Moon, God, marketing, grammar and outer space

Leia esta digressão em português.

Time to link our Moon, God, marketing strategy, some grammar and the outer space in this digression!

Not the Moon

Oh, Moon! Always up there, beautiful and shiny, despite not emitting your own light.
So, there I was some other day, walking back home at later hours when up in the sky the moon was full and shiny, an astonishing view only it can present.

And every once in a while, when I see it, that one question comes to my mind. Why do we call our moon “Moon”? I don’t remember where I first saw this question, but when you think that the other planets’ moons have some awesome sounding names like “Titan”, “Io”, “Ganymede”, “Triton”, “Proteus”, “Nix” and so forth, our own moon is simply called “Moon”.

I mean, we could do better! Just look at some awesome names we gave to the other moons! Why name our own natural satellite “Moon” and give the cool names to the other moons? Was it lack of imagination at the time? Why didn’t we keep the name some ancient civilization gave to it? Ok, some places refer to our moon as “Luna”, but that’s not as widely spread as “Moon”. Well, there’s probably some reason for that and it seems like tracing the origin of its name is not so easy because, well, our own moon, the Moon, has been there since times immemorial.

Still, our moon is called “Moon” and that’s just like calling god, “God”. Oh, wait. Some people do that! And so we come to the next question….why? Why call god, “God”? Why not give him a name, like pretty much every other religion did? Zeus, Poseidon, Amon, Freya, Shiva, Vishnu and so many others, again with awesome names! Some are so awesome that we even named other planets’ moons with them! And yet, there’s one god that is called “God”.

But to be honest, that’s quite a clever choice. If I had the chance to create a religion, I’d call the main god “God or, if I were to use the word “deity”, I’d call the main deity, “Deity”. It’s plain marketing strategy! And it’s something that if firms had the chance, they’d always do it! Imagine selling a brand of bottled water named “Water”? What about a car named “Car”? The closes some firms got was to create a brand that is so strong that it became the synonym of the product itself. For many people, “Xerox” is neither the name of a company nor the name of the brand of photocopying machines. For those who don’t know, this “phenomenon” is a figure of speech (so it’s a speech phenomenon) and has a name, Metonymy. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated with that thing or concept.

So why create a religion in which the main god is called “God”? Because if the name catches and your religion booms, every time people talk about god, they’ll remember your god (which is called God) and they’ll remember your religion. Similar effect we would have if you were to create a company that sold “Water”, the best bottled water in the world! Whenever people were learning about water’s cycle, they’d think about the product and that would help the brand and the company! Can you see how clever it is?

Of course this is less effective when reading, but it still works. If you read a text where it’s written “god” without capitalized “g”, you most likely think that it’s a typo or it’s from someone who doesn’t believe in or doesn’t respect God. You hardly ever think the person is referring to another god, unless it’s clear from the text (maybe it’s talking about how awesome Nordic religion is). But when you’re talking to someone, there’s no capitalized letter so whenever people say “god”, you won’t really know if it’s the noun or the proper noun.

And since this digression includes god and God, it makes sense to go back to why capitalize or not capitalize the first letter of the personal pronoun that is used to refer to God. Well, I don’t do it, like I showed before. Why? Because it seems like a grammar mistake to do so.

There are lots of rules on capitalization in English. And the only rule regarding capitalizing personal pronouns is the one that states that the pronoun I should always be capitalized. No rules about capitalizing the other ones.

Some say that they do it out of respect for God. Ok, respect. Well, I do respect my parents and friends and many other people, but I don’t capitalize the personal pronouns I use to refer to these people. Do you? Maybe you respect God so much that he earned the right to have the personal pronoun capitalized too? I’m sorry but not for me. I’m not a religious person and I see no sense in capitalizing the pronoun for a divine being that is somewhere up there, somehow watching all of us. Well, we still need to find out where exactly is “up there”. Because we’ve been up there already and right now, up there is where the ISS is. Well, the ISS is not everywhere up there, but you can find out when the ISS will in your “up there”. It’s pretty neat.

Maybe God is farther up? Well, but to which direction? This is really hard to define in outer space where you really have no sense of direction. You can launch straight up from where you are and you’d reach a different location depending on when you launched. You could hit the Moon, hit Venus, hit Mars or hit another galaxy, who knows? Launching from the same spot, your destination will only depend on when you launch (and whether you can actually do it, but let’s consider that you can, just for the sake of the thought experiment)! Maybe Voyager I will find God somewhere in the interstellar space? Or maybe Yuri Gagarin told the truth to Nikita Khrushchev? Who knows?

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