In My Back Yard
The view out the back door
A (Low) Tech Perspective

Case Insensitive

The God and gods of this generation.

In the computer world, programs that don't distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters are said to be case-insensitive. For example, Web browsers don't care whether an address is written with capitals or not. WWW.CAPS.COM will get you to the same place as During the dotcom boom we saw companies play around with capitals as if no rules applied. Names more often had capitals within them than at the beginning. Some names of companies had no capitals at all. If the above title were the name of a dotcom it may read, "caseInsensitive" or". It is no coincidence that this generation also embraces the impersonal, case insensitive god and gods of a relative society.

While Web browsers don't distinguish between capital and lower case letters, The difference between God and god is certainly more important than the Internet generation is likely to discern. Though religion in the Internet age continues to be case insensitive, God is what God is, and that is not mere god.

Ask anyone what they think of capital-g God and they will likely respond as though you meant god: "you have yours and I have mine", or "I have my own religion", or finally, "don't impose your view of god on me". This last is a conversation-killer, as if my God is of my own making, or as if my "view" has an impact on the reality of my God. What else can I say if my god is a product of my own delirium? I wouldn't want to follow a figment of my imagination either.

When I use the name God, I mean it in the most specific, unique sense. God--One who exists outside of me. That in and of itself demands a response. Perhaps the demand is why people rebel against God and choose instead to take any appearance of the one God who makes claims on our independence and reduce it to one of many visions, one case-insensitive option among many. Yet, God is a personal noun, not an impersonal one. God is absolutely case sensitive.

This is very similar to the business/work/life ethic that was the death knell of suits in the office and of capital letters in names. As this generation became more confident in its own abilities, for various reasons, previous generations--their opinions, their behavior, their right to authority--were rejected.

While the absence of capital letters in names of dotcoms probably owes more to the nature of Internet addressing than to an attitude, one sees a parallel between the casual, make-your-own-way, approach to life of the Internet generation, and the way that generation deconstructs the one God into many, smaller, casual-dress gods.

Joshua (successor to Moses) says to the Israelites, "Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

God is one, says the ancient Hebrew Shema (Listen, O Israel, the lord your God is one!)

June 2001


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