Let me play in one mental game. Think or recall one person you believe is a non-believer. Think. Recall. Need more time? If you recall one atheist you came across with and cannonball him to fill in the blank simply because he is on the other side of the border of faith, then let me punch in this wager: your backup reasoning is essentially wobbly. Why? Your atheist acquaintance may not necessarily believe in a being with a capital letter, you know, like Superman or Dragon Warrior. But ask him again, probe his public thoughts and it doesn’t take a Hubble space telescope to detect his magnified, enthroned, centralized being – Reason, No-God, Humanism, Facts, or Evolution.
“But wait,” you may tack on, “why capitalize those when even the God of believers only has a small “g” in the atheism circle, and still comes out seemingly persuasive to enjoin others to another believing bandwagon?” Find out from here.
Trivial as this may sound, I sometimes think it’s one of those legacies often unquestioned because it’s as commonplace as our house doorknob: spelling God.
Capitalizing God, capitalizing other gods
Capitalization implies importance, emphasis, centrality, primacy, identity, or even hierarchy of values. We capitalize our names to emphasize our existence, to highlight our identity. Those who do so otherwise like the poet e.e.cummings get the same existential attention I assume.
Let’s humanize our habit of capitalizing G. There is at least a universal habit of capitalizing our real names. What’s the impulse behind? Naming and capitalizing the names carry an existential function – that of singling out a living or non-living being’s uniqueness. Names are important, their capitalized letters only to highlight how important those names are. No doubt, I can write my full name in small letters, a bit deviant an act against social standard. But if I can give a “capitalized treatment” to an ordinary cheap pen in a prose because I want my readers to have a unique mental image of such a writing instrument, then why give an “under-treatment” to the ideas arranger?
It could be equally argued that under-capitalizing names is no big deal, less torrential to alter a person’s inner or outer landscape. There were primitive practices or existing cultures less attentive to capital letters. But just as every stroke in a letter in all alphabets count within its cultural classroom, the universal practice of capitalizing names at least must be charged with meanings practical for humanity – uniqueness, centrality, primacy, identity, significance.
Such centrality, however, could only be stretched up to a certain limit like a rubber band. I may be unique. You may be unique. But both of us know we cannot be the center of all meanings of the universe no matter how ambitious our ego would sometimes dictate us. So what does humanity do? Where do I dig to find that Center? Like a hungry miner, I dig within and out and glance now and then at the shining gold of meaning I name God. The beautiful thing is I am not alone in digging, having glances, and naming God. I don’t think God really bothers to be given a name with a capital letter, and much more, alter with this name the very personality of God as the center of all meanings. We seem to agree as “fellow miners” naming is for the sake of human convenience, self-respect included. If I can write my father’s or mother’s name in capital letters in an angry missive not out of mindless habit but of self-respect as a son, perhaps, the human spirit has a weightier reason for doing so before its Source.
I don’t think God really bothers to be talked about all the time like sex scandals in barber shops or moral canteens. Again, it’s human convenience, respect for the human longing to behold God’s face included. I think what God wants is for me to see more of this luminosity that is ever transforming of the way I make myself and my self-centered desires to become the center of all meanings. Under what environment does the gold of God shine forth? I guess pretty much under those circumstances when I question the names I assign capital letters with – Pleasure, Power, Reason, Success, Prestige, Humanism (you can add more if you want). And here’s one more: Religious Security, which is inclusive not of VAT, but of all creatures who go to church to hide from God, yahooooo!
Photo credit: ahisgett