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God Squad: The phrase 'Praise God' could never be wrong in my book

Q: Why not gdsquad or g-dsquad? — From S

A: After Edward Everett visited the Unitarian Church in Boston he remarked that the only time he heard God mentioned was when the janitor fell down the steps.

We tend to use God's name most often as a curse in front of the word "damn," and this is deeply distressing to me. God's name should be a preface to joy and gratitude — not anger and vengeance. That is the reason for the commandment to not take the name of the Lord God in vain. By protecting the way we use the name of God, we protect what we think about God — or what we ought to think about God. So a plea to us all: Let us find a way to curse that does not splatter God with verbal mud.

Another way to honor the commandment, according to many orthodox Jewish friends of mine as well as others, is to refrain from writing the word "God," but instead to write "G-d." In spoken discourse they will replace the name God with the phrase "ha-shem" which means "the name." The Hebrew phrase for "our God" is "eloheinu," and they will purposely change that to "elokeinu," which has no meaning but is a theologically modest substitution.

My view about all this is that we should never swear using God's name, and we ought to be careful in other ways to speak God's name with reverence. In Islam, Muslims, showing such reverence, always add "Peace be upon him" after speaking the name of the prophet Muhammad — and he was not God. Reverence for the holy leads to reverence for all that is good. Writing "G-d," however, does not work for me as an act of reverence because "God" is not God's name. God is from the German word "Gott," not the Hebrew word that is actually God's name. In Hebrew, God's name is a four-letter name, YHWH. (Hebrew: yod, hey, vav, hey). Secular biblical scholars who are unconstrained by religious customs try to render that name into English as Yahweh. This name morphed into the English version, Jehovah as in Jehovah's Witnesses.

So I am OK with God and with God Squad, but mostly I am OK with the phrase "Praise God" or the response to nearly everything in my life, "Thank you God." If this is wrong, I hope they have a spellcheck program in Heaven.

Q: If God blessed the seventh day of the week, why do most people attend church on the first day? — From K

A: The two ways religions differentiate their beliefs is by having distinct beliefs and calendars. By making the Sabbath Sunday and not Saturday, Christianity separated its weekly calendar from Judaism and made it impossible to be both an observant Christian and an observant Jew.

The early Christians observed the Sabbath like Jews, but by the fourth century the religions were sufficiently separated. Sunday, which was called The Lord's Day from the beginning of Christianity because it was the day of the resurrection of Jesus, became the official Sabbath for Christians. The 17th-century Westminster Confession of the Presbyterians states the attitude of most all of Christianity:

"[God] hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath."

Interestingly, the Seventh-day Adventist Christians still observe the Sabbath, like Jews, from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday (but our chicken soup is better than their chicken soup!).

Note to readers: My mailbox has exploded with kind notes from so many dear readers who appreciated my sign from Tommy, the Rev. Thomas Hartman. My message from Tommy that my dad Sol "is in charge" and that Heaven is more beautiful than I could ever imagine came to me through a friend, Michael, who is not a professional medium. It was a pure communication of love and connection through a dear friend from my best friend, who is not with me since his death but whom I know now is with me forever. Thank you all for being so kind and gentle with my gift and thank you for sharing your gift of messages and signs from the next world that death is not the end of us.

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