Uppercase

Ellis J. Biderson

Why does God have an initial capital letter? Aside from the fatuity of recognizing the supposed ultimate force in the universe by a linguistic convention, past the absurdity of feeding the vanity of the most mighty and least needy of vanity, why provide God with the same artifactual honor as Parcheesi, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Civil War, minor-league hockey teams, Santa Claus, and, for that matter, the word Flatulence when it begins a sentence? Not even evangelists are clear in their use of a holy capital: the way Jerry Falwell talked about “my God,” it was as if he was capitalizing the m, not the g.

How much is it His vanity to be uppercased? So far as I know, He never asked anyone to do so. In fact, there are no capital letters in Hebrew, so he could not have asked moses on mount sinai. Is it our honoring, praising Him? Being afraid of Him, kind of humoring the Big Guy? “You’re a heck of a God, God. From now on, to show you how we feel, we’re gonna give you upper case, all the time, every time.” (Logically, there is actually a better case for Uppercase than uppercase. Whatever.)

Maybe we can ask God, beseech Him in our prayers. Although. . . if we can have this kind of we/He communication, kind of a debate with God, that puts us on more of an equal footing (on His part, Footing) with the—in that case—less-Supreme Being. Anyway, with the three big Os (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence) as His defining characteristics, everything forever is written and done, simply waiting for us to become conscious of it, and all of our beseeching and pleading and mortification don’t amount to a hill of beans in Casablanca or anywhere else.

When we refer to God pronounically, as, for example, the One Who (who?) created the world, this One is an added problem. Not only can we ask if this should be one, but when shortened is the digit just 1, some kind of larger, capital 1 (e.g., 1), or a more formal looking I, which is a further perplexity, as this is both a Roman numeral and the ego’s symbol. (To be gender-neutral, His should be His/Her—from now on, H/H for both His/Her and Him/Her.)

It could be that it’s the right thing to put H/H name in bold (God)—which means, nine words back, H/H, unless the slash should also be bold (H/H)—or raise the case of two letters (GOd). Maybe, then, it would help if we capitalized the first two letters of the LOrd’s name? I mean, the extra ink from printers would be negligible for “GOd’s mercy” or “HIs eye is on the sparrow,” and there would be nothing extra for oral capitalization—e.g., “GOd bless America” or “LOrd, have mercy” or “GOddamn.” CReation would be not any Creation or creation but the first one, worthy of two capitals.

I will not address here the issue of capitalizing, Capitalizing, CApitalizing, or even CAPITALIZING a God more than three or four letters, with the option of LORD and the possibilities of five (as in DEITY), six, or infinite letter-issues.

And how does that whole capital-letter convention work when God is speaking? My or my? Even: Omniscience or omniscience? This does get more convoluted, however—I, for example, which is already capitalized. If we quote God, and He uses the first person, should we do something in addition to the upper case I—mayhaps underlining (I) or italics (I) or bold (I), possibly a dropped capital— I?

And what about Jesus, as in Jesus Smith, or Jones or Santiago or Rosenblum? Shouldn’t there be differentiation between the Son of God and some five-year-old picking his nose on the way to a Little League game?

Another quandary: if, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . . the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground . . .,” shouldn’t we, His creations, be, if not uppercase, somewhere around halfway there? After all, as Satan (or Lucifer) was given existence by God, as were humans, why shouldn’t we at least be allowed to also have an initial nearly uppercase letter? It’s not like there is no precedent for this, with Homo sapiens meriting a full cap at its beginning. There would be initial letters referring to the correspondent nouns, pronouns, and adjectives of God (Lord, He, His, Who/Whom, and so on), with a not-nearly capital letter for us, perhaps a compromise of upper and lower cases, three-quarters of a capital—e.g., Man, Woman (in the interest of divine equality), even Our in some cases—kind of a middle case in between upper and lower.

While I’m thinking about it, why not just capitalize all of H/H Creations, Huh? Why not capitalize the c in capitalize—Capitalize—as this is God’s capital letter (or is that God’s Capital Letter?)?

(In reality, as the originator of all sin, a case can be made for Him not to be capitalized, perchance even a lower case letter for Him and His—i.e., christ. This is a much-more-than-linguistic issue grappled with by many others in addition to me.)

On the other hand (sometimes I need more than two), God created us with the predisposition to disobey God and with a sin-bent nature, torturing and killing His Son (have I got the capital letters right?) as the only way for the infinitely powerful Being to give everlasting life to His creations. But why didn’t he (or He) start us off the right way? Maybe we should give God an F, and, God willing, take away his capital G.

 

Ellis J. Biderson

Ellis J. Biderson is the author of Talking Dirty (Carol Publishing), which is about language generally considered profane. He has written numerous articles, short fiction, and other items for Woman�s Day, the Saturday Evening Post, and many other periodicals.


Why does God have an initial capital letter? Aside from the fatuity of recognizing the supposed ultimate force in the universe by a linguistic convention, past the absurdity of feeding the vanity of the most mighty and least needy of vanity, why provide God with the same artifactual honor as Parcheesi, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the …

This article is available to subscribers only.
Subscribe now or log in to read this article.