Death by Words

 In Mark Twain’s tale, Roughing It, the main character travels across country by stage coach and meets a passenger unacquainted with the conversational pause. Lamenting his misfortune, the main character says “The fountains of her great deep were opened up, and she rained the nine parts of speech, forty days and forty nights, metaphorically speaking, and buried us under a desolating deluge of trivial gossip.”

Not all verbosity achieves the biblical status Twain attributes to this fictional woman. Still, less skillful chatterers sometimes force their prey to feign the flu or other temporary illnesses, anything to avoid death by words. Once, while in a local drugstore with my daughter, I spotted a man from our church, an extremely talkative man. I started backing up. “What’s the matter with you?” my daughter asked.

“Oh nothing,” I lied. I didn’t want her to have a bad opinion of Mr. Church Pillar.

“Hi there.” He appeared behind us. I lost the next 20-30 minutes as he talked non-stop. I waited for pauses, checked my watch, eyed the door. He didn’t notice. Finally, I said, “Sorry Church Pillar, I have other errands to run.”

One-sided conversations by windy wonders like Church Pillar kill friendships. And reputations. I can never think of him without connecting him with torture.

No one has yet indicted a super talker for murder. But that doesn’t mean that an abundance of words don’t kill.

Solomon must have run into a few talkers in his life. He addressed them in this proverb:

In a multitude of words transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19

About rosemccormickbrandon

An award winning personal experience writer, Rose McCormick Brandon is a frequent contributor to faith magazines, devotionals and compilations, including Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose is the author of Promises of Home: Stories of Canada's British Home Children (2014). One Good Word Makes all the Difference (2013), He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me (2012) and Vanished: What Happened to My Son. She's a frequent contributor to The Testimony, Today's Pentecostal Evangel and other faith magazines in Canada, U.S. and Australia. Rose also writes about Canadian history, specifically the era of Child Immigration from Britain. Read her stories of child immigrants at:
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3 Responses to Death by Words

  1. sounds like ‘church pillars’ are lurking everywhere

  2. Oh I can identify!!! Brenda J Wood

  3. Anne Laidlaw says:

    Bullseye! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who avoids ‘church pillars’.

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