Tuesday, September 25, 2007

God da....oh, I'm sorry

I often praise the Lord (though I also wonder why it should be so) that merely by his presence, and without saying a word, a servant of God should frequently prevent people from speaking against Him.

- St. Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection

Anybody familiar with her style knew it was her by the first parenthetical comment - Teresa and St. Paul ("I am not lying" or "I speak as a fool") both have this habit.

Isn't this true? How many times have people to whom you have never deliberately witnessed, taken the name of the Lord in vain or used a vulgarity and then turned and apologized to you? Or, conversely, when you yourself have used a swear word (I'm thinking of the milder scatalogical ones), they laugh and say "I never expected to hear that out of you!"

It IS a good reminder to guard our tongues when someone is surprised by our speech, but the original thought is nice, isn't it? When people have to think about using the name of our Lord and Savior to express frustration or anger? Does it make Him more real to them?

I have devout friends who are driven piously crazy by "brown talk," as they term it. Having a taste for the salty, I like this verse:

Let your speech be always in grace seasoned with salt: that you may know how you ought to answer every man.

- St. Paul to the Colossians 4:6


TS said...

I think using God's name in vain is an unwitting reflection of the power His name retains.

Reminds me how it was said James Joyce used the rich resources of the Faith he rejected in his writings. I think it was Shelby Foote who said that without the Catholic Church Joyce would've been nothing. He borrowed against that sense of the sacred, he needed the Real to kick against.

Perhaps for Joyce and to those who use God's name in vain it gives a sense of power, simply by giving something sacred to use, or rebel against.

Therese Z said...

Well said.

And the power to shock.

Roz said...

Therese, you and I have a similar penchant for language that is, er, "descriptive" without transgressing into the blasphemous or offensive.

Sometimes I wonder, though, whether it has my hoped-for effect of shattering the preconceived notions of pagans that Christians harbor an unnecessarily nitpicky scrupulosity. It could, I suppose, lead the weak or uninformed into sin, and I'm not crazy about the idea of spending eternity with a millstone around my neck.

Therese Z said...

I think it depends on the choice of language, but I should make sure I'm not doing it at times for similar reasons ("those Christians seem to know how to let their hair down! They're not so weird!")

Anonymous said...

Some French Canadians have a salty vocabulary using sacred utensils like "tabernac" as swear words. Dosn't seem to bother anybody. And I can't imagine anyone thinking it even a venial sin.



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