Spelling God, spelling what i believe…


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


41 thoughts on “Spelling God, spelling what i believe…

  1. Interesting reflection and REASONING BEHING CAPS AND CAPS LOCK

    I didn’t really think that way until you spell it out. So… god… God… GOD.. GoD…goD.. and gOd. Matud pa sa usa ka Newyorker… WHATEVER!

    Sa gihapon way makalupig sa Heavenly Mind of DFISH, dfish, Dfish, DFish, dfIsh and e.t.c.


  2. another good post Dfish. well, I can’t write and type God with a small g, because I am a believer. You’re right capitalization implies, importance, emphasis, primacy and…supremacy.

  3. very interesting at informative ser dFish. pero kung ako ang iyong tatanungin, sa aking pansariling paniniwala? hindi ko na pinagiisipan pa kung icacapitalized ko ang G o hindi. sabihin na nating puedeng si God ay wala naman sa kanya yun basta manalig ka lang pero sakin kasi dapat capitalized ibig sabihin sa pananaw ko sa name na iyun e may respeto.

    napaYahoo din ako dito haha: 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!

    kung anu pa man e kanya2 lang yan basta ako capitalized sa G! tapos. hehe

    ingat! gdam from dubai!

    • Honga dens, madalas kasi, mas inaalala pa natin si God, kung ano kinakain Nya, anong sports Nya. Ang totoo, gusto naman talaga ni God tuklasin Sya sa ating mga sarili lalo na sa ating pananampalataya at pakikipag-ugnay sa kapwa.
      Religious Security kamo? mahabang usapan to dens…
      Ingat din dyan kapatid…

  4. Hmmm… Jumpstarting my brain…

    Impressive treatment for spelling God… And indeed, the human spirit should acknowledge its Source…

    And I smiled when I read about Religious Security… 😀 One must not be lax in working out one\’s salvation – it should be with fear and trembling… in lowercase… 🙂

    • Salamat Kapatid sa affirmation. Swak na swak yung quote mo, it’s very Biblical kasi kahit ang mga Jews in the OT, they tiptoe in even mentioning Yahweh’s name out of utter respect…

  5. huwaaaaw! di ko naisip yun ah! pero tama ka …di talaga pwedeng ihambing ang ating knowledge, relationship, and even faith…its because we have been “capitalizing” the name of GOD! it’s deeper than we thought….
    salamat kaibigan!

    • It’s a common human activity anchored i believe from our deepest self…Salamat kaibigang Blu sa yong munting paraan din sa paghahalungkat ng katotohanan ng may kapital K…

  6. nice points. if we are to read the contentions of agnostics more so atheists…we are the only one who give all those attributes to God (given if there is such thing) like capital letter for G, sex, power, everything. hay naku…ehehhe.

    anyways, quite reflective points here in this post.

    pasenxa na kung di palagi nakakabisita dito sa blog mo, blocked kasi WP sa office eh, ehehe! hay….

    • Elmot – salamat sa dalaw. Ok lang yun. Nabasa ko sa blog mo, how you juggle studies, work, and blogging. What we assign capital letters with symbolically, that’s more or less the Center we make for ourselves. For some deeper reasons, we just happen to name my center and believe in Revelation as God, and atheists or agnostics happen to name theirs otherwise and then make a belief system out of those names, too.
      Haha – good boy, blocked ang WP…

  7. Well-written DFish. I’d admit I capitalize G because I was taught to do it that way at school and my teacher would always correct us every time we use a small letter. To tell you the truth, I never really looked into it deeper because as you said, it’s so common it doesn’t catch my attention. But this philosophical article explains what every Christian should know.

    Abbreviation has another reason, hasn’t it? Certainly there’s no need to emphasize VAT!!!

    • Hi Kikit – it’s one of those taken-for-granted habits na may kaugnayan sa tingin sa lalim ng ating hangarin bilang tao.
      Oo, sa panahon ngayon, nakakabwiset nga ang VAT. Abrreviation – malamang iba din siguro ang subconscious message nito.

  8. basta may kaugnayan sa Kanyang pangalan, capital letter ang ginagamit ko..dahil Siya ay Siya, the Only One 😉

    Naalala ko si Mo. Teresa ng Calcutta, sa mga ginawa nyang mga sulat puro naka capital din ang lahat ang pangalan ng Diyos 🙂

  9. sa aking pananaw, dapat lang talaga na capital G dahil parang isang simpleng bagay na nakagawian na, pero nagpapahayag ito ng pagkilala at pagpapailalim sa kanya, dahil kung may isang salita tayong dapat bigyan ng diin at maingat na atensyon, yung ay ang pangalan ng Diyos na pinapaniwalaan natin, maging ano man ang sekta ng ating relihiyon.. 😀

  10. Every mention of God in my writing is capitalized. I haven’t thought it that way – the tacit importance we give to the word.

    My belief in God straddles the fence. I’m a fence sitter. What does that make me? Agnostic? Atheist? I’m not much for labeling anyway.

    Hey, the picture is a perfect complement to your post. Well done. “,)

    • Jan, i like the imagery of a straddler. I believe there’s a bit of everything in us. Labels – finite as we are, they somehow mark our boundaries. Thank for the photo compliment…

  11. Bravo! I wonder how did heaven bestow on you such divine inspiration that would make your readers “ah” for the glory of God? You made me ponder on it. wheew! Very brilliant post brother and Amen to that!

    One noticeable trait in Christianity is the unconscious calling of the “Almighty” in a finite description of poetic scale as God or Supreme, etc. well in fact, we have name JESUS to use. Of course, I have nothing against it. But since we are talking of name, much more in dealing with the Almighty in highlighting hierarchy and importance, I better add a doze to it.

    The incarnation of the Word (nameless God) I think has one purpose: to break the barrier between the belief for the unseen God and the longing of the people to personally witness a tangible God either to verify their faith or to search for a “form” to hold on. I believe that is why Christians are often equated as “witnesses, ” and in this case, witnesses of a tangible God named Jesus.

    When other religions are scuttling for their unseen deity, we, Christian, are too fortunate to start with an anthro-historical supported God named JESUS. The descent of Jesus is deductively showing us that there is one particular name that reigns above everything. Breaking it into small a diagram, it may look like this: Jesus = God ; God = Jesus , Allah, Brahma, etc. You see, when you utter God you speak of different entities -for they all share the same attributes- whille when you utter Jesus, you only speak of one specific God. So why stick on calling God when we have a concrete name of Jesus to use? Hence, you couldnt blame people writing God with a small letter “g ” for they simply understand God in a universal sense except for atheists who purposely do it. And for us Christians, why shouldnt we utter Jesus instead of God?I guess by calling Him Jesus we mean our highest ineffable respect that even the computer would undoubtedly underlined it red if you start with small letter “j”. hehehe In that way ,we clothe God with an undoubtful name and the problem of spelling it small or capital letter is no longer necessary.

    deep blogging brother. sorry for the late visit 🙂

  12. Makapa-nosebleed na reply Totomel… 😀

    For the sake of discussion, isn’t it calling God only by the name of Jesus, we are limiting ourselves of our view and experience (however infinitesimal this might be) with the Triune God?

    God presents Himself as One in Three Persons. Are we not missing a deeper experience of faith by not participating in God’s paternal concern as our Father, and in the many epiphanies that may spawn in our communing with the Advocate?

  13. And labels I’d like to add help our puny minds deal with the incomprehensible universe, God and the many names He’s called included. You’re a big-theme blogger. I’d very much want to evolve like you are, Dfish.

    @Totomel: Love your long comment. But it’s your addendum that takes the cake. Ka-pow! “,)

  14. Totomel – i appreciate the deep musing and the time you spent here. No pressure Bro. Ako rin, hindi pa pensionado hehe..Thanks din pala that you appreciate the post.

    I agree with how you engaged the distinction of Christianity from other monotheistic religions through the uniqueness of the man-God named Jesus. Indeed, Jesus provided a human face to the invisibility of God, and yes aptly, that’s why it’s called incarnation, the God becoming flesh, to highlight your point. There is certainly a human longing in us to see God’s face, to behold God’s face, and it was God’s prerogative to sate such longing. Looking back to the OT, God had fulfilled God’s promise of what was with God from the beginning – God’s Son Jesus.

    “whille when you utter Jesus, you only speak of one specific God. So why stick on calling God when we have a concrete name of Jesus to use?”

    Quite an intriguing question Bro…Personally, it lets some air of convenience for me when I utter the word Jesus. I agree – it affords some concreteness by the mere utterance, bringing me back for example to that morning of breakfast over fishes, or the quieting of the storm. Very powerful images that often bring comfort to the weary. Regardless of how i invoke the name though, or how familiar i could get with favorite passages of the Bible, there remain some distance between Jesus as He is and my own approach of him which includes my limited experience, interpretation, reading of him, feeling about him. Now and then, I have to surrender myself before those self-limitation because familiar as the name is, there remains an inexhaustible mystery I will never fully comprehend or experience in my lifetime because this “unutterable mystery” as Karl Rahner would label, is God, the God beyond human familiarity and language and interpretation. So from time to time, it is equally comforting to vacillate between Jesus and this ultimate mystery we Christians name God. Standing before this Mystery – spelling could only come once awe sets in…And from this sense of the Mystery, other religions make sense because other believers also are beholden before it.

  15. Mark, i like the Trinitarian emphasis that you bring in. And of course, we all know from the pulpit that by Trinitarian, we actually mean communitarian.

    No attempt here I assume of isolating Jesus from the Fullness of Everything we name God. Even Jesus has to retreat into silence to commune with this Fullness. It was sharing through and through, the very function of a community.

  16. Hi Jan – i only like to pick up one stick of match at a time hehe. There’s so much to gather on around…
    Binabalikan ko yung addendum ni Totomel, di ko pa rin na-gets. Paki-flashlight mo nga Totomel…

  17. Hi RFH – salamat sa pagdalaw muli. Oo nga – kumbaga minsan, may handle na ang pintuan, ayaw pa rin gamitin hehe…

  18. hahaha…dont mind about it brother. by the way, i will be going to cebu this weekend. in case you have something to say to Dr. Galeon, i will drop by the philo dept….and of course Dr. Velez also.hehehe.

    and how shall i relay it pala if i dont know your name?hehehe.alangan man ingnon nako sila na regards ingon ni Dfish.hahaha

  19. Makes sense Bro hahaha…Let them stare at the handle until the handles stares at them (modified Nietszche quote on staring at the abyss). Just proceed with peace Bro. One of these days, ibutang na siguro nako true profile ko sa sidebar. Hapi trip Bro. I miss San Carlos, the PE t-shirt, the chapel,Fr. Salazar’s enchanting public voice, the intimidating presence of Irratagotia, ang mga pa-cute ng mga Caroliniana ug uban pa.

  20. Kapatid, salamat sa pagbati… Actually I’ve been blogging since 2006. It was only last year when I decided to transfer to WP and stick to a theme… 😀

    Indeed, everything is shared in the Trinity… Even the creative action of the Divine, although appropriated to the Father, it was done in communion. However, sometimes we take too much of the economy of appropriation and appropriate everything to Jesus.

    The block is in the mystery of the Trinity being linked with appropriation – many have walked this thin line and many have fallen.

  21. “we take too much of the economy of appropriation and appropriate everything to Jesus.”

    For the sake of discussion, I guess it’s part of our human tendency – when we have something so familiar and approachable our actions diminish the very mystery that Jesus is cloak with. But Totomel’s point is actually a very legit issue in Christology because even among hardcore theologians, there are those who reduce Jesus contrary to Totomel’s emphasis on the uniqueness of Jesus, into a pure spirit no different from the spirit of Buddha. Marcus Borg is an example. Mainstream theologians cannot simply agree with this denial of the unique role of Jesus the Christ.

    Melskiens – happy outing kapatid…

  22. Pingback: What it takes to be an atheist under Talibanic belief « EXODIANS

  23. It should be faith as ultimate concern. Fear and Trembling, I could recall if it was by Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish Philosopher who really inspired me about having faith.

    • Hi bonz – i agree about the ultimate concern but not necessarily “our faith” because tendentiously, we easily create icons ouf of it. It is being open to the Divine, our ultimate concern in Paul Tillich’s term, with the faith that runs through our being…Kierkegaard, i like the religious content as well of his works…Exodian si bonz, ginagawang dyaryo si Kierkegaard hehe…

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