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The Grammar of Existence

GrammarExistence

In this age of scientific and empirical reductionism, when we hear the word “grammar” we are likely to think of what takes place in an elementary classroom. Education in the modern age is a mere shadow of an authentic education. Its constituent parts have been hollowed out and husks are dangled in front of students followed by an assessment of temporary recall of quickly fading shades. Grammar has been reduced to a mere empty shadow of its former self as well. It used to be the primary liberal art by which to begin to cultivate the inner landscape. Grammar today is a mimic of a sort of atomized applied linguistics. When Moliere said “Grammar, which knows how to control even kings,” he was not speaking about grammar as we understand it today.

The word “grammar” comes from the Greek “grammatikí̱” (γραμματική) meaning “the art of letters,” but in its deepest sense it signifies literacy or the reading of things as they actually are. It is both an art and a science. It is complicated to master literacy and all its guiding principles. The ancient grammarians mastered the arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric in order that they might teach. If we compare what the grammarians considered grammar in ages past with what people call grammar today, the difference may be shocking.

Dionysius Thrax, (170–90 BC) an ancient Greek grammarian, outlined the hierarchical structure of grammar from the least important components to the greatest. He begins with prosody, followed by an understanding of literary devices, followed by considerations of phraseology enhanced by etymology. At the upper reaches of grammar we find analogy and metaphor followed by the highest aspect of grammar, the art of exegesis. Exegesis has its etymological roots in a word that means “to demand” from a written work what it is most deeply trying to convey, considering its origins, the authors intentions, the validity and value of its assertions, as well as the range, breadth, and depth of its knowledge. This understanding of grammar has long since disintegrated in the public schools.

Grammar has suffered the same fate as theology and philosophy in the age of scientism. Grammar has been cut off from its transcendent and philosophical roots. Grammar ought to embody the rules for the structure of language, which intend to reflect the hierarchical structure of the universe, but it no longer does. Prosody, the lowest level of grammatical concern for the ancients has become the highest concern in the modern school. Prosody generally means “the defining feature of expressive reading that comprises all of the variables of timing, phrasing, emphasis, and intonation.” A little longer reflection on this lowest level of grammar will reveal that it lends itself to measurable observation.

To add insult to injury, prosody has gone under the knife of dissection to the point that literacy has become a sort of pseudo-linguistic analysis of the written word. The ancient grammarians’ concerns have been replaced by the constituent parts undergirding prosody we now call morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonology, and phonetics. Added to these considerations are superficial nods to various parts of speech and reduced versions of some of the ancient grammarian’s categories. Grammar, like the frog in the science lab, lies dissected in the laboratory of the modern school empirically mapped out, but dead to its vital concerns.

If we are concerned with living a full life in consideration of the fullest developments of our intellects and wills, then we must begin with a recovery of the true nature of grammar. Grammar has its roots in eternity and its arrangement of categories signifies the rules of existence as well as words can. In identifying the grammar of existence, there are two primary considerations, that of space and time, which correlate to our two categories of being and doing. Being and doing are reflected by our speech categories we call nouns and verbs. In the entirety of language, we can notice that all our linguistic constructions revolve around particulars articulating general things and what they do (nouns and verbs). Just so, we understand our lives in terms of being and doing correlated to space and time. All of our considerations revolve around what we are and what we do, in that order.

A cursory glance at Part I, the first 26 questions of St. Thomas Aquinas’ masterwork, the Summa Theologiae, demonstrates a proper understanding of the grammar of existence simply in the organization of its initial topics. The universal subject is “God and His Perfections.” Question one deals with the Queen of the sciences, theology and question two asks the foundational question “Does God exist?” For the next 24 questions Aquinas demonstrates the hierarchical order of the grammar of existence by dealing with the two universal topics of God’s existence (being) and The Divine Operations (doing). He begins with being as it is primary and goes from universal to particulars in questions 3-13. This is followed by doing, which necessarily proceeds from being in questions 14-26.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ considerations on the existence and nature of God are presented in a way that not only reflects the hierarchical structure of properly understood grammar, but also echoes the hierarchical structure of the Cosmos as dictated by our Creator. Language has the twofold purpose of conveying truth in the service to the other. It should be self-evident that the grammar of human language ought to properly reflect the grammar of existence, if not, than what are we ever talking about?

Steven Rummelsburg

Written by

Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg is a Catholic convert after 40 years of secular humanism. He is a Catholic writer and speaker on matters of Faith, culture, and education. He teaches, theology, philosophy and Church history at Holy Spirit Prep in Atlanta.

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  • David Nickol

    If we are concerned with living a full life in consideration of the fullest developments of our intellects and wills, then we must begin with a recovery of the true nature of grammar.

    I guess this is the author's point, but I am at a loss to say exactly what it means. I have read the post three times now. The first time I thought the end was missing, or that perhaps this was the first of two parts.

    I don't know much at all about the ancient Greek grammarians or the kind of education they provided, but it seems to me there was a great emphasis on memorizing Homer.

    • Ignatius Reilly

      From the title, I though this article was going to be about existence as a predicate. Not at all sure what the article is actually about, but I am disappointed, I was hoping for an article about existence as a predicate.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Isn't his point that the two most important facts about existence are being and doing--whether that applies to God, ourselves, or anything in the material universe?

  • Kraker Jak

    ...

  • Mike O’Leary

    From what I can gather the author seems to think the way that we ask questions about the universe ("the grammar of existence") is flawed in some way. He points to Summa Theolgiae as a more proper way of asking those questions, of not having a flawed grammar of existence. He shows how the first question with regards to existence in Aquinas's work is theology and then works from there.The best I can tell (and again I could be totally off-base) is that with an improper "grammar" we don't start our questioning of why we exist with the so-called Queen of Sciences, theology. If that is the case then I think his way of understanding existence is flawed from the start. If theology is the queen of sciences, does that make phrenology the archduke of sciences? The unprovable and unfalsifiable nature of theology makes for an interesting discussion but doesn't advance our understand of existance in the slightest. It in no way should be the first place we go for answers -- or even the proper questions to ask.

  • Phil Rimmer

    "To add insult to injury, prosody has gone under the knife of dissection to the point that literacy has become a sort of pseudo-linguistic analysis of the written word."

    "...reduced to a mere empty shadow..."

    If only we had time to write shorter pieces.

    I pine for elegance and clarity.

    • I pine for elegance and clarity.

      Yeah. Those paragraphs look like they were written to obscure rather than to communicate. On a factual level, it gets a lot obviously wrong about the fascinating work of modern grammarians. But I think focusing on facts and reality misses the point of the article. It has more the style of someone reporting an encounter with DMT entities. Or in a religious context, a mystical vision. This mystical vision is of "grammar" as deep arcane laws and interconnections governing not just (how to use) words (so that others understand you) but the referents of the words as well. People throw around "magical thinking" as an insult sometimes, but in a more interesting literal, historical sense, it's this intuitive, connection-based thinking that the relationships between words might mirror the relationships between things that was the reason people invented the idea of casting verbal spells.

      Humans differ in how much they lean toward analytical thinking or intuitive thinking. Skeptical types of course tend to prefer more analytical thought.

      • Phil Rimmer

        The power of aesthetics to aid understanding should not be forgotten. Those heuristics of Keats (Truth is Beauty is) and Ockham (Still-Functioning-Less is More), these days, find favour more amongst mathematicians and scientists than theologians. This is to the latter's detriment.

        A nicely chosen metaphor can reveal the connecting bones of an argument, under a concealing outer form, with efficiency and memorable grace and still leave in place a substrate for further growth.

        Any "Art of Letters" should count these heuristics amongst the highest.

        The article has spent its muddling time to announce and unwittingly illustrate a problem leaving it still in a barely discerned heap.

      • William Davis

        Well said. I automatically lean to analytical side, but I've worked to develop the intuitive thinking as the best thinking is probably a delicate balance between the two.

  • I'm disappointed that this article isn't stirring up more debate given the huge role the philosophy of language has played from the late 20th century to today. In fact, where the central issue for ancient and medieval philosophers was being, and the central issue for modern philosophers was knowledge, the central issue for contemporary philosophers since Wittgenstein, from Chomsky to Kripke to Putnam, is language.

    • Doug Shaver

      The philosophy of language is certainly indispensable to an understanding of modern philosophy. Whether it is the central issue may be a matter of perspective. When I was getting my degree, I didn't get the impression that it was.

    • William Davis

      In my view (and the view of many philosophers) language teaches us some things about how we think, and can affect the way we think (thus our mental model of reality). I don't see how it can possibly give much insight on anything outside the mind.
      From what I understand, the philosophers you mentioned focused on language and how it works, and what it tells us about our mental structures. Someone more well versed in philosophy feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    • I think philosophy and language are interesting, Ican't say I was able to see a point in the article or what this has to do with the discussion between Catholics and Atheists.

      Noam Chomsky is a linguist, not a philosopher.

      • William Davis

        Chomsky is many things including a philosopher and cognitive science. His contributions to linguistics are most important, but I think the best modern philosophers dabble in many fields (with cognitive science being almost required).

        • Chomsky's job and life's work is as a professor of linguistics at MIT. He is an author, social commenter, and political activist literally in his spare time.

          I have never heard of him doing any philosophy.

          Anyway it seems odd to list him among four contemporary philosophers.

          • William Davis

            Philosophy of mind and philosophy of linguistics

            http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/20030401.pdf

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/linguistics/

            Just search for Chomsky in the Philosophy of Linguistics article from Stanford, he's all over it (79 instances).

          • Phil Rimmer

            Chomsky, of course, was a philosophy student taught by a couple of heavy hitting philosophers, is also known for his philosophy of politics and most deliciously tore several strips of the European philosophers of the PoMo persuasion. (He debated Michel Foucault on TV as part of the The International Philosophers Project.)

          • William Davis

            I happen to agree with a great number of his political views, now that I'm looking them up. I've been calling myself a libertarian for a while, but I don't identify with many of the "nutty" versions in the US who think we'd be better off with no government at all. We tried that in the Wild West...

          • Phil Rimmer

            Libertarianism had an honourable history up until Ayn Rand when it became that badge of the selfish that Hitch dismissed saying that selfishness was in no need of further endorsement.

            My Political Moral Aesthetics (hard-wired...I have no choice in the matter...perhaps early parental indoctrination) are entirely left of centre with concerns for only harms and fairness (per Haidt's moral features).

            My choice of political solutions I seek though are, I hope, pragmatic and demand a degree of consensuality. The right are always with us and their political moral aesthetics (per Haidt) are harms, fairness, loyalty, purity (uncorrupted institutions etc.), authority (acceptance of) are simply the values of the more anxious half of society, the threatened folk seeking to conserve social capital. Solutions that achieve a degree of tolerability or even support from from both sides will work better and Better is what we should seek to carry us smoothly on our collective adventure. Political stability encourages investment of all kinds.

            I am entirely capitalist but expect parts of our services to fail if left to the market due to the longevity of the investments needed or, further due to the primary nature of those services and their demand of democratic controls also. Education and health, for example, are long term societal investments we should make in all available human capital.

            I tolerate and expect big government, or at least a large and expert civil service. (I see many of us working at least part time for our own institutions as AI will free us of much drudge and company taxes may be the process to create the rich enough consumers on which companies depend.) I tolerate high tax, compassionate societies like those of northern Europe, but am acutely aware of that it risks cultural flattening and reduction in enterprise both of which must be fought against.

            I expect to take lots of consistent data about performance and people's satisfaction with their various lots. I expect policy to evolve pragmatically on the basis of a highly informed populace who can see in great detail the boons and harms of earlier policy outcomes.

            Oh and I count myself a low level anarchist to keep the opportunity for change ever present. Is this idealism? Only insofar as its a statement of preferred mechanisms.

  • Earlier today I was listening to and thinking about this song by Aesop Rock:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbd4h1kaFlY

    I vividly remember listening to an album by this guy with a friend back in high school. I loved it but was really thrown off: the lyrics were like a Jackson Pollack painting, a kind of artful word salad. "It sounds awesome, but it doesn't make sense," I said. "Exactly," he said. "That's the point. It's supposed to not make sense."

    I was stunned. The songs offered a running commentary on themselves, on the constant failure to bridge a growing chasm between being and naming. "What are we ever talking about?" Answer: "words, words, words." After Wittgenstein, language has been recast as a "game", an insular web of conventions shared with other namers to cope with the world. There is no objective tribunal to determine when meaning corresponds to "truth" and when it doesn't; truth is what works, what engenders agreement in a particular time and place.

    When it comes to moral and religious truth...but of course. But materialists like Rorty (pivoting off Kuhn) remind us that if we're committed to this subjective vision for language, where it's a useful tool rather than a map of the world as it is, there's ultimately nothing to keep science itself from coming under this same rubric. No human description, it seems, "hooks onto the world" in some privileged metaphysical sense. Why should it, and what could it possibly mean in light of history's fluctuations and contingencies?

    Does Peirce's semiotic realism offer a way through Rorty's critique without succumbing to scientism? Either way, the question of language won't go away, and is massively important - not just for philosophy and art, but for science. Alasdair MacIntyre, an Aristotelian-turned-Thomist who wrote a generous blurb on the back of "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature," might have replied that without embeddedness in a concrete tradition, the conundrum is interminable:

    Whose meaning? Which rationality? Word, words, words...

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Just as I was finishing my MA in English (my thesis was on Tolkien's moral vision), deconstruction was arising and it would become the dominant method of analyzing literary texts. It seemed like insanity to me and I'm glad I never had to mess with it.

      • Alexandra

        Tolkien's moral vision sounds like a great subject for an OP. :) hint, hint
        I have enjoyed your contributions to SN immensely.

      • William Davis

        I agree with Alexandra, Tolkien's a winner.

    • William Davis

      "It sounds awesome, but it doesn't make sense,"

      I remember people getting into arguments over the meaning of such lyrics. It was like two people arguing over who's face is in a cloud. I think the point is to get you to supply the sense or meaning. Generally I prefer songs that mean something in themselves, but I'm flexible and there are some good ones that don't have any intrinsic meaning you can nail down.

      Since we're trading music, this is from a Prog metal band I really like. The guitarist who wrote the lyrics is self identified as Catholic, though I doubt practicing Catholic.

      "The Bigger Picture"

      Long before the colors start to bleed
      I can see the painting come alive
      Clever like an angel in disguise
      Moving in and out of reach

      If the candle lights this crooked path
      Like a lighthouse peering through the haze
      I will find the river through the rain
      And I’ll reach the water’s edge

      Shed your light on me
      Be my eyes when I can’t see
      Shed your light on me
      Be my guide so I can see
      The bigger picture

      Like a moth burned by the fire
      and driven to the flame
      (Prophecies’ a blessing and a curse)
      I must bare this cross alone
      There’s no one else to blame

      With each treasure found
      Another shipwreck’s washed ashore
      I am carried by the current
      On a slow and steady course

      Shed your light on me
      Be my eyes when I can’t see
      Shed your light on me
      Be my guide so I can see
      The bigger picture

      What if caught in a moment
      I get lost and can't find my way
      What if all along i was wrong
      In every turn, in every way

      Would you talk me off the ledge
      Or let me take the fall
      Better to try and fail
      then to never try at all

      You look but cannot see
      Talk but never speak
      You live but cannot breathe
      See but don’t believe

      Wounds that never heal
      A heart that cannot feel
      A dream that’s all too real
      A stare as cold as steel

      I’ve listened to the stories of resentment and disdain
      I’ve looked into the empty eyes of anger, fear, and shame
      I’ve taken blood from every stone
      And traveled every road

      When I see the distant lights illuminate the night
      Then I will know I am home

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js6AgiVtj5k

  • Doug Shaver

    If we compare what the grammarians considered grammar in ages past with what people call grammar today, the difference may be shocking.

    The word doesn't mean what it used to mean. That discovery should not shock anyone except people who are ignorant of the history of language.

    I have plenty of complaints about modern education. I began college in 1963, took time out for military service and other distractions, and got my first BA in 1975. Almost 30 years later I went back for another degree. Aside from advancements in classroom technology, none of the changes I observed were, in my judgment, improvements. However, the fact that the word "grammar" no longer means what it meant to Dionysius Thrax does not, so far as I could discern, have anything to do with the problems I saw.

  • Kraker Jak

    Education in the modern age is a mere shadow of an authentic education.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    Grammar is the first of the three most basic subjects of the Trivium of classical liberal education. It basically meant mastering Latin so you could go on study higher subjects. Grammar meant speaking, reading, and writing correctly. Logic was studied so as to communicate truly (true premises and logical conclusions), and rhetoric was studied so you could communicate most effectively. Even though we get the word trivial from the Trivium, there is nothing trivial about these three subjects.

    I think a wider meaning of grammar that is also still useful today is the body of facts about any subject. A great deal of any field of knowledge is its grammar in this sense. For example, when medical students spend an entire year on gross anatomy, they are basically just learning the names of parts of the body.

    • William Davis

      For example, when medical students spend an entire year on gross anatomy, they are basically just learning the names of parts of the body.

      And in Latin of course :)

  • Kraker Jak

    “I
    know the ‘real way’ to speak and write English. Let me tell you how
    it’s done. Because obviously, you don’t know how to write/read/speak
    correctly because you are either ignorant or stupid.”
    Quote from the link.
    http://ugtimes.com/2014/07/lifestyle/the-dangers-of-linguistic-elitism/

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I found this OP (the one you linked to) ignorant AND stupid--just what I'd expect from an undergraduate at a progressive college who is fed and who parrots back the accepted critical-theory form of Marxism.

      Literacy in the English-speaking world means the skill of reading, writing, and speaking *standard* English, the form of the English language that let's my wive's colleagues in Russia and Vietnam (who learned English as second languages) be employed by a standard-English-based internet start-up.

      • Kraker Jak

        Ignorant AND stupid--just what I'd expect from an undergraduate at a progressive college who is fed and who parrots back the accepted critical-theory form of Marxism.

      • David Nickol

        my wive's colleagues

        In standard English, we would say "my wife's colleagues."

        Tsk-tsk!

        • Kevin Aldrich

          What makes you think I only have one? Maybe my middle name is Brigham.

          • Kraker Jak

            ...Point made by D.N..

          • Ladolcevipera

            Shouldn't it be: my wives' colleagues then? Just asking and learning...

          • David Nickol

            What makes you think I only have one?

            If you had more than one wife, you would need to say "my wives' colleagues."

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are right. There is no wiggling out of that typo.

      • William Davis

        If we think of language as an information exchange mechanism, then standardization improves system efficiency and improves information transfer. Of course, there needs to be some flexibility for adaptation an improvement, but I don't I don't consider degradation (slang, hood talk) to be either one of those things. In a way, however, they can serve as a sort of encryption, preventing those not "hip" to the "lingo" from understanding what's being said. I prefer transparency and accuracy myself.
        That said, someone can be quite intelligent and just not good at words. I had a bright advanced calculus teacher who would always misspell trigonometry, for instance. No one in the class bothered to correct him just because it didn't seem important to the task at hand.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          As far as I can tell, every human language is nothing but conventions: that is, people agree that certain sounds stand for specific things and these sounds should be made in a certain order. Standard English is not "better" than Jive or Cockney. It is just the agreed-up form of English that people all over the world learn to communicate.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXSLcYQHqFQ

      • David Nickol

        Since I spent virtually all of my post-college career in publishing, most of it as an editor, I feel very strongly about standard English. It's very important for success in a great many fields. But nevertheless, from a linguist's point of view, other dialects in English, including in American English, are not "wrong." They are just not standard English.

        When you were raised (as I was) by college-educated parents who spoke perfect standard English and were sticklers about it, and when you got a solid education (and majored in English), it is very difficult not to be a snob about it. But of course it is through no effort of my own that I had the good fortune to be born into a fairly "elite" group and educated accordingly.

        I think the author of the piece you characterize as "ignorant AND stupid" was simply saying that standard English is only one dialect of English, and people who do not speak it are not stupid or wrong. They are doing exactly what most speakers of standard English do—speaking English as they learned it. There is no reason to look down on people who do not speak standard English.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I agree with you about standard English. I personally learned it in school, since my original tongue is New Jersey.

          • William Davis

            I got confused when discussing something with a guy from Jersey who kept calling a "part" a "pot". I'm not going to say much though, there is plenty of examples to be had from the South. Even in NC there are different Southern accents in different regions. In general, however, I think English is more standardized now than it ever has been. Things are much better than what one reads in Huckleberry Finn, for instance ;)

  • Kraker Jak
  • I can't say I understand what the author's thesis is here.

    I would point out that some of the most eloquent speakers and writers are prominent atheists. Stephen Fry, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Green Ingersoll, Douglas Adams.

    I would also say that authors like Dawkins and Harris are excellent communicators through the medium of language. I expect the same of Dennet.

    What I do find in Christian apologetics is a very vague and equivocal use of words. I also see a pervasive pedantry in terms of origin and definitions of words that is unhelpful to useful discussion, on both sides of this debate.

  • Ladolcevipera

    This understanding of grammar has long since disintegrated in the public schools.

    I was very glad to read an OP that defends the value of a classical education by explaining the true nature of "grammar". A very important feature of the classical curriculum is that it not only includes the study of Greek and Latin but that it is a unity; it is a coherent plan. The programme remained essentially the same over the centuries, even with the gradual addition of more sciences. The plan of a grammar school is to educate future scholars. So, what is a scholar? Only recently I had an interesting discussion about the definition of "scholar". The original meaning derives from the Greek σχολη΄ (scholè or leisure time): only the wealthy had the opportunity to study and (ideally) reach the highest level of understanding, i.e. "the reading of things as they actually are". At this level the human mind comes as close as possible to the Logos. It is this ideal that resonates in the Uomo Universale, the scholar, the intellectual. It is also this ideal that is now in danger of being reduced to "a specialist in a given branch of knowledge".
    Language is an important factor to "cultivate the inner landscape" and broaden one's view. Languages are not solely vehicles for the transfer of information. They express different visions of life, different worldviews. The limits of one's language are the limits of one's world.

    • Phil Rimmer

      I used to stammer rather as a child, but at eleven I took up Latin (I was a year too late for Greek which had just been discontinued.) It saved me by providing the key to a hugely broadened vocabulary. I had new Latin-based choices for that worrying word looming at the end of the sentence. And failing that I could compound some Latin and neologise (sic) my way out of trouble. More, even than that, it introduced me to etymology and choosing the word that perfectly expressed the intention. No longer was I beaten as a stammerer...though, I was, rightfully, beaten as a callidus asinus.

      • Ladolcevipera

        I am. completely lost...maybe because it is only just after 4 a.m.

      • Ladolcevipera

        In the meantime it's almost 8 a.m. and the penny dropped! :)

        • Phil Rimmer

          Too late. Its gone now. But anyway Latin cured my stammering FWIW.

  • Mike

    The fact that we can even discuss the terms in which we discuss is mind blowing...human beings are nothing if not improbable!

  • Kraker Jak

    "My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy
    League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to. "
    Quote from the link.

    The Disadvantages of an Elite Educationhttps://theamericanscholar.org/the-disadvantages-of-an-elite-education/#.Va69u7Wmcdw

  • ‘In identifying the grammar of existence, there are two primary considerations, that of space and time’.
    I was with the author all the way until that sentence. One of the greatest problems of modern man, following Descartes and Kant, is his inability to distinguish between thought and reality. Relationships of extension between material things are real. Existing things are in motion with respect to one another. In contrast, space is a human concept for expressing the relationships of extension. Time is a quality, the condition of mutability. In contrast, time, as a quantity, is the human mental comparison of one motion with another.
    ‘Space and time’ as reality is the epitome of scientism.

  • Ladolcevipera

    At the upper reaches of grammar we find analogy and metaphor followed by the highest aspect of grammar, the art of exegesis

    I was considering the difference between analogy and metaphor and what this difference implies for God-talk.
    When somebody says "This man is a lion when it comes to defending his family", nobody will think that this man is a real animal with manes and a tail and a frightful roar (analogy). Everybody will interpret the sentence as a metaphor: this man fights LIKE a lion, i.e. courageously, but he might just as well have been compared to any other icon that represents courage.
    The difference between analogy and metaphor has, I think, huge implications for God-talk. When Christians say: "God, our Father" are they using an analogy or a metaphor? If it is an analogy this means that God really is a father in the literal sense of the word: he is male and has all the characteristics that are attributed to a father but in the most perfect way. If it is a metaphor, this is a completely different matter. God is admittedly compared to a father, but s/he might just as well be compared to a mother or to any other icon that represents love and care. It is only because Christianity found its origin in a male dominated world that the image of "God, our Father" became the prevailing image and is being interpreted as an analogy, and not as a metaphor.

    • Phil Rimmer

      The RCC takes the analogy and builds on it, with the gift of a Son and elevates another mortal to near godly Mother, to build this more directly and politically tractable analogy of a family. I think this a piece of inclusive PR genius.

  • Darren

    Heh, heh. 48 comments here, 373 comments on the same topic at Estranged Notions.

    Cudos to Steven Rummelsburg for stepping up and doing a yeoman's job of defending his article!

  • Now doubt we are living in modern age but society demands certain protocols which everyone should be fullfilled particularly if you are communicating you should be well aware about grammer rules in order to follow grammatic rules.