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Articles    H2'ed 4/5/15

A Reply to Burl Hall's Nostalgic Article "Can a Verb Based Language Bring Peace to the Planet?"

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Message William Smith

Originally Published on OpEdNews

Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) April 5, 2015: Burl Hall has published a deeply nostalgic article at OpEdNews.com that I find deeply problematic for several reasons: "Can a Verb Based Language Bring Peace to the Planet?" (dated April 4, 2015).

My reply to the question he poses in the title is, "No."

Burl Hall mentions David A. Cooper's book GOD IS A VERB: KABBALAH AND THE PRACTICE OF MYSTICAL JUDAISM (1997).

Fine. I have no problem with thinking of God as a verb.

However, in the English language, the verb in Cooper's title is "IS."

President Bill Clinton famously said something about the meaning of "is."

I discuss forms of the copulative verb "to be" in my book WALTER ONG'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO CULTURAL STUDIES: THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE WORD AND I-THOU COMMUNICATION (rev. ed., 2015, pages 14, 15). I discuss briefly the history of the verb "to be" and the efforts to replace forms of "to be" with action verbs -- the efforts to advance so-called E-Prime (short for English-Prime).

MY CENTRAL CONCERN

But my central concern with Burl Hall's deeply nostalgic article does not center on his title referring to verb-based language.

Nor do I have any problem with the idea of God's immanence in all of the cosmos or in individual persons.

Nor do I have any problem with acknowledging various mystical traditions.

Basically, my central concern with Burl Hall's nostalgic article centers on his use of examples from primary oral cultures and residual forms of primary oral cultures.

The American Jesuit cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong (1912-2003) describes people in primary oral cultures as having a world-as-event sense of life.

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