Finding the correct word

“His name”

Finding the correct word can be a challenge. I was saying grace, a blessing, whatever, before breakfast. “God is great, God is good, God, we thank you for our food.” There are two things about that: I rhyme food with good because, of course. The other is that I was singing it to the tune of the chorus of Rock The Casbah by the Clash. Or maybe Mustapha Dance by the Clash.

I flashed back to how we said grace when I was growing up. “Heavenly parent, thank you for this food we are about to receive for the nourishment of our bodies. In Christ’s name, Amen.” Then, one day, when I was about 16, our dad said we should change “Christ’s name” to “His name.”

His thinking was that not everyone we knew was a Christian. It was true that we had many Jewish friends, acquaintances, and relatives. I had not thought about that fact before then, but instantly, the change made a lot of sense to me. (No, we’re not going to discuss even more inclusive terms for the deity here; this was c 1970, after all.)


This is why I embraced using the pronouns people choose to be called. This is not to say, however, that this is always easy. I know of at least two young people who I’ve known practically since they were born. I seem to be better at speaking to them using their preferred pronouns. But talking about them, I’m more likely to mess up.

And if it’s tricky for me, it is far more difficult for their parents. But kudos to the parents, who are trying very hard to get the terms correct, even when their child is not present, on the theory that practicing the pronouns makes, if not perfect, a decent approximation.

I asked someone identifying as they/them, “How do you ask someone their pronouns?” They did not know. That was an oddly comforting answer. These are interesting times, and finding the correct word is not always easy. All one can do is try to listen.

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