Let me repeat. Theories about religion are not theologies. Theorizing about religion is not doing theology. Religious theorizers are not theologians.

This is my theme. A negative one. Rather abstract, and not self-evident at all. Is it worth bringing up, let alone arguing?

Thomas Aquinas once said that wise people do not worry much about names. By that standard, there is a lot of unwisdom around. Both Madison Avenue and Hollywood would have to go out of business if it ever got around that names don’t matter. But, if names in themselves are unimportant, meanings are not. Aquinas himself spent a great part of his life explaining the meanings of words and distinguishing carefully between one term and another. Words used in such a way that they confuse rather than enlighten become agents of untruth.

One can manipulate words in order to confuse, as did the politician who said of his opponent, “It is a widely known fact, and has never been denied by him, that before his marriage he constantly practiced bachelorhood.” Propaganda agencies in the modern world have multiplied the unscrupulous manipulation of words for the purpose of manipulating people until the Big Lie has become almost an accepted commonplace of contemporary life.

In his horrific novel of a future controlled by a few huge totalitarian empires, George Orwell envisages a time when all language will be rigidly directed toward making people incapable of distinguishing between truth and lies their rulers want them to believe. Continual exposure to the slogans “War Is Peace,” “Slavery Is Freedom,” “Hatred Is Love” is the lot of the citizens described in 1984, and Orwell says that the language they are being taught to adopt is called “doublespeak.”

Doublespeak, however, can ...

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