This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cussing 1

Vicar Tells Churchgoers To Swear More

If this Vicar thinks Jesus cussed on no other basis than that Jesus was poor, uneducated, and didn't keep company with Pharisees and scholars, then i am not at all convinced. 

i don't think Christians should start using "cuss words" in order to fit in or get in touch with the "common man."  But the article does brings to my mind a couple things about "cussing" that i think are important.  

Embracing taboos about "cussing" can sustain and morally codify social prejudices.

Quite a few of our culture's "cuss words" are actually the result of oppression and imperialism.  Consider the following:

It's no coincidence that most acceptable words for intimate body parts and their functions, words like copulate, defecate, urinate, derriere, penis, pudendum, have Latin or French roots. England was conquered by the Norman French in 1066 and by the Romans a thousand years before. The stamps of those conquests are still impressed upon our language just as American Blacks still bear the names of masters rather than of ancestors. The conquerors got to say what was good and bad, what was permissible and impermissible, what was high class and what was low class. No doubt they thought themselves the measure of all things right and proper and their Anglo-Saxon subjects, serfs, and slaves, the measure of all things undesirable. Their power and assurance were so strong that they convinced their victims to conform to their standards. So the old Anglo-Saxon words or words with Anglo-Saxon roots became taboo while the languages of the conquerors remained acceptable, even after conqueror and conquered had merged into a single race. Violence and power reached beyond death and grasped the descendants of its victims. There is no logical reason that any English speaker should be allowed to say defecate but not shit, copulate but not fuck, derriere but not ass.
(Taken From This Article)

While many of the words we consider "cuss words" don't bear the same ethnic or political prejudice with which they originated, they can still bear and sustain prejudice nonetheless.  From the perspective of many who consider cussing a moral taboo, cussing is seen as low-class, dirty, unsophisticated, and even unintelligent. (i can't tell you how many times i heard growing up, "They only talk that way because they're not smart enough to think of other words to say.")  

If we don't cuss, and if we think of cussing in these ways, it's very easy then to view people who cuss with disdain and disregard--to look down on other human beings because they use a list of words that we don't use. --to think people who don't cuss are better or more worthy of love and attention than people who do.  And we feel morally justified in acting on these prejudices. Why? Because those people use "dirty" words.  Thus, it actually becomes "right" to look down at other people.

Since Jesus died on the cross for both cussers and non-cussers, i don't see how that could possibly be construed as a Christ-like attitude.

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