I literally had to wait thousands of years in line…
The car behind me was literally up my tailpipe…
She literally hit the roof when that raccoon came parachuting into the living room…
One needs not ask the question, “Do you know someone who overuses the word, ‘literally’?” We all do. One Englerican (or Ameringlish) tendency is to mutate–or mutilate–a word’s definition and usage. I love words and their meanings–“Words mean something!” I often tell my husband.
To me, it’s abuse to use a word like “literally” out of context or loosely. He who uses such a word too liberally jeopardizes his credibility.
Dictionary.com defines “literal” (the adjective form of “literally”) as follows:
“in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.”
But if you google “define literally“, a second definition is given:
“Used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true: – I have received literally thousands of letters”
Sigh. To what point has our language sunk, when a word becomes its own antonym? How is it that a word’s caricature is used as often as its original meaning?
With such treatment of this poor, defenseless word, it’s no surprise that it no longer carries its proper weight. For that matter, it seems few words have kept their intended meanings. I find this tragic.
Why is this? What are we trying to accomplish? Why do we think following word-trends displays a fresh, ‘hip’ persona? Do we not understand that doing so threatens to disembowel so many meaningful terms?
Do our words carry any value, or are they all up for personal interpretation? Is there no sacred standard by which to define them? If not, doesn’t all communication become vulnerable to this verbal cannibalization?
Let’s take a look at a well-known statement in a well-known Book:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
…is this literal? Or is it an ethereal, nebulous shell that you fill with your own marshmallowy meaning? Since the very word ‘literal’ no longer means what it should, I can really make of this statement whatever I want, and fit in convenient partial-truths (anti-truths?). For instance, ‘God’ really might be interpreted ‘enlightened essence’, and ‘created’ can now mean ‘developed’ or ‘evolved’….
…and down the slippery slope we slide. (say that ten times, really fast) 🙂
How about this one:
“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.”
Okay, since ‘literal’ is really not, maybe ‘one’ here means ‘three‘……or more.
See what I mean?
The question is (and here I arrive at the guts of this post), does God really intend for us to take Him seriously, literally, in the original sense of the word?
If so, then:
God did create the earth. Literally.
There is, and always has been, only one God. ONE. Literally.
He set in order a literal plan for mankind. Literally.
He came to us Himself, in flesh, literally.
He healed people and performed amazing miracles. Literally.
The Promise of this adoption is for you and me. Literally.
Those who have received this literal adoption have literal hope for a literal heaven. Literally (I couldn’t resist).
For those who take Him at His Word, He rewards them. Literally. 🙂
Give Him a chance to prove Himself…what if He really does mean what He said, in all scripture? What impact would this have on your life? What literal changes do you need to make?