In John Roberts’ America, Words Mean Nothing

In John Roberts’ America, Words Mean Nothing.

words-2For our word feature today, we are going to post something that could be taken as rather negative. But truth is truth, and the truth is always positive, also when it exposes the lie in negative terms.

I found this online article by Kim Holmes in the July 5, 2015 “Daily Signal” (Heritage Foundation’s daily commentary) about Supreme Court Justice John Robert’s distorted use of language in the recent Obamacare decision to be quite revealing. And I think my readers will agree. It touches on something vitally important in our postmodern – and, I might add, post-Christian – world.

Can we agree, therefore, to maintain (and practice!) that words must mean what they are intended to convey? There is, after all, objective reality in words too. And we cannot function properly without such objectivity. Just consider the collection of words in the image I chose. Can “Michigan” – to take one example – mean whatever I want it to mean? Can the meaning of that word change from decade to decade? You get the point.

And shall we not then be a people who “speak the truth in love” no matter what the issue is and to whom we are speaking it? Our Lord had something to say to this too when He said in his great sermon, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matt.5:37).

Here’s the beginning of Holmes’ article. Find all of it at the link above.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s lament last week that “words no longer have meaning” got me to thinking. I don’t claim to know Chief Justice John Roberts’ motivations in deciding in favor of Obamacare, but I do know that his deconstruction of the meaning of language is increasingly commonplace in our culture. Could his willingness to bend the meaning of the word “states” indicate something larger than what’s happening to the law? Could it actually be a sign of a major cultural shift in the country?

Welcome to postmodern America. For decades now, we have been living in a culture where the meaning of words is stretched almost beyond recognition. “Metanarratives” ring truer than actual facts. Self-prescribed identities trump everything, including nature. A white woman can blithely claim she is black, but when challenged, the only thing she can muster in her defense is irritable confusion and a declaration of how she “identifies.” A man announces he’s a woman and is celebrated as a hero.

Chief Justice Roberts may have had legal and political reasons for ignoring the common usage of words, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that, like so many others in our culture, he felt that being a stickler for a word’s actual meaning was just pedantic, a trivial matter when compared to the importance of some larger cause—in his case, delivering what he thought Congress really intended.

And why should we blame him? After all, if the prevailing wisdom says that a person’s gender or race is what he or she says it is, then why fuss over the meaning of the word “states”? Words mean what we say they mean, right?

The Core Principle of Productivity – M.Perman

Here it is: Know what’s important and put it first.

…This principle becomes especially clear when we contrast it with its opposite. A lot of times we simply seek to capture and organize all the things vying for our attention, thinking that if we can just get all those things under control, we will then have time to do the important things.

But that never works. The smaller tasks always multiply, so if you try to take a bottom-up approach to your productivity, you will be directed by the course of events rather than charting your own course and accomplishing the things you are called to do.

What you need to do is define what’s important first and then take a look at what’s before you and identify what you are and are not going to do. This is a top-down, proactive approach to getting things done.

It doesn’t mean that the little stuff doesn’t matter or that it can be overlooked. Much of the little stuff does need to be done. But identifying the most important things and doing them first makes the smaller stuff fall into place. The reverse approach – focusing on the smaller things and trying to fit the larger stuff in where you can – does not work and is a recipe for frustration.

I think Stephen Covey has stated this the best: ‘Don’t prioritize your schedule; schedule your priorities.’ That’s the core principle in seven words. You can’t do everything, so identify the most important things and make everything else work around them.

Whats Best Next -PermanMatt Perman in chapter 10, “The Core Principle for Making Yourself Effective,” as found in What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014), pp.131-32.