Humpty Dumpty: The New Blasphemy

In a previous light-hearted exercise in "revenge fantasy,"  we touched upon the secular/blasphemous misuse of words with  strong religious or cultural roots.

Litany:  This subject was provoked by a very common misuse of litany, a word that properly--and only--refers to entreaties and prayers to a god, often made as part of of a religious ceremony or procession.  Litanies are an important part of Catholic and Orthodox ceremonies, but the Anglican Great Litany is also cherished by good Anglicans.  Here is a part:

FROM all evil and mischief; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion; from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.
By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,
Good Lord, deliver us.
By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion; by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.
In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

Now, the next time you hear a phrase like "litany of complaints," you will shudder in horror.

Icon/Iconic  was proposed by Mr. Colin.  Madonna or Taylor Swift are now icons--presumably of sluthood--and Superman is an "iconic hero."  An icon is an image, particularly a religious image, and most particularly a religious venerated by the Orthodox as a divinely inspired image of Christ or the saints.

Bible  (or Holy Writ) is used metaphorically for any authoritative published work as in Das Kapital is the Bible for Marxists or  in the 1960s Playboy magazine was the Bible for swingers.  For a religious metaphor to make any sense--as opposed to being frivolously blasphemous--it should be used for something equivalent in a different tradition.  So one might say that Phidias' statue of Zeus at Olympus became iconic for the Greek world makes sense or the works of Homer functioned somewhat as the  Greek Bible.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    There is also decimate, the true meaning of which you covered years ago on another website. Ever since then I have cringed when hearing it used to mean something like “destroy” or “obliterate”, especially when used by people who otherwise know what they are talking about.

  2. Vince Cornell says:

    Not so much now-a-days, but about 10-20 years ago I ran into a lot of people in work scenarios talking about getting approval for a project or a presentation by saying, “Now if we can just get the supervisor to give his blessing.” They’d even sometimes make a quick sign of the cross and throw in a “if we can just get the boss to give his ‘omne domne’ blessing” – for a little extra blasphemy. Perhaps this doesn’t count because it’s more overt blasphemy and not just the loss of knowledge of our own culture.

    There’s also the common place use of the word adore, as in “I just adore those shoes.”

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    How about Sanctuary, as merely a place of refute for illegal aliens?

    Or–and this is one of the most detestable–women who cry out, “O my g-d if they win $5 in the lottery or like the taste of their appletini?

    How about “baptized by fire” for any difficult beginning to a job?

  4. Allen Wilson says:

    “Righteous” as recently used by Dark Brandon with reference to the Israeli operations in Gaza. How can a military operation and bombing campaign in which thousands of civilians are killed be ‘righteous”?

  5. Dom says:

    Maybe he is a closet surfer dude.

  6. Vince Cornell says:

    Well, he once worked as a trucker, which brought him to the West Coast, which is where he took up surfing. Back in 1972 he won first place in the world’s Surf Championship, no joke. That was a big year for him, because it happened right after he discovered penicillin and, in tragic news, it was also the same year his first wife was eaten by piranhas when she tried to save a pack of drowning poodles at Martha’s Vineyard.

    Biden is to lying politicians as Michael Bay is to movie directors – he takes his craft to absurd, incomprehensible, over-the-top extremes and is a big hit in China.

  7. Michael Strenk says:

    Oh my g-d! I don’t even want to think about what might be lurking in Biden’s closet, next to his boogie board.

    Ed Dowd recently put up a clip of Biden remarking on how he has known Putin for over 40 years and been concerned about him for just as long. In what capacity, he then wonders.

    How about people who exclaim, “Who does he think he is, G-d?!” Whenever someone acts arbitrarily and even violently to exert power over others for fun or profit, presumably just like our infinitely loving and merciful Lord.