I………… Therefore I Am

I heard a rumour the other day that Blankety Blank, the panel show from my childhood that sticks in my mind most of all, is coming back with Miranda as the proposed host (there’s a link to last night’s gig for you). The idea behind it for those who don’t remember or are too young to have watched it, is that contestants have to fill in a blank in a given sentence, trying to predict the answer given by others. To help them they could call upon a few members of the celebrity panel to offer their answers. Hosted by Terry Wogan with the strangest looking microphone and his Blankety Blank chequebook and pen, this was the show that won the quiz show ratings of its day.

Here’s a phrase for you to try out, what is the blank in ‘I *blank* therefore I am’?

I’m guessing many of you might have offered up ‘think’ as famously stated by Rene Decartes, the French philosopher who argued that being able to think about one’s existence proved it – bonus marks for those who showed off and did it in Latin, ‘dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum’ (‘I doubt therefore I think therefore I am’).

Of course other words could be inserted into this phrase, some humourous, others silly or perhaps serious such as ‘I eat therefore I am’ or ‘I laugh therefore I am’ or even ‘I run therefore I am’. All of these say something about the world we live in at the moment, how we relate to it, and our values. Perhaps something like ‘I like therefore I am’ could capture this well, expressing the self-centred values of our age and picking up on the all-encompassing nature of social media these days with it’s like buttons to show that we enjoyed something which often, dare I say it, has very little depth to it. Reading an article on the BBC website today I wondered if their writer would fill the blank with ‘consume’. This would certainly ring true I think, in so many ways we value things by what they have to offer me or give to me rather than of what good are they for society or for the planet or for what moral value they hold?

I wonder what the Bible and its characters might offer to us. Thomas would be nearer Decartes with ‘I doubt therefore I am’. Peter would offer ‘I do it and think later therefore I am’, Martha, ‘I wash up therefore I am’ and Mary, ‘I listen therefore I am’. But what about Jesus? What would he say? In the true spirit of Blankety Blank I leave it to you to suggest an answer!

Church newsletter, 2nd November 2014

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