Commas, Semi-colons and Jesus

Sentences are independent clauses. They begin with capital letters and end with periods. They have too; otherwise we do not know when to pause and breath.

Semi-colons exist because sometimes the simple breath of a period is too long a pause between two independent clauses that go hand in hand. The semi-colon is there for the reader, but subtle enough so as not to disconnect the latter from the prior. When the writer wants to show emphasis or pause within one independent clause, they opt to use punctuation marks like: commas, dashes and parentheses.

This is grammar.

It tells us what to do, but not precisely how. The how is dependent upon the message—what the message is and how it is meant to be perceived. Once this is decided, grammar is the formality to the message… the barrel to the bullet so to speak.

Oh, you want the reader to feel shock and amazement? A dash or exclamation could do. Oh, you want the reader to feel wonder and curiosity? An ellipsis may suffice.

Grammar makes me think about Jesus. Seriously. Jesus had guidelines, but so much creativity.

He told us to worship in spirit and in truth, but there are no concrete examples of whether Jesus did this loudly with his hands raised, or in quiet humming. He told us to love our neighbor but he didn’t say whether to bring him a plate of cookies or write him a note. He told us to lose our lives for his sake but he doesn’t clarify whether the call to sell all our possessions was for Nicodemus alone, or all of us.

And so, we are a needy people, requiring daily, specific direction: whether a cook to a chef,  or a Christian to God in prayer, or a writer to their editor.

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