Another immaculate conception

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun May 19 21:05:00 UTC 2013

On May 19, 2013, at 1:52 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:

> On Sun, May 19, 2013 at 2:14 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at>wrote:
>> "The virgin birth of
>> Jesus is the belief that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother
>> Mary by the Holy Spirit and born while Mary remained a virgin."
> Close enough for government work. Unless, before the very first letter of
> the ariicle is visible, there appears the word, _Imprimatur_, followed by
> the name of a bishop. If that's the case, then Wikipedia's definition meets
> the requirements of Catholic theology, whether Redd Foxx, Bill Maher, or
> the Archbishop of Canterbury was the author.
> But note that there is no reference to the Immaculate Conception of Mary in
> connection with either the conception of Jesus or the virgin-birth of jesus.
> Catholic theology isn't necessary to make the colloquial use of "immaculate
> conception" funny. All you need is knowledge of the detergent-commercial
> sense of "immaculate," the notion that fucking is "dirty," and the meaning
> of "conception" in the missed-period sense.

I don't think we're in the same discussion.

The issue I am trying to address is: Why do people think that immaculate conception refers to Mary having conceived while being a virgin?

As part of the language learning process, people seek for terms that match the concepts they want to express. Children get hungry and seek a way to express that feeling; fortunately, adults also get hungry and push that expression at the children, and the children figure out that "hungry" is the way to express that feeling.

When people want to express the concept of Mary _conceiving_ while being a _virgin_, "virgin birth" doesn't sound very appropriate, and so they latch onto "immaculate conception" as an expression seems to fit logically.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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