What’s in a Pronoun?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP
Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

I had intended to write about the importance of names and the gift of calling another by his or her name.  After all, in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls each of the apostles by name. And in Psalm 147, the psalmist acknowledges God’s unique relationship with creation, when he writes that God “determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names.”  God has  named  billions, maybe gazillions of stars.. We are so special that God gives each of our names also.

In scripture, names are often changed after a life changing experience – Abram to Abraham, Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter.  Women may take their husbands’ name after the wedding. A name change can be very important to the person.

So I read with interest an article in the local paper that got me thinking about pronouns.  You remember them: I, you, he, she, it we, you they, me, him, her, them. Pronouns are used in place of nouns and are handy to make reading more interesting. Unfortunately, pronouns can also pigeon hole people into roles – male or female.

It’s typical to refer to God with the masculine pronouns but I’ve chosen not to use the pronoun “he” to refer to God for many years now, preferring not to refer to God as masculine.  I don’t think God is a she or it either.  God is – well, God.

The newspaper article described how more and more individuals are not identifying with the traditional gender definitions – they don’t fit in either of the two genders.  This is particularly true of transgender people who identify with a gender that differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Their internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman is different from the sex they were born with.

This requires a name or pronoun change and there is a growing trend favoring  gender neutral pronouns like “they” or “zie,” “zim,” or”zer.” This may be a new and perhaps difficult concept for most of us.  But it reminds us of the unique nature of each person and that we deserve to be called by the name that fits us best.  It may take some time getting used to but if God can remember each of our names, can’t we remember some new pronouns?

Posted in Weekly Word

13 responses to “What’s in a Pronoun?

  1. Barb,
    Somehow I missed this!! I know many, many transgender people and being seen and addressed as who they really are is profoundly important to them. THANK YOU!!!

  2. I agree that God has an amazing and unique relationship with creation. In Psalm 147, right after determining the number of the starts, the psalmist continues “…with wisdom beyond measure”. I believe this wisdom intentionally creates us and forms us exactly as God wishes us to be. The Divine Potter does not make a mistake.

    When a person’s “internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman is different from the sex they were born with” it is important to turn to prayer and the wisdom of God. God knows us more than we know our self, and God knows how to call me, not necessarily myself.

    Can I remember new pronouns? Certainly! Do I want to be as sensitive to all by brothers and sisters? Certainly! Will I recognize objective reality? Certainly!

  3. Hi Barb,
    Your Pronoun Article was a breath of fresh air and
    refreshing new thinking. Let us! led the way!

  4. Peoples’ new ideas never cease to amaze me. Thanks for yours today about pronouns. Something to think about.
    Thanks, Barbara!


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