Friday, November 12, 2004

King James Speak

I've been keeping up with Bob Jones's letter to the president, the one the Josh Marshall keeps coming back to.

My own take on this, besides the scary thought that Bush might actually think like this rather than just be playing the role of someone who thinks like this, is that the whole Red-Blue divide is increasingly an aesthetic and linguistic choice.

As I read Bob Jones's [Jones', if you prefer] letter, I can help but to keep coming back to the language:

Dear Prez:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

Christ said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour” (John 12:26).

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you—that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes. Sincerely your friend,
Bob Jones III

This whole "king-james" speak reeks of the Old Testament to me.
What's funny, is that the evangelicals that I know, use this phraseology all the time in their normal speaking. Last year we had a family of missionaries staying in our house. I spare you the whole story: very nice people, 26 years old, 4 young boys, living in beat-up RV until they moved to Madgascar to setup a charity school to teach english AS IT IS SPOKEN IN THE KING JAMES VERSION of the bible. Yes, they actually consciously or unconsciously adopted the same rhetorical figures. On some level, it sounded absurd. It was absurd. On the other, it was chilling.

The problem is not that we're going back linguistically to the late Middle Ages/Early-Modern period--I don't beleive in linguistic progress, only linguistic change. The problem is that we're going back to the the same friggin' mentalities of that enlightened time. The linguistic codes mirror this and seem to be a trait of recognition among the "beleivers."

The world is getting stranger. Teaching King James's English is both a symptom of these groups' subjugation (mental, linguistic...) to thier cause and a trope for recognizing the knowing.