Every day we are surrounded by words. We hear them in music, view them in media, speak them to others in conversation, reflect on them for meaning, and are guided by them in scripture and through prayer. Words provide identity, give direction, inspire and correct us, provoke an awakening of conscience, and inform wisdom. But little has been written about them with as much care as evidenced in Marilyn Chandler McEntyre’s narrative. She describes how words penetrate, guide, and subvert culture, and explains why it is urgent that we become aware of this process. As a student, I had been captivated by the following statement by Harry Blamires: “The battle for morality and reason is often lost or won when a new verbal usage is accepted or rejected” (33). McEntyre fleshes out that statement exquisitely in this short, succinct, and beautifully written text.
In this review, I will outline the core of McEntyre’s book, detailing how we engage language as it is informed by the narratives and ideas of those who preceded us, how it is important for us as teachers today, and how it may be presented as being important to the students we serve in the future. Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies begins with a word of gratitude, and then moves on to explore twelve stewardship strategies for considering both why and how we should care for words. I will divide these twelve strategies into three themes: why words are worthy of care (love, truth, and lies); why words are worthy of discernment (read, converse, share stories, and love sentences); and why words need to be life-giving (poetry, translation, play, pray, and silence).