Remember that Christian McCaffrey guy, the do-everything running back for Stanford University who is named “Christian” for some pretty obvious reasons?
It seems that it is pretty hard to talk about this guy’s talents without references to near miracles and other religious topics. You can see that in the headline in a recent Los Angeles Times story, the one with this headline: “USC hopes for more tackling, less praying, against Christian McCaffrey.”
While this is pretty much a run-of-the-mill advance story for an upcoming game, there is a reason for that headline. You can see that in the opening anecdote:
When USC Coach Clay Helton saw the play develop during last season’s Pac-12 title game, he started to pray.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford’s All-American running back, had angled out for a pass and darted to the middle. USC was caught covering him with an inside linebacker.
“I’m like, ‘Please god, don’t throw it to him,’ ” Helton said. “And they did.”
McCaffrey took the third-down pass 67 yards to the seven-yard line, setting up the touchdown that erased USC’s lead and sprung Stanford to the Pac-12 title.
Yes, here we go again.
Now, let me admit that I know absolutely nothing about the theological views and religious tradition of Coach Helton. However, was the Times reporter absolutely sure that he was, in this case, praying to an ultimate or semi-ultimate religious power other than the God of the great monotheistic religions, as in Judaism, Christianity and Islam?
Could the copy desk have accurately substituted, “Please Zeus, don’t throw it to him”? or “Please Skanda, don’t throw it to him, for I fear this would cause us to lose this great battle”?
Once again, let us turn to those now well-worn pages in the Associated Press Stylebook, the bible -- small “b” -- of mainstream journalism. The question is whether we are talking about God with a large “G” or god with a small “g.” There we will find, as quoted in quite a few earlier GetReligion posts, these words of guidance:
gods and goddesses
Capitalize God in references to the deity of all monotheistic religions. Capitalize all noun references to the deity: God the Father, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Allah, etc. Lowercase personal pronouns: he, him, thee, thou.
Lowercase gods and goddesses in references to the deities of polytheistic religions.
Lowercase god, gods and goddesses in references to false gods: He made money his god.
Now, has anyone out there in GetReligion reader-land heard if AP has actually made a doctrinal change on this matter, one stating that — in our Twitter driven age — OMG has actually been changed to OMg?
Please let me know. Otherwise, consider this a request for a Los Angeles Times correction on this rather symbolic style issue.