Monday, March 16, 2009


While musing on the atrocity of CCTV that was used to crack the case in a recent Law and Order UK episode, someone made the following observation:

“Even though it gets abused quite a bit, I’m glad we live in a country that actually values freedom of speech and freedom of the press.” (source: me)

The same blabbermouth mentioned in passing the outrage that is the so-called Patriot Act and how things of this nature seem to be more indicative of communist countries than those that claim to fight for individual liberty and democracy.

My wife hates to talk about politics. If I want to kill a conversation all I have to do is mention the difference between a modern liberal and a traditional liberal (or put on a Rod Stewart record). Anyway, I’m becoming more conversant in things political but still would not consider myself an expert. This, however, has not stopped me from writing blog after blog on the subject. I’ve also written, feigning scholarship, on such issues as art, evolution, global warming, and same-sex marriage. As time goes on, the list lengthens. I’m not sure where this drive comes from. Is it that I can’t stand to have a thought that isn’t made public knowledge? I generally consider myself an introvert. Is it that I think I’m an entertaining, or at least stimulating writer? This discussion itself is probably generating its own share of yawns—at least for those who are still reading. Is it the desire to impress all my friends, acquaintances and total strangers with my views on such a broad spectrum of topics? Probably. But, then, I will from time to time write these self-deprecating, critical blogs to give myself the appearance of humility.

Last time I wrote about confession and sin. Well, here’s one disordered passion I’d like to put a bridle on. I ended last time with a prayer that contained the phrase “take from me the spirit of…idle talk”. It is this spirit within me that fuels heated discussions (almost always via internet) on all the topics I just mentioned.

A really intriguing article I just read/listened to entitled “Liberation by Internet” ( gave some staggering statistics on internet use:

In 1997, about 96 million people used the Internet; by 2002, the number had grown to about 650 million. On December 30, 2007, the Internet had an estimated 1.319 billion users [...] Over 30 years, [from 1972 to 2002], the cost of sending 1 trillion bits of information has dropped from $150,000 to 17 cents.

The article is almost completely unrelated to the idea of idle talk but has a lot of great observations about individual liberty, internet and freedom of speech. We now have access to online books, blogs for every interest, music, movies, television shows, games, and shameless entertainment at our fingertips. And we like it. Not only do we like it. We like it so much, that we feel the need to contribute to the cacophony of sound by raising our own voices as well.

We raise a song of praise for those books, blogs, musicians, movies, sitcoms (ad naseum) that we like best. Well, today I’m raising mine to commend something else: silence. . .er, at least a little more silence. By the grace of God, I’d like to be a quieter person; to listen better and talk more relevantly than I do. I’ve heard someone call it “the economy of words”. Even in this blog I have probably wasted words. This should be a bigger deal to me since, as a Christian, I believe that everyone will give an account to God “for every careless word they speak (Matt. 12:36)”.

So, now I end this rant with a sobering passage from the book of James that I think is more relevant than anything else I could say on the subject:

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:2-12)


  1. I'm on a textbook selection committee for my school district and am right now experiencing ridiculous trauma about what books can and should be allowed in school for teachers to use as classroom materials.

    Books are being censored and banned all over the place in Millard Public Schools. This is something which troubles me greatly. I'd like to have a more in depth conversation about this in the near future with someone who would be willing to listen and talk and think.

  2. I am as against banning and censoring books as much as I am against banning and censoring information on the internet (something Cuba is infamous for). Listen, that's why they made internet filters and that's why kids have eyelids and parents. If a book gets assigned in class that the parents and kids find detestable, they should say so, but don't ban the thing from the library. Just don't read it.