Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I saw that commercial for chocolate. You know the one--or maybe I'm morphing all the chocolate commercials into one. Rippling brown satin in the background. Beautiful women with brownish lipstick. Or the one with the Everywoman getting a piece of chocolate "just because she deserves it."

Then they use the word: Decadence.

Or maybe the commercial is for a luxury car, hidden in the driveway at Christmastime with a big red bow. Or that fabulous four-course dinner, with the decades-old wine. Or the show on the Discovery Channel--World's Largest Mansions. Did you see the one with the World's Biggest Yachts?

We can use the word Decadence again. Or maybe Ultimate. Or Over the Top. Or Extreme. Whatever it is, we deserve it. Maybe we can't afford it, but We Deserve It.

When did the word "decadent" become something desirable? Looking it up in my dictionary, I find it means

perverse, deteriorating, decaying.

Yep. The root word for decadence is DECAY.

Now you remember, don't you? They used that word when describing the Fall of Rome. Or Henry the VIII. Or Marie Antoinette: "So there's no bread? Let them eat cake." Decadence indicated a deterioration of moral standards.

Oops. Does that phrase remind you of...America? We complain that our children have no work ethic, and in extreme cases, no conscience. "what's in it for me?" is the new creed. We deny ourselves nothing.


And of course that description is not just for our children. We are getting too far away from the time when the actual value of anything matters. I don't even use ten dollar bills. I use ones and fives and twenties. I complain that "once I break a twenty it just disappears," and I really don't do anything about that. That's just one example. Let's get into something that really matters.

Charming and I were talking about this a few days ago, and he said something I've been trying to process: Are we living in the full integrity of the Holy Spirit? First of all, what does that mean? And what does it say, that I don't have an answer for that? I have heard people say (and if I am truly honest, I'm sure I've said this, as well), "Oh, well, I know that is a sin (or whatever euphemism they might use, like "mistake" or "poor judgment") but God will understand. What is that?

We talk the talk really well. When are we going to walk the walk? We use excuses: we're too busy, too distracted, not enough money, not enough time. Yeah, I'm right there with you. And if you have a quick and easy answer, let me know.

Or maybe not. Because I don't think this one is going to be either quick or easy.


Anonymous said...

Here are two more examples: "Intoxicating," whose root means "poison," and "enthralling," whose root means "to enslave." Perhaps we should look at this phenomenon, not as a corruption of the language, but as our assertion of power over the language.

Tribal shamans of ancient times, modern primitive societies, and even modern sophisticated societies (where they are known by different names, see below) know that the most important facet of any person or thing is its (his, her) name. Control the name, and you control the person or thing. This is why many modern primitive tribes refuse to reveal their real names to the public, preferring to call each other by nicknames in public and reserving the use of "true names" to family intimates who can be absolutely trusted not to reveal this essential information to their enemies. Or, you could say, they fear identity theft so much that only those with high security clearance have a need-to-know.

In the modern world, among non-primitive peoples, the controlling of things by controlling their names is alive and well, and living in New York. We call it "political correctness." Those who practice it literally believe in magic--they believe that by simply relabelling a problem they can make it disappear. Example: Swampland has been a major problem in this country, breeding malaria and other diseases by providing a habitat for the anophelese (Greek for "useless") mosquito. After two centuries, the Army Corps of Engineers had only cleared about twenty-five percent of it (they never did get the swamp fully cleared out of DC ;D ) But along comes political correctness to solve the problem that those silly, unsophisticated, swamp-clearers couldn't do. Simply rename it "wetlands," and presto-changeo, ta da! No more swamps! ...Of course, now there are more wetlands than ever before, but we'll just call them "endangered," and that will fix _that_ problem.

The problem with this type of name control is, it isn't permanent--it needs periodic refreshing: I saw a commercial in which a wheelchair-bound man was highly offended by a standing-up man's use of "handicapped." "It's DISABLED!" What the wheelchair-bound man simply didn't (or the writers didn’t, or perhaps refused to) realize is that while "disabled" (or "specially-abled" or "physically challenged" or "whatever") is the current PC term for "handicapped," "handicapped" itself was once the PC term for "crippled," which was in turn the PC term for "gimpy," which was the PC term for "lame," "halt," "whatever."

(This post cannot be posted in its entirety as it is greater than 4,096 characters. Please sstay tuned for Part II.)

Anonymous said...

Part II beings here:

The ironic thing is, none of these name-changes actually solve the problem. But don't worry, the PC shamans have a name for those who realize this basic truth. Several names, in fact: "racist," "sexist," "bigot," "homophobe," "ableist" (if prejudiced against wheel-chair people), "ageist" (if prejudiced against those older or younger than you), even "speciesist" (if you think humans should have more rights than, or at the very least rights equal to, name-that-furry/feathery/fuzzy-animal [Note that people who think spotted owls have more rights than humans are never speciesist, only the pro-human crowd.].) If you're wondering where all the "human-ists" are, those are the people who would rather spend twelve thousand dollars trying to convince dictionary makers to change "homeless person" to "person with no current fixed abode" (your mileage may vary, check your local listings) than spend six thousand dollars helping a homeless person to get a job so they can stop being homeless. [I should point out that, while the “haters-of-different” actually exist, I would venture that ninet-plus percent of the people labeled “haters-of-different” are not. How could they be? They’ve grown up in a society which relentlessly bombard them with the idea that hatred-of-difference is evil, and those who do should stop, and those who don’t should not start. If the PC shamans are at all effective, then they must believe that all their enemies are already defeated. If not, then they are not effective, so why should we listen to them this time?]

And this brings us full circle, because in trying to PC "bums" into "homeless people," they never look at the policies that cause homeless people to be homeless in the first place (mainly rent-fixing, zoning, and drug laws; again, YMMV), but merely try to find the ultimate "magic word" to make it all go away. The only antidote to all this neo-shamanistic "control the name, control the thing" nominomancy is plain, simple, language. Otherwise entitled, "Calling a spade a spade." If we are determined to breakout of the enthralling, intoxicating decadence in which we find our society, our first task must be to stop all this Newspeak and figure out exactly what it is we are saying, and exactly what we are trying to say (by no means the same thing). As Glenn Beck says, "Say what you mean, mean what you say." The first step in that is to learn, as Rainbow Cottage so wisely suggests, exactly what the words we use mean. How can we say what we mean, if we don't know what we mean? How can we mean what we say, if we don't actually know what we are saying? Thoreau went into the woods because he "wanted to live deliberately." Let us now take a vow, to at least attempt, to "speak deliberately," with our yes being yes, our no being no, and our "awesome chocolate" being "chocolate that generates in us a holy fear."

G.L.H. said...

well said, especially your last statement!!!

Jen said...

The Lord has really been talking to hubby and I about this lately. What does it mean to truly BE holy as HE is holy? What does it look like to walk in the Spirit? What does it mean to be set apart?

And Anonymous - totally awesome comment(s)!

G.L.H. said...

Jen, if you see this, Anonymous is my son Don Quixote, repository of scads of knowledge, both useful and useless. On the "useful" side this time!

Jen said...

And just think...YOU taught him everything he knows! Homeschooling is the bomb!