A marvelous invention, the paragraph

The paragraph is a marvelous invention. Within a visual unit of words and sentences a principal idea is captured and featured. Over the centuries the size of paragraphs has shrunk, but some still protest over single-sentence blocks.

Not all prescriptions for paragraphs function in all types of writing. But everyone works with some definition and concept of the paragraph.

We’ve encouraged our Fellows to write at least a paragraph a day. Often, one paragraph leads to another, as the mind expands on the main idea. But a paragraph per post works well, as long, of course, as the content is complete and edifying. No worries about that, with our Fellows.

Some works on exegesis and hermeneutics suggest identifying paragraphs in the Bible. Although the original languages had none, the idea appears to recommend identifying units of thought and transitions between them. Quite a good suggestion to respect context.

In non-biblical texts, movement from one paragraph to the next ought to demonstrate some sort of progression or flow. The mind looks for connections and, not finding them, feels lost or confused. The reader often abandons the disconnected writing.

The paragraph, then, appears to be a simple thing, but it can often provide tough challenges. Carmen Agra Deedy wrote, “I find that it takes a lot of years of living, and many more of reckoning, to come up with one worthwhile paragraph. And when a deadline looms, prayer doesn’t hurt, either.”

Not a bad suggestion. When writing and maybe even when reading, a paragraph and a prayer might be just the answer.

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¶ John Scott doesn’t like locker-room talk that he heard from a presidential candidate. He calls it “lewd, disgusting talk.” When Christians get involved in politics, they find themselves overlooking some serious indecency.

¶ The lastest issue of Biblica is out, available online for free. I’ve read one article, am in the middle of another. It’s good to work through challenging material now and again. One even gains an insight or two.

¶ If God is patient, in the face of violence, injustice, and sin, can his people not be? Are we holier than he is? Or do we feel the need to give the divine will a boost, putting Hagar in Abram’s tent?

¶ You can say things in many a different way. The book of Esther demonstrates divine providence without once mentioning God by name. The author takes the understated route, and quite a good one, considering how the Lord worked at that moment. (As if we’re one to judge the choices of an author of Scripture.)

¶ In this age of crass public discourse, is the understated route a possibility still? Or might it just stand out by the contrast it makes with the in-your-face style prevalent today?

¶ Famous people are often rebellious, Num 16.1-2. Why is it we feel so proud when we have them in our midst? Does their presence among us somehow validate our faith in our minds? Isn’t that the craziest thought?

¶ How is God a hidden God, Isa 45.15? The Message translates it as his being “a God who works behind the scenes.” The prophet seems to be saying something besides God being an invisible spirit. Zerr wrote that the phrase is “an acknowledgement that the God of Israel is a mystery to the foolish inhabitants of the earth. His power to overthrow human governments is beyond all calculations, and that power was to be manifested by saving Israel.” Who can fathom the mind and power of God? Maybe Isaiah is thinking of Deut 29.29 here, reckon?

¶ If the previous Bible reference is beautiful, then Deut 28.28 is terrifying, part of the curse on Israel for abandoning God’s covenant: “The Lord will also subject you to madness, blindness, and confusion of mind.” For a minute, I thought he was describing the early 21st century.

Eph 4.17-24 presents the dark side of the pagan (worldly) mind: futility of thinking, darkened understanding, ignorance from hard hearts, callousness, indecency, impurity with greediness, corruption through deceitful desires. Not a pretty picture either, is it?

Mankind hasn’t changed much over the millennia.

¶ Thanks to the truth in Jesus, we have a new life and are constantly “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” Eph 4.23. I want that. With all my being.

How about you?