Dear Lord

Town hall staff have been banned from using the phrase \’singing from the same hymn sheet\’ because it could upset atheists.

Oddly, I\’ve just been reading one of Douglas Adams\’ essays, where he describes himself as a militant atheist. He also addresses the question of his use of religious imagery ("some bloke got nailed to a tree two thousand years ago" for example).

The point is that such images, certain phrases ("giving up the ghost" comes from the King James translation of Genesis) are in the very bones of the language and the culture. Any writer is going to use these as they reverberate, come laden with resonances.

I\’m sure we could find all sorts of bits and pieces from Polly T\’s columns where she uses such phrases and she\’s the President (or High Punkah Wallah, whatever title they use) of the National Secular Society. Dawkins I\’m sure also uses them.

This is inevitable as there are really only two works which created the English language. Yes, it\’s a delightful mongrel tongue, taking words from everywhere, but it\’s Shakespeare and the King James Bible that helped to codify it. In a way, the KJB is one of the founding documents of the written language and thus there are religious overtones to many well known phrases.

Something which a "militant atheist" like Adams was well aware of, indeed revelled in.


10 thoughts on “Dear Lord”

  1. for example:
    * let there be light
    * the powers that be
    * my brother’s keeper
    * the salt of the earth
    * a law unto themselves
    * filthy lucre
    * it came to pass
    * gave up the ghost
    * the signs of the times
    * the spirit is willing
    * live and move and have our being
    * fight the good fight

  2. It seems our elected representatives, or possibly the staff they have appointed, haven’t got enough to do. An opportunity for economy in these straightened times perhaps?

  3. I’m atheist and I use religious imagery all the time, often blasphemously. These people are pandering to a mental minority that I’m not even sure exists. If you don’t believe, just treat it as a metaphor and get on with life.

  4. I’m an atheist and I’m offended by Town Hall Staff taking the piss with their pensions and non jobs. Can we just ban them?

  5. Richard Dawkins himself, has nothing against the use of religious imagery. He calls the bible a very important work of literature.

    I am an athiest who grew up in a very religious family. I use such language all the time. Can’t remember the last time I used a Town Hall worker though. Why don’t we ban them.

  6. When did all you buggers start using the Americanism “King James Bible”? It was the “Authorised Version” in my youth.

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