New Words and Old Rules

The oldest rule of discourse is this: never discuss religion or politics (this rule is slightly older than the second oldest rule of discourse: never speak when your mouth is full) but I'm going to make an exception today; the Lutheran Church near my school has this phrase on its placard: JESUS SWALLOWED UP DEATH FOREVER and while I readily admit that religion has never worked its magic on me . . . I'm not sure why this is the case, but jazz doesn't work on some people and ballet doesn't work on others and I don't want to get into why some rhetorical and aesthetic forms work on some people and others work on other people-- it's just the way of the world-- but I can't imagine how this aphorism would attract anyone to this particular church-- it's a weird and morbid and disturbing image-- and I did some research and placard is taken from a phrase in Isaiah 25:8, so it has its basis in the Bible (but so does the phrase "of these you may eat: locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper" . . . Leviticus 11:22 . . . but you don't see that on any church placards) so I understand where they're coming from, with Easter and the resurrection, but it still seems like a really odd thing to put on a sign; tangentially, on the political front, I learned a new word in Rick Perlstein's book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus . . . this is the first book in his trilogy of how modern conservatism was formed (I highly recommend the second book, Nixonland, and I'm loving this one as well . . . Perlstein writes dense, high energy prose from a tactical perspective on how conservatives got their hooks into America; his third book just came out and I plan on reading that one as well) and the word is normally a religious one: "chiliastic," which is a very specific adjective that describes "millenarianism," or the doctrine of Christ's expected return to earth to rule for one thousand years . . . but Perlstein uses the word in a hyperbolic and secular way (which is certainly his style) to describe how activists perceived the fight between the light and darkness of Communists and the anti-Communists-- anyway, I think "chiliastic" would be a great word to put on a church placard, as it would certainly make people curious about what was going on inside (especially since it contains the word "chili," which evokes heavenly deliciousness).


Clarence said...

A chiliastic cook-off would draw lots of ignorant people who don't realize that it will last so long.

You should have added cicada into that passage so as to make yourself a holy man.

Dave said...

chiliastic cook-off!

great name for an indie band.

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.