PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Monday, July 31, 2006

 

Big mouth, forked tongue


(Based on a CLP talk)

The tongue, if it is not into sampling gourmet food or exploring other delights, is into sinning. The tongue is likened to a ship's rudder; it's just a piece of muscle yet it holds the power to either up-build or destroy - be it a person's reputation or an entire civilization. Gossiping, although it is often dismissed as a lightweight sin, is actually equivalent to murder itself.

We can easily blame media as purveyor especially of filth, gossip and intrigue, but we also greedily lap up what is being fed us. Bad-mouthing has always been a linguistically rich tradition. Listed below are dictionary definitions of the wealth of offenses our tongue can commit.


 Lie - to say a false statement with an intent to deceive
 Perjury - lying under oath
 False witnessing - testifying to a falsehood
 Slander - a false report maliciously uttered and tending to injure a personal reputation
 Gossip - a rumor or report of an intimate (private), scandalous, sensational, often inaccurate, nature
 Rumor mongering - stirring up or spreading a statement that is current but not authenticated
 Backbiting/Backstabbing - to say mean or spiteful things about someone who is absent
 Intrigue - to [needlessly/unnecessarily] arouse one's interest, desire, or curiosity
 Being a busybody - meddling [in something that is none of our business]
 Curse - to call on [spiritual] power to send injury upon someone
 Blasphemy - the act of insulting, showing contempt, or lack of reverence for God or persons/things considered sacred or inviolable; the act of claiming the attributes of God
 Profanity/Irreverence - the use of words that debase or defile what is holy
 Cuss/Swear - to use profane or obscene language
 Dirty Talk/Green Joke - [use of impure or obscene language, either to amuse or titillate or both]
 Brag - to talk or assert with excessive [i.e., invalid, misplaced, undeserved] pride
 Namedropping - the practice of seeking to impress others by studied but apparently casual mention of prominent persons or associates
 Gobbledygook/Prattle, etc. - a silly talk
 Insult/Invective/Affront - to treat with insolence or contempt
 Taunt/Gibe/Sneer - to utter a sarcastic challenge or insult
 Jeer - to speak or cry out in derision or with scorn [i.e., anger and disgust]
 Mock - to treat with contempt or ridicule [often with sarcastic words]
 Grumble - to mutter discontent


They say that the easiest way to fall from grace is through our stupid tongue. Verily I say unto you, the best mirror of the state of one's soul is one's speech. This doesn't mean, however, that everything that comes out of our mouth should be nice, either. ("Oh, dear, you look so gorgeous!" "Thanks, you don't look bad yourself, my dear!") Remember, it's also a sin not to speak out when necessary. "No talk, no mistake" is not quite right. Prudence is the key word, although it's easier to spell it than practice it. Observing prudence is an art.

I have read a curt but beautiful way of putting this art into practice from the book of ironically one of the most sarcastic authors I've ever read, Kurt Vonnegut (in his novel Slapstick): "Whenever she spoke either in public or private, no reputations died."

They say, "He who has mastered his tongue has mastered himself." But we know it's next to impossible to master ourselves, not the least our tongue. For one, gossiping is a very enjoyable pastime. (Listen around and make a little survey and you'll find that about 90% of talks - in the canteen, in office cubicles, in buses and jeepneys, in school - are backbiting in nature.) That's why after everything is said and done, we really need divine help in this, as in any spiritual endeavor.

4.5.2000


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