for curing souls or rebuilding engines. None of us are exempt from speaking the words of life to our neighbors. But those words must be accompanied by action.

How powerful are your words? Do people automatically tune you out as soon as you open your mouth? Maybe it is time to get back to work and earn the right to speak the words of life. Christ has left the preaching of his life, death, burial, assault on hell, resurrection from the dead, ascension into heaven, mediation for his people and promise of return to a frail people. We must defend our words of life by living into the life we hold so dear.

Our language is constantly in danger of erosion.
How will the most basic of all your words keep their power today?

One thought on “Protecting Our Words From Eroding into Idiocracy

  1. Another great post.

    Reminds me of the scene in The Last Emperor where Emperor Pu Yi’s British tutor Reginald Fleming Johnston says, ‘Words are important.’ Pu Yi responds, ‘Why are words important?’ and his tutor responds, ‘If you cannot say what you mean, your majesty, you will never mean what you say, and a gentleman should always mean what he says.’

    I am a linguist and a philologist, and I am constantly wrestling with problems of meaning versus language. That’s why, I suppose, I liked this post very much.

    Good work.

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