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A Small Dissertation On Blasphemy


Casey
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In that show The Way Of The Master, they just love their "Are you a good person" test, don't they? One of the first questions they ask you, if I remember rightly, is, "Have you ever said, 'Jesus Christ!' (as in after you just hit your thumb with a hammer?)." You HAVE? Then they give you a smug church crawler's smile and say, "Do you know that's Blasphemy?" Adding of course, a detailed description of what blasphemers such as yourself might expect in the afterlife.

 

Well no actually, THAT isn't blasphemy. There are, roughly, four kinds of swearing. To wit, the taking of a lawful oath, idle swearing, profanity, and blasphemy. For the benefit of the uneducated, let us examine them.

 

The taking of a lawful oath is what happens when you swear, as in Court, to "Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." That is prefixed by, "I swear by Almighty God to" and ended by, "So help me God", is it not? The reason it is so prefixed and so ended is that what are doing is solemnly calling upon the said God to witness that what you are about to say is the truth. That is why it is called a lawful oath. The same is true of your similarly calling upon God upon taking public office, or joining the Armed Forces or the public service.

 

Idle swearing? That is what happens when you hit your thumb with a hammer and say, "Jesus Christ!" And that is because what you just went and done, is you called upon the said Jesus to witness the frivolous fact of your ineptitude in handling hand tools, your lack of coordination in general, or your drunken state. Or all three, whatever. That is why this is also known as, "Taking the Lord's Name in vain."

 

Of course, if you hit your thumb with said hammer and say, "Fuck it!" that is profanity. I don't think we need explain this any further, do you? Except to say that you can add a long list of colourful words, and it will STILL be mere profanity.

 

However, if you were to say, after such an aforesaid unfortunate event, "Jesus fornicatin' CHRIST!!!!" then that WOULD be blasphemy. To be precise it would be Idle Swearing AND Blasphemy. Why? Because you would then, in addition to calling upon the said Jesus to witness a vain fact, be accusing the same Jesus of having committed fornication. Which we all know he didn't, despite his having been shacked up with Mary Magdalene.

 

Oh, and by the way, the last statement I made is also blasphemy. As if I could give a fuck.

Casey

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They made swearing to god optional in military oathes some time ago.

 

Perhaps not in Australia. I'm sure Casey will let us know about that, but keep in mind, this is an international site.

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They made swearing to god optional in military oathes some time ago.

 

Perhaps not in Australia. I'm sure Casey will let us know about that, but keep in mind, this is an international site.

 

Yes, they did make swearing to God optional in Australia when joining the military etc and testifying in Court some years ago. However this little piece of mine was intended as a look at various kinds of oath-taking and the use of oaths in general lol.

Casey

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Very interesting Casey, thank you! Most Christians I have known usually fudge the rules when it comes to swearing. My grandmother, an ardent Baptist, could probably swear a Marine under the table if she wanted to. I always kind of wondered about the meaning of "Goddammit" and how it is sometimes the "ultimate" swear word to some Christians, even beyond fuck. I always viewed it when I was a Christian as, I hit my thumb with a hammer, scream, "Goddammit" and it literally means, God damn this hammer. So I never really saw what was so wrong or taboo about it.

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Very interesting Casey, thank you! Most Christians I have known usually fudge the rules when it comes to swearing. My grandmother, an ardent Baptist, could probably swear a Marine under the table if she wanted to. I always kind of wondered about the meaning of "Goddammit" and how it is sometimes the "ultimate" swear word to some Christians, even beyond fuck. I always viewed it when I was a Christian as, I hit my thumb with a hammer, scream, "Goddammit" and it literally means, God damn this hammer. So I never really saw what was so wrong or taboo about it.

 

And thank YOU Brother Josh, for pointing out this nuance which I had quite forgotten. Yes, that is exactly what you mean when you say "Goddamnit!" after you hit your thumb with a hammer. However, if under some circumstances you say, "Goddamn!" that's taken to be short for "May God damn ME!" ("if what I say is not true," for example). An interesting aside is that, during the Hundred Years War in France, the French nickname for the English soldiers was The Goddamns because of the fondness of the English for that expression. The implication being, I suppose, that the English weren't, ahem, quite God's good children. However, soldiers in action rarely are, are they?

 

There's an interesting little piece written by John Bunyan (he who wrote Pilgrim's Progress) in which he describes a Near Death Experience he had after attempting suicide at a low point of his life. It seems, as part of this, he was vouchsafed a vision of Hell, wherein he saw, among others, the shade of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who, in life, had been very fond of expressions such as "Damn me! "God damn my soul!" and so on. Hobbes was, moreover, a well known materialist and, some said, an atheist. Bunyan certainly made the latter claim, although it must be remembered he quite possibly didn't LIKE Hobbes very much!

 

The long and the short of it is, Bunyan asks Hobbes why it is, seeing that Hobbes had asked God to damn him so many times over the years, he isn't satisfied with this justice, now that God's finally went and done it. To which Hobbes of course, has no good reply. And you doubtless may recall fundamentalist preachers recounting who knows how many variations of this little tale!

 

One wonders why christians would object to someone swearing in Court, "May God damn me if the evidence I shall give is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!" It would seem fair enough; after all, if you ARE a christian, you will not DARE say that and then lie, will you? Although given the hypocrisy of many christians, perhaps it's easy enough to see why they won't put their money where their mouths are, isn't it?

Casey

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