Friday, July 08, 2011

Not Listening? Absurd!

I try not to take dictionary definitions and word origins as the last word on words. Where an idea comes from doesn't always tell you much about how people use it now. Nevertheless, here's a bit of linguistic detective work to chew on. I'm "filing" this here as part of my ongoing study of the art and ministry of listening:
"The word “listening” in Latin is obedire, and audire means 'listening with great attention.' That is where the word 'obedience' comes from. Jesus is called the obedient one, that means the listener. The Latin word for not listening, being deaf, 'surdus.' If you are absolutely not listening, that is where the word 'absurd' comes from. So it might be interesting to note that somebody who is not listening is leading an absurd life."
SOURCE: Henri J. M. Nouwen, "Discovering Our Gift Through Service to Others," Speech given to members of Fadica, 199, quoted in Advent and Christmas, Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen
See also: What Makes a Good Listener (April 30, 2010)

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