I don't believe in magic, but there is a power that operates a lot like magic - the power of words.
The book of James (3:3-5) compares the tongue (our spoken words) to a tiny bit in a large horse's mouth, and to a small rudder on a massive ship. Both are pictures of enormous power controlled by a small point of leverage.
Who hasn't seen this power on display? Who hasn't been stung by the acidity of the tongue? Who hasn't been hurt by the careless or vindictive words of another?
James goes on to warn that "the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." (3:6)
Pretty strong words, those.
So I got to thinking about the power of the tongue in our society. If the spoken word is so powerful in the case of individuals, how much more so in our culture as a whole? What I see the most is the power of words to distort the truth, and to rename darkness as though it were light.
It seems to start with a little side-shift, a neat reframing of the perspective. You can't call black white directly, you must do it subtly over time. Here are a few examples I've observed. See if you agree with them, and comment with others you've observed.
1. What used to be considered rude is now renamed "candid." This makes it somehow seem noble to be crass and mean, as in, "Well, at least he's being candid."
2. A lack of self-control is now called being "passionate."
3. Selfishness is now called "independent" or "personal choice," or worse, a "right."
4. Arguing and interrupting (especially on the stomach-churning political talk shows) have now been renamed "debate."
5. Handouts and special deals have been rebranded as "funding."
6. Credentials have been renamed "education."
7. And amatuers, for a short time, were called "NFL referees."