When I was in the 9th grade I wrote a book report on the movie “Fletch Lives.” I didn’t want to do that, but it was an “in class” assignment that I was unprepared for. When I showed up to English class the teacher told us to get started and I hadn’t read a book. The kid next to me was writing his on “Fletch,” which was apparently a book before Chevy Chase starred in the movie version. So I figured why not and proceeded to describe what I remembered about the sequel.
I’m not sure English ever forgave me. I constantly find myself at odds with it, confused and baffled by things like the difference between an “em dash” and an “en dash.” One is short, one is long and both bite at my ankles when I sit down to write.
But when it comes to grammar and writing, our favorite thing as Christians is capitalizing holy words. I’m not sure where in the Bible the proper way to cap words is expressed, but it probably has something to do with Paul. Can’t you see the person that transcribed his letters pausing in mid thought and saying, “Whoa, whoa Paul, is heaven capitalized? I mean I don’t think it is, but if you want me to throw it a big ‘H’ as a sign of awesomeness, just say the word.”
I don’t think we’ve gotten a better handle on capitalization since then, which is why I prepared a little chart to help if you want to write holy:
I don’t think we have to cap this but maybe it depends on the context. If you’re quoting Belinda Carlisle’s song, “heaven is a place on earth,” don’t worry about it. If you’re saying, “I want to go to Heaven,” better cap it just to let God know you’re serious.
Yeah, that’s getting a big J.
Don’t even touch that lowercase ‘g’ you heathen.
Less obvious than God, but still capped. Remember it this way, “The triad, gets mad, if their names aren’t rad.” And nothing is as radical as a capital letter.
Some people think you have to cap all of God’s nicknames. They send you emails with things like “Most Holy One, Savior and Father” capped. I don’t know about that. You might need to because they’re proper nouns or part of the subjunctive or past present. But then, I have the grammar skills of a six year old, so what do I know?
My mother-in law reads this site, the thought of which at times makes me sweaty, and tells me this word should be capitalized. I always tell her, “I don’t see in the bible where it says that it should be.” Actually I don’t tell her that, but I think about saying that because it’s a great little circular logic trap.
I think you’re supposed to capitalize this, but I sometimes don’t just because I think lower casing it is like giving the devil the middle finger of grammar. That’s just how I roll.
Missional, Relevant, Postmodern
We would take these words to the Prom if we could and slow dance to Peter Gabriel’s song, “In Your Eyes,” but you don’t have to capitalize them.
This one is funky because you also have to think, “do I write it numerically or spell it out?” I think God and Jonah and Gideon are in heaven playing “capitalization bingo.” They watch us and if we cap “Commandments,” God yells out, “I have capital C on my chart. I win!” (There’s a deep spiritual issue most people avoid – would God ever let you win at bingo in heaven?)
I think there are roughly 900 words I missed on this list but today is the debut of the show “So You Think You Can Dance” and I’m busy thinking of ways to convince my wife that I should quit my job and become a professional breakdancer. Audi 5000.
p.s. Last week we played the game “Bible Verse Arms Race” which was delightful. Tomorrow, I have a new game for you that is going to make that one look silly. Promise.