Writing’s Allies

This is my hundredth post, and I wanted to pause and say thank you to all of you for taking the time to stop by. When you read, comment or click that ‘Like’ button, it’s very encouraging to me. As I write, I don’t want to only play the critic, because I think that’s corrosive to you and to me—it’s one of the difficult aspects of blogging today. I don’t want to write just to be ‘right’, but because there are things of truth and beauty, love and wonder that are worth explaining, persuading, and fighting for. When our understanding and actions are joined to truth, a tight connection is formed that ultimately brings joy to our lives. Truth has always been very important to me, I think in part because I’ve seen such devastating consequences to people when they follow lies in their thinking and living.

Writing Lunette Library of CongressAs I was looking for images on truth, I came across these photographs from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There are three sets of bronze doors at the main entrance. “Warner and Herbert Adams’s Art of Writing is allied with Research and Truth on the south doors.”1

“In the lunette of the door, a female figure is seated in the center, holding a pen in her hand and with a scroll spread open in her lap. Beside her stand two little children, whom she is teaching to read or write. To the right and left are four figures representing the peoples who have had the greatest influence on the world through their written memorials and literature: the Egyptian and the Jew to the right, and the Christian and Greek to the left. The Jew and the Christian are represented as kneeling, in allusion to the religious influence they have exerted. The former holds a staff in his hand, and may be taken as one of the ancient Jewish patriarchs; the latter bears a cross. The Greek has a lyre for Poetry, and the Egyptian holds a stylus in his hand.

Truth & Research Library of Congress“The standing figures in the door proper are of women, and represent Truth (on the left) and Research (on the right). Research holds the torch of knowledge or learning, and Truth a mirror and a serpent, the two signifying that in all literature, wisdom (of which the serpent is the emblem) and careful observation (typified by the mirror, with its accurate reflection of external objects) must be joined in order to produce a consistent and truthful impression upon the reader. The smaller panels below contain a design of conventional ornament with cherubs supporting a cartouche, on which the mirror or serpent of the larger panels is repeated.”2

The artists used biblical imagery. I thought of these verses.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Matthew 10:16 KJV
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:21–25

I found a panel in one of the interior ceilings that also uses imagery for truth.

Light of Truth Library of CongressIn this blue panel, the spirit of Truth tramples the Dragon of Ignorance and Falsehood and reaches to heaven for a ray of light with which to inflict the final wounds. The cherubs hold the level, the plumb, the square, and the Bible, each considered an agent in the presence of Universal Law.3

There are again echoes of biblical imagery, and it’s significant that the book held in Truth’s fight is the Bible.

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Revelation 12:9
Therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
I will make justice the measuring line
And righteousness the level;
Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies
And the waters will overflow the secret place.”
Isaiah 28:16–17
…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:16–17
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Hebrews 4:12–13

My continuing ambition is to ally my writing with truth and research (which I think of as digging out the truth). I hope you will continue to come by and find writing that helps you trample dragons. Let us continue to “dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

1SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012. Online. http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-CH12. Accessed 2013-02-07.
2John Y. Cole, The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York NY: 1997) 88.


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