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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Why I don't capitalize god.

The rules of English are fairly clear about capitalization, and I believe that members of the other English speaking nations will agree with me on them, even if they disagree with my spelling (most people from my own nation would too). We capitalize words at the beginning of sentences, and proper nouns (which we can't use in scrabble or bananagrams). All other instances of capitalization are typographical preference of a reverse ee cummings sort, or because we are stupidly TRYING TO MAKE A POINT ON THE INTERNET. This brings me to the word god. I often stumble upon this word in a capitalized variety, when it meets none of the previously mentioned criteria, for instance if i were to submit the sentence prior to this to an editor they would find a need to capitalize it, and also chances are to make this into more than one sentence but THAT at least is advisable. However if someone were to do it they would wrong me. Moreover if someone were to quote me as saying something about god, and capitalize it they would be doing me a slander (well really a libel but that doesn't flow quite as well). Now some people at this point have raised the argument, well truthfully they probably raised it earlier and have already stopped reading this. er anyway. Some would argue that god is a proper noun, to which I retort with a word, or words that will make it past censorship. How is god a proper noun? Is god a country or a person or a trademarked product or such? Lets address the second first as that will be the most common objection. If god is a person, fictional or otherwise, it would be proper to capitalize his or her or its name. However, I find upon inspection, and by that I mean fucking using the language, that god is in fact a singular noun. The plural of which is gods, and either neither or both deserve the upper case. Hmmm. Lets look at that a little closer shall we? If we speak of the Greek gods we capitalize "Greek" a proper noun but not gods. So we can assume that if we were to speak of a Greek god then we would do the same, after all we don't go from games to Game or from congregation to Sucker, now do we? But wait, our fictional critic cries, my god is god so that should be capitalized. OK, lets examine that statement.... First what god is your god? is it Poseidon, because I have no problem there. Is it Zeus, Hermes, Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, Set, Amon, The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Still good with me, but god is just a term used to refer to any one of these characters and if we refer to any number of them greater than one, we use the plural gods. Now I will move on to god as a trademarked product, by which I really mean, god as a protected concept. As long as we have to capitalize this otherwise normal singular noun the more certain people can capitalize upon that. Memetics at its finest. why does this intellectual product get afforded such special care? It is mostly tradition of being scared to utter the name of a powerful being lest the sympathetic power (believed to be) inherent in names call them to you. Which is why all sorts of words are used in place of Jesus' name in Christianity. Words such as lamb, god, lord, savior, et cetera. However if you use a word to refer to something long enough that word will simply become the name of the thing. Most names of things are presumably derived in this way. However if you also still use the name, or at least a name, then the others may simply be nicknames or pet names. Lamb, I think, is a good example of that. Ultimately my point here is to enforce common rules of language and avoid giving undue credit to one idea amongst many. Otherwise I may have to invent a god called "the" and insist that anytime that word appears it must be in the uppercase. I have no doubt if I convinced enough people of the veracity of the The, then the blind pluralism of our culture would support me. Provided that The was also Jesus at least.