In Defence of the ampersand

for John Garamond

The differences between ‘and’ and ‘&’might be exhaustively catalogued.listed at random,

or organized into Aristolean taxonomies.

The conflagration of letters

‘a’, ‘n’, and ‘d’

create a well-meaning but pompous aristocrat.

Consider his rather exacting construction:

‘a’ hovers on the left boundary of the key board

‘n’ is below, most of the way to the opposite side

‘d’ is up and back, virtually where we began.

‘and‘, spelled out, signifies a cause

worthy of this almost-roundtrip journey,

and ‘and’ is happy

spelling out the logical linkage

of objects which have done what they are supposed to do,

respectable connections, of solid breeding,

they mind their p’s. and q’s.

but ‘and’ has a younger brother

or a late-in-life child,

a rebel-artist

a punk rocker

an 8, swollen below the waist like old man Elvis but given a tail

It is perhaps significant worth noting,

that it is ‘shift’ 7,

(lucky, mystical, irrational 7

which results in the alternative and, &


not shift 8


difficult perhaps

two keys simultaneously

choose one at either end and also the other in the top middle

but then, it is done,

ready for prelogical conjunctions,

informal listings

it does not follow the rules

it is indivisible, mystical, somehow

I will buy milk and eggs at the grocery store this evening

and I will eat them with my wife and my children.

I will do the dishes alone then

I will scribble off a note,

and I will post it on the door to my study

“I am meditating and I wish to be left alone.

I & the universe are busy becoming one.”


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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