A Microcosm of the Larger Problem

You’re allowed to say “crap,” but you’re not allowed to say “shit?” How much sense does that make?

Both words have the same literal meaning and are completely interchangeable from a linguistic standpoint. But one is considered acceptable and the other is, apparently, a sin to use.

A sin? According to whom? Well, according to those who believe it, it’s taking the name of the Lord in vain.

Oh really.

So shit’s become one of God’s names.

“Oh Shit, the eternal father, we ask thee in the name of thy son, Jesus H. Fuck, to bless and sanctify this bread…”

7 thoughts on “A Microcosm of the Larger Problem

  1. ?

    Disconnect in there: Vulgar language DOES NOT EQUAL Blasphemous language…at least not until we get to the last paragraph.

    Vulgar language has never been equated with "sin" per se. It's inappropriate to certain venues, and heaven forbid the kids should ever hear it, so it's banned from the airwaves (but not from the cable/internet lines – yet!).

    "Good" folk show their goodness by not speaking thusly. "Bad", classless people show their base crassness by use of such language. That's a story and general theory.

    If it trespasses God's laws at all, it would be more in the vein of "It isn't what enterith into the mouth of man that defiles him, but what cometh fortheth" then in the vein of "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

    We've actually lost the original pronounciation of the name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) because of an extreme legalistic understanding of that command, which has shit to do with fuck! The command in the Ten Commandments is really an injunction to not do vain things saying it is God's will, or in other words in His name.

    So…what point were you actually trying to make with this non sequitor?

  2. WTF?

    When did swear words become breaking the 3rd command? I was taught the scriptural reason for not swearing came as an extension of Ephesians 4:29 – "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

    I've also seen Ephesians 5:4 applied – "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

    Not that I continue to believe that plain old swearing is absolutely a sin. I am a fan of following the heart and spirit of a scripture rather than take the letter as law. Hold any interpretation of scripture and law up to the two greatest commands. If your interpretation matches up with loving God and loving your neighbor then kudos is due to you.

    I say just recognize what speech counts as respectful in different situations and still effectively communicates your intent.

    This is not to say that any choice of words will do. Some choices will be more effective than others in communicating your intent. Just last night I was in conversation with someone discussing open relationships and I could've talked about the person wanting "individuals with whom he could on occasion engage in sexual activity free of emotional commitment and personal dependency beyond casual friendship" but instead we used "fuck buddies" or "sex buddies".

  3. Timmy says:

    A microcosm for "the larger problem"? What exactly, is the larger problem? That people believe stupid, illogical, and/or contradictory things, especially in the realm of religion? That may be true, and the shit versus poo question is, indeed, absurd. But is it really a "problem"? I don't think so. It's just human nature. The human mind is not a computer; it wasn't designed (so to speak) to exhibit perfect consistency. Religious belief, with all it's inherent ridiculousness, is therefore not a problem – not any more than the inability to flap your arms and fly is a problem. It is the natural consequence of the particular circuitry evolution has created.

    If you consider that a problem to be solved, you could end up spending your entire life railing against it without making an inch of progress. Ask Richard Dawkins.

  4. naptastic says:

    @Timmy: Good point… very good point. Dawkins… yes, that's a good point.

    The larger problem is that humans have made up so many stories about the nature of everything, and then forgotten that we're the ones who made them up. This may be hopeless.

    @Dono: Really? Hasn't anyone ever told you, in all seriousness and from a position of authority (church or seminary teacher, for example) that cussin' is taking the name of the Lord in vain? I probably heard that explanation a thousand times growing up! It was the *ONLY* explanation ever offered. Your explanation, as well as the Penguin's, are much more satisfying, though moderation and careful choice of words appeals much more to me than a list of words we can't say.

    (If there were no real value to the words, we would stop using them–*I* would stop using them. The only use for (ie) disestablishmentarianism is as an example of a useless word, and this is the only context in which I invoke it. Shit, on the other hand, can be quite handy…)

  5. naptastic says:

    And can I please get a laugh, or at least a groan, for this permutation of the Sacrament prayers?

  6. I'm not concerned with the "sin" aspect, but as a student of language and an editor, it has always bothered the fuck out of me that it's OK to print f*ck and sh*t, but not the literal spellings. You are making the exact same linguistic statement with an alternate spelling. In essence, what society is telling us is that it's perfectly fine to express that sentiment (i.e. go fuck yourself) in the public discourse, what is not acceptable is the traditional spelling of that sentiment. What kind of fucking sense does that make? Claims that it refers to a sexual act inappropriate for some audiences has no bearing on that last usage of it. It's simply an emphatic adjective. So, if elements of society are uncomfortable with the *concept* of shit and fuck, then they have no business writing "sh*t" and "f*ck," which convey identical meaning. And if it's just the spelling that upsets them, then I say WTF?

  7. Shoot, Marty! I'll be Golly Gee Darned if you don't make some fetching good fricking points! Freak me if I understand how the Heck different but similar substitutions like that can be wholesome ok while the real fecking thing is so derned evil. Maybe we are all just a bunch of jack wagons and it's just some grade-A bull hockey? Aych-ee-double hocksticks! Cheese and Crackers!

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