Power of a Misplaced Comma

A panda walks into a bar. He orders a sandwich. After eating the sandwich, he pulls out a gun and shoots the bartender. Then he gets off the bar stool and walks out. Puzzled, the other people notice the panda left behind a Field Guide To Pandas. It said clearly, “a panda eats, shoots and leaves.”

I listened to a man giving a meditation. He was quoting from the Bible (not exactly the same one that most Christians use). He read a passage. Puzzled, I pulled out my iPhone and looked up the passage. He had moved a comma. It was just one word over. But he moved it.

That one little comma completely changed the meaning of the sentence. Which changed the meaning of the interpretation of other books of the Bible. Which leads to an entirely different theology from every Christian interpretation I’ve ever studied.

When your kids complain about learning grammar. Or those “modern” English teachers of some years ago who said, “just let the kids write anything and don’t worry about spelling or grammar.” Or anyone who abhors the work of thinking.

Consider this.

Even a lowly comma has the greatest importance for conveying the correct information.

Or, maybe you will meet that panda.

Thinking and communicating are key foundation disciplines without which the spiritual discipline of study goes for naught.

[If you didn’t get it–without the comma the sentence tells us what the panda eats. With the comma (and devotees of the Oxford comma forgive me), the sentence gives us a series of actions the panda does.]

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