For a long time now, I’ve been writing the word God as G-d. I explained that there are two reasons for this, one being that some people find the name of God so holy, that one shouldn’t take a chance of defacing it or deleting it. So, they substitute the “o” with a hyphen or underscore. And so, not wanting to offend such people, I hyphenated the word God. But I was enlightened to something yesterday.
While we were listening to Matisyahu on the way home from a long day of traveling, I realized that I have been guilty of dualism. For those of you who don’t know Matis, he’s a musician who mixes Orthodox Jewish themes into reggae, rap, beatbox, and hip-hop, though some of his latest music embraces different musical styles.
A few times in Matis’ music, he uses variois Hebrew words for God. Sometimes he uses Adonai, a Hebrew word meaning, “My Lord” and sometimes he’ll use HaShem, a Hebrew word meaning, “The Name”. Both of these words have replaced the Hebrew word YHWH (יהוה), the name of God (Exodus 3.14), in formal and casual use, respectively. The most widely held pronunciation of YHWH by Hebrew scholars is Yahweh (yaw-way). In Greek this is called the Tetragrammaton, meaning “Four-letter-word”.
For some odd reason, I looked up the word HaShem. It’s not like I didn’t know what it meant, but here we are. During my reading about the different names of God, I ran across this quote regarding Shalom:
Talmudic authors, ruling on the basis of Gideon’s name for an altar (“YHVH-Shalom”, according to Judges 6:24), write that “the name of God is ‘Peace’” (Pereq ha-Shalom, Shab. 10b); consequently, a Talmudic opinion (Shabbat, 10b) asserts that one would greet another with the word shalom in order for the word to not be forgotten in the exile. But one is not permitted to greet another with the word shalom in unholy places such as a bathroom, because of holiness of the name (emphasis added).
And that last sentence got me thinking.
All of these terms are used because people—honest, God-loving people—want to somehow maintain the holiness of God’s name. So, to separate the holiness of God from the profaneness of creation, some people have chosen to use different words or spell the word “God” differently. I completely get that. And, as I stated above, I’ve done that for years out of respect for those people who might be reading my blog.
But that last sentence really convicted me. You see, my personal view is that there’s no division between the sacred and the secular in our world. Certainly, we may deem something or someplace or even someone more “holy” than some other thing or some other place or even some other person. But that’s not how I see the world. And, I don’t think that’s how God or the Bible sees it either.
In Celtic Christianity from the 4th-12th centuries, the sacred and the secular were close together. The sacred was immersed into the “secular” at almost every turn. There are prayers for milking cows, stoking fires, baking bread, etc. This is because the ancient Celts understood that the world God made is “supremely good.”
In the Bible the world is so good that God (somehow) became a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. From Jesus forward, God’s Realm is continuing to grow and grow. And, in the final chapter of God’s dream (Revelation 21-22), God’s dimension (“heaven”) and our dimension (“earth”) are fully joined together.
So, while I still don’t want to offend others, I have to be true to my own convictions. Therefore, from now on, I’m no longer hyphenating the word “God” in my writings. I see God in the face of every person I meet; every bird song I hear; every breeze that I feel; in the smile of my wife.
God is here and here is “supremely good.”
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC