Oh My God, Bless You!!!

Oh My God, Bless You!!!

Just imagine the title in a valley girl voice and you’ll get the proper delivery. Also the hilarious image provided is a sneezing cat. Enjoy the hilarity while we delve into filler phrases like OMG.

We say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes, slip in ‘God’ before damning something, use ‘Jesus!’ as an interjection. We unintentionally use religious terminology and get their songs stuck in our heads.

It also happens with ‘like’, which I’m sure lots of other people have the same trouble with. However, there is no religious reference or subtext in saying ‘like’ by accident. As an anti-theist, I’m trying to completely obliterate ‘God’, ‘Jesus’, and ‘bless you’ from my casual vocabulary. I refuse to meet them on their terms.

Not only do I think we, as atheists/agnostics, shouldn’t be using these terms, but we should come up with our own substitutes!

There’s a lovely episode of South Park, in which Cartman freezes himself because he can’t wait for the Nintendo Wii to come out. He ends up in the year 2546, where everyone is an atheist. In this episode, every time someone would use ‘God’, they instead say ‘Science’. SCIENCE DAMMIT. OH MY SCIENCE. SCIENCE FORBID.

It’s an excellent and hilarious replacement! If I can catch myself before I say ‘God’, I usually replace it with Science. Or another of my wide vocabulary of curse words.

Instead of saying ‘holy crap’ or ‘holy guacamole’, say SECULAR CRAP OR GUACAMOLE. Jen McCreight at Blag Hag likes to say ‘unholy’, but secular is amusing to me because it completely breaks the usual pattern.

Mindy, blog-mom extraordinaire, likes to use Greek/Roman/Norse gods’ names. ZEUS DAMMIT. HAMMER OF THOR. ODIN’S BEARD. (I’m actually really bad about Norse gods, and have no idea if Odin was meant to have a beard.) 

Saying ‘bless you’ after sneezes: It’s easy to replace ‘bless’ with ‘excuse’ if you feel it’s necessary to comment on the sneeze. My partner likes to shout BEGONE DEMON as a satirical reference to one of the origin stories of the term. It might just be best to not say anything, IMO, because it’s a biological function over which we have little control. You don’t comment every time someone blinks, do you?

So, there are a few ways to work around the words ingrained in our culture. Many of them are quite amusing. FOR THE LOVE OF SCIENCE, share any amusing substitutes you have for these terms, that we may all escape the subtle tyranny of religion!

Images from thegeminigeek.com and evolvefish.com

By Lux
Lux is a female genderqueer weirdo, writing from Kansas. They happily identify as a militant atheist(+), feminist and liberal. Their time is consumed with Doctor Who, reading, and playing WoW with a cat on their lap. If you're lucky, you might catch them smithing jewellery or cleaning something.

11 Comments

  1. in one of penn jillette’s books, he used the phrases ‘random chance in a godless universe’ and ‘pointless atomic whizzing of the universe’ as alternates for customary expressions that mention god and luck

  2. For sneezes, I use the German “gesundheit”. My (US, and not German) family use it interchangeably with “bless you” for unknown reasons, and it has the advantage of not being religious.

  3. Odin was bearded, as were, indeed, all the adult Norse gods. Beardlessness was a sign of boyhood and inexperience, and Odin, being among others, a god of wisdom, had a particularly impressive beard. So swearing by Odin’s beard is quite appropriate. :-)

  4. I try to swear by the norse or greek gods just for fun. Or substitute jeebus instead.

    I decided some years ago not to acknowledge sneezes in any way. No one acknowledges coughs after all. Occasionally I’ll say “excuse me” when I’m the one sneezing, but that’s about it.

  5. When on IM or text, I like to use “OGC” (Oh Great Cthulhu) instead of “OMG”. it’s a little harder to get into actual speech, but I am highly amused when I get to explain what it stands for.

  6. I like to say “for goodness’ snake! Three esses in a row, and the word “snake!”

  7. I’ve heard some really great Greek variants – “Zeus’s bleeding headwound!” and “Saphho’s hands!” come to mind

  8. I’m a huge fan of saying “gesundheit” for sneezes. It just means (good) health, so it’s not even particularly superstitious. As these things go, anyway.

    For a time I got into the habit of using “Almighty Zarquon” to swear (from Douglas Adams). That’s a pretty geeky substitute. And occasionally I still say “Good grief!” Thank you, Charles Schulz.

    • Douglas Adams references? I’m borrowing this straightaway.

  9. Gesundheit is an innocuous alternative. As for cursing, I’ve picked up the annoyingly cute phrase of “gee willikers” which I cannot unlearn no matter how hard I try. People laugh at me when it accidentally slips out.

  10. I’m one of those with nasty religious pasts, and I’m certain someday I will grow out of this period of rebellion and be a bit more mature atheist, but right now I positively relish taking “god’s” various names in vain in the most profane ways imaginable. “Oh Jesus Fucking Christ” feels sooooo good after years of the utterly infantilizing versions of “oh my stars!” or “oh my word!”

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