Grammar: The Importance of a Comma

Over at John the Steadfast, there is another article in their continuing series on campus ministry. The purpose here is not to discuss the article (it’s a fine article, read it), but to comment on the importance of a single comma.

The Pacific Southwest District passed a resolution contianing the following resolved:

RESOLVED, that the BOD remain in control of decisions regarding the disposal of all District properties, except those campus ministry properties, which will be decided by the PSD at convention,

Do you see it?  The first time I read it, I read ” except those campus ministry properties, which will be decided by the PSD at convention”, meaning that those campus ministries so designated by the PSD in convention would be exempt from the BOD power of disposal.  But the way it is written, “except those campus ministry properties*,* which will be decided by the PSD at convention” means that disposal of all campus ministries is now only with the approval of the convention.

Commas are important.

In a similar vein, I recently asked Lutheran Witness editor extraordinaire whether she was a proponent of the oxford comma.  According to Miss Dorr, the Witness and CPH do use the oxford comma, while Synod, Inc. does not.  Hopefully the Synod, CPH, and the Witness will come to be in full comma fellowship.  (Of course, had I said, “Hopefully the Synod, CPH and the Witness…”, it would mean that the Synod is composed of CPH and the Witness.  Ah, the value of the comma.)

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