The Milk Guy and I have recently admitted to each other that we kind of (no longer secretly) enjoy it when the other one is sick, because it gives us respectively the upper hand in our verbal sparring. Not that we don't sympathise with the other's discomfort and wish him or her health. Just that . . . it's nice to have a moment when our albeit friendly opponent is not likely to contest our advantage too much.
Last night, while talking to him on the phone, my head was too congested to have much room for coherent thought and the Milk Guy had taken it into his head to analyse how we each typically end our stories. He said he most frequently ends his with an "oh well." I said I did, too, but he denied it, asserting that my favourite way to end a telling is tailing off with a "so yeah. Anyway." Then he said it surprised him, since I'm such a grammar and spelling snob, that I also include the phrase in my writing. He said I do not, as I posited, always write the way I speak.
I didn't have the energy then to take up this next point, but somewhere in college I picked up the maxim that the reason to learn grammar rules was so that you could break them effectively in your own writing. I really believe this, too. You have to know how something works at a basic level before you can see its true potential and have the freedom not to be bound by those basics. There is good writing and bad writing, and in my opinion and experience, either remaining rigorously tied to grammar rules, or being totally ignorant of or flouting them, generally leads to bad writing. One is result is wooden and the other is often incomprehensible. Both are often self-conscious. I feel free to write in vernacular sometimes because, if I think about it, I suspect I know how the language works well enough to be able to write it so that it reads like actual speech. My relationship here is more with the living language than with the rules themselves. My best writing flows unselfconsciously out of a love of words and of communicating.
I didn't have the energy to bring up this point because I was pretty sure the Milk Guy would seize the opportunity to universalise the maxim and ask if I apply the same thinking to my faith, or something like that. And I didn't want to talk about it right then because I wanted to think about it. I don't know. Do I? And is that wrong, or is it appropriate?
I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. And there are a lot of rules in it. Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law and He also told us that if our righteousness didn't exceed that of the religious leaders of His day, we were in sad shape. I think we need to know what's in there. I think it needs to guard our hearts and inform our thinking and give us a framework for our lives. But it isn't enough to get us into God's good graces--He gets us there Himself through relationship. If I don't know the Law at all or go out of my way to disobey it, or if I am completely tied to it by legalistic fear or self-righteousness, either way it's "bad writing." I'm not following Jesus in those cases. I'm following (or intentionally breaking) Rules--and I'm very self-conscious about it. But my relationship is supposed to be with the Living Word, and with everything I think and say and do flowing more and more out of unselfconscious love for Him.