The Man Who Became a Dangling Participle

Have you ever been a dangling participle?  A participle is a modifier much like an adjective.  Often it denotes some form of action that describes the subject of a sentence.  An example is “The flying hawk never flapped its wings.”  Flying is the participle.  If I said, “Flying in the strong wind, the hawk never flapped its wings” I created a participle phrase.  If I said, “While reading a book, the hawk never flapped its wings.”   I forgot to mention while I was reading a book, the hawk never flapped its wings.  The phrase represented or latched on to the nearest subject (the hawk) and became a dangler. It modified the wrong subject.

Now back to my beginning thought about our being a dangling participle.  I watched a church deacon upbraid a teen for coming to church with a short skirt.  The teen left and most likely will never return.  The deacon thought he was representing Jesus (who welcomed everyone).  Instead the deacon accomplished Satan’s work by driving the teen from the church.  The deacon represented the wrong subject.

Now if none of this made any sense it is because I slept through grammar class in high school and after many decades probably have it all wrong.  So you can forget the participle thing.  But please do not forget the most important idea here, which is if we are intending to represent Jesus let us make sure we always do it with care and love lest we end up representing the enemy.  My prayer is never for us to be dangling participles.

“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”  Luke 15.

Written by Roger Bothwell on March 21, 2016