Of Cursing and Vile Speech … Let the Reader Beware
As a young lad, I was taught by my parents to avoid at high cost the offense of “bad language.” From my earliest recollection, there seemed to be a bit of a ranking. The more minor infractions were replacement words like “Darnit” or “heck.” Those were modified to avoid the actual cursing of damnation or hell. At the top of the list, was taking God’s name in vain, expressed most dramatically by the exclamation of “G— D——-!.” Let the reader interpret.
Apart from these words, another category existed. This was considered “vile speech.” The oft-repeated replacement word for “dung” and the dreaded “F-word” were never to be uttered around or by any of our family. Violations of both cursing and forms of vile speech were punishable by spanking. Moreover, this kind of language was generally unacceptable, both in school and in the broader social environment.
My how times have changed! I recently read that Navy Seals use the “F-word” so commonly that it is seemingly an essential part of their work jargon! It likely would not earn a Seal of Approval from their mothers.
This issue came front and center to my attention when my wife and I recently saw the film, The Monuments Men. The film is based on a true story in book form by American author Robert Edsel. What great irony to have a film purporting to honor men who cared passionately about preserving great works of art, while often blaspheming the name of the Creator and using vile speech. A truly classic moment of the most vile of ironies came near the end of the film.
Spoiler alert: A precious art treasure had been located in a German mine: The Madonna of Bruges sculpture. It was an art piece that had been most sought-after by the lead actor, played by George Clooney. In discovering its location, The Monuments Men had to scramble to get the sculpture out of the mine before the Russians could arrive to claim the grounds. As the men were taking this beautiful piece from the mine—this Madonna figure of Mary holding the Christ child—several men repeated over and over, “Holy Sh—-!!” Let the reader interpret.
You’ve got to be kidding me!!?? Did NO ONE catch the absolutely totally inappropriate use of that phrase at that moment? Rather than stand in awe and respect of both the art and its meaning, the film despicably cheapens the moment with vile sacrilege. Abominable.
This blog is geared toward a message for the workplace. So let me summarize by saying that vile talk and cursing has become much more common everywhere. While we cannot mandate people change speech behavior in their private worlds, people of faith can and should become more vocal about its offensiveness. In a culture saturated by “political correctness,” this demand for correctness may be our fortress of opportunity.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” The chapter has more to say on our moral conditioning and is worth a read. Christ followers may need a refresher course on these matters.
If you are in a position of leadership, then set some standards for appropriate speech in the workplace. And if you are offended by the increasing use of foul language, speak up. If you dare.
Getting this message across to an increasingly vile world, is a true work of art.
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