Seven New Words
Fr. Steven Tobias
Don't get excited. You won't find George Carlin's famous elocutions listed here.
And why? Anymore, they are all so passť. None of them are illegal. Depending on the subject matter and the program slot, any and all of them could be pronounced quite plainly on TV.
In the space of five minutes, watching Star Trek last night, my daughters saw an advertisement for the Suicide stripper Girls; a curse cussed by the Geico gecko, none other; a Comcast wife express barnyard amazement at her husband's cleaning ability; and the ubiquitous offer of chemical assistance for the lovelorn and powerless. This morning, my wife got to hear serious and breathless debate on the merits of New York permitting the redaction of birth certificates to permit the changing of M's to F's, or F's to M's, or maybe there's some middle ground where we can all just agree.
No, George Carlin has lost all his zip, and he's stuttered off to the appendices of recent history, having succeeded in re-creating culture in the image of Cartman, I mean Carlin. Culture has caught up to his comedy shtick, and that is the death of vaudeville.
It's a sad thing that we don't have seven dirty words to shock and offend anymore.
Don't despair. I have seven terms right here to take their place: and what's more, if you say any and all of them at the right place or time, you really could get arrested. You'll get fired for sure. Smart people will marginalize you. In Europe, you could be sent up for trial, on serious charges.
So, for the rebel hippie in all of us, here are the new and improved Seven Phrases that Can Get You Into Serious Trouble:
- "Jesus Saves." Be careful with this one. If you don't say it right, it could be taken as a common expletive. If you say it as fact, you could offend a lot of sensitive people who are busying trying to avoid perdition by ignoring it.
- "Christianity is the only true religion." You could lose your life by saying this in most of the inhabited world today, simply because dhimmitude is more of a present reality than what you think. In the other part of the world, ruled over by the WCC and NCC, you will lose your place on the rubber chicken circuit.
- "God is Father." Lots of people nowadays are into chic quasi-Trinitarian speech, without the trouble of believing in the deity of Jesus Christ. For them, Trinity becomes a triadic cosmological template that can be transposed willy-nilly onto any phenomenon. That is why the palatable, trans-confessional meta-narrative reduces the Trinity to a system (not substance), comprised of 3 phases (not Persons), like "Idea, Maker and Perfect-er." Anytime you do the bumpkin (and apostolic) thing of calling God as Father, you are bumping off the possibility of being a "non-Christian Trinitarian." And that's just not very nice.
- "Homosexuality is a sin." Now "sin" is a perfectly acceptable term if you are recommending it. But if you say that sin is bad, then you are bad. And if you say that homosexuality is morally wrong, then you will be immediately lumped in with the Salem Witch Project Puritans, the Inquisition's Torquemada, the KKK and even Hitler himself.
- "Women should never be ordained as priests." By saying this, in one fell swoop you denounce, as loudly as possible, the entire egalitarian anti-patriarchal movement. You denigrate, in the work of a moment, the new anthropology that's come to replace the old like a new genie lamp. The new anthropology moves out God and moves in man (that's the simple reason why apologetics don't work anymore), and the new creed is one's own self-narrative, and the new sacrament is the quest to become something one should not be. Like a man who wants to become pregnant, or a wife. Like a woman who wants to become a priest or a bishop. I think that in 20 years or less, it will become illegal for the Orthodox Church to prohibit women in major holy orders.
- "Evolution is not as defensible, scientifically, as creation." This is an unbelievably dangerous statement. If you say this out loud in public places, your academic career will get flushed, immediately. Your friends will ask your doctor to up your meds. This statement is probably the most blasphemous phrase on this list, and is the most offensive to sensitive ears. Especially those worn by biologians. Don't ever think that institutional discussions about evolution are free, fair or academic. A creationist is bitterly opposed by the powers and principalities.
- "The Fathers were smarter and gooder: we should trust them more than we trust ourselves." I translated that into the original bumpkin-ese to militate the phrase linguistically against the language of the intellectual. It functions as a shibboleth: an intellectual, to remain an intellectual, will not be able to say it and believe it. The House of Intellect has been around for some time: who knows when it was built -- at the Bastille? in 1848? with Dreyfus? at Scopes? When matters little about the intellectual -- what matters is that. It matters that the intellectual must believe in progress, but must denounce perfection. It matters that the intellectual must position his own thinking at the head of the line, and must relegate the Fathers to the category of "Well, they did the best they could with what they had." Saying that these very benighted, non-technological and unenlightened Fathers are actually superior to the modern intellectual in morality and intelligence is like the kid saying that the corpulent Emperor is quite nekkid.
And one must never, never say nekkid. Carlin's seven words can be said, certainly, for they are themselves cultic invocations of the nekkid gods. But don't, don't say they're nekkid.
The Emperor won't like it.
Fr. Jonathan Tobias is an Orthodox priest and edits the Second Terrace blog.
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