April 13, 2007
The Importance of Is
As a proofreader, I am easily and often offended. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization mistakes are everywhere: flyers, ads, signs, billboards. Billboards especially get me. There's nothing like being stuck in traffic and being confronted by a larger-than-life capitalization error to really generate anger.
A few weekends ago I went to a movie with my cousin to relax and be entertained. I was comfortably settled into my seat, anticipating the start of the movie, when it happened again: the (also larger-than-life) movie screen lit up with the headline "Silence is Golden(R)." Aaaaahhhhhhhh! I should have asked for my money back. I mean really. I'm just not sure I can give my money to a company that doesn't know that if you're going to capitalize the G you have to cap the I! Or that doesn't run their headlines by a proofer before they register them and flash them onto movie screens all over the country.
I've noticed it's often the is that gets demoted to lowercase in titles. I think it's assumed that, since it's only two letters, it must not be that important. Funny, because we never forget to cap I by itself. And if you think about it, is is a pretty important verb (case in point). Crucial, I'd say. "She drives fast" is very different from "She is fast." "That movie looks good" often does not turn into "That movie is good." Water that looks clean can be very different from water that is clean. We should give is its proper respect.
The is gets much more significant when it comes to faith. I have to admit that, having had a relationship with Christ since I was a young child, there are some stories, phrases, words I have a hard time grasping the significance of simply because I've heard them my whole life. But is is not one of them. In fact, the is is why I love Easter so much, why Easter never fails to inspire awe and wonder in me. When I think about the pain and suffering Christ experienced before his death, and the guilt and sorrow and confusion and despair the disciples and other close friends and family must have experienced at Jesus' death, and then when I try to imagine resurrection morning, when the women went to the tomb and found it empty--I can't not feel wonder. The sheer impossibility and joy and juxtaposition of death--Jesus was dead--and life--Jesus is alive--strike me deeply. And the fact that Christ really is the only one those two statements can be made about over two thousand years after he walked on earth deepens my faith.
That's the significance of is. On that first resurrection day and today, Jesus is alive, bringing life from death all over the place. It's a headline, really: Jesus Is Alive.
And the Is makes all the difference.