Punctuation

My seventh-grade English grammar teacher was outstanding. I don’t know where Mrs. Lake is today, but she drilled syntax into our mushy adolescent minds as one who spoke with authority. She taught us to distinguish between subjects and objects, adjectives and adverbs, synonyms and homonyms, vocatives and interjections. She taught us inviolable rules of punctuation, such as when to use a colon versus a semi-colon or how to place commas with nouns of address and appositives. She required perfect spelling without exceptions.

As a youth I was so infatuated with the rules of grammar that I thought biblical inerrancy was matter of punctuation and spelling. I didn’t understand how dictionaries were descriptive rather than prescriptive. When I was confronted with the fact that Bible manuscripts were written with little or no punctuation in the Hebrew and Greek, it was difficult for me to process. This new information didn’t fit my misguided, immature theological categories.

My obsession with grammar and punctuation was intensified in graduate school when my thesis adviser returned my first chapter (five or six pages) with more than a hundred editorial changes. I was crushed, but it made me a better writer and editor. I salute that mentor, Roy Zuck, who is now with the Lord.

Fast forward several decades: I’m still fascinated by grammar and punctuation. I’ve never published a book, but it would bring great joy to do so. I’m not interested in self-publishing, which is nearly always inferior in both content and style. I was excited to be a ghost writer/editor for portions of my son’s book, iPad in the Enterprise. Blogs usually aren’t intended to be polished material, but whenever I find an error in my blog, I always change it, even after it’s published. Poor grammar suggests sloppy thinking, not just hasty typing.

I’m troubled by the lack of punctuation in nearly all PowerPoint presentations of worship songs used by many churches today, including New Life. I fear we may be raising a generation ignorant of the value of punctuation. This is part of effective communication to a world lost in Twitter abbreviations. I rarely create our PowerPoint worship slides these days, but when I do, I always include full punctuation. It’s not hard; publishers still include punctuation marks with the lyrics in nearly all worship songs.

Punctuation is important It clarifies the content and assists readers It’s harder to read without punctuation I don’t expect to start a revolution but this is my pebble in the pool Lets make communication better in the next generation It can be as simple as adding punctuation to our PowerPoint slides in worship I wonder though if anyone will read to the end of a paragraph without punctuation If you do I welcome feedback especially comments with punctuation

 

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