Monday, April 23, 2012


"My thinking has led me to believe that there is a collective cultural consciousness or memory which is related to words. I would suggest that there are two parts to it: a collective memory of a specific race, and a collective memory of all men as to what man is and what reality is.

Thus man, in his language, "remembers" (regardless of his personal belief) that God does exist. For example, when the Russian leaders curse, they curse by God, and not by something less; and atheistic artists often use "god" symbols. This, I believe, is a deeper yet simpler explanation than Jung's view of god as the supreme archetype arising (according to him) out of the evolution of the race. Moreover, in man's language, man also remembers that humanity is unique (created in the image of God), and therefore words like purpose, love, morals carry with them in connotation their real meaning. This is the case regardless of the individual's personal worldview and despite what the dictionary or scientific textbook definition has become.

At times the connotation of the word is deeper and more "unconscious" than its definition. The use of such words trigger responses to a greater degree in line with what the specific race has thought they mean and how it has acted on their meaning, and to a lesser degree in line with what really is and what man is. I would further suggest that after the worldview and experiences of the race form the definition and connotation of the words of any specific language, then that language as a symbol system becomes the vehicle for keeping alive and teaching this worldview and experience.

It would therefore seem to me that the whole matter is primarily one of language, as man thinks and communicates in language. I would say that in this context the division of languages at the tower of Babel is an overwhelmingly profound moment of history."

--Francis Schaeffer, in a footnoote in The God Who is There

(I would just like to add that he is quickly becoming for me now what C. S. Lewis was for me in high school and college. Blowing my mind, seriously.)

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