Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 22:14:42 EDT

From: RonButters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: prayers and involuntary bodily ejaculations

Michael M. writes:

"Bless you" is not a prayer, the distinctive features

of the latter being that it is phrased in second person

(often with a vocative) and addressed directly to a deity. "Bless you" does

not have these characteristics, so far as I can discern.

Hmmmm. Methinks M. is confusing surface structure with deep structure (to use

some somewhatarchaic technical language). I suppose "Bless you" COULD be the

surface form of "I hereby bless you, sneezer," but it seems more likely that

most sneezees do not consider that they personally have the power to bless a

sneezer (cf. "Bless me father, for I have sinned") but only the power to ask

their Higher Power to bless the sneezer; in other words, the underlying form

is "I hereby pray that the Deity will bless you, sneezer!" (Cf. "Bless this

house/sneezer [O! Lord I pray. Make it/him/her safe both night and day]").

Michael also says:

"Bless you!" is appropriate after a sneeze

because the reflexes force you to close

your eyes when you sneeze. It

is in this split second when you

are not looking that the devil may

sneak in.

I don't attach any importance to the fact that sneezers must close their eyes

but farters and burpers need not do so. Surely the devil--who was smart enough

to get Eve to eat the apple--can "get in" during the distraction of an anal