I should be reading, but the content of what I have been reading compels me to write.
First, in a class session discussion on the intricacies of Bible interpretation, we were presented with the idea that the goal of interpretation is discovering the author’s intended meaning. Seems fair enough. Within this there is something called the Speech-Act theory, which carries the assumption “that authors or speakers write or speak with a purpose; words have a performative function.” (Class notes…not my idea). Thus, I learned three new words: locution, illocution, and perlocution.
Locution: the words employed on the page.
Illocution: the author’s intended impact on the readers.
Perlocution: the thing/response the author intends for his reader.
So, if I write, “Jesus loves you,” my locution is, “Jesus loves you.” My illocution (impact) on you is, “There is hope.” And my perlocution (response I intend to incite in you) is, “live life in a spirit of Christian brotherhood.” Now you know.
In a book called The Next Christendom, the author writes the following,
“Middle Eastern Christian communities flourished until they were devastated by a series of wars, expulsions, and population exchanges between 1915 and 1925, during and immediately following World War I. … Iraq, too, had a venerable Christian community that in the 1980s might have accounted for some 4 percent of the population. Since that point, though, it has been gravely reduced by the combined effects of war, sanctions, and persecution, and many Christian leaders have been murdered. Quite conceivably, Christian life in Iraq might entirely disappear within a few decades (33).”*
The book overall is startling in its announcement that Christianity is more widespread in the Global South than the stereotypical White Western World, but (perhaps because two of my three deployments to Iraq had me rooming and flying with uber-Christians who believed their service to the country via the military was tied to their Christianity at the least, and at the most a bizarre self-manifestation of biblical prophecy) on the whole as I read about Iraq’s demographics I felt an acute sadness.
Lest any of you think my schooling is having the intended effect of opening the pearly gates for little ol’ me, I also wanted to share that I recently have come to hate suburban Coloradans in large pick-up trucks. That I harbored this attitude came to my attention a month or so ago when I was being tailgated by one such devil and was having nearly physiological manifestations of anger that I could not explain. As I attempted to process them through venting to my brother, I realized that my anger was justified by the reality that my Elantra, and its passengers, would suffer great damage if contact was made with such a tailgater.
Well, on Friday, after picking up H-, out of the corner of my eye I saw one of these trucks essentially run a stop sign on a side street and end up behind me. His errand was clearly more important than mine and so he attempted to let his truck inform me of this fact. In a classic case of developing road rage, when he saw I wasn’t going to accelerate beyond the speed limit for his pleasure, he thought he perceived an opening in the right-hand lane and aggressively changed lanes in order to take it. Calling upon my inner-asshole, I mildly accelerated to ensure that there was no room between me and the car in front of him. He then got behind me and quickly closed in again. I depressed the brake pedal enough to illuminate the lights, but not give rise to contact between us.
I think he honked next, as he waited for the car in the right lane to move relatively forward enough for that to be his better option. I lowered my window and using sign language told him that he could go fuck himself. As he pulled up alongside me, I looked over and saw his window lowering, so I lowered my passenger window. I wonder if I, with my gorgeously Jason Statham-themed hair/gruff, rimless glasses, and Kansas City Royal’s World Series royal blue hoodie, in my compact car appeared as cliche as he and his white, bald, bearded head, in his monster truck appeared. He shouts, “What the fuck is your problem?” I answer, “What’s your problem?” (Admit nothing, deny everything, make immediate counter-accusation. Works every time. Ha.) He informs me that I am his problem, then he rapidly moves to my mom being his problem (?). Then, with exponential speed (I can’t make this up) my mom becomes a “black bitch” and the conversation concludes with his confused facial expression as I dispassionately yell, “I like your truck!” before we each go our own ways.
H- was confused by the situation and wondered aloud why he called me a girl, when I clearly wasn’t one, and so yeah, I guess there must have been another round of banter before my idea of Christian brotherhood manifested as a compliment regarding his vehicle choice.
On the whole, the entire event has me contemplating becoming a hermit. What do you think?
This post’s locution–read it again. Illocution: “arouse empathetic feelings that despite my espousing lofty ideals, I am living in the same world as you, in the same condition.” Perlocution: “Don’t placate to monster truck driving imbeciles, really give some thought to how effectively fighting spreads the Gospel, and pray for me.”
*Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. New York: Oxford UP, 2011.