The Pronoun Formerly Known as He

English major grumble. Sometime in the Eighties some sort of revolt was attempted in which somebody had the bright idea of castrating God in deference to bitter nuns with short-cropped, iron grey hair, bland wardrobes and sensible shoes who attended conferences on liturgy featuring undersexed men with scraggly beards and guitars who mewled on about subverting the dominant paradigm. Judging simply from the results (not that I was there when the fateful decision was taken), some Task Force on the Elimination of Sexism evidently decided that the thing to do was start by getting rid of the masculine pronoun. And so, like a rising tide, more and more parishioners were instructed/influenced/miscatechized to say things like “Glory to God in the highest and peace to(Delete:his/insert “God’s”) people on earth” or “It is right to give (Delete:him/insert “God”) thanks and praise” and so forth. Some even got as far as getting a few ninnies to change the Sign of the Cross to “In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier”. But then, somehow, the enthusiasm waned. The tide rolled back. The Sign of the Cross reverted to normal. Most of linguistic victimology withered on the vine. And so, each Sunday, in the liturgy, we now have a congregation in which everybody refers to God as “Father” (like our ignorant sexist Lord did) and not “Parent”. We also, of course, call Jesus Lord, not “Lady”. But about 1/25 of the congregation has this strange lingering terror of the masculine pronoun and can’t bring itself to say “he” “him” or “his” while the rest of us do. Sort of a linguistic fossil remnant of the revolution that failed. Since I live in the Seattle Archdiocese where this sort of thing was most enthusiastically promoted, I cheer myself with paraphrasing Frank Sinatra: “If it can’t make it here/Can’t make it anywhere!/It’s up to you Seattle, WAAAAAAAAA!”


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