To maintain usable and reliable language – to be good stewards of words – we have at least to do these three things: (1) deepen and sharpen our reading skills, (2) cultivate habits of speaking and listening that foster precision and clarity, and (3) practice poesis – to be makers and doers of the word. For these purposes we need regularly to exercise the tongue and ear: indulge in word play, to delight in metaphor, to practice specificity and accuracy, to listen critically and refuse cliches and sound bites that substitute for authentic analysis. Such deliberate focus on language is not to be simply dismissed as an elitist enterprise. With over 26 million functionally illiterate people in this country, those of us who voluntarily and regularly pick up books, newspapers, and Bibles do, in fact, belong to a privileged group. Our job is not to eschew that privilege but to use it for the sake of the whole.
From “Caring for Words In A Culture of Lies” by Marilyn McEntyre – Eerdmans Publishing