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Thursday

space and Truth

I am fascinated by language, particularly the way an imperfect means of signification can somehow manage to allow us to communicate meaning to one another. So how does that process work, anyway?

Modern (postmodern, actually) literary theory will suggest that there really is no center. By "center" I mean a variety of things, all of which really coming back to Christ. You can consider the "center" to be ultimate truth, ultimate presence, universality, perfect love, and certainly God. Rather than recognizing this center and the failure of language to access it, postmodernism does not recognize the center at all. Rather, all we are left with are various signifiers that relate to one another through differences. You can think of them like a chain of representations that don't link back to any absolute meaning, because no such meaning exists for postmodernism. So, in the absence of the center is space.

This space is where the role of the Holy Spirit becomes so important for the believer. I know that I personally, as someone who has been raised in church and has been a Christian as long as I can remember, have always been a bit fuzzy on the role of the Holy Spirit. I am non-denominational and certainly believe in what many people call "moves of the Spirit," yet, even still, the concept of the Holy Spirit has seemed somewhat nebular to me. However, it is my study of literary theory, of all things, that has helped me see the Holy Spirit from a new perspective, with a new appreciation.

See, postmodernists are right insofar as they believe that words have no inherent connection to meaning. So often, Christians in particular get caught up in saying things "the right way." Though we wouldn't admit it, many of us think that if we just prayed something with the "right words," the key to heaven would fall at us from the sky, magically unlocking everything we want out of God. But that's not how language works. Nor is it how God does.

The Holy Spirit thus becomes so important because it is through Him that this space is filled. Think of the center as Christ. When we want to commune with Him in some way, have Him live within us or even just speak through us, we face a gap between ourselves and Himself, the center. This gap is the same space we see between language and true meaning. However, Christ's sacrifice and the Holy Spirit literally fills that space, bringing us into communion with Christ. It's like a beautiful act of translation, as the Holy Spirit takes the meaning in our hearts and the meaning in Christ's, and gracefully reconciles them, becoming a channel through which we can meaningfully know Truth, and to a certain extent, become Truth as He lives in us.

That it what it means to be a believer.

May you walk with assurance that your voice is heard by the Creator of all language and Love.

Ashley

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