Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Every community seems to have personally important Topics -- that's capital-T Topics versus lowercase-t topics. My church community has the Schedule and the Portrait and the Carpet -- well, I think anyone whose ever built anything has the Carpet. My work community has things like Project Managers and Deliverables and Dates.

I've also found the use of opposite case to denote significance a very interesting and powerful one.

I went through a time where God for me was god. I still have a number of friends who talk about god, and it's amazing how you can hear the lowercase-g in their tone.

Personally, I like proper case words. Maybe I'm an over-user of them. Here are some of my favorite:
  • Love
  • Faith
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Truth
  • Hope
  • Mercy

To be clear, those are all my own proper case words. To me, like the proper case words in my church and work community, they're mean to imply the significance of the ideas to a particular group. The imply a personal understanding, but not necessarily the only valid understanding.

For example: Love. Though we all experience love, we all experience it in very personal ways. My wife and I experienced the love of our families and faith community during our 12 week old daughter's open heart surgery. That was Love. It was shared between us and within those communities. Anyone from outside that experience can say "yes, that's love," but it's only Love for us.

That small use of my left pinky on the shift key adds paragraphs and chapter of unspoken, shared history and significance. To anyone doubting the value of their 7th great English class: Punctuation is power!

To paraphrase:
A panda walks into a bar, 0rders a bamboo sandwich and scarfs it down. When he's done, he stands up, pulls out a pistol, fires one shot into the ceiling, and heads calmly for the door. The bartender shouts at him, "Hey, you. What was that all about!?" The panda replies, "I'm a panda. It's what I do." "Huh?" says the bartender looking confused. "Here," says the panda bear tossing a book on the bar as the door shuts behind him. The bartender picks up the book and opens to a marked page:

"Panda: large black and white bear-like animal; native to China; eats, shoots & leaves."


Stushie said...

That's why I like to punctuate "You and Your" with a capital "Y" in the written prayers for our church when addressing God. It was far easier when we used Thou, Thine, and Thee. I think Martin Buber would have something to say about our flippant familiarity with God today. I-you just sounds so wrong.

John Shuck said...

Good thoughts.

One of my parishioners convinced me of the importance of capitalizing Earth, rather than the earth. We don't say "the mars" for example. Earth is a proper name. Doing so gave me an appreciation for our home that is worthy of a proper name.