I don't claim to be the world's expert on grammar, but I take it very seriously -- and one of my great delights is to discover some particularly well-phrased idea. On the other hand, I am a critical sort (a great surprise to my friends, no doubt). So given the state of language in the good old USA, I am often fuming, out-loud correcting usage by newscasters, or simply rolling my eyes at some inanity.
Now come Border's and Barnes & Noble, the book companies, which invite me to "pre-order" some books and CDs that will be released over the next few weeks. And I ask you: What on earth is a pre-order? If I enter the required data and click on "send", have I not placed an order -- not a pre-order? Is not "pre-ordering" the stuff I do before I order -- e.g., opening the e-mail announcement, musing on whether I can live without the newest teenybopper CD, checking bank balances, and the like?
Let me display my true old-curmudgeonly side: Are we doomed to the complete breakdown of language, all under the specious rationale that "if you know what I mean, it doesn't matter how I say or spell it"? My stars and garters! Language is the measure of a culture. (Rome began to crumble when it forgot Greek.)
As Christians, we have a special stake in this issue: We are, after all, people of the Word -- the word spoken, the word made visible in sacraments, and the Word made flesh. It is incumbent on us to care for language with the same zeal some of us display toward the "environment" (another loosey-goosey term) or "poverty" or abortion issues.
And we Lutherans (others may look at this without guilt) should be especially mindful of how we use language. We are the tradition that, for better or worse, has built a theological edifice on the "proper distinction between law and gospel." "Law" and "Gospel" are ways of talking (and enacting words -- and precision in grammar is key.
Fn: Ranting on this topic seemed a better idea than commenting on the general quality of driving in Minnesota (which is of very real concern this morning!).