Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordsmith Wednesday

Are "if" and "whether" grammatically interchangeable?

No, actually they are not, though many of us use them as though they are.  The error is one-sided.  We often use "if" when we should use "whether."  Some grammar sites set up a half dozen rules about when to use which one, but it really isn't that complicated.

Use "if" when specifying a condition.

Use "whether" when specifying an alternative or a choice.

That's it.  It really is that simple.

1)  Let me know if you are spending the night at Caleb's house.

2) When will you decide if you are attending the concert?
3)  Call me if you decide to spend the night at Caleb's house.

In each of the first two sentences, no condition is  being set forth, but an alternative is.  

"Let me know whether or not you are spending the night at Caleb's house" is what we mean.  The "or not" alternative is implied.   

Likewise with #2: "When will you decide whether or not you will attend the concert?"

#3?  Now there we have a condition.  I don't mean call me "whether or not" you decide.  An "if/then" condition has been established.  If you decide, then call.

So...IF we make the alternative clear then our choice is easier.  WHETHER OR NOT we make the alternative explicit, we have to train ourselves to choose the right word!

If you find that it takes you too long to determine whether a condition or an alternative is being offered, mentally throw in the "or not" with whether.  That only takes a millisecond and if it works, then "whether" is the correct choice!  And it almost always is...

Whether you like it or not, I'll be paying attention.  If you don't like it, then feel free to say so!

Course He Isn't Safe...

But He's Good.  

No modern has said it better than Lewis did with those words in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Tonight's thunderstorms have been especially long and powerful.  As I sat on the porch feeling the massive voice of God shake the whole I watched his arrows of lightning reveal what the darkness was hiding...I couldn't help but notice that all the while, the gracious, life-giving rain was also falling steadily.  Even in the midst of storm and terror, He sends tokens of His kindness.  

Storms are dangerous  and sometimes terror-inducing.  An exposed and fragile flower can be beaten down by the severity of the wind and rain...its head bowed all the way to the ground in submission or defeat, but inevitably the sun shines again and the rain that accompanied the storm, along with the light of the sun causes its head to raise again...its roots to extend deeper into the ground so that it is more firmly planted.  It grows stronger and bears fruit.  

How like our God, isn't it?  To bring life from lift up our preserve us throughout the storm and to send His life-giving warmth and presence when they have passed.  "Course He isn't safe...but He's good.  He's the King, I tell you!"

"Oh how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all."  Psalm 104 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Weight of Glory

From CS Lewis's essay:

...that is enough to raise our thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex for ever will also drown her pride deeper than Prospero’s book. Perfect humility dispenses with modesty. If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself; “it is not for her to bandy compliments with her Sovereign.” I can imagine someone saying that he dislikes my idea of heaven as a place where we are patted on the back. But proud misunderstanding is behind that dislike. In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised. I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please be a real ingredient in the divine be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.

Read the essay in its entirety here.

Musical Monday: First Aid Kit

Thanks to my friend, Rachel, for the intro to this female duo: