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From the Back Pew: 'God just takes it all in'

Using the Lord's name in vain is something many do, but few understand.

September 22, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu

"Now, I'm not big on blasphemy, but that last one made me laugh."

- Morgan Freeman as God in "Bruce Almighty"

We are all guilty of doing it.

You, sitting there, reading this right now. Me. Your brother, sister, father and mother. My co-workers, in the little corner of the newsroom in which I work, say it all the time. (In fact, a few were just let loose as I composed this paragraph.)

We've all done it at least once. Most often than not, we do it unconsciously. We don't really mean it.

When we do it, and when we realize that we've done it, we may feel guilty.

What is this unconscionable act, you ask? Taking the name of the Lord in vain. We've all done it. And if the trials and tribulations of every-day life are an indication, we're no closer to quitting now than we were yesterday.

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I hear people say it all the time, usually in moments of intense frustration or anger. Some people say it louder than others. Some say it under their breath. And you can count that it comes in many variations, such as "Oh, God!" "Jesus Christ!" "Oh, Jesus!" "Christ!" and my personal favorite, "Goddamnit!"

Taking the name of the Lord is a no-no under the auspices of the Third Commandment. However, "Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain" is easier said than done.

According to a series of articles on the Ten Commandments published on the website for the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, D.C., the Lord's name should only be used during prayer. Using the name of the Lord in vain "disaccustoms" us to using his name in prayer, and "We weaken our ability for communion with God."

So what to do when we cannot kick the habit of using the Lord's name in vain? In confession, I once told a priest about my predicament. At the time, I was feeling very unsure about my religion and what role my life was taking as a result. I did not know if religion was running my life or if my life was running my religion. He said, "God just takes it all in."

I said, "Oh! OK." And that was that.

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU is a reporter for the La Canada Valley Sun. Reach him at (818) 637-3263 or e-mail michael.arvizu@latimes.com

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