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13 June 2011

The Armchair Grammar Police

I'm no expert on grammar or the English language. There, I said it.

But guess what, kids. That doesn't stop me from going around acting like I'm one. Now, there are some people like my friend Tony who can tell you exactly why and how you screwed up a particular statement, citing official rules of grammar he actually remembers from Mrs. Haas' (or whomever's) 11th grade AP class. Me? Well, most of the time I just pride myself in knowing when something's wrong with your sentence. And there's occasional glee in telling you about it (but only if you should know better). I'm the life of the party, for sure.

(Stray thought... Murphy's Law says that due to the nature of this post, I'm going to have a massively horrible grammatical error in here somewhere, and Tony will point it out.)

This group is not unlike like that of the Armchair Sci-Fi Movie Laws of Physics Police, of which I guess I'm a deputy rather than a full-fledged officer. You know, the guys and the occasional girl who'll watch one of the Star Trek movies before the most recent one and, with no warning, blurt out exclamations like, "You can't hear engines [or explosions] in the vacuum of space! I can't believe they'd do that..."

Yes, indeedy, not at all different from The Armchair Grammar Police. You know, I'm on the force. While I work in many departments, I may be most skilled at Lyric Investigation.

Favorite Song Of AllMy wife and I were trying to learn a song not long ago, and the melody of its bridge immediately reminded me of Phillips, Craig & Dean's classic CCM smash hit from yesteryear, "Favorite Song of All". Every Christian worth his salt in contemporary music knew that song by heart. Every good Christian, anyway. I remember when my friend Mike operated Christian Concert Ministries and brought PCD to Huntsville, AL. Being named "Dean" and all, I guess I was easy to get to know for Randy, Shawn, and Dan, and we hit it off very well (they even remembered me when I saw them years later). I enjoyed hanging out with them that day, going to KFC and chatting, setting up for the show, etc. These are fantastic, likable, and very genuine guys.

But back to the big hit song; specifically the bridge lyrics. I've honestly tried, but I just can't ignore this:

It's not just melodies and harmonies 
That catches His attention
It's not just clever lines and phrases
That causes Him to stop and listen

Yikes. How did that make it through the rewrite process? I guess the extra syllable was needed for meter and rhythm on "catches" and "causes," but it wasn't needed to do this thing we call "writing correctly." (As a side note, you can probably imagine how grating I find it when someone sings "you and I" where it should be "you and me," all because they need the "I" to be a rhyming word. Please just spend a few more minutes brainstorming instead of becoming a language butcher.)

I was working in the yard yesterday and the bridge of "Favorite Song of All" kept looping in my head, over and over and over and over. I thought all manner of things, most of them along the lines of, "Why did such cool, intelligent guys have to write the bridge like that?!" and, "Did nobody in the control room at the studio say, 'Hey guys, that wording's a little... you know... wrong'?" Sure, I probably need some sort of medication, but I have other obsessive issues about doctors and medicines. (Right about now you're probably thinking how blessed my wife is to be able to live with such a wonderful man.)

Eventually it dawned on me that I kept singing the first part of the bridge, and because of my obsession with the grammar thing I never got to this part:

But when any heart set free,
Washed and bought by Calvary begins to sing,
(That's His favorite song of all...)

Wow, hey, that's an amazing lyric! Unfortunately I wasn't singing that part in my head all day. Just once, and it smacked me in the face. Isn't it crazy how obsessed, distracted, and even angry we can become about our pet stuff, and in doing so completely miss the message? This is especially true of people in all walks of life, with all kinds of personalities: those who don't like TV evangelists, people who are racists, folks who don't think silver jewelry looks good, guys who like to debate theology (not that I know any of those kinds of people, of course, nor am I one of them...), and just about any people group or personality you can name.

It's the height of irony that one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 2:3: "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves." Actually, I'm not too good at that. Maybe I don't like the verse so much as it's a "big" verse for me.

Pretension can't exist in the life of a person who's living out the Word. And that often humbles me and shames me, embarrassing as it is to admit such a thing.

Big thanks to for putting the badge image in stealable format. You guys really need to check out this post. If you're a regular reader of EGBDF, consider this  a warning that you will probably not want to read all of Evil Genuis' posts. The author is hilarious, but you will very likely be shocked and/or offended.


Evil Genius said...

Nice post... and you're welcome to use the image. (thanks for the link!) Almost anything I post, I am willing to share with others. The only time I prefer NOT to share is when I create or photograph a specific image for a client... but in that case, I will also post a warning that the image is copyrighted and not to be used without permission. In this case - I'm glad there are more Grammar Police out there to carry on the work! Go forth and spell-check! ;)

Dean Lusk said...

Woo! Thanks for the luv!

Do you ever wonder how people at sign companies can sleep at night after manufacturing a multi-thousand dollar sign with an obvious misteak on it?

Btw, as I wiped tears from my eyes (the humor-related kinds of tears) while reading a couple of your posts, I realized I'd better post a "careful, you may be offended" note for many people who read my blog. I'm guessing probably noticed that while we apparently share some personality traits (probably a food many), I have a slightly different target audience. :-)

I just hope my note doesn't offend you. Again, grateful for the graphic!

Dean Lusk said...

("...I'm guessing YOU probably noticed..." Nice. I knew I'd hose up something in this thread.)

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