Thursday, July 30, 2009

making Jesus weep

Ok, kids, I try not to be a grammar Nazi and try not to step on anyone's toes, but this trend is getting silly. Here's a writer at Echidne complaining about changes marked out in her library book:
All references to god that rely on a personal pronoun have been capitalized, i.e., "he" to "He".

Yeah, that sucks, but can we talk about your refusal to capitalize "god" even when you use it as a proper name? Because unlike capitalizing pronouns that refer to h/Him/it/Her/them, which is a matter of personal preference, capitalizing proper names is mandatory. If you are referring to the term "god" as a type of being, you affix an article, as in:
I do not believe in a god.

If you are referring to a group of beings, you don't need an article or a capital:
I do not believe in gods or goddesses.

If you use the word "god" as a proper name, however, you must capitalize it instead:
I do not believe in God.

No, the lack of belief does not entitle you to forgo the capitalization. Note how this statement is similarly incorrect:
I do not believe in santa claus or in zeus and hera.

There is no defense for this rank politicization of grammar that I see among otherwise urbane, capable writers. Even the atheist area of concedes the point!

I have seen some people try to justify it by claiming that they see God as a concept, like karma or justice or something. I see the argument, but it still does not hold water. "Godhead" or "a deity" or "divinity" is the concept; "God" is the being. Besides, if we really wanted to wax Platonic, we could say that any mythic being is a concept, but that does not give one license to start tossing "apollo" and "batman" about, does it?

Am I way off base here?

1 comment:

TioChuy said...

No el rancho this is fine.