Why Don’t I Capitalise god?

Laurie Montgomery asked me what I don’t capitalise ‘god’ in the ‘About Me’ section of this blog.  I appreciate the question – and while I don’t have a firm rule about the grammar of names for the divine, some wider thoughts below:

A note on God: I don’t think we can really talk about God.  The name cannot begin to conceive of what ‘God’ might actually be.  Woody Allen famously asserted that asking him about his belief or non-belief in God was pointless given that he couldn’t even get his typewriter to work.  Dealing with small things is difficult enough without facing the deepest existential questions.  Given that I don’t use a typewriter, I’ll risk just a little more theologising than Woody, but still bear in mind that whatever we say about God will be inadequate.  My friend Pete Rollins writes beautifully about what he calls a/theism – the idea that our best ideas of God will fall short; by the same token, our most profound denials of God cannot come close to describing what Meaning is.

On the one hand, the notion that the Ground of all Being can be restricted to only having personal attributes makes God nothing more than a more powerful version of Santa Claus.  On the other, the rejection of the idea of there being Something Beyond us seems to me to be rooted in disappointment with life at least as much as with a rigorous commitment to science, as many proponents of so-called ‘non-belief’ would want to say.  For the record, I don’t think God/god/G-d is a magician in the sky, nor a friendly but more capable universal grandfather.  Nor do I think we came from nowhere and have nowhere to go.  Talk about ‘God’ is always inadequate; it’s far too big a word that it can’t fail to destabilise any sentence that tries to contain it.  The paradox is that I think we have to talk about God if we are to discover what it means to be human.  So I apologise for the failure of my words to convey what I mean – and I hope you can trust that when I use the word ‘god’ I’m talking about something unimaginable.  And that my assumption about this ‘God/god/g-d’ is simple: he, she or it is either made of love, or we’re in trouble.

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9 responses to “Why Don’t I Capitalise god?

  1. Isn’t your response similar to “the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao”?

    • garethihiggins

      I think it might be antithetical to the Tao for me to give a definitive answer ;-)

  2. How, in your journeys, do you find people responding to your description of a lower case God? I suspect there are two kinds of readers/listeners. What do you find out here?

  3. Very, very thoughtful post. Is it OK if I quote from this on my blog?

  4. You’ve gotten my word.

  5. I refer to god as “the big weirdo”, not to offend…it is a hayseed’s understanding after all- that I know. I can only appreciate your intimate knowledge of god, it is what I too, in my own made to be way- can attest to. I find when looking out for others in a non-offensive way, then I am truly not looking through my own eyes, heart- if only the world could be so open to see, all on their own- the vision made sure for each and everyone’s view. It is a difficult, though not impossible task- to see and say the world this way, if it makes some people convinced, one way or the other- then all the better. At the very least, everyone’s aim is true as they still seem to believe in the from, towards and to.
    I can’t help but wonder if god takes this all as comedy with the point of his being as the punch line.
    Oh thank you for the richness of this, take care-

  6. I suspect the point of being is His,
    but that would be talking about
    Tao, The Way, God, The Big Weirdo
    or whomsoever.

    Then again, I suspect I am a Gnostic.

  7. Beautifully articulated. This is why I appreciate your writing so much (and your theological approaches that naturally stem up from who you are). Thanks!

  8. Just discovering you, but I often uncapitalize (not a word, but there–I said it) “god” and always “christian”. You did put it into words beautifully. Keep writing and we’ll keep responding! This seems a true place of dialogue.