Typos, Spell-check and A Christian Witness
I write because I can’t paint or sculpt. Although I am gaining some mastery with brushes, paint and paper, I can’t get on the paper all my heart sees through my eyes. The same is true for the clay; I can shape some thoughts through the clay. Alas, my fingers are not nimble enough to smooth the clay without thinning it. One of my clay creations –an angel -- testifies to my limitations. So, I keep up my writing – arranging and rearranging words.
Reading informs us, conversing trains us – but writing shows how much and how well we know about a subject according to Sir Francis Bacon. ( Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man; writing an exact man.) This blog – a journal I share, a thesis under construction – is my humble canvas and words my medium, rather than acrylics or watercolors. Its entries are as clay I’m manipulating. I use words so you, gentle reader, can know me and think well of me – and so that both of us can think about ideas, events; problems and their solutions.
So, when I review a selection and discover silly typos, or misspellings that the spell-check overlooked, I am embarrassed. Mercifully, I can edit the errors. Excuses may abound: I was so excited about an idea; it was late – or too early in the AM; or, I had mistaken information. But the impression of inattentiveness or ignorance has been made. I wish I could say as Henri Rousseau did, “Excuse my scribbling, it is late, and I have a poor candle.” But, poor lighting doesn’t cause carelessness and ignorance.
Fatigue may cause some writing gaffes; so can laziness.Immaturity, pride, and hurt hold back a writer more profoundly. Writing what is true, useful, and God-honoring sometimes slams me against this trio of character typos, showing me maturity is not always an attribute of age; humility is still hard to get hold of, and I’d rather blame anybody but myself for the fall-out of stuff in my life.
So, why bother?
Good writing should inform the writer, first, and so, overcome his or her ignorance.
Immaturity, pride and hurt are not attractive, useful or edifying. Artists and writers – and Christians – who will not edit them, look silly -- careless and ignorant. “Editing” this trio is constructive. Editing this trio means looking away from the mess, and asking for help. As editing my writing means making changes someone else suggests, editing immaturity, pride and hurt means making changes.
Last night on Cspan we watched Frank Schaeffer discuss his new book Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway. Listening to him, I wondered that he has never had an editor challenge his assumptions and generalizations; one who will help him make changes in the trio of character typos that limited his talk, and writing. (I read Addicted to Mediocrity and Portofino) Or, is it he chooses not to edit his words?
However, Mr. Schaeffer taught me some lessons worth learning:
1. Pray for Christians who are leaders, like Francis and Edith Schaeffer were. Pray they never inadvertently neglect or harm their children – and pray their children will feel the love of God, who will never fail them though their parents do.
2. My memory is not infallible; it is colored by immaturity, pride and hurt. Therefore, use The editor! (Psalm 19:12-14, 119:105)
3. Accepting my parents’ failures, forgiving and learning from them is healthier than exposing their nakedness. Their character deficiencies may be basic sculpting tools God uses to whittle me into shape. (1 Peter 4:7-12)
4. Recognize and mourn over the church’s failures -- and change the parts I can. (Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15; Galatians 6:1)
5. Words are powerful tools or weapons. (James 3:1-18)
When I write about anything, may I write as one growing-up, willing to learn, and ready to be healed. And please excuse my typos!
· By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach. (Winston Churchill)
· Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before the public. Never clothe them in vulgar or shoddy attire. (George Crane, author)
· Blessed is the person who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. -- attr to George Eliot
Quotes from Christians quoting.com