A typical Sunday Morning__
Many Christians are either already at church or are preparing to go to church. Others celebrated the Sabbath the previous day and are perhaps stretching and yawning, getting out of bed.
Oh God!, My God!, Oh My God!, God Dammit!, Lord God!
The almost unconscious, habitual utterance, many times it seems, frequently refers to the Christian Deity, whether one, two or three-in-one. In many instances, it is not used in praise and worship but for the simple annoyances in life, expressions of shock and exasperation, and sometimes, I daresay, bliss? In my experience, I have not observed a deity being referred to in such a frequently unconscious, and sometime unholy, manner, despite commandments that would discourage such acts.
What makes us ramble any word or phrase unconsciously in the first place? Let us closely examine two key words, unconscious and habit.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, (many are now made to believe that research entails googling, a new verb), unconscious means:
: not knowing or perceiving: not aware b: free from self-awareness
: not possessing mind or consciousness <unconscious matter> b (1): not marked by conscious thought, sensation, or feeling <unconscious motivation> (2): of or relating to the unconscious c: having lost consciousness
: not consciously held or deliberately planned or carried out
Let us look also at habit:
: the prevailing disposition or character of a person's thoughts and feelings : mental makeup
: a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior
a: a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance b: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary
So God has become a word that is unconsciously repeated due to frequent repetition and exposure. It has become so engrained in our everyday language that its utterance has become almost involuntary. This must mean that we are continually exposed to the word God, if we take in to consideration how behaviours become unconscious and habitual.
Are we frequently exposed to the word God, outside religious contexts? Let us examine this for a moment.
Where do we see the word God outside of religious contexts? Now may be a good time to google (remember that new verb?) to find out. I was so surprised at my discovery that I did indeed exclaimed, Oh My God!. My awareness has now increased tenfold by just writing this article!
Here is a list of some contexts I found:
Let me stop at number seven to rest. God did rest on the seventh day_.
How can anyone, Christian or Non-Christian, avoid the word God. It seems to be a penetrating word, encompassing many more areas than I was consciously aware. In the various non-religious contexts, do we apply the same associations with the word God as we do in religious contexts?
There is an association between God and attributes of power, authority, supremacy and omniscience, to name a few. This three-lettered word evokes in many, feelings of surrender, loyalty and marvel. With such powerful associations, do we also habitually and unconsciously assign them to God in non-religious contexts?
I propose this thesis: Any context involving God will conjure similar associations and attitudes
A great debate this idea is sure to provoke as we instantly begin to process our own attitudes to determine if we agree with the statement. The point of this article is not to debate the purported thesis but to simply beckon the word God from unconsciousness into consciousness.
Oh God cannot be simply an utterance used by Christians or even religious peoples. It permeates so many aspects of daily life that even persons who do not believe in a god must certainly find themselves saying this and/or similar phrases. While in many circles such senseless reference to a Deity is blasphemous, I beg leniency for the afflicted, including myself.
What I would encourage instead is the identification of mindless, habitual behaviours. We should strive to recognize such things in ourselves, examining its source and deliberately using or removing based on compatibility with one's own integrity and values. If moved to say Oh God!, My God!, Oh My God!, let it be an exact reflection of our purpose for saying it: praise, exasperation, annoyance, delight, fright.
Wait a minute? Can this unconscious habit be a result of brainwashing as well?
Oh My God!
Photo Credit To Secure Ministries
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Tina S. Mowatt is a freelance contributor to MNI Alive