The tiresome OMG-ification of our culture

How about you? Are you as tired of the OMG-ification of our culture as I am?

Everywhere I turn, I seem to hear the phrase “Oh my God.” And, just in case that may be offensive to some — at least that’s what I suspect — people also, for what seems like ages, have been saying and writing “OMG.” There’s even some celebrity show with OMG in its title.

Here’s what I think:

“Oh my God” as jargon does nothing to honor God.

“O M G” as a casual expression of shock or awe or excitement is N O T C O O L.

I realize I’m old school. Conservative. OK, maybe even uptight. But taking the name of the Creator of the Universe and tossing it around so casually — without any attempt at reverence — is offensive. Maybe Yahweh, Abba, Father has a better sense of humor than I do, but personally I wouldn’t want to chance it. After all, there seems to be a directive on a stone tablet somewhere requiring mankind not to take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Cards on the table, I am far from a saint when it comes to salty language. I have been known to use a four-letter word or two. I even have invented a few questionable phrases. I’m not proud of that, and it’s something I need to work on.

But for as long as I can remember, I have been scrupulous about using the Lord’s name indiscriminately. In fact, I used to worry someone was going to punch me because in my 20s and 30s I would call people on the carpet who used the term “G-D” in my presence. That attitude comes from a need to honor God and it also comes from a need to respect other people. If I say *^%& to you, I may offend you and you may question just how much of a lady I truly am. But if I toss the term “G-D” at you, I have just asked for the worst possible fate for you. And that is so much more reprehensible to me than any other phrase.

“G-D” is not where the line stops for me. I’m pretty particular about any way I mention the Trinity, the Blessed Mother, saints, etc. One day, for instance, after a tense encounter on the road, I muttered about another driver, “Oh for God’s sake.” I immediately caught myself, apologized to God and put myself through a little mental/spiritual exercise. If I were going to use the term “for God’s sake,” I was going to apply it to something. “For God’s sake, be a better person.” “For God’s sake, help other people.” “For God’s sake, be more tolerant.” I made myself stop and think about things I should do for God’s sake.

I suspect OMG and worse phrases are here to stay. We live in a secular society where we can use that kind of language in school classrooms or at town council meetings but we cannot say prayers. We can demean God in the public arena, but we cannot praise Him.

I am indeed tried of the OMG-ification of our culture. Perhaps the best I can hope for is to make sure I am not a contributor to it.

Patricia Quigley is a member of Incarnation Parish, Mantua.

Categories: As I See It, Columns

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