23 Sep My Kingdom for a Comma
What a tremendous victory! I can’t believe what a monumental moment in history occurred recently, and so many people missed. The battle has been waging for years, and finally we have a definitive victory! Of course, when you hear about the actual event, you will probably be underwhelmed…unless you are a grammarian.
See, there, I tipped my hand. No, I am not talking about a sporting event: not a football game, a foot race, or a boxing match. No, the victory I am referring to occurred in a courtroom in New England. The battle was between a truck driver union and a dairy farm, and the victors won because of a…wait for it…tiny…little…comma.
The Oxford comma. It’s such a special little speck of creation. It serves such a great purpose and is loved by masses of grammar-loving nitpickers. Yet, it is hated by hordes of AP style writers. They profess that commas overpopulate Chicago style & need to be eliminated. Who needs an extra comma before the and when listing off items like apples, peaches and grapes? I do…and so did the judge.
The dairy farm argued that even though the Maine law, which lists the duties that do not merit overtime, doesn’t include an Oxford comma before the distribution section, it was understood that distribution (driving a truck) was a part of the ineligible list. The judge disagreed and decided they owed the drivers $10 million because truck driving wasn’t clearly listed as ineligible. The comma was important.
Details are important. I came to know the Oxford Comma in my doctoral writing course as we were taught the most formal style of writing. The approach to comma usage was to clarify statements and leave no room for confusion. Maybe the dairy farm could have used that course.
Details matter. What we believe matters. If we talk about Jesus and leave out any part of His story, something is lost. Jesus was God, born of a woman, fully God and fully human. He died. God raised Him from the dead. Jesus went to be with the Father, and He is coming back. We can’t omit any part of that story and still tell Jesus’ story.
If we deny Jesus was human, He can’t know our pains. If He wasn’t God, then He couldn’t have lived without being corrupted by sin. If he never died, there was no sacrifice for our sins. If Jesus wasn’t resurrected, there is no hope for our resurrection. If He didn’t go to be with the Father, the door to heaven could not be opened for us. If Jesus isn’t coming back, there is no end to the death spiral the world is currently in. The details matter.
What is the cost of ambiguous faith? Who wants to be around people who don’t stand for anything?! Unfortunately, the answer is too many people….for Jesus’ liking. Faith matters. What we believe matters. How we behave Monday through Saturday matters.
Sundays give us the opportunity to learn and experience God. We want to receive a message that makes our faith real and applicable in our daily lives. Of course, we have to attempt to practice what was preached. This includes me. I try just like you do. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t. But, I keep offering myself to God to be shaped and transformed.
Details matter. How we live and what we say matter to God. Let our yes be our yes, and let our no be our no. When we say we believe something, let us stand on that belief and not be shaken by the ways of the world. Each day matters. Details matter.
Blessings to you,