Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 23, 2023
A few days back, on a trip through a favorite used-book store, I made my usual pilgrimage to the “writing and reference” section and noticed a little book I hadn’t seen before.
As you can see from the titles, this is a line of volumes which were written to help people write articles and stories. There are a couple of Writer’s Digest books—always very practical and helpful. There are a couple of copies of edition 15 of the impressive-looking Chicago Manual of Style, which is what most book and magazine editors use as their grammar guide.
But then there’s the book which caught my eye—the slender, scrappy Don’t:, which I tipped out a bit so you could easily see it. I’ll confess that I didn’t actually look inside, but from its position amidst these how-to-write-better tomes I’m assuming it cuts to the chase and delivers pithy grammar no-no’s in the matter of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
I used to teach college English in my first career, and here’s what I would tell my freshman and sophomore students on the first day of class: “You might be the smartest person in the class, but if you spell badly and use bad grammar, you’re going to look dumb!” Tough words—but they came from someone who for the rest of the semester would have to correct the spelling and grammar in those students’ papers.
Amid the Bible’s 730,000 words of history, prophecy, biography and poetry is a pithy Don’t-style manual: the Ten Commandments. A brief glance through your closest news source lets you know that pretty much all those commandments are broken daily by this or that newsmaker.
But the Ten are the words of God, written literally in stone, and spoken literally from a mountaintop in the Sinai Peninsula. Click the link just below to read the Ten, and to watch an interesting graphic about them.