When Gary told me he had found Jesus, I thought, Yahoo! We’re rich! Then I found out it was something different- Jack Handy
Lately, I have been reflecting on the nature of grammar as it applies to our lives. When it comes to sentences, I used to just go with my instincts and the complex nature of our compound constructions was often lost on me. Yet, in my master’s work, I was forced into learning about subjects and objects and prepositions in sentences – things I had previously thought useless. I have discovered the pleasure of good rhetoric. Further, I learned the value of syntax in day to day existence. You see, without syntax, there can be no sentence because the technical definition of a sentence demands that meaning be present within.
It may seem self-evident that meaning is important. As with sentences, the search for meaning defines humanity. Human beings are like a sailor in the crow’s nest – we stare unblinkingly into the abyss in search of meaning. In particular, the generation I work with, those in their twenties, are trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose is. They are Post-Moderns, the category of persons that has of late been accused of destroying truth along with other absolutes. Yet the paradox is that this destruction lies in the wake of their ravenous search for meaning. The previous generation was used to accepting such foundations and find their erosion disconcerting at the least. The current generation is overly concerned with discovering things for themselves and discussing the relative value, and ambiguous nature of truth.
Yet ambiguity, which is often the substance of a good joke, is frequently used in good writing. The Bible is a well-written book, whatever your opinion of its content. Take for example 2 Corinthians 5:14a”The love of Christ urges us on because we are convinced that one has died for all…” The passage goes on to make a convincing case: that if a person believes Christ died for all then we wouldn’t be able to look at the people around us in the same way. We would see them as people who Christ found worthwhile enough to die for. This change in perspective then, would, if we experienced it, change our behavior, the treatment we offer to the people around us. The question, which leads us back to the subject of ambiguity, is a classic “what’s my motivation?!”