It’s Slanderous

Returning home from a long hiatus to the onslaught of twenty-four hour news and political advertising, I discovered that our local political races have become infected with the same vitriolic, hate filled, viciousness of the national political scene.  For instance, a race between two highly qualified candidates for sheriff, both of the same party, has been fouled by daily letters to the editor competing with each other for who can write the most disgusting, ill informed and unverified accusations about one candidate or the other.  
In a community filled with churches, and with the dominant conservative political ethos strongly identifying itself as Christian, I wonder if it would be well to reflect on a reading from Ecclesiasticus (also known as Sirach).   I realize that the standard Protestant bible doesn’t include Ecclesiasticus, so I’ve copied it below. The following is taken from the 28th chapter.

Curse the gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many. Slander has shaken many, and scattered them from nation to nation; it has destroyed strong cities, and overturned the houses of the great. Slander has driven virtuous women from their homes, and deprived them of the fruit of their toil. Those who pay heed to slander will not find rest, nor will they settle down in peace. 

The blow of a whip raises a welt, but a blow of the tongue crushes the bones. Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not as many as have fallen because of the tongue. Happy is the one who is protected from it, who has not been exposed to its anger, who has not borne its yoke, and has not been bound with its fetters. For its yoke is a yoke of iron, and its fetters are fetters of bronze; its death is an evil death, and Hades is preferable to it… 

…As you fence in your property with thorns, so make a door and a bolt for your mouth. As you lock up your silver and gold, so make balances and scales for your words. Take care not to err with your tongue, and fall victim to one lying in wait. 

3 thoughts on “It’s Slanderous”

  1. Yes, the local race for sheriff is amazingly bitter and \”slanderous\”, but it is virtually the only contested race in this election, at least locally. We live here in a virtual one-party area in eastern Washington, like elections were in the Soviet Union, mostly un-contested (or like the South of my boyhood, where every candidate was Democrat–and conservative! Here it is just a mirror opposite (partially)–Republican and conservative. The last Democrat from this area in any elective office died 2 years ago! And he had predicted that he woule be the last!)Every local election is now a matter of personalities, so character assasination is the normal mode of public discourse. Dr B

  2. I also wanted to express my appreciation for your use of the quote from the book of Ecclesiasticus, in the Apocrypha. I don't know how many of your blog readers will have access to that book, since it, and all the Apocryphal books were deleted from most Protestant Bibles printed in the US since the early 19th century, and many might confuse it with Ecclesiastes, which is in those Bibles. Even most Episcopalians probably do not have the Apocrypha in their Bibles, unless they have a rather recent and newer translation that includes those books. They were translated by the King James translators, although printed all together between the Old and New Testaments, but in America the market for Bibles was overwhelmingly for versions that excluded them, as most American Protestants were Nonconformists, who actually believed that they were ungodly and dangerous to read! You quote the author as \”Sirach\”, avoiding the more confusing name \”Jesus,Son of Sirach\” (from the Greek form of the author's name, since those books only survived in their Greek translation, from the Septuagint).

  3. I was glad to see that you ran part of this blog as an essay in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin on Nov. 7. It was very timely,coming soon after the acrimonious election we had a few days before. Dr B

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