Marc Barnes, aka the Bad Catholic has moved his blog here to Patheos, and with his very first post he has my head spinning, my synapses leaping for joy. He’d have my wordsmith mother whirling like a dervish, had she been inclined to whirling.
The child’s writing chops and original thinking have me gasping: “if he is writing like this at 18, what sort of fabulous monster will he be at 35?”:
Back when we had a faith, curses were fabulously blasphemous. ‘Sblood’ (Christ’s blood), or ‘swounds’ (Christ’s wounds) come immediately to mind when considering the old vulgarities of the English language. Unfortunately for us, when the religious fervour of our culture faded, these marvelous words faded with it. So feel free to sling ‘em around your boss – unless he’s a closet English-Lit Major, you’re in the clear.
But regardless, a brilliant modern case of this obedience of language to its culture is seen in the French curse “Tabernac!”, derived from ‘tabernacle’. (As in: “Tabernac! Les zombies est dans l’ecole!”.) Widely and colorfully in use not 50 years ago, there are places in French Canada where the word is going extinct. The reason is simple. In an ever-secularizing France, no one knows what they are blaspheming any more. We Americans are a little better off, but let’s be honest; outside of our retention of ‘goddammit’ we’re hardly a blasphemous people. Now we – along with the rest of the modern world – say ‘f*ck’.
And I, personally, don’t think it’s any radical improvement, and I certainly don’t think it’s in any way bold, for all its diverse application. When a man blasphemes he is at least – at some basic, pagan level – being bold. Spitting in the eye of the Almighty takes some gall. And in doing so, he never denies the existence of God; he is always open to conversion, if only in the vague acknowledgment of someone greater than he to curse.
Some of you may gasp. I suggest you gasp, mutter up a prayer and then keep reading — O, keep reading; that little muscle flex isn’t anywhere near the point he’s bringing you to.
It’s an adventure! Give in to it. You’ll be glad!