Listen, Twinklebuns

So then, let us talk about one of our standard shifts or evasions. This is not unique to any particular generation—people have always done this—but I can say that in our generation, this particular form of dishonesty has been declared one of the New Cardinal Virtues. It has always been hard to deal with, but we have now made it a thought crime to say something critical about what everyone sees.

Let us first illustrate the technique from a common domestic situation. Wife tells husband what they are having for dinner that night, and he says, with just a hint of exasperation in his voice, “We’re having lasagne tonight?” She takes offense at his tone, and they have a quarrel. In the course of that quarrel, he defends himself by pleading the dictionary. “All I said was (monotone) ‘We’re having lasagna tonight?” It turns out that the hint of exasperation referred to earlier, which his wife would need to have been deaf, dumb, and blind not to notice, is not to be found in the dictionary anywhere. And so it is with scads of other things.

What we say has certain denotations, which can be looked up in the dictionary. But what we say (and do) has a host of connotations, which communicate a lot, but which also bring with them the lusted after deniability. “I didn’t say that!”

It turns out that we communicate with one another in a host of different ways, and what can be found in the dictionary does not necessarily constitute the lion’s share of what is going on. The dictionary does not contain the color of that red convertible, eye rolls, a scarf thrown around the neck in a rakish, devil-may-care attitude, well-placed grunts, the pregnant pauses in the conversation, or some young twinklebuns sashaying down the street like he was in Manhattan or something. In fact, Manhattan itself is a connotation.

As with all communication, some people are fluent and others are inept. Non-verbal cues can misfire just like regular talk can. Take the unattractive girl who makes herself decidedly more unattractive with that attractive tattoo. She just does it, and the rules are that the world must pretend. The world must preserve her bubble. We all must look off into the middle distance, whistling.

Whether competently done or not, if anyone is so gauche as to repeat back in verbal form what everyone in the room just saw and grasped as the Meaning of Said Event, we have all been trained to react as though that person were attempting to read hearts. But if the subject didn’t say it, then the only other place meaning could reside in down in his heart, and the critic cannot see the heart. Take that.

Come on, people. Does meaning reside in a strut? Does meaning reside in a grimace? Does meaning reside in bedroom eyes? Does meaning reside in a yin/yang tattoo on the right calf? Does meaning reside in that little italicized accent on lasagna? Does meaning reside in ironic cowboy boots, as distinguished from Merle’s manly footwear? Does meaning reside in a high and tight haircut? Of course it does, and we all know it. Movie directors use such cues constantly in order to communicate mood, meaning, metaphor, and more.

But if you are hardy enough to say so, particularly if your observation contains any trace elements of critique, then you will shortly find yourself singing the lead soprano in a skunk opera somewhere, being pelted by vegetables that are past their “sell by” dates.

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ron

Mr. Wilson, Thank you for taking up the tension in marriages ( http://tinyurl.com/ybnkxtby ). Thank you for encouraging people to examine themselves and how they can help diffuse a potentially explosive situation. Other authors have discussed the “crazy cycle” and how participants can avoid / stop the destructive, depressing results we see too often today. Strong marriages are a tremendously important factor when considering the health of our communities, culture and nation (hence the constant attack on the head of the household). Agreed that if we were to spend more time considering how best to communicate to our spouse and… Read more »

meyer.daniel.s
Member

Dear Doug,
A couple of verses teaching presentation carrying meaning:

Moreover, the LORD said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, And go along with mincing steps And tinkle the bangles on their feet…” –Isaiah 3:16

There is a kind–oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance. –Proverbs 30:13

Love,
Daniel

gabe
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gabe

Yeah, but part of the challenge with cultural symbols, these connotation, is that they are themselves extremely contextual. What was rebellion at one time might now just be rock n’ roll or artistic or perhaps just someone’s preference of “cool” which very well might just be categories of lame, or my own preferences being pricked. But to truly find out just how telling it is, it takes a lot more than a raised eyebrow. It can really be hard to nail down hearts without much more information. Some are hardened sure, but some are just in growing pains, while many… Read more »

MeMe
Guest

Amen. I like the fisherman’s analogy about Jesus Christ. “You catch ’em, He cleans ’em. “

Katecho
Member

gabe wrote: It can really be hard to nail down hearts without much more information. Indeed. Wilson is nowhere advocating that we should be hasty in reaching conclusions. However, there is a raging cultural debate about whether we are permitted to listen to non-verbal language at all. One side of this debate asserts that we are not only forbidden from hasty conclusions, we are forbidden from any conclusions, ever. The assertion is that non-verbal communication is not communication of anything, and that symbols are speechless (unless it’s a Confederate flag, and then it must be hastily torn down, because only… Read more »

MeMe
Guest

” It turns out that the hint of exasperation referred to earlier, which his wife would need to have been deaf, dumb, and blind not to notice, is not to be found in the dictionary anywhere.” Well, yes. But now enter the wife’s own subjectivity and the whole tale could change in an instant. Are you really “hardy enough to say so,” or are you just seeing what you want to see and projecting onto the whole situation? I have learned about this because my husband’s hearing is not so great. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to yell… Read more »

Katecho
Member

MeMe wrote:

To insist you know what someone is saying, doing,intending, communicating, and to dismiss them as a such and such, is really the height of all arrogance and stereotyping. Ugly girl probably did not just get a tattoo for the sole purpose of making herself even less attractive to you.

How does MeMe know that Wilson ever said or intended any such thing about an ugly girl with a tattoo? Didn’t she just tell us that such knowledge is the height of arrogance?

MeMe
Guest

“Take the unattractive girl who makes herself decidedly more unattractive with that attractive tattoo. She just does it, and the rules are that the world must pretend.” -PastorWilson

Usually MeMe tries to read what has been written and to take such words at face value. I presume Pastor Wilson intended to say exactly what he said?

Shall we now have a frolicking debate over how “unattractive” does not actually mean “ugly?”

Katecho
Member

MeMe wrote:

Usually MeMe tries to read what has been written and to take such words at face value. I presume Pastor Wilson intended to say exactly what he said?

Such presumption. What about this?:

To insist you know what someone is saying, doing,intending, communicating, and to dismiss them as a such and such, is really the height of all arrogance and stereotyping.

MeMe
Guest

What about “this?” What about it? It is what it is. In numerous sentences, Pastor Wilson has just defended his right to judge on appearances and to object to the mandate that seems to demand,” The world must preserve her bubble. We all must look off into the middle distance, whistling.” That is all well and good, but let’s flip it around shall we? Superficial appearances and cultural narratives also now suggest that I must love and adore all the innocent immigrants and refugees, perceive the homeless as virtuous and hapless victims, and shine endless grace and forgiveness on drug… Read more »

adad0
Member

“But what we say (and do) has a host of connotations, which communicate a lot, but which also bring with them the lusted after deniability. “I didn’t say that!””

Memi, literal and figurative speech cuts both ways. Anyway, tougher things have been said by the Divine:

NIV Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

This verse does not just stand alone, seems like the concept goes down hill from there.
The concept applies to men as well.

OKRickety
Member

MeMe, “shine endless grace and forgiveness on drug pushers”

So, you don’t believe that Christians must always forgive? If so, I’m a little surprised, because this seems to be commonly accepted by Christians today. I consider the Bible to teach that forgiveness is always conditional on the repentance of the offender. I think the Jews considered forgiveness to be inextricably linked with repentance. So, when they heard “forgive or you will not be forgiven”, they understood “forgive” to mean “forgive when there is repentance”, not “forgive regardless”.

MeMe
Guest

I do believe we are called to forgive, even in the absence of repentance. I don’t have to of course, but unless I do I am forever tied to them. All that anger and hostility will just sit there and fester in me like an infection. I think what has become convoluted in our modern world is that we’re confusing forgiveness with acceptance and tolerance of sin. We can forgive people…while also escorting them to jail. We can forgive Muslims as children of God, as potential converts, but that doesn’t mean we have to allow their more radical side to… Read more »

OKRickety
Member

“I don’t have to of course, but unless I do I am forever tied to them. All that anger and hostility will just sit there and fester in me like an infection.”

You are conflating forgiveness with being ready to forgive (releasing the anger, bitterness, etc.). That is, Christians are to free themselves of anger and bitterness, so that they are ready to forgive when there is repentance.

bethyada
Member

This is an interesting question and Christians hold to different views here. I have come to the conclusion that forgiveness is not predicated on the repentance of the sinner. Consider if the offender dies before he repents. Consider also Jesus forgiving on the cross and Stephen forgiving as he was being murdered.

OKRickety
Member

bethyada, Yes, there are differing views on forgiveness. I am not going to argue strongly on this, but here are some thoughts to consider: God’s forgiveness of sin is different from our forgiveness of others’ sin. Also, it’s a common misconception that Jesus forgave those who crucified Him; Although He had the power to forgive sin, in this case He did not do so, but He asked the Father to forgive them. (Perhaps He was unable to forgive because He was carrying all sins that God would forgive in the future?) As to Stephen, he said ““Lord, do not hold… Read more »

bethyada
Member

We may be viewing forgiveness differently. I am not sure how I see eternal outworking of my forgiveness of another. Primarily it is me giving up an animosity to another. Letting them free from my hate and bitterness. I don’t think that the state should automatically free someone I have forgiven (especially if they are unrepentant), that has its dangers. I used to have sympathy with your position. It was Doug’s father that challenged me to thinking that repentance on behalf of the offender is not required for us to forgive. (Click on the “Read” link at the top of… Read more »

OKRickety
Member

“I am not sure how I see eternal outworking of my forgiveness of another. Primarily it is me giving up an animosity to another. Letting them free from my hate and bitterness.” Yes, we are viewing “forgiveness” differently. You, as do the vast majority of people today, for example, Doug’s father, are conflating forgiveness with being ready to forgive (releasing the anger, bitterness, etc. and prepared to forgive). That is, Christians are to free themselves of anger and bitterness, so that they are ready to forgive when there is repentance. Also, I do not conflate forgiveness with removal of consequences.… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

My Jewish ex-husband had a lot of trouble with the Christian idea of forgiveness. He believed that forgiveness in the absence of repentance and restitution amounted to countenancing and condoning evil. If I forgive a thief who sees nothing wrong in what he has done, I am encouraging him to commit more thefts. When a Catholic commits a serious sin and goes to a priest for confession, he doesn’t offer forgiveness in the name of our Lord without evidence of contrition, intent to make amends, and a firm purpose not to do it again. Yet, I have never heard a… Read more »

OKRickety
Member

“My Jewish ex-husband had a lot of trouble with the Christian idea of forgiveness. “ I dislike the use of “Christian” here. However, I understand why you would consider it appropriate. It seems the vast majority of “Christians” consider repentance by the offender to be unnecessary for forgiveness of others. However, I am unsurprised that a Jew would believe that repentance is necessary. My investigations show that the Jewish scholars have looked extensively at the issues of repentance, restitution, and forgiveness, and they consider repentance to be necessary. I believe understanding this is important background information to be considered when… Read more »

drewnchick
Member

OK, first off, ME’s illustration was painted with a broad brush–“drug pushers.” She was not referring to any specific drug pusher who might have sinned against her, but all drug pushers in general because they push drugs… So, no…Christians are not called upon to forgive all sinners everywhere because they have sinned. To do so would be folly, futile, and most un-Christlike. But that says nothing of a particular person who has sinned against ME. As a Christian, ME *is* called upon to forgive those who sin against her, irrespective of their repentance. It is our duty to forgive those… Read more »

MeMe
Guest

“And NONE of this has anything to say about whether a sinner (forgiving or not) must still deal with the consequences of his sins, which is probably the biggest hang-up of post-modern Christians today. They want to conflate the ideas of forgiveness with a get-out-of-jail-free card.” I totally agree, Malachi. There’s something broken in our postmodern way of thinking that has those concepts all confused. I sometimes try to explain that people don’t really sin against me, they sin against God. When we’re following Christ we’re called to act like Him, however poorly we manage that. He forgave us, we… Read more »

OKRickety
Member

“I sometimes try to explain that people don’t really sin against me, they sin against God.”

While all sin is against God, per Jesus, some sin is also against other people.

“And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” [Luke 17:4 NASB]

Note: Our forgiveness of others does not remove their sin against God.

OKRickety
Member

“It is our duty to forgive those who have sinned against us. We are not given the “out” of waiting for verbal or physical proof of their repentance, restitution, or any other litmus test.”

How do you reconcile your claim with the following statement of Jesus?

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” [Luke 17:3 NASB]

If your claim is correct, then why didn’t Jesus say this?

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and forgive him whether he repents or not.”

cduncster
Member

“The apparel of ‘a woman professing godliness,’ should not be the attire of a woman of the world, much less, ‘the attire of a harlot.’ Females sometimes wear a label, on which indecency and indelicacy are written, and then appear to be offended because observers can read” (William Jay, Thoughts on marriage).

bethyada
Member

I think one needs to make a distinction between comprehending non-verbal communication and judging motives behind such communication.

bethyada
Member

Ooh, I’m a member. Can this be like gaming were we get promoted to elders and leaders and rulers. The most profound comments win! Or upvotes!

:)

bethyada
Member

Problems logging in with Google. This website claiming that Google returns an invalid response.

Login with WordPress is overloaded. Able to get on eventually. Clicked on have an account and this was the wrong response. Presumably I have a WordPress account but not a dougwils-on-wordpress account. So created an account.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

What Doug says is true, and it should also be said that sometimes people “hear” things that were not meant at all.
I hope I don’t get banned for a Family Guy reference…
https://youtu.be/DHzjgNoRmjg

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

It depends on what one’s agenda is. If your agenda is to injure an unattractive girl with a tattoo, then you can be brutally honest and then defend the pain you caused her by saying, “But I was only telling her the truth.” Not every truth has to be told; if someone’s mother is fat, ugly, and stupid, chances are good that they already know it without me telling them, so other than being nasty to them, why should I point it out? Yes, truthfulness is a virtue. So is civility, and so is avoiding the infliction of pain.

MeMe
Guest

Good point. The motivation and intent behind our truth telling is kind of important. We are living in a world built on so much deception and dishonesty, however. To speak the truth, even your own truth with a little “t” is not so easy these days. Our thinking has become very linear.

Andy
Guest
Andy

Non-verbal communication is real and very powerful. If the verbal and non-verbal communication of a person contradict one another, the listener will believe the non-verbal. But non-verbal cues change massively depending on one’s culture and historical period. I point the bottom of my foot at you in the Middle East, I’m asking for a fight. In America it means nothing. A godly woman wearing jeans today in church is very different from a godly woman wearing jeans on the campus of Bob Jones in the 1970s. Anyone giving their sandal to another to confirm a business transaction these days? These… Read more »

adad0
Member

“we have all been trained to react as though that person were attempting to read hearts. But if the subject didn’t say it, then the only other place meaning could reside in down in his heart, and the critic cannot see the heart. Take that.” Luke 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Hearts can be pretty transparent, via the words that are spoken from… Read more »

Darlene
Guest
Darlene

Aw….too bad everyone can’t live up to Doug’s expectations. Disappointed that you can’t publicly humiliate that unattractive gal wearing a tattoo? Frustrated because you can’t slap that effeminate metro-sexual guy wearing a scarf around his neck? C’mon Mr. Wilson, don’t hold back. Give it all the gusto you’ve got and then some. Insult the ugly, tattooed gal and let her know just what you think. Yank that scarf off that effeminate Millennial and teach him a lesson what it means to be masculine like you. Since when did being obnoxious ever stop you?

Zachary Hurt
Guest
Zachary Hurt

Killer.

John Barry
Guest
John Barry

Doug asks rhetorically where meaning resides. But the correct answer is “No. Meaning resides in none of the above. ”

If meaning can properly be said to “reside” anywhere, it is with the interpreter.

If meaning actually resides in a tattoo on a woman’s calf, would the tattoo not be uniformly interpreted? I confess I have little notion of the meaning the woman intends to convey by her yin/yang tattoo.

bethyada
Member

Meaning lies in shared communication. Of course we may struggle to understand someone else (different language, ambiguity, etc.)

So we may not necessarily understand everything that is said. But Doug is saying that these things carry meaning.

Katecho
Member

We should consider that one of the ways in which God judges a culture is by confusing their language. This includes their non-verbal language. A sense of shared meaning is taken away. But notice that meaning itself doesn’t disappear. Rather, the people’s ability to admit or discern the meaning is darkened. It’s like a spiritual blindness. Blindness doesn’t mean that objects and ditches disappear, it means that the judicially blinded trip over them, and fall into them, because they can’t/won’t see them.

John Barry
Guest
John Barry

But they don’t “carry meaning” either. Presumably, people *intend* tattoos and haircuts and such to *signify* something, but they don’t, in and of themselves, carry meaning.

Katecho
Member

John Barry wrote:

Presumably, people *intend* tattoos and haircuts and such to “signify* something, but they don’t, in and of themselves, carry meaning.

But just previously, Barry had written:

If meaning can properly be said to “reside” anywhere, it is with the interpreter.

So in this imposed dichotomy, does meaning reside with the intent of the signifier, or with the interpreter? Let’s watch as Barry tries to convey his intent to us using words to signify stuff.

John Barry
Guest
John Barry

katecho, you refer to an “imposed dichotomy”. I think you missed my intent and other stuff. You quoted me accurately, but failed to accurately assign meaning to my words. You missed my intended signification, if you will.

I don’t actually believe meaning can properly be said to reside *anywhere*. But saying that meaning resides with the interpreter is closer to the truth than saying that it resides in a symbol. This is because the interpreter assigns the meaning to the symbol.

Katecho
Member

Barry wrote: I think you missed my intent and other stuff. You quoted me accurately, but failed to accurately assign meaning to my words. Apparently Barry does not like to eat the dish that he’s been serving others. Unfortunately for him, he has repeatedly declared that “the interpreter assigns the meaning of the symbol”. So, as interpreter, it’s simply not possible for me to “fail to accurately assign meaning” to his words. If Barry doesn’t like this arrangement, perhaps he shouldn’t put forward such nonsense. Barry wrote: But saying that meaning resides with the interpreter is closer to the truth… Read more »

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

John Barry said: “If meaning can properly be said to “reside” anywhere, it is with the interpreter.”

Cool. Then I interpret your words as “meaning resides in the symbol itself”. Am I wrong?

John Barry
Guest
John Barry

Are you a disciple of Humpty Dumpty?

Katecho
Member

John Barry wrote:

Are you a disciple of Humpty Dumpty?

If jigawatt is a disciple, does that make John Barry a prophet of Humpty Dumpty? If only symbols could signify something.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

John Barry, would you agree that symbols carry (or transport or convey) meaning from the speaker to the listener? Like right now, when you or I write, we are using sentences and words and letters to communicate. No, the symbols themselves are dumb, unconscious and have no meaning of their own accord, but they are tools used for communication. Whether the communication is successful or not is dependent on both the speaker and the listener. Agree?

John Barry
Guest
John Barry

Well put, jigawatt. I agree.

And for the record, in my earlier post(s) I used “meaning” to mean something closer to “understanding” or “decoding” than “that which is intended to be (or actually is) expressed or indicated”. This is more how the term “meaning” is commonly used. I misused the term.

I still contend that meaning does not reside in symbols, or as you say above, “symbols themselves are dumb, unconscious and have no meaning of their own accord”. But the speaker, author, artist, etc. certainly *means* (i.e., intends to express) something by the symbols.

Matt
Guest
Matt

” She just does it, and the rules are that the world must pretend.”

I must have missed where you pretended anything.

Katecho
Member

Matt wrote:

I must have missed where you pretended anything.

Indeed. Wilson is breaking the postmodern rules. He’s following rules for reformers, and so he politely refuses the cultural invitation to engage in pretense for the sake of normalizing twinklebuns, etc.

MeMe
Guest

Here’s the catch, however. We’re called to speak the truth in love. The truth, even under the guise of being a reformer, is nothing if it is not spoken in love. A clanging symbol, a resounding gong.

We are not called to run about telling ugly girls they have just made themselves even uglier. That’s nothing more than our own need to express our moral superiority.

Katecho
Member

MeMe wrote: We are not called to run about telling ugly girls they have just made themselves even uglier. That’s nothing more than our own need to express our moral superiority. Of course we are to speak the truth in love, and Jesus was doing that when He confronted and condemned the long tassel-wearing, whitewashed tombs and foxes of His day. Or does MeMe suppose that Jesus was just trying to express His moral superiority? In this case, MeMe is holding Wilson’s analogy upside down. MeMe has the wrong party running around telling others how to behave. In Wilson’s actual… Read more »

MeMe
Guest

“In other words, there’s a postmodern attempt to challenge all categories of beauty and ugliness, and to condemn any who might remind us of such distinctions.” You know who was supposed to be leading that challenge? Christians! We were supposed to be the ones challenging the world’s assumptions. We were supposed to be honoring the least of these, loving people for what is on the inside, not the external illusions. You know what they call churchians in my neck of the woods? The beautiful people. The people who think they’re good. Said with total sarcasm of course, and who can… Read more »

Katecho
Member

MeMe wrote: You know who was supposed to be leading that challenge? Christians! We were supposed to be the ones challenging the world’s assumptions. Eh? When the world is denying any distinction between truth and error, beauty and ugliness, Christians do not do anyone any favors by agreeing with the world. MeMe wrote: You know what they call churchians in my neck of the woods? The beautiful people. They also called Jesus a winebibber. It doesn’t matter what people call faithful Christians, it matters whether we are truly faithful. Truth does beautify, and if that beauty causes offense to the… Read more »

MeMe
Guest

“But if MeMe thinks that SMV has any correspondence with “we Christians”, then she’s probably lost the ability to distinguish friend from enemy, or else she lives in a Christian Twilight Zone…..” I believe that Twilight Zone just might be called “Blog and Mablog.” :) So if MeMe has been a Christian for half a century here, and I am having trouble distinguishing “friend from enemy,” what chance does the rest of the world have? What IS the gospel we are preaching? Come to faith so you can mock and ridicule tattooed women and man buns? You can now celebrate… Read more »

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

MeMe said:

We are not called to run about telling ugly girls they have just made themselves even uglier. That’s nothing more than our own need to express our moral superiority.

Are you saying that Katecho’s words have made him more ugly?

Matt
Guest
Matt

It’s not much of a rule if you can break it publicly and repeatedly with no consequence.

Katecho
Member

Matt wrote: It’s not much of a rule if you can break it publicly and repeatedly with no consequence. Tell that to the cake bakers and florists who have been driven out of their livelihood by the hammer of political correctness. Progressives are certainly not above using the legal system to harass. But even peer pressure and guilt manipulation are, themselves, all too effective — particularly against sensitive and gullible Christians. This is why it’s refreshing to have pastors stand up and consistently push back using Scriptural models. When we resist, what we find is that PC progressivism is hollow… Read more »