Feathers in the Wind

Willard, Dallas

in conversation with Neal Plantinga, Laguna Beach, CA., August 2, 1999

Willard: most people have to talk. They cannot keep a secret. They can’t know something and choose not to speak of it. Gossip comes from an insecure heart that is trying very hard to create intimacy with another, an inner ring, an inner circle, those of us who “know.” Nobody wants to be out of the loop. The trouble is that the gossip creates intimacy not just by confessing sin–but by confessing other people’s sins. Great power here: you out another person secretly, and the other person is largely powerless to do anything about it. The old rabbinic example of the range of gossip and the powerlessness of the gossiped-about to do much about it, said Willard, is of a rabbi who told a gossiper to shake feather pillow into the wind. As the wind carries the feathers every which way, the rabbi tells the gossiper to collect all the feathers and put them back into the pillow case. Impossible.