Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Original Meaning vs. "Liken All Things Unto Ourselves"

This probably is going to sound a bit strange coming from someone who is a hardcore parser in so many instances, but I have heard some people argue against the practice of likening all things unto ourselves, based on the idea that changing what people meant originally does violence to their understanding and twists meaning to fit whatever we want it to be.  I understand and appreciate that concern (especially given how strongly I feel about parsing), and I've written here about my issue with how parables often are distorted beyond recognition, but . . .

"They become agents unto themselves, to act rather than to be acted upon."

This pretty much sums up my philosophy when it comes to life and these things. I care deeply about what quotes meant originally to those who said them. However, IF there's a better way for me personally to take them with regard to my own life and circumstances, I can recognize and accept what I perceive to be the appropriate meaning for me now without having to agree with the original meaning of the speaker - even in cases where the original speaker was a prophet and apostle.

In that sense, I intentionally choose to act rather than be acted upon. It's a fine line, but it's an important one to me.

1 comment:

Paul said...

I think we all do this, whether we acknowledge it or not. The key is to be honest about when we walk away from original meaning (or intent, if understood). It's akin to saying, "I know that originally X said Y, but I also find value in applying it thus...."