Far-Darting Apollo

One of the unfortunate aspects of the widely discussed Watergate affair is the bad name it has given to expletives. Of course when the presidential transcripts were published with so many (expletives deleted), it was widely assumed by the gullible reading public that the deletion took place because the expletives were particularly distinctive, pungent, or embarrassingly apt. Needless to say, the major news media have hastened to reinforce this suspicion.

As a result, the original and fundamental significance of expletives has been obscured, and their proper use may have been indefinitely set back. One of the more sinister sides to the transcripts is the very fact that by deleting all expletives, they leave us in doubt as to which were actually used by the president and his henchpersons. This has the effect of discrediting all expletives in the eyes, or rather the ears, of those who do not wish to be identified with the White House lifestyle.

As a matter of historical fact, the original and fundamental definition of an expletive is a meaningless expression added to preserve the meter or rhyme. Homer, well known to students for his great Iliad and its sequel, The Odyssey, would never have been able to achieve those great literary triumphs without expletives. Many occur repeatedly: for example, “far-darting Apollo,” or “Apollo the far-darter,” “golden-haired Achilles,” “strong-limbed Ajax.” Almost invariably it is Homer’s intention not to communicate his idea that Apollo darts far, or to remind us that Achilles had golden hair, but merely to make his verses work out. As a matter of fact, according to one noted classical scholar, the late Milman Parry, expletives were very useful in helping Homer and other bards remember whom they were talking about and what they wanted to say or sing. (He who says far-darting must say Apollo, and so on.)

Needless to say, the promiscuous use of the same expletives to apply to everyone, with little or no discernible bearing on that person’s actual character or conduct, completely destroys their usefulness as aids to memory. Thus when a political adviser begins, “That (expletive deleted) …” he has said nothing to help himself remember whom he meant to denounce, as the same expletives are habitually deleted quite promiscuously for everyone, without respect of persons.

In addition, there is little or nothing in the transcripts to suggest that the President and his advisers were seriously attempting to speak in verse, the traditional and most acceptable rationale for using expletives. Although it has been argued (see Cedric Percival’s article “The Transcripts, Verse or Blank?” in Anachreon, Spring, 1974) that the transcripts attest a prolonged but futile struggle to achieve the epic form, it is evident that the product, possibly from inexperience, falls far short of recognizable verse, even blank.

Article continues below

It would not be practical to suggest that politicians and appointed officials stop using expletives altogether, but the least that those concerned with the quality of life in a literate society can expect is that they be required to incorporate their expletives into suitable verse—preferably not blank. Otherwise the utility of these time-honored literary tools will be irreparably damaged and they will ultimately have to be phased out as totally inoperative, even for those of us who know how to use them wisely.



I just read your news story about our work (“Rochunga Pudaite: Direct Lines to the World,” May 24). In the fourth paragraph mention was made that a “minor hassle erupted” with the leaders of World Home Bible League in connection with our mailing of Bibles to Malaysia. I would like your readers to know that the “minor hassle” has been resolved in the spirit of Christ. Also, we have received over 600 letters from Malaysia indicating that our mails go through without problems. The readers are grateful.



Bibles For the World

Wheaton, Ill.

Outside The Church

Your editorial on “The State of the Tithe” (May 10) puts the finger on one of the greatest faults in American Christianity, namely, the failure of believers to be faithful stewards of the material God has given them. Part of the problem here, however, is created by those who seek to confine the tithe to the Mosaic legislation. They loudly proclaim that they do not want to limit people in this age of grace to 10 per cent. It seems to me, however, that if the average church member was giving 2.5 per cent to his local church, then our greatest danger is not one of stifling giving by suggesting that believers tithe. True, the New Testament teaches percentage giving; so does the Old, and it would seem that a good beginning percentage is not less than 10 per cent.

One item that your editorial did not take into consideration is that in our day of individualism many believers do not feel the need to give through their local church program. This is not true, however, with the Seventh-day Adventists, whom you cite as the only ones who came close to obeying the tithing commandment of the Scriptures. If other churches gave as loyally through their local church program as Seventh-day Adventists do, there would probably be a more favorable comparison. Among Conservative Baptists in Oregon, for example, we estimate that 50 per cent of the giving to Christian causes is outside the budget of the local church.

Article continues below



Western Baptist Seminary

Portland, Ore.

Your analysis of the tithe leaves out an important consideration. Your figure of $4,164 per capita income might be before income taxes—you do not clarify. If such is the case, and if, for illustration, the average rate of income tax is 15 per cent, then the per capita income tax is $625, leaving a per capita after-tax income of $3539. The tithe would be $354. As for the question of whether to tithe gross income or net income, the answer is clear. One cannot do anything with income he never receives, let alone with one-tenth of it. Of course, a person may give contributions amounting to one-tenth of his gross income, if he wishes, but the actual ratio to his received income is larger than one-tenth, depending on his income-tax rate.


Brockport, N. Y.

Payroll Reduction

The satirical treatment of Christianity and economics by Eutychus VI (May 24) is most fitting. To carry the punchline even further, I would suggest that all bureaucrats be removed from public payrolls. After all, they have had much to contribute toward the reduction of paper money to the status of “ontological unreality.”



Applied Christianity

Christian Freedom Foundation, Inc.

Buena Park, Calif.

Since money obviously exists, in the sense that we count it, use it in transactions, and collect data on its quantity, it is evident that poor Eutychus is caught in a semantic trap. Perhaps I can help him regain his belief in the existence of money. The first step is to distinguish between “the dollar” and money. The distinction is the same as that between “the yard” and yardsticks, or “the quart” and quart bottles. The first item in each of these pairs is a unit of measure—respectively, economic value, length, and volume—and the second is a class of items that bear a fixed relation to the unit of measure. A dollar bill always equals one dollar; a yardstick, one yard; and a quart bottle, one quart. The “ontological reality” of the dollar is thus on the same basis as that of the quart, yard, pound, or any other unit of measure.

Article continues below

As for money itself, its essence is general acceptability in exchange for goods and services and in settlement of debt. Whether a given amount of money is evidenced by metal or paper or (as is the case with checking accounts) has no physical existence is not germane to the question of its existence. After all, our entire financial system is built on claims, some of which are associated with pieces of paper while some are not. I hope Eutychus has no trouble believing in the existence of bonds, savings accounts, and the like.

I hope these words will help him regain his faith in the existence of money. But if they fail, and if he and other doubters wish to get rid of their ontologically unreal money and other claims, I would be happy to take them off their hands.


Kenosha, Wis.

No More Ties

In the May 10 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY it is stated in “Personalia” that I am on the Advisory Board of the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation, Inc., “a front group for the Unification Church.” It is true that for a period of three or four months I was a member of their Advisory Board, having been asked to join in the interest of compassion and concern for Korean children. I can certainly be for that and was glad to have my name used accordingly. However, in March it was called to my attention that this organization was affiliated with Mr. Sun Myung Moon and his World Unification Movement; so on March 19, 1974, I wrote them the following:

Since it has come to our attention that Mr. Sun Myung Moon founded the Little Angels of Korea, and since the Children’s Relief Fund is responsible for the Little Angels, I am in a dilemma.

I have no use whatsoever for Mr. Moon and consider him a false prophet. If he has any connection with the Little Angels of Korea, I must withdraw my name from your Advisory Council, as much as I regret to do so. I cannot be consistent and remain a part of an organization that has any tie with Mr. Moon.


Bob Jones University

Greenville, S. C.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.