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Jul 30, 2023
This week’s theme
Words from religion

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AWADmail Issue 1100

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: I’d Rather Be Grammatically Correct. Our wicked smart “wit you can wear” fits grammar nazis and word nerds to a tee. 100% cotton, proudly Made in America. Free shipping. Shop now.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Origin of Indo-European Languages Traced Back to 8000 Years Ago
New Scientist

Booksellers Move to the Front Lines of the Fight Against Book Bans in Texas
The New York Times

From: Alexandra Ivanoff (089qwe gmail.com)
Subject: Gospel

As a continuation of today’s word gospel, there’s the 70s Broadway musical Godspell .

Alexandra Ivanoff, Budapest, Hungary

From: Peter Stangl (petersss stanford.edu)
Subject: Religion

You ask for our thoughts on religion. I have no issues with religion itself, only with those who “own” the gospel of each. Being at the pulpit is a powerful position, and power does corrupt even in a house of worship -- in any religion. If I were to be appointed God for just a few minutes, one of the first things I would do would be to eliminate organized religion across the board.

Peter Stangl, Palo Alto, California

From: Ken Hines (kshrink gmail.com)
Subject: Religion

Nothing can take its place, and the sooner the better.

Ken Hines, Saint Joseph, Missouri

From: Eric Miller (ericmiller1957 gmail.com)
Subject: Religion

I tend to see religion, especially organized religion, as a sort of magnifier: it takes whatever you are already, and makes you more so. If you are already courageous and saintly, it gives you extra strength to fight for your noble goals. (Think of Gandhi or King.) If you are already inclined to be obedient, it turns you into a sheep. If you are already selfish and manipulative it turns you into a monster.

Eric Miller, Norwich, Vermont

From: Judith Malkin (jgmalkin rogers.com)
Subject: Thoughts on religion

One of the primary tenets of Judaism is the concept of tikkun olam, translated as “repair of the world”. We are each responsible for making the world a better place. But it’s a big task, and no one person can do it all. There is another saying, though, from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers/Ancestors), which is, “You are not required to finish the work, yet, neither are you permitting to desist from it.”

Judy Malkin, Toronto, Canada

From: John Jason (yonowitz aol.com)
Subject: Fw: A.Word.A.Day--gospel

I have really enjoyed this daily email since I first signed up over 23 years ago so thanks for all the hard work and daily enriching of my vocabulary and knowledge. That being said, your site has been occasionally critical of religion and highly skeptical of the benefit of any organized religion. As a lifelong Christian of 58 years, I cannot adequately share the peace and joy I have due to my belief in God and happiness that Jesus died for my sins. I have a sense of purpose and focus that is a comfort in difficult times for myself and others and a sense of anticipation that, as great as this life has been for me, there is something better to come. While all the trials and tribulations of this world can be perplexing, I know that an omniscient and all-powerful God has a plan for all of us and I could not be happier about that reality.

John Jason, Costa Mesa, California

From: Howard Stafford (kwaaibru gmail.com)
Subject: Christopher Hitchens

Every time a god botherer approaches me I send them a link to one of Christopher Hitchens’ more caustic videos (example, 9 min.).

Works like a charm every time. I never hear from them again.

Howard Stafford, Nelspruit, South Africa

From: Nancy C.G. Meyer (antares11 juno.com)
Subject: Thoughts about religion

Presumably God most generously rewards people whose lives best align with genuine godly principles (not necessarily the rules hawked by professional or self-described religious folk). By that hypothesis I must conclude that God actually prefers honest agnostics who prioritize kindness, rationality, empathy, and fair dealing, because that’s how I’ve tried to live during my many decades. The blessings I’ve been showered with suggest that hypothetical God is untroubled by a little doubt, instead valuing the Golden Rule over any theology.

Nancy C.G. Meyer, Mundelein, Illinois

From: Peter Tabur (jutland10 gmail.com)
Subject: my thoughts on religion

My antipathy towards religion and the religious is directly proportional to how hardcore and militant they are.

Peter Tabur, Nashua, New Hampshire

From: Steve Connolly (steveconnolly99 hotmail.com)
Subject: Gods

Most people believe in one god but not the thousands of other gods worshipped by various humans. I just believe in one less than they do. So they’re almost as atheistic as me.

Steve Connolly, Cornwall, UK

From: Henry M. Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Re: gospel

Your quotation from Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and in particular her reference to “the wrongs of the wordless weak”, reminded me of Karl Marx’s famous observation about religion, that it was “the opium of the people”. While some of his followers, such as Lenin, treated this line as a mocking condemnation of religion and religious believers, Marx comes off as much more sympathetic to at least some believers when we read his original in full:

“Die Religion ist der Seufzer der bedr¨ngten Kreatur, das Gemüt einer herzlosen Welt, wie sie der Geist geistloser Zustände ist. Sie ist das Opium des Volkes.” Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie (Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right), 1843.

Whatever else you might say about Marx -- and since so much has already been said we don’t need to go on at length here -- he produced some fine prose.

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California

From: Vikram Hukmani (vikhuk hotmail.com)
Subject: Religion

Religion, in my limited understanding, was created to maintain some kind of order in civilized society, way before constitutions were written. Then man invented the concept of God to authenticate religion, putting fear of a higher power than the kings and emperors into people’s hearts.

Over time, religion has become the tool of the power hungry, vying as they do for world dominance. God has been “humanized” with each religion personalizing the supreme creator of the universe to their liking. Sometimes it is laughable to see someone begging for mercy, asking “Him” for changing “His” decision, pleading and praying, and often bribing “Him” with offerings and sacrifices to grant them favors over their contemporaries or help them destroy their “enemies”. Don’t we put the poor Lord in a dilemma!

Vikram Hukmani, Baltimore, Maryland

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From: Bethany Knowles (bethanycknowles hotmail.com)
Subject: Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The cadence of the stanzas you provided reminded me of the poem’s last verse I remembered from childhood:

And I am my brother’s keeper,
And I will fight his fight;
And speak the word for beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.

This and some others were on cards I sold to raise money for the Kindness Club. I’d read about it in a book about poodles when I was ten. It worked to help animals in England, such as retired coal-mining ponies and carriage horses. It probably inspired me to become a vegan ten years later, forty-eight years ago. This serves as a religion for me, trying to be as kind as I can to all animals, even humans.

Bethany Knowles, Putney, Vermont

From: Ivy Kaminsky (ivykaminsky yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gospel

From the book Black Beauty by Anna Sewell: “There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham.” How apropos to today’s topic of religion!

Ivy Kaminsky, Pasadena, Texas

From: Frances M Hendry (francesmhendry2704 gmail.com)
Subject: religion

People imagine that a god/goddess/family-of-gods/whatever, who has to organise galaxies of stars, with their planets, with (presumably) their own sentient beings, will bother to take the time to inspire not one, but hundreds of small groups of people on one insignificant planet circling a smallish star in a backwater of a negligible galaxy, and, according to some of the inspired, actually cause a part of him/her/it to be tortured to death to prove His love for an ignorant, backward, very third-rate civilisation which has very little link to the rest of the inhabitants of this world. Surely this (once you’ve worked your way through that excessively convoluted sentence) is both utter arrogance and conceit, and also a pure insult to the enormous godhead the worshipper is trying to compliment? Cheeky, innit?

Frances M Hendry, Nairn, Scotland

From: Nancy Parker (npgardener55 gmail.com)
Subject: messiah / anointing oil

Whoever is marketing that “holy anointing oil” is ignoring the biblical law that no one but the high priests is ever supposed to be anointed with that formula, and making it for any other purpose is a capital offense. Typical.

Nancy Parker, Middleton, Idaho

From: Michael Poxon (mikethestarman gmail.com)
Subject: apocalypse

A comedian whose name I can’t recall once said: “So, I can’t spell ‘apocalypse’... hey, it’s not the end of the world!”

In French, St. John (reputed author of the Book of Revelation) is himself known as “L’apocalypse”.

Michael Poxon, Norwich, UK

From: Craig Good (clgood me.com)
Subject: exodus

Of course, the Exodus of the bible is just one of its many fictions. But it leads to an old joke: God led the Israelites around for 40 years, guiding them to the only patch of land in the area with no oil.

Craig Good, Vallejo, California

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exodus

You wrote: Exodus is the second book of the Hebrew Bible (known in Christianity as the Old Testament) and contains an account of the Exodus, the departure of the Israelites from Egypt.

There are also excellent accounts of how Robin Hood joined King Richard the Lionheart on his long journey to the Holy Land during the Crusades, and of Harry Potter’s long sojourn in the wilderness before returning to Hogwarts for his epic final confrontation with Lord Voldemort. To say nothing of Paul Bunyan’s trip out west, when he dragged his axe behind him part of the way, thereby forming the Grand Canyon. They’re all just as historically accurate as the folk myth about the Hebrew people ever being enslaved in Egypt and then spending 40 years in the Sinai wilderness because Moses was too much of a man to ask for directions.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--crusade

Saracens Rugby Union Club takes its name from the opposing Islamic (Turkic) forces in the Crusades in apparent admiration of fierce determination and organisation in battle, but also likely because a rival, now defunct neighbouring club was already called Crusaders.

In Wales, a rugby league team was briefly called Celtic Crusaders, then just Crusaders, before folding due in part to the dominance of the rival rugby union.

In Northern Ireland, where sport apart from rugby union arguably is riven by religious sectarianism, a leading Association Football Club is called Crusaders. On the club badge, it provocatively employs the knight crusader with a cross of St. George, patron saint of England, on his shield, leaving no one in any doubt what side of the UK vs. independence divide they are on.

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

The Gospel Untruth
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: gospel and apocalypse

Here, I’ve portrayed Trump as the villainous Gru from Despicable Me, scolding his MAGA minions. The key pillars of the Trump gospel are that greed is good, as are misogyny, xenophobia, lying, narcissism, nationalism, fomenting chaos and division, flouting the rule of law, and blaming the “deep state”. All traits of a bona fide autocrat.

Here, I’m echoing Bob Peak’s evocative poster art for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. My version is a speculative vision of what might transpire if Le Grand Orange somehow secured a second four-year presidential term. American democracy under an even more emboldened and authoritarian Trump would devolve into a fascist state. Welcome to Armageddon, folks!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words from religion
1. Gospel
2. Messiah
3. Apocalypse
4. Exodus
5. Crusade
= 1. God’s pure word
2. He helms us
3. Is eerie dystopia
4. Oh! A Moses’ mega walk!
5. Express conflict
= 1. Assumed solid
2. Christ, for some
3. A show; exposure
4. Escape Egypt
5. Kill men who disagree
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)
This week’s theme: Words from religion
1. Gospel
2. Messiah
3. Apocalypse
4. Exodus
5. Crusade
= 1. Dogma; philosophy is peace
2. He rescues
3. End times of our world
4. Exit, egress
5. Mass walk
= 1. Espouse word of God
2. Christ-like
3. Prophecy
4. Seems lemmings also use exits ahead
5. War
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Global warming’s a gospel of gloom,
Warning all of disasters which loom.
Please! Stop chasing the buck,
Or we’ll run out of luck --
We should call it the profit of doom!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

The Trumpian gospel has spread,
And all common sense has been shed.
Indicted two times
For multiple crimes,
He somehow is polling ahead.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Nothing’s certain but taxes and dying”
Is the gospel, and boy, they’re not lying!
Whoever said that
Gets a tip of my hat!
Life’s paths are so darn mystifying!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

A poor little girl name of Ruth,
Was despondent she lost her loose tooth.
And she was so glum:
“The tooth fairy won’t come.”
“She will,” said her mom. “Gospel truth.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Every word of the Bible is gospel;
That’s the creed of our church Pentecostal.
You must love every creature,”
Continued the preacher;
“Towards Muslims and Jews, though, be hostile.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The Messiah is coming, I hear.
Salvation for all is now near.
As we wait and we wait,
It seems that he’s late.
Perhaps he won’t come ‘til next year.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

If Trump’s your messiah -- good grief!
How odd your religious belief!
This man insincere
I’d never revere
Or want as Commander-in-Chief.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Every four years hereabout
The faithful assemble and shout
For the current messiah
Whose turn it’s to try a
New way to smooth everything out!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Come join me for lunch, Jeremiah.
I’m serving a great jambalaya.
We’ll sing and we’ll pray,
And hope for the day,
That soon there will come the Messiah.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Alabamans think Trump’s the messiah,
But in Boston they say, “He’s a liah.”
From Rome to Berlin,
They would cry should he win,
But in Moscow they’d drink Stolichnaya.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The Apocalypse forecasts the end
Of our world. (Which is bound to offend.)
It sounds nasty. I think
I’ll ignore it and drink --
If I’m drunk, I won’t have to attend.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

If President Trump’s reelected,
What future can then be expected?
Revenge is his vow --
Apocalypse now! --
A fate that is better rejected!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The hottest month e’er this July;
“Blame Climate Change!” headlines do cry.
With scientists fuming,
Apocalypse looming,
The truth many fools still deny.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When my wallet or phone from my pocket slips,
It’s disaster! The end! An apocalypse!
My friend Oog, though, says “Steve,
Take deep breath, do not grieve;
Come to cave! All that stuff be life’s rotten bits.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


With Moses, their leader first-class,
The Hebrews left Egypt en masse.
Though Pharaoh said, “No,”
They managed to go --
The Exodus thus came to pass.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Who’d a thunk that those fans of DT
Would still be around? Let me see ...
No exodus? Why?
Prob’ly pie in the sky
Or mass hypnotism, maybe!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“When Donald comes ‘round and sits next to us,”
Say women, “it triggers an exodus.
We’ve checked it on Snopes;
With those paws he just gropes,
But we like bigger hands, someone dexterous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Such fanatical zeal was displayed
When believers embarked on crusade.
Where was love in that cause?
Did they never take pause
To ask questions before they’d invade?
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Elvis Presley was on a crusade.
In his song his intention was made
As clear as could be.
“You would disrespect me,
If you stepped on my shoes of blue suede.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

DeSantis crusades against “woke”.
The culture wars he likes to stoke.
He’ll even demand
That novels be banned
And textbooks turned into a joke.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

His mother was very dismayed.
“Why can’t you son, get your bed made.
Don’t like how you dress.
Your room is a mess.”
It appears his mom’s on a crusade.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the Pope to his knights, “Some crusade!
It’s another fine mess that you’ve made.
We lacked a George Patton,
So their guy Saladin
Outplayed you. Our troops got puréed!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Oy vey, will you stop with all the misha-gospel-EEZE?” said the Jewish mother to her squabbling children.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Words we’ll never hear from Donald Trump: “This is a messiah-lone created.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Our cosmetics will stay fresh in your underground bunker for decades. Here’s a free sample of our brand new Apocalypse-tick,” said the Avon lady as droughts, floods, heat waves, and forest fires continued to worsen.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My exodus she complain if my alimony check is late.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“Hey Tony, ya won da lottery! Ya could get caught up on child support!” “Yeah, but I ain’t gonna tell my exodus.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Houston, we have a problem,” said the Apollo 13 astronauts. But Mission Control came to the crusade, and they landed safely.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When sea otters attack
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: When sea otters attack

At the top of California Fish & Wildlife’s Santa Cruz coastal patrol’s “Most Wanted” list is a 5-year-old female sea otter named Otter 841, born and raised at the Monterey Aquarium, who has been harassing local surfers for weeks, attacking them and their boards. She’s chomped big chunks out of surfboards and even hung ten on them. Surfin’ otter? How rad, dude! Multiple attempts have been made to safely trap this rogue otter, but to no avail. She’s a wily one, and continues her board-jacking ways.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The man who is denied the opportunity of taking decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he is allowed to take. -C. Northcote Parkinson, author and historian (1909-1993)

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