Too much talk, too little meaning

By Simon Barrow
March 14, 2007

Never before has the opportunity for discourse, and the challenge to its essential truthfulness, been greater.

That is, at least, technologically the case with the vast explosion of interactive media. But as a wise guide from the past reminds us, it is not a new situation.

"It is a consequence of the wide diffusion of the public word through the newspapers and the [radio] that the essential character and the limits of the various different words are no longer clearly felt and that, for example, the special quality of the personal word is almost entirely destroyed. Genuine words are replaced by idle chatter. Words no longer possess any weight. There is too much talk. And when the limits of the various words are obliterated, when words become rootless and homeless, then the word loses truth, and then indeed there must almost inevitably be lying. When the various orders of life no longer respect one another, words become untrue." Dietrich Bonhoeffer writing in Ethics, pp. 329-330, (MacMillan, 1962 edition).

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