Faiths in Their Pronouns: Websites of Identity
Sussex Academic Press, 2002 - 245 pages
The pronoun is the very mother tongue of thought. Family, friends, kind and race, nation and society, the clamant "us" and "ours" of collectives, boil down to the "I" and "You" and "They," which are the transacting pronouns of all human discourse. Languages like English name their pronouns as if serving notice of an imperial habit - "I" and "Thou." Semitic tongues are more ethical and refer to "the speaking one" and "the absent one." Heirs of Greek and Latin are innocent of the subtle discriminations that are mandatory in Asian languages where the speaker is alert for social distinctions in the use of forms and pronouns. "Pronouns" are well styled, for they function on behalf of rights, powers, claims, dignities and demands. Acquisitive and discursive, they take guard on the frontiers of personality, transacting the business of existence. In every way, then, pronouns are the essence of religion: their usages dictate the liability of religious faith. Their handling is a sure clue to the idiom of a temple's creed or ritual. The aim of this book is to search the liability for pronouns as religions use them, and to discuss the doctrines and the institutions that enshrine "we" and "us" and "ours" in the "why" and "how." To "consult the web" is a fair imagery for pronouns' purpose. If the web is society, the transactable world, then the pronouns - I, we, us, ours, they, thou, you, them - come into their own in our keyboard encounters. Extending the metaphor, the net allows pronouns to intercept meaning, and to substitute for lack of clarity in argument. Pronouns are the counters in the commerce of religions - "Thou" the address of worship, "We" the community of faith, and "Who?" the perennial question in the interrogation of faith. Faiths in Their Pronouns comes to the themes of religion and literature through use of the pronoun in the sundry dialects of belief, by way of their questing rites and answering convictions.
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