Monday, June 21, 2010

God and Gerunds (the monumental task of the orthodox rebel)

As an instructor at a Christian university, I am required by my superiors to explain how I "integrate faith in the classroom." By "faith," I assume that they do not mean the earnest hope and expectation of my students to receive a good grade. At least I hope that this is not what they mean. At the risk of being a living pun, I will trust that what they actually mean is trusting in God (both His presence and promises) specifically and the Faith (the whole of Christian thinking and practice) in general.

This is a monumental task for the precise reason that my classroom subject is so utterly minuscule. Every Thursday I teach basic grammar and writing skills, a tedious band of practical minutia not found in any dogma or liturgy. Exactly how the great truth of God's trustworthiness, or the other great truths of the Fall, Incarnation, Redemption, etc., applies to gerunds and subordinating conjunctions is a Brobdingnagian task even for the most schooled theologian. Fortunately, God is a grand theologian, and a bit of a trickster. While I was walking to my car, ardently asserting the impossibility of the task at hand, an answer fell into my mind like a thunderbolt. I am uncertain if this is a new revelation or merely a friendly aid to a rather foolish child. Regardless, I present it to you, as I find it worth sharing:

English Grammar and Writing is about communication, viz., successful communication. Such a notion has absolutely everything to do with our Faith. The root of communication is communion, and the very essence of God (being a Trinity) is communion, i.e., successful connectivity with another. Perhaps the most basic way that we can reflect the image of God successfully is to learn how to communicate successfully. Successful communication is the very essence of God because God is communion. A lack of communication is the very essence of Hell because Hell is separation.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010

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