A while back, I gave an elder at my church a copy of Doing Our Own Thing. Yesterday (probably in retaliation, and certainly an escalation!), he gave me a copy of Jacques Ellul's The Humiliation of the Word, which he termed "a long, hard read", and knowing a little about the reading proclivities of that assessor, I'm probably in trouble.
The book is apparently about how our society has reached a dangerous imbalance between image and word, such that we have even come to have a contempt for the word.
So far, I have only read the back cover, the preface, and three pages, and I have already had my mind blown by two new concepts:
God chose language as the means of communication with man, not image, which is why idolatry is a sin.
Is there such a great difference between trying to represent God with an image, vs. trying to represent him with language? I guess since the language of the bible which represents God is God's language, that makes it ok. And we are to continue in that example.
Reality is visual; Truth is verbal
This statement startled me at first (since it appears to be a postmodern / deconstructionist divorcing of reality from truth), but I'm starting to warm to it, as the expression of two sides of a same coin — or maybe two parts of the same elephant. This makes me think of the difficulty of teaching a math student how to prove. Novices all make the common mistake of thinking they can show that something is true by example. I.e.
The sum of even numbers is even
We look at 2+2=4, we look at 2+4=6, we look at 1234+5678= xxx2, etc., and we think we have it figured out. That's reality. We have seen it, we have seen it enough that we believe it. But that is not proof; we have not nailed it down completely as truth. Not until we verbalize as
By defintion, an even integer is twice some other integer, so
even + even = 2n+2m = 2(n+m) = even
do we have a proof, a handle on the infinite truth behind the finite number of realities that shaped our understanding.
That's all I got for now, but I'm looking forward to a long, hard read.