In this eleventh video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne starts to look at word connections between words that do not have the same number of letters, where it is necessary to add one or two letters. If we do not want to be like Narcissus and only to hear our own voice, we must open our spiritual eyes and ears. This will lead to a seed being planted in our heart. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbour: love – other – theos. It is “love” that makes us “whole” (without the initial “w”, a letter that resembles the number “3” and can be taken to refer to the Holy Trinity, all we have is a “hole”). There is a second video on this theme: “Addition of Letters (1)”.
In this ninth video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at the order of letters in the alphabet and how this can be used to make word connections. It was foreign workers in Egypt in the second millennium BC who came up with the idea of using not hieroglyphs for writing (hieroglyphs represented words or syllables), but letters that represented individual sounds, a much more cost-effective way of writing, since you only need 20-30 letters to write down the different words, but hundreds of hieroglyphs. This idea was taken on by the Phoenicians, the traders of the ancient world, from where it passed to Greece and Rome, becoming the Latin alphabet we use today.
In this sixth video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne continues looking at connections between words in the English language, again using the same letters, but this time changing their order, rearranging the letters. Once we rearrange the letters, sometimes reading the words back to front, we can no longer claim that the connection is because of etymology, the evolution of words over time, with us as the cause of their development. Spiritual meaning is hidden, so in order to discover this meaning we must be willing to make slight changes to the words – changes, however, that always follow a fixed set of rules (phonetics, alphabet, appearance).
In this and the next three articles I am going to look at the rules for making word connections. In this article we will look at connections between words that have the same letters, be they in the same order or in a different order. We have seen examples of these, how HUMAN is a combination of HU and MAN, for example, or LISTEN has the same letters as SILENT, but the letters have been rearranged. We have also seen contractions (I’LL-ILL, WE’LL-WELL). In this section I include words that sound the same (for example, EYE and I), also changes that involve the semi-vowels (i-j/y, u-w), the letter c (pronounced k or s) and the letters ph (pronounced f). Sometimes it is necessary to double a letter, as in the example BELIEVE-BELLY EVE, which we saw in the previous article.
I worked out these word connections simply by taking a pencil and writing down the words on a piece of paper, jumbling up the letters to see what I could find. When the words have the same letters in the same order, we need to divide them at some point to find a deeper meaning. Others are homophones (they sound the same, although they are spelt differently). We may change the letters if they are i, u, c and ph, as I mentioned above, or double a letter. You may like to have a go before looking at the connections I made, so here are the words we are going to look at that involve keeping the letters in the same order. See what you can find:
HEEL SOLE (homophones)
And here are the words that involve the same letters, but in a different order. Again, see what connections you can find, bearing in mind the semi-vowels i-j/y, u-w, the correspondence c-k/s and f-ph and the doubling of a letter:
ANGEL DOGMA DUNE HADES MIRACLE NOSTALGIA
CRIME GUIDE (i-j/y)
ANGER BAA BE EARTH GERM POISED SUMMER (double letter)
Words contain meaning. This may or may not be the meaning that we give them. They have something to tell us about human life, about God, about the purpose of our existence on earth and our ultimate destination. They are encoded. Just as the body has DNA, so words have DNA. We need to put them under the microscope and to see what we can find. In this sense, language is like the human body or the environment. They reveal things on closer inspection, we discover wonders if only we pay attention. Unfortunately we spend much of our time thinking that words, like the human body, like the environment, have been put there for our use and we are far too busy to consider that they may have a meaning of their own, a message they wish to transmit, a testimony they wish to give. This is a sign of our spiritual blindness. We are born into this world physically blind, but we soon overcome this. Our spiritual blindness remains, however, and it is some time before it begins to go away. This usually coincides with a spiritual experience. We become aware of another level to existence. It isn’t just what we can see with our physical eyes, it isn’t just two- or three-dimensional. There is another level, one we hadn’t been aware of before, and this conditions our behaviour. We start to repent of our previous behaviour, when we took what was there for our own benefit and enjoyment, without a thought for the consequences. The other takes on a new importance, we understand that they are intrinsic to our salvation and deserving of our respect, they are not put there for our benefit or enjoyment, just as language, the body and the environment are not purely utilitarian things for me to exploit, for me to express my opinion, for me to get what I want. We are in a relationship, and it is that relationship with the other that will save us. Difficulties are inevitable, because the world doesn’t necessarily see things the same way we do. Some still believe we are here to make money, to make a profit, to make ourselves as comfortable as can be. For some, this existence is all there is, and their aim is to extract as much as possible. The philosophy ‘live for the day’ – carpe diem – can easily lead in this direction. But the world is a spiritual womb. We are here to learn, to grow spiritually, and this necessarily involves some suffering. We are to receive the good times joyfully, but to endure any difficulties that come our way patiently. This engenders a sense of humility. This planet wasn’t put here for my sole enjoyment and it doesn’t revolve around me, much as we may resent this. We are here to learn to love, to turn the EGO to GOD, to count down from LIVE/EVIL to LOVE, to fulfil our potential and become the person we are meant to be. The world is a spiritual nursery. And death is perhaps not the end – that is only our perspective – rather it is a second birth, a spiritual birth, when we are forced out of the spiritual womb we have been in for three score years and ten into new surroundings. Death, for me, real death, is separation from God, not the end of our physical existence on earth, which is a tunnel, an opening, a new beginning, just as the exit from our mother’s womb was.
So we may take ourselves APART, but we are still A PART. What I do influences others, and what others do influences me. This is surely obvious at the time of the Coronavirus, with which I started writing these articles. LOCAL is GLOBAL – literally, because the two words are connected by the alphabetical pair b-c, addition of g. PASSION leads to spiritual death – PASS I ON. If I indulge the passions, I will come to a spiritual dead-end and then I will have a choice: either I perform a U-turn (repentance) or I insist upon my actions (spiritual death).
Life is a pilgrimage. We are here to learn. This involves walking, placing our weight first on our HEEL and then forwards on to our SOLE. What is the outcome of this process? That we HEAL our SOUL. For this, we need help – the action of the Holy Spirit; participation in the sacraments of the Church, most notably confession and communion – we must be careful not to think we can achieve this on our own. This was the attitude of the PHARISEE: FAR I SEE. They believed more in themselves than in God, sought recognition, strict adherence to a set of rules, even if these rules were not life-giving.
But what are we to believe? The Church has held seven Ecumenical Councils to write a Creed, to decide what people must believe. This is important – to establish the tenets of faith (for example, that Christ has two natures, divine and human), as a way of averting heresy (the suggestion that Christ might be anything less than fully both, a man adopted by God or God who took on the appearance of being human). But the word DOGMA itself, if we read it in reverse, says AM GOD. A simple statement that reminds us of the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush: I AM WHO I AM (Ex 3:14).
We are sensitive, sentient creatures. We have feelings. A slight breeze, and goose pimples arise on our flesh. We are naked. Look around and see where nature seems most naked, and you might come up with DUNE, the letters of which rearranged spell NUDE. Is there any part of nature that is so bare, so open to the wind?
In Greek mythology, HADES is the place where a SHADE goes. It is the place of spiritual death, of insubstantial beings who have insisted on the road of the passions. HADES is also connected to DEATH by a step in the alphabet (s-t). It is very close to EARTH (same vowels, phonetic pair d-t, alphabetical pair r-s). We must be careful. We can find ourselves in this state of spiritual death while still on earth. The important thing is how we react. And this is where a MIRACLE is performed. We look for signs and wonders. But we are surrounded by signs and wonders every day – our own existence, the existence of others, the world we inhabit, the breath of wind, the taste of food, a sudden realization, a moment of mutual recognition, the moment when a dog on a lead freezes, his body freezes, but his ears flap in the wind, young people in the stadium – a time capsule – play football against the backdrop of a mountain on which the observatory is a golf tee. How many moments are there like this in every day – the crunch of bread, the return of someone, sitting down on a sofa to watch a film that will transport us, the sip of hot tea, the sheer beauty of a newly opened rose? The true MIRACLE, for me, is when we RECLAIM ourselves, we defeat the enemy, we snatch ourselves back from the grip of sin, we present ourselves to our Creator, we dedicate ourselves to him. We don’t look back because, if we were to return to the GARDEN OF EDEN, we would only be in DANGER OF NEED again. Looking back is not the answer. This is why NOSTALGIA spells LOST AGAIN.
We have a GUIDE in Jesus Christ. He is our Saviour. He is our friend, the one who looks at me every morning, I look at him. But at the Last Judgement, when he comes again, he will be our JUDGE. These two words are connected (i-j). We mustn’t lose hope, however, because in the CRIME itself there is MERCY. All we have to do is repent of our sins and confess them to a priest. This is what we are here for, to make spiritual progress – not to make money, not to amass possessions, but to amass spiritual wealth, the virtues. ANGER won’t serve us, bearing a grudge against our enemy; if we are not careful, our ANGER will turn to GANGRENE (I have doubled the three middle letters). ANGER is also clearly connected to CANCER (phonetic pair g-k/c).
ANGER is also connected to ANGEL (there is righteous anger and it is possible to change, just as someone with a STAIN can become a SAINT). At the Second Coming, Christ will send out each ANGEL to GLEAN the field, to gather in the weeds and the wheat (we read about this in the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13). WEED and WHEAT are connected (phonetic pair d-t, addition of h), but it is interesting that only wheat has ears. This is why Christ ends the explanation of this parable with the words, ‘Let anyone with ears listen.’
We must hope to be counted among the sheep (Mt 25:32-3). What sound does a sheep make? BAA. And what other word involves these letters? ABBA. When we are sheep in the sense that Christ speaks about them, then we form part of the Father’s flock (abba is the Aramaic word for ‘father’). But it is always possible to make a mistake, to veer off in the wrong direction. If we add the letter that represents the ego in English, I, to ‘baa’, we get ‘Baal’, the name of a false god. Even here, though, even when we make a mistake, it is possible to find help if we acknowledge our need – as in the CRIME, there is MERCY, as when instead of calling upon God, AM, we say I’M, but can always add an initial h, a small puff of wind, and say HIM, so with BAAL, if we apply the phonetic pair b-p and add the letter h again, we can make the change to ALPHA and begin again.
AM-I’M-HIM. BAA-BAAL-ALPHA. CRIME-MERCY. The world is our chance to offer repentance, to fall down and get to our feet, every day if necessary, so long as our wish is to improve, to acquire the virtues, to learn to love not just our neighbour, but our enemy as ourself. Truly to love. Without a hint of lust, of self-interest, of what is in it for me. Is it so difficult? ‘All the world’s a stage,’ wrote Shakespeare in his play As You Like It. Well, if we double the letters, we will see the EARTH is a THEATRE, thereby confirming Shakespeare’s words. We are on the stage for a while, in the womb of the theatre (don’t forget the world was created by separating the waters from the waters, Gen 1:6, it is a kind of womb), but at some point the lights will go up and we will have to leave.
This is why BE in reverse reads EBB. Like the tide. Like our breathing. It is part of life. Things come and go. We must beware of those that would do us harm, especially at this time of the Coronavirus, when a GERM would MERGE with us. Spiritually speaking, we must try to avoid these germs, to wash them off with the water of renewal.
It is like when we watch television. An EPISODE is left POISED to keep our interest.
It is like when, after nature has had the chance to REWIND during WINTER (phonetic pair d-t), we RESUME in SUMMER.
Language would teach us. It is full of information. We just have to have EYES to SEE, an EAR to HEAR, so that a SEED can be planted in the EARTH of our HEART. It’s not difficult. Not really. Every day has its moments of beauty.
In the next article, we will look at word connections made by changing the vowels and the consonants – the water and flesh of language – according to phonetics, to where they are pronounced in the mouth.
Jonathan Dunne, http://www.stonesofithaca.com