“First rule: Do not use semicolons. . . . All they do is show you’ve been to college. And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I’m kidding.”
He must have been kidding, perhaps fed up with abuse and misuse, for Kurt Vonnegut did on occasion employ the powerful semicolon. Which restores my faith in him because I’m suspicious of “never” and “always.” Also, I wield the semicolon like Super Glue. If I want to be certain that the reader understands the crucial connection between two ideas, there is no adhesive in punctuation like the semicolon.
“…show you’ve been to college.” Or study the Bible, as it turns out. Throughout 2015 I participated in a Scripture memory group (by Living Proof Ministries with Beth Moore ~ she is a wonderful scholar, teacher, and servant of Christ). I want to be the little old lady, whose eyesight has gone, but who still has God’s Word hidden away in her heart. It won’t just be there when I need it and it’s too late, so that’s why I’m beginning to apply myself now. Every two weeks we each chose a verse to memorize, write in our little notebooks, and post on-line to the group. The year is over. I have my 24 verses. However, 2015’s verses will fade from memory if I don’t keep them fresh, so I was transcribing them into an app on my phone. It might be the translation (New International Version), but there were semicolons in abundance. I like that from an editorial point of view. It pleases me to see tools being used and used well.
“… been to college.” Or someplace darker. There is a project which began as a day and grew into something of a movement. People who have come through a time where a reader of their lives could have thought there was nothing left to say. People who recognize that they might have ended the sentence right there, but they didn’t. These people have a semicolon tattoo which means, “That could have been the end, but I’m not finished.”
But wait; there’s more! That is what the semicolon says. That is what those who claim victory over self-destruction say. That is what God says, over and over.
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. ~Psalm 138:3
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. ~John 10:27-28
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. ~Psalm 62:5
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ~Ezekiel 36:26
For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. ~Psalm 48:14