Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Shakespeare or slogans?!

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out , brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (Macbeth, Shakespeare)

Last week some of the UCCF staff were encouraged to think through the importance of form as well as content in the Bible and in our communication of it. Sometimes good communication isn't about making things as absolutely simple as they possibly can be, finding that timeless truth and saying it in the least possible syllables. Rather, the way something comes across can be as important as the content itself. Take the above quote for example, it's harder to understand than the bumper sticker which says "life sucks; then you die", but, even though the two things are saying more or less the exact same thing, doesn't Shakespeare communicate so much more? The slogan leaves me cold and cynical, but is soon forgotten. Macbeth leaves me desperately sad at the hoplessness of people, at the meaninglessness of this world and at life which is but "a walking shadow" (made worse by the fact someone can express this so beautifully).

Although I didn't need much convincing that form matters as well as content, I'm feeling more determined to think hard about how I communicate something, especially when teaching the Bible. I don't want to strip passages down to merely a slogan and miss the message of the form.

(oh, just to make sure everything is properly referenced - this all came from Jason Clarke, who I think was quoting Carl Trueman, who was quoting Shakespeare and presumably a car he saw at some point...)

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