Language and The Inability to Communicate

Recently, in a comment on the article Deepening Spiritual Wonder at the excellent and constantly updated blog, Bittersweet Life, tim wrote (in part):

Unfortunately (lamentably, actually) the ability to articulate with power and lucidity is something that belongs to few; and for many a simple “wow” is all feeble lips can muster…

This got me to thinking as well. My son, Gavin, is in the middle of learning to speak, and my wife made the comment one day that it must be frustrating to not be able to communicate what you want to say. It lead to an interesting discussion and in the end, we decided it was a bit of a paradox. Gavin has a desire to speak, and there are moments where it is obvious that he wants to communicate something to us but cannot. But at other times, until we have taught him how to communicate something, or until he gets the notion that it can be communicated, he (seems to) show no visible interest or frustration in his inability. Clearly, we can’t see inside his mind, but if I switch to thinking about it from my point of view I can remember times in my life (some fairly recently) where I experienced feelings that at the time I did not feel I could adequately put into words. It’s interesting to me, because there were moments when I felt both at peace and frustrated with my inability. What I think I’m beginning to see is that there is not an end to the process we begin as children, of quantifying the world and our experiences in it, and that sometimes, our limited mental vocabulary limits our ability to be aware. As we are able to express more, we sense more, and as we sense, we come to terms with expressing it. I don’t think the two can be separated, and perhaps that’s one of the danger of language. By naming a thing, we sometimes believe that we have mastered it and can now isolate it.

I realize now, reading back through this, that I have illustrated my point quite well. My own level of articulation* in describing how I feel about feeling about something that I cannot quite say how I feel about (does that make any sense at all) is somewhere in the middle of this process, and basically, not ready for expression.

* Literally, to divide into distinct but cooperating parts

16 thoughts on “Language and The Inability to Communicate”

  1. The issue with Dawkins is that he knows there is a God and he claims he doesn’t (Romans 1:20). And I’m with both John Lunt and Gordon Hackman, the only way that Dawkins will come to God is through the work of God. At times, we use arguments and apologetics when we talk with atheists, and at times we see them “work” (meaning, we see the person make a profession of faith), but the danger is when we walk away believing that in our argument we have found a lever (or even more dangerous, THE lever). We run excitedly to our next atheist and apply the lever only to see it fail. (I say this because I’ve done it so many times)

    The changing of the heart of man is of the Lord, we are not magicians, there are not magic words that we can say, and we are not far-sighted, we can never see whether we have “succeeded” in making a convert or not, we can’t even tell if we’ve failed in that regard (we may have just sown, or watered, and someone else will reap the harvest). All we can do is obey. God prepares our heart (Prov 16:1), he teaches us the words to say (I Cor 2:13), and he gives the increase (I Cor 3:7)

    These are your words from JesuCreed…………Wise Words!!!!!!!

  2. The issue with Dawkins is that he knows there is a God and he claims he doesn’t (Romans 1:20). And I’m with both John Lunt and Gordon Hackman, the only way that Dawkins will come to God is through the work of God. At times, we use arguments and apologetics when we talk with atheists, and at times we see them “work” (meaning, we see the person make a profession of faith), but the danger is when we walk away believing that in our argument we have found a lever (or even more dangerous, THE lever). We run excitedly to our next atheist and apply the lever only to see it fail. (I say this because I’ve done it so many times)

    The changing of the heart of man is of the Lord, we are not magicians, there are not magic words that we can say, and we are not far-sighted, we can never see whether we have “succeeded” in making a convert or not, we can’t even tell if we’ve failed in that regard (we may have just sown, or watered, and someone else will reap the harvest). All we can do is obey. God prepares our heart (Prov 16:1), he teaches us the words to say (I Cor 2:13), and he gives the increase (I Cor 3:7)

    These are your words from JesuCreed…………Wise Words!!!!!!!

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