Comma

The punctuation Nazis (generally indistinguishable from grammar Nazis and syntax Nazis) come out from under their rocks and rail about the Oxford comma every few months.  This, unfortunately, was one of those months.

        For those blessed to be ignorant of such things, the Oxford comma is the comma that appears (or, depending on your inclination, does not appear) between the ultimate and penultimate items in a list.  “I like ham, turkey, and chicken.”  The Oxford comma appears after turkey.  To include, or not to include; that is the question.

Generally we are subjected to articles entitled “Three sentences that prove you must always use the Oxford comma.”  This list might include this offering: “I love my parents, Adam Sandler, and Princess Diana.”  Leave the comma out, and voila! You’re in the tabloids.

In actuality, though, the sentences in question only prove that you must sometimes use the Oxford comma.  Most sentences like this read perfectly fine one way or the other.  Forcing total strangers to insert flecks of black into perfectly intelligible sentences simply to satisfy your own whims, that seems far too rude for a tradition that has such obviously English roots.  It’s just not cricket, you know.

My foibles about how people criticize my communication efforts are hardly worthy of headlines.  However, I do get somewhat more than miffed when people criticize God’s way of communicating.  “He should be more direct!  He should be more kind!  He should be more flexible!”  Well, my wife thinks Stephanie Meyer is a hack.  Everyone’s a critic these days.

Here’s an idea from Habakkuk 2:20: “But the LORD is in His holy temple.  Let all the earth be silent before Him.”  Let Him do the talking.  Let’s focus our efforts on listening.  I’m sure you will understand Him just fine if you apply yourself.