Blessings heavily disguised
After two-and-a-bit years here in the US, I’m still trying to get my head around interviewees on teevee news clips being blessed. You know the sort of thing: there’s a close-up of ‘Shaken Resident’ who saw – or thinks he did – a meteor landing in the next county where it demolished a derelict tobacco barn. “I’m feelin’ blessed,” says SHAKEN RESIDENT, “that I warn’t standin’ in that thar barn when whutivver you said it wuz hit ‘er.” College basketball stars and their coaches are blessed almost every time they’re interviewed: “Well I know we got beat 55 to nil, but we’re blessed that the team bus wasn’t in an auto wreck on the way to the game, otherwise it might’ve been a lot worse. Yessir, a lot worse.”
Okay, that’s here in the US and I’m a great believer in everyone on earth being allowed their own accent and idiom without suffering ridicule or condemnation but strike me pink, there was worse yet to come.
A week or so ago, I’m running the official editorial eye and <Track Changes> over a piece about a camel-trekking adventurer for the Australian magazine that still retains me when, spare me days, the writer tells me he’s been ”blessed by all the people” he met along the way. Was he in Australia’s central deserts I wondered, or time-travelling in the Negev around the time of John the Baptist and those other hallucinating, malnourished ascetics? Or did he, I speculated, watch too much teevee – the commercial networks in Oz being fond of hanging on the coat-tails of their US counterparts.
Is this a relatively new expression? I don’t recall coming across it in the American literature I’ve read or in taped interviews with the musicians I admire. ‘Well, I’m blessed’ as an expression of mild astonishment and ‘I haven’t heard a blessed word from her in years’ to show genteel exasperation have been around for yonks in Australia, and I suspect the US also. Artists, too, have always been blessed with a talent, but it seems to me that implying you’ve been the recipient of beneficial interference from your deity because a meteor didn’t defy the laws of nature and deviate from its course to squash you flat as a tack is stretching it just a teensy bit. Isn’t it?
Or has the Zorro of organized Christianity’s Reicht Wing, the Sin-finder General, now decided that to claim something as just sheer good luck is, like Darwin’s finches, a blasphemy?