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Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekly Trivia Files: Christianisms--God Among gods

I thought I'd explain today about one tiny bit of trivia that runs through all of my posts on Savvy Sheep.  Perhaps it is as subtle as the format for writing a Bible reference (read how in the "Christianisms" post here).

Have you ever noticed how I capitalize the letter "G" in "God," but when referring to Greek gods, Hindu gods, or even individuals who are "gods in their own minds," I don't capitalize the same word?  Also, when I use a pronoun to reference Jesus, such as "Him," I capitalize that, but I give no such special treatment to pronoun references to deities in other religions.  Why is that?

This habit dates back to early grammar lessons in my Christian textbooks, where I learned to capitalize certain proper nouns and important words.  Words specifically associated with Jesus and God the Father (including pronouns), and words related to the Bible (the name of the book itself, as well as common terms for it such as Scripture or the Word of God) were included in the grammar capitalization rules.  Apparently this was once a standard English writing rule, perhaps a holdover from the days of Daniel Defoe, when writers capitalized every word that they felt was important.  Most modern translations of the Bible don't even adhere to it as strictly as I was taught.

It never felt strange to me to pay special homage to the God I worshiped when composing sentences that mentioned Him.  However, when I got to college, I noticed that I was pretty much the only one following this rule (not too surprising, I guess).

I made it a point to continue adherence to this rule, despite lectures on Structuralism, a linguistic theory that argues that words are merely symbolic referents to meaning and contain no special qualities in themselves.  I also adhered to the rule despite lectures on multiculturalism and post-colonialism, which argued that I was imposing my belief structure on other cultures and beliefs and implying that mine was better than others. Was I just being petty?

Deuteronomy 4: 7
 I don't think so.  I don't want to go into arguments about the lectures I've just mentioned.  I will explain my own motives, however.  I capitalize "God" but not "gods" because I do believe that my God is bigger than all the other gods that the world worships. 

I know that the letters that compose the word in English have no special significance in themselves, but I do believe that in the context of a sentence, a capital letter does have a certain weight that causes a person to give pause and think about the meaning of the word.  The "shift" key doesn't make God holy; but it does make people think about God and His holiness.

This is part of my personal worship, and as far as I know, I am still free to express this opinion.  I capitalize God but not gods because I believe that the God of Christianity is special among all the other religions.  This God is the only one I know; the rest stand aloof and cannot be reached.  In fact, I believe they are imaginary.  This God whom I constantly discuss is uniquely real.  He came to earth to personally offer friendship and even adoption to all who would know Him.  Hitting the "shift" key on my keyboard is a small difficulty that reminds me of how special He is to me.  That's why I do it.


Kamal Singarapu said...

Rachel, enjoyed the blog. Very insightful.

Words, unquestionably are essential to our survival on this earth. We use words to express our affection towards others, to comfort others, words used in a poem or a song moves the very inner core of our being like for instance a national anthem. Without words life almost doesnot make sense because you need words to explain what life really mean.

When words are so important to express our love, affection and reverence to someone, then why not also be more careful in our usage of those words. When we are addressing to someone like a queen here on earth we use "her majesty." Our God is a God who dwelleth on high. He deserves reverence from us in every way possible.

I really love it what you said about the shift key. You are right shift key by itself does not bring God Holiness or set him apart. It is the other way around, because He is Holy and worthy to be praised, we give Him due reverence even by using the shift key. If there are other things in our life though which if we are able to bring God the glory, we should practice them because He deserves it.

Thank you for reminding us ones again to be careful in our usage of words when we are refering to the God most high. There is no one else like Him and that is why He is known as "I am." There is not another "I am." He is as was and will be "I am" forever.

God Bless.

Rachel said...

Thanks Kamal. :)

I realize that this capitalization rule seems like a tiny point for some people, but I felt like it was worth mentioning at least once on my blog, because of the bigger issues that grammar masks.

I think that was my favorite sentence, as well. I thought it was one of those God-given ones (He helps with my writing pretty often). Glad you liked it! :)