Thursday, October 05, 2006

Don't Mess With the Comma

President Bush recently said that when we look back, the Iraq War (part the second) will be nothing more than a comma. There is a lovely editorial on NPR as to the ridiculousness of calling a war a comma - so I will let you check that out. But I want to stand here in defense of the comma.

The comma may be little, but it is important. It can not only clarify a sentence, separating items, indicating sequences or pauses, but also change the meaning. (The title of the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves is based on that very premise.)

But the comma has a spiritual association for me as well. The United Church of Christ (UCC) partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Association on the Our Whole Lives sexuality education program. At the time i did the training I was unfamiliar with the UCC - this was before their recent ad campaign. One of the UCC people in the training shared a saying that is used a lot within the UCC: "Never place a period where God has placed a comma." (Attributed to said Gracie Allen.) They have used this phrase, along with their, "God is still speaking," campaign (note the comma after the speaking). The idea is that faith is a continuous thing. God didn't stop talking to us - not just on the little stuff, but on the big issues also. And I find this so appealing. I certainly don't want to step on anyone else's faith, but the idea that faith and my and our relationship with God is continuous really appeals to me. That God didn't make a bunch of pronouncements way back in the day and then disappear, instead that the conversation is ongoing. So don't minimize commas.