One of my recurring weaknesses as a writer is a reliance on the following two transitions:
“Consider the X”
Look, for instance, at the X
I use them all the time, even though I know they are lazy linguistic bridges, cheap transitions from idea to the next. Over at Language Log, Benjamin Zimmer has a wonderful history of the phrase. It turns out my laziness is actually an allusion to Luke:
This crutch for lazy (science) writers goes all the way back to the New Testament. Here are the famous lines of Luke 12:24 and 12:27 in the King James Version:
“Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Since at least the nineteenth century, “Consider the X” variants have flourished, often directly evoking the Gospel of Luke. Christina Rossetti’s 1866 poem “Consider” moves from “the lilies of the field” to consider “the sparrows of the air of small account” and “the birds that have no barn nor harvest-weeks.”