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Norb vs. Verjective

One bored Sunday in Church, I got to thinking about parts of speech and who I am. I know it’s kind of a strange intersection of thoughts but I promise you I’m not the first to cross the paths. As I sat in the pew and pondered these things, I thought of the name God uses in Exodus in a dialogue from chapter 3:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

In High School, I was fascinated that God called himself I AM WHO I AM. For a teenager struggling with identity, and a programmer fascinated by recursion, the name was deeply satisfying. I continue to experience great mystery in this name God uses for himself.

Now, on identity and parts of speech. “I AM WHO I AM” doesn’t seem like much of a noun to me. No, it’s somewhere between a noun and a verb. So on my little bulletin, I scribbled “noun + verb = norb.” Norb is God’s part of speech. He is a noun, to be sure; an entity in eternal existence. And he is also a verb; a being that implies action, even movement.

From C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, we read his take on the matter:

They wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own.’ But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.

In his view, he paints a picture of God as a noun and we as adjectives. I like this idea but I was also partial to a character I played in a musical in High School. The character was Buckminster Fuller and the musical was Godspell. I distinctly remember the line: “I think I am a verb.” And so, I mixed two words together again on my bulletin and wrote, “verb + adjective = verjective.”

And so the intersection between God and us is a verb. We are human beings.

Last updated on February 16, 2022.