Clinging to God and Grammar

Sep 25, 2021 by

by Carl R Trueman, First Things:

In times past, progressive politicians described those they despised as clinging to “God and guns.” I suspect that we are not too far from a time when they will insult those they deplore for clinging to God and grammar. That might sound an odd claim, but the days are coming rapidly to an end when it was morally acceptable to think that language, among its many functions, had a positive relation to reality. Today, dictionaries and grammars look set to become relics of a bygone age of evil oppression.

Take, for example, the trend of specifying preferred pronouns on everything from Twitter to business cards—a fascinating sign of our times. Even some Christians are participating. Whether people do it out of genuine confusion, positive commitment to queer theory, or in pre-emptive anticipation of it becoming the equivalent of Havel’s greengrocer shop sign in our brave new world, it is an action that most would have regarded as absurd even five years ago. Most (probably) still regard it as absurd today. But that old consensus is crumbling, just like every other once-unquestionable Western cultural belief. Queerness is moving rapidly from arcane, implausible theory to practical, everyday reality.

While many on the right default to accusations of cultural Marxism when confronted with such iconoclasm, I would argue that this latest trend is reminiscent of nothing so much as Friedrich Nietzsche’s haunting statement in Twilight of the Idols: “I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar.” This sounds odd but in the context of his argument, it makes sense. What Nietzsche is saying here is that language tricks us into thinking that it expresses reality but it does not do so; rather, it constructs concepts that it presents as real and seductively traps us into thinking of the world in particular ways.

Read here

Please right-click links to open in a new window.

Related Posts


Share This