People engage in hyperbole all the time. An example would be me in the previous sentence.
Seriously, one of the things that plagues not just American society but cultures around the world is the tendency to exaggerate in ways that inflame others, who then respond with their own inflammatory rhetoric.
A good example happened the other day when Saudi Arabia's top cleric took on Twitter, which he said is "the source of all evil and devastation."
Well, it was a radically foolish thing to say, especially coming from Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the religious leader of the kingdom and a man who only occasionally engages in crazy talk. Well, he once talked to me briefly when I was in Saudi Arabia in 2002, but I don't count that as a major mistake on his part.
He actually also said things about Twitter that were more temperate, such as "If it were used correctly, it could be of real benefit." But the money phrase about it being "the source of all evil and devasation" is what sparked debate.
Language is a powerful tool. In Jewish and Christian tradition, in fact, it was what God used to create the world. But it's so easy to misuse -- and nowadays that seems to happen more and more as a way of gaining an audience.
People of faith are obliged not to fall into the trap of hyperbole. They are to speak truth, but they must call something true only when they know it to be so. Language that uses "all" and "never" should be avoided because it so rarely bares up under scrutiny. Perhaps the Saudi cleric was wrong. Perhaps it's hyperbole that is the source of all evil and destruction. But I'd never say that. Though I did just say all of it. (You still with me?)
(If you like the image here today, you can get a T-shirt with it on here.)
* * *
A SO-SO QUIZ TO MEASURE YOUR CHRISTIANITY, IF ANY
You may identify yourself as a Christian, but are you perhaps a post-Christian? Pollster George Barna has devised this little quiz to test yourself on that. I don't like parts of the quiz because it doesn't give enough options in some of the answers. (Barna can be like that.) But my score was 67 percent, which fell within the 41-100 percent range of "More Christian than secular."