• Gisèle Schembri

Oh My God! What Blasphemy!

There are two sides to every story, as they say. So when my friend Bella over at https://www.instagram.com/wholisticbella/ dedicated a post to swearing and blasphemy (an article about not-to, of course!) I decided to play devil’s advocate about the argument being brought to light.

Bella believes we are Living in an ‘OMG’ culture. She worries that the world, more notably than just our country, has ‘normalized’ blasphemy and swearing. Her stance, as she herself notes, comes from a Christian point of view and in addition to this, I must also say that in tackling the subject she remained impartial, only seeking to get a point she holds close to heart out in the open.

I used to be myself a Christian, Catholic even. Just like Bella, I used to send out a prayer whenever I heard someone swear. I still do at times, despite that I worship a total different kind of God essence. Swearing is a no-go because it specifically targets God, a God that well, if you mention him/her at all in times of wonder or distress, is a sign that you recognise their supremacy. However… as I learnt back in Sixth Form whilst studying English Lit - there is swearing, and then there is blasphemy.

‘O Jesus Christ! I’m hit,’ he said; and died.

That is the first line of the first stanza in Wilfred Owen’s poem The Last Laugh. This is more a cry for help from a god rather than to show disrespect in any way. Granted that eating a grasshopper, which is one of Bella’s examples in her post, is a totally different level of asking-for-help to a fictitious dying soldier, it still remains the fact that rather than swearing, ‘OMG’ represents a want for help, of sorts, and humans (as well as probably animals too) switch their attention to God for things big and small.

To quote another well-known author and favourite quote of mine:

Within the infant rind of this weak flower

Poison hath residence and medicine power.

Romeo & Juliet, Act II sc iii

Just like Shakespeare’s Friar Lawrence mentions, there is good and bad in everything. This, in my opinion, extends to the use of exclamations such as ‘Oh My God!’ Saying it for example when you see beautiful animals is like saying a prayer of gratitude and wonder, isn’t it?

Let’s not forget that not everyone is Christian. I have a huge respect for the Bible and so I see the importance of the commandment to ‘Not take the Lord’s name in vain.’ for some people. On the other hand, others have totally different beliefs to Christians and would view making reference to God as a form of worship (in the good scenarios of course!)

Another point that Bella makes is the fact that ‘OMG’ in Maltese is considered as a vile profanity whilst it is considered socially acceptable in the English language. This comes about, I would argue, not from the culture but more-so due to the vulgarity of the sounds of the Maltese language as well as the intention behind the statement being made and how it is used. I believe that to truly dissect this last observation, one would have to look into the etymology surrounding both the Maltese swear word and the milder-sounding English version.

After all is said and done, we must always remember that we are most often not alone when we utter words of praise or disdain both, and that our words and actions will always send out energetic pulses to all around us, be they good or bad. So rather than dwell on the dictionary meaning or sound of any phrase we use, we might better consider to ensure that we ‘Harm None’, a phrase in the Wiccan Rede, rather than the Bible, which continues to prove the point that it is not about religion really, but about respect.


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