Apropos of our discussion yesterday about the insertion of 'inclusive' pronouns into Liturgy, come these passages from The Cloister Walk, this time from the chapter entitled The War on Metaphor, pg. 154:
Poets believe in metaphor, and that alone sets them apart from many Christians, particularly people educated to be pastors and church workers. As one pastor of Spencer Memorial - by no means a conservative on theological or social issue - once said in a sermon, many Christians can no longer recognize that the most significant part of the first line of “Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war” is the word “as.”
Kathleen Norris laments the loss of metaphor from the language of many reformers, with drier phrases inserted to replace the richer language of poetry, giving as an example a version of the Lord's Prayer whose first line is Our Father, who is our deepest reality:
Metaphor is valuable to us precisely because it is not vapid, not a blank word such as “reality” that has no grounding in the five senses. Metaphor draws on images from the natural world, from our senses, and from the world of human social structures, and yokes them to psychological and spiritual realities in such a way that we're often left gasping; we have no way to fully explain a metaphor's power, it simply is. What I find offensive about some new bible translations is the way in which they veer toward abstraction and away from metaphor. The new Inclusive Language new Testament and Psalms published by Oxford is an egregious example. The translation committee omitted metaphors of darkness as being too close to “darkies,” and therefore racist. Thus John 1:5 is rendered, dully, as “The light shines in the deepest night, and the night did not overcome it.” The question this new literalism raises for me is what time of the night? 1 A.M., or 3? The fact that the translators imagine “night” to be an adequate substitute for “darkness” only proves that they have a seriously impoverished understanding of metaphor and the nature of language.
What these liturgical reformers need to understand is that by changing beloved hymns and prayers in what is so obviously a political way, thay are having the following effect: their attempts to make the litergy more inclusive works to make me, and many like me, feel excluded.
And I can't help wondering if that's their goal.