When I began writing many years ago, when I knew it was my destiny and before I was pushed into education, my mother would read my work, cock an eyebrow, and say, “Ah! A profane word.” She would then grin mysteriously and walk away. I knew why she grinned.
We were – and are – Christians, but we didn’t get hung up on the social mores of “what is and what is not appropriate” in the usage of specific words. “As long as it is NOT using the Lord’s name in vain with a ‘damn’,” my father, a former Methodist layman, would say, “It’s not a sin. Just be careful in polite company and how you are around certain generations. And for lands sakes, Annabelle, don’t do it at school.”
“Sister Mary Margaret, my English teacher, nailed it,” my mother would hover around my typewriter, “If a profane word in writing helps set the TONE of a story or helps set the NARRATION of a story, it is fine. If it is there to be there for vulgarities sake, it’s a no-go.”
But that, unfortunately, left it up to the reader’s opinion, I would argue. Dr. James Cook settled the conflict for me, “It is up to you how you write and the words you use to craft your communication. And if they don’t like, it, that’s their right to not read it.” He would grin, “But you rarely swear in your writings, Anne, or use profanity.”
So, I had my dilemma solved.
“Just keep in mind the main commandment as a Christian,” all three would remind me, “Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.”
I took that for the “GD” that we are not allowed to utilize because it is, without a doubt, as my son prefers to say, “REALLY BAD CHRISTIAN MOJO!”
When I began teaching at a Catholic school, I was informed that usage of “Jesus Christ, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, and Oh My God” accounted for using the Lord’s name in vain.
I didn’t agree. But then again, when did I agree with 100% of things from Rome?
Everything else, however, was free and open game – in writing, in my personal life, and the way I communicate. Now, I rarely swear in front of people I do not know and no, despite what you are reading, I do NOT have a profane mouth.
And last night, in a blog, I dropped the “F-bomb.”
And got admonished in emails from my blog.
In bed, I chuckled.
“What’s so amusing?”
“People who have problems with the F-bomb in writing in and in life.”
I turned and propped my head in my hands, “Because there is nowhere in the Bible that says the word “FUCK” is a moral sin to utilize in literature – or even in life. You do know what it means?
“So, why the uncomfortable feeling it invokes?”
“It’s socially inappropriate.”
“And who defines our social mores?” I asked.
“People. Individuals. The media. You got the sociology minor, you know that.”
I rolled over and fell asleep grinning.
“I might….use it again.”
“That violates Sister Mary Margaret’s Code of Utilizing Profanity in Writing,” my husband patted my rump, “You better go back and think about that.”
And I sat up.
He was right.
I apologized to the dead Sister Mary Margaret, English professor from a Catholic college in Western Kentucky that taught my mother how to write. I could have utilized another word in that specific blog.
So, in future, when I write and when I communicate, I will utilize the “F-bomb” appropriately and according to the Sister Mary Margaret’s Code of Utilizing Profanity in Writing.