Thursday, June 23, 2016

I hate "God is great" and that darn phrase from Sam McBratney's book

It's summer......
I'm bored......
So I have nothing to write about except all these little thoughts swirling in my head.

I often talk to my students about the terms "denotation" and "connotation."

Denotation is the literal meaning of a word.  For example, the denotation of the word blue is the color between violet and green.

Connotation is the idea/feeling/meaning that a word invokes.  The connotation of the word blue is sadness or melancholy.

If I say "I am blue," I may be Violet Beauregarde or I may be depressed.

I think it is very important to consider not just the definition you find in a dictionary, but the larger perceptive meaning that words suggest to you and others.

Suffice it to say, I have a connotative conundrum with the phrase "God is great," which people use a lot.

Typically, this phrase is used when someone gets good news.  I have yet to see someone say or write "God is great" when they've just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer (or any cancer).

When what they want to happen happens, God is great.
When what they don't want to happen happens, God will take care of them and has it all under control.
Either way, God apparently has a special place in his pocket

Maybe they are using "great" in the denotative case?  In this case, I wouldn't have a problem.  God is above/beyond the average or normal.  I can get behind that usage.  God is bigger/larger/more profound than our average/normal human understanding (which also leads me to the whole idea that as mere humans we don't have the capacity to understand God in any way, shape or form, but that is another blog post for another day.  Or maybe later....because I am bored.)

But "great" connotatively means "better than good."  If I say I had a great time at dinner, I do not really mean I had a time beyond the normal, even if dinner was beyond my normal dinner.  I mean I had fun, it was good, I enjoyed it.  "Great" is a judgment word.

So if "God is great" it means God is judgmental.  God is picking and choosing who gets blessed and who doesn't.  God deems you to be special and someone else (who did get a positive cancer diagnosis) to not be special.  I know this is not what people intend to mean when they say it, but this is how I (and maybe others) connotatively understand it.  This phrase is like a skin tag in the bra line.  It doesn't cause pain or damage, but dang does it rub the wrong way.

I also have a problem with the general overuse of the phrase.  Like the word "blessed" (which also has that judgment-like meaning attached to it), it has been run into the ever-loving ground.

It is akin to "I love you to the moon and back," a phrase that stems from Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney.

Ooooo, don't get me started on this one.

It doesn't bother me for its connotative/denotative meanings but for its absolute ruination because everybody on the planet loves everybody else on the planet far beyond the planet.  They love them to the moon.....and back.

And we have to have t-shirts and signs and ornaments and cups and bracelets stating that we love people to the moon and back.

I love the Sam McBratney book, but I daresay he is sick to death of this phrase being used by every human alive to describe how they feel about their loved ones.  Is there no other children's book in the world that has a similar sentiment?

This, THIS, was the book that I adored when my children were small.

It's summer.
I'm bored.
Possibly PMSing....
Just ignore me.

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