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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Thursday, September 12 2002 

"As" and "like" - 2

The article in the daily inspiration email list I subscribe to, "Chicken Soup for the Soul," on Wednesday has a sentence that helps illustrate two of the points I began to make yesterday. Remembering the birth of his daughter on our nation's day of infamy, September 11, 2001, the author says: "And just as Anna Belle, I was pulled from a place of safety, security and peace into a tragic, scary, unpredictable and hostile world." The erroneous use of "as" in that sentence can demonstrate the importance of not mistaking "as" for "like," and it also gives an easy illustration of the centrality of interpretation in religious or any kind of theoretical (analytical, scientific) thought. I have no quarrel with "Chicken Soup for the Soul," which I usually very much appreciate, nor is it my intent to pick one with this particular article. It just "happens" to have come to the right place at the right time.

The use of "just" next to "as" in this example seems to be designed to obscure the misuse of "as," as it has no significance. So to drive our point home even forcefully, let's disregard it. Read it: "And as Anna Belle, I was pulled from a place of safety, security and peace...." There are several literal ways to interpret the meaning of "as" here. Perhaps the author means he is role-playing Anna Belle, which is not uncommon, though in the context obviously he does not mean to imply. He may be implying that in some mystical sense he "is," or for a moment "was" Anna Belle, and as such he was pulled into a new situation as she was. He could even mean that he was going through an out-of-body experience and in that state had been able to inhabit Anna Belle's body so he could experience the world "as Anna Belle." But obviously he doesn't mean any of these things. All these interpretations are grasping for straws.

Clearly, in the context both of his writing and of our daily exposure to the wrong uses of "as" and "like," we know he means, "like Anna Belle, I was pulled from a place of safety, etc." For "like" is the perfectly appropriate word of simile that applies to the situation. Unfortunately, and tragically for the theology that it causes us to miss (as shown yesterday) we have been sold a false bill of goods that makes us think there's something deficient or just flat-out wrong about the use of "like." Not true. He should have said "like Anna Belle," then there'd have been no need or room for interpretation. Conversely, when Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," He did not mean, "love your neighbor like yourself." But ironically, I think most people most of the time think that's what He was saying.

New photos: Today's new tour gallery is "Around the City" — Paris

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Found in Britain (last of series)

And...remember, it's their language!

Message on a leaflet: IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS.

On a repair shop door: WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR—THE BELL DOESN'T WORK).

—Sent by Frank Charney

Thought for today

We must become the change we want to see.

— Mahatma Gandhi
Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

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