In the beginning was the Word..and the Word was God (John 1:1)
Writing for publishers can be one antidote to the “massmediologic epoch” we are living in. Limited to a certain number of lines and spaces we are likely to be more aware of the “futility of words and evermore exclusive efficacy of the language of gestures and concrete signification” which defines the rather intimidating title heading this reflection. Have you ever felt “conned” by a barrage of words on TV or, if you manage to stay awake, by a homilist who goes on and on belaboring a point? How do you feel after watching a collage of fast-moving images on the screen? Concrete signs may have the same effect on our psyches as too many words.
God forbid that I should ever discourage others from reading the printed word or disavow the worth of some mass media today. On the contrary, studies indicate that TV, for example, through interviewing writers and showing films based on novels increases rather than decreases readership. No, I only want to acknowledge that the human spirit requires integration, not fragmentation. An overdose of the “soaps,” cheap novels, and so on diminish us, but healthy selectivity in what we view and read can increase and improve our lives as humans.
Once, just for the fun of it, I tried to edit the first chapter of John Steinbeck’s GRAPES OF WRATH. It was impossible. This book is a joy for editors and writers, a perfect example of “tight copy”—not one wasted word. The author keeps his readers spellbound as he describes the boring topic of a used car lot. The book is still a classic today, yet we know Steinbeck is not the world’s greatest master when it comes to an economy of words. After all, God said everything that needed to be said in one Word, a Word, nevertheless providing us with a lifetime of meditation.
Jesus, keep our minds and hearts fixed on You, Word of God made flesh!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, O.S.B.
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|