SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

Learning To Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing—And How We Can Revive Them

Convergent. Aug. 2018. 256p. maps. ISBN 9781601429308. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781601429315. REL
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Using the metaphor of games, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein proposed that reality is made within an evolving linguistic community. Merritt (A Faith of Our Own) observes that those who still use the language of a transcendent reality (what Merritt calls "Speaking God") have become so isolated that no one outside that community understands it. Merritt provides three strategies to respond to this isolation: attempt to ride things out, adapt by expressing ideas of the transcendent with metaphors of the dominant culture, or allow language of the transcendent to engage with the larger world. He argues that the first option ossifies a language to irrelevance and the second empties it of meaning. Using words such as "creed," "prayer," "mystery," "sin," and "grace," Merritt explores the third option, examining the development of religious language.
VERDICT Merritt provides a useful method by which believers can understand themselves and be understood by others.

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