Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On taking the name of the Lord in Vain (ramble)

The Lord's name can be taken in vain by either using It as a swear word or associating It with something that detracts from Its glory. But can't It also be taken in vain when used out of habit (not loving habit) or glory not piled atop it as a reasonable person could give? To begin: "God will provide." "Yep, God is sure good!" "Our God is an awesome God." "God loves us all." "Lord be praised." etc. etc.

Nothing is wrong with such phrases, but using "God" everywhere in speech seems take on the aspect of a habit rather than pious utterances. Such habits can have piety behind it - nuns, priests, laity - all use them without impunity. Yet when a member of the laity becomes uncomfortable when conversation takes a more modern turn, or starts like a Jansenist when you mention you've read Tom Jones, then there is cause for concern.

It's almost as if some people are afraid to talk about anything that does not directly pertain to God lest they be found too secular, too worldly, too something, and the outcome is they use "God" everywhere. That limits God, though. He is omnipresent, omnipotent, but omniabsent from anything outside the direct bubble of Catholic writers, thinkers, or ideas. 'tis a tragedy, for whatever you find that can add to God's glory, surely you should - because it allows for a deeper understanding and devotion. When human darlinks find some holy person, they exclaim at the depths of the wells of goodness and plunge deeper and deeper, seeking the source from which springs the abundance. Likewise, with each new good that is turned like some glittering item in the hands of the faithful, and assigned its proper order in creation - in relation to God.

So don't listen to Tertullian when he exclaims "What...has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" Athens is all about Jerusalem. Everything good comes from God, and should be returned to Him.


And as an addendum: no, I am not saying that knowledge of God is more important than love of God, but that the former should naturally spring from the latter.


JHP said...

A little anecdote: I've heard (couldn't find it online. didn't look too hard) that once a major newspaper used the word "Yahweh" in one of its stories and the Jewish population - I'm guessing this happened in NYC - went up in arms. They held drives to collect all the papers and disposed of them properly, according to the dignity which the name deserves.

That might be an impractical or quixotic reaction, but I admit to appreciating a righteously angered populace. It's also probably better to err on the side of rigidity than profanity.

Deirdre said...

But better not to err at all, ne?