Words are dangerous.

We have become a visual culture. Moving pictures transport truth. The written word is falling behind. Publishers, both print and digital worry that your attention span doesn’t last much past the headlines.

Headlines, especially on the Internet, have become clickbait. Headlines that promise secrets or salacious details turn out to be ads for Amway or some other dubious product. Then who cares about what the Kardashians are doing? Who died and left those yahoos as important people? Come on culture! You can do better. Get some new role models to use your words on.

But I want you to ponder the printed word. These precious articles that many of us slave over for your entertainment and enlightenment. They are dangerous because words can be misunderstood and misinterpreted.

Consider the word “run.”

I have given up running, but I ran for office. My refrigerator runs even though I don’t. I enjoy running to the refrigerator for the running water it supplies. The other day I ran to the sporting goods store to look for running shoes that provide comfort as I walk. I have only tipped the top of the ski run when it comes to the word run. The only run I know little about is the run in my hose. Actually, my hose is a garden hose, my wife wears the kind of hose that has runs. I know I’m just running on at the mouth!

As I write or speak the word, I encode the message. Through hearing or reading, you receive the message then you decode it. What if your decoding is different from the message I encoded? There is a whole lot of space to foul up. What happens to the written or spoken word when we add in double speak. Let me run this by you.

In 1950 Claude Pepper ran against George A. Smathers. Smathers was known for his twisted oratory, especially in front of crowds he considered bumkins. I was reminded of this campaign, last night in a Board meeting at the Methodist Church. We have very serious and studious meetings.

Campaigning against Pepper, Smathers said:

”Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.”

We twist words for our own advantage.

We need fixing!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

With a word God created, with the Word he saved us.

It just takes a word…

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