When Janine Sumner was surprised by the surprise appearance of her long-lost childhood friend Brenda, she stood up in elation with open arms, crying, “Oh my gosh! You look fantastic!” Without saying as much, Janine was commenting on the weight loss that Brenda had achieved, reducing herself from a porcine 240lbs to a reasonable buck-and-a-half. I inferred this from Janine’s tone of voice, and it didn’t matter to me how fat Brenda was, or how unfat she became. What bothered me most was the ambivalence of that godless salutation with which she greeted her summer camp buddy from days gone by.
Being a devout Rational Humanist, I had to investigate.
“Oh my gosh?” OMG. WTF? What prohibits sane, hardworking Americans from saying, “Oh my God!” ?
When they’re having sex, do they scream, “Oh, gosh, oh gosh yeah! I’m coming, oh my gosh!” Dr. Steven Fobbs of the University of Sacramento says no.
“People don’t want to use the lord’s name in vain,” he said. “Sometimes though, in heated moments, they bust out a ‘goddamn’ here or a ‘god-fucking-dammit’ there. In modern colloquial use, it’s a privilege of the English language. When some Christians are really angry, for instance, they are prone to forget their spiritual precepts.”
Indeed. Fobbs is an ordained Catholic minister and professor of theology. Curious about this phenomenon, and steeped in his own conviction about addressing his savior Christ our lord almighty, he hired a statistician to conduct a quantitative longitudinal study on who uses the G Word and who doesn’t.
“Not surprisingly,” said Fobbs, “people who attend church regularly are inclined to say ‘Oh my gosh’ rather than ‘Oh my God’.” In fact, data shows that in a comparison of churchgoers to non-churchgoers and other heathens, church people say ‘Gosh’ nine times more often than non-churchgoers, who actually go ahead and call God by His name.
“But,” Fobbs added, “secular people, too, avoid using the G Word. I met a closet-Buddhist who respectfully would say 'gosh' instead of 'God' …even though Buddhists don’t believe in divinity.”
Since the late 1980s, God-fearing souls—church or no church—have been using the term ‘G.D.’ instead of ‘goddamn.’ Shortly before my high school graduation, I crossed the line according to a friend of mine who warned me to “Never say G.D.” This was in spite of the fact that she was a prostitute and occasional attendant of satanic rituals in the Long Beach area, just south of Los Angeles.
Some G-Word fearers have taken it a step further by condensing the word “gosh” to the capital letter ‘G.’
When another friend, for instance, witnessed formerly fat-ass Brenda’s new body debut, she echoed Janine’s hackneyed salutation, but with the milder, “Oh… My… G.”
The question of why a person does or doesn’t use the G Word remains speculative—a matter for a different psychological study altogether.
I looked into it by contacting Dr. James Brisko of Worcester State College in Massachusetts. With two government-funded clinical trials under his belt on why people say stupid shit, Brisko’s findings presented interesting results.
“Part of it has to do with superstition, " he said. "There is a fear that a Higher Power will rain fire upon the heads of babes in retribution if they fuck with His name.”
In spite of morality being a nebulous, seemingly immeasurable phenomenon, Brisko’s qualitative studies concluded that “people who refuse to say the word ‘God’ are more morally equipped to face the world every day—in spite of their transgressions and flaws—than those who use the Lord’s name in vain.”
When asked for criteria used to define “morally equipped,” Brisko provided examples.
“The measures we used,” he said, “began with examining offensive language. We posed subjects with things like, you know, if your team was in the Super Bowl and lost by a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the third sudden-death overtime, after you’ve witnessed your friends eat $90 worth of finger-foods and spill five quarts of beer on your new carpet, what would be the first thing to come out of your mouth?”
Other scenarios ranged from profanities evoked from hammering one’s own thumb while missing the head of a nail to losing $500 on a single, impulsive bet in roulette.
Further, Brisko found that the personal histories of his two study groups’ subjects revealed significant differences in patterns of behavior. The ‘Gosh’ sample self-reported random acts of kindness, charitable contributions, church attendance, abstinence from substance use, refraining from cheating on their lovers, and insistence to give the last parachute to the retard instead of the CEO in a flaming plane that was going down.
“Such behaviors occur with far less frequency among those who don’t hesitate to say ‘Oh my God, or goddamnit, or ‘God, you suck!’,” said Brisko.
While many dimensions of Brisko’s research proved inconclusive, I asked for a unifying characteristic of both religious people and irreligious people who refuse to say the simple and innocuous word ‘God’.”
“Well,” he said after a thoughtful pause, “they’re a bunch of fucking pussies.”
Note: Brenda’s figure is pretty hot now; unfortunately, she remains a Butterface.