AMDG

I have a friend, Rob, an English teacher from Dublin. He’s posh in an Irish-Catholic way, which is to say that he doesn’t seem posh, at least to me but probably only because my English ears have been prejudiced to hear the Irish lilt in ways other than posh. Turns out that his dad is a VIP in Irish public life and that Rob went to a prestigious Jesuit school. He wears velvet jackets and long hair, has whole sections of James Joyce memorised, and swears like, well, an Irishman.

Our paths crossed during a secondment to a particularly ropey state school in England. The kids were a model of sullen apathy, their behaviour generally poor, their achievements moderate. One day I caught Rob writing a lesson plan. This was a fairly rare occurrence, as Rob typically preferred to let the classroom wind carry him. The plan was scrawled on a sheet of A4. At the bottom he wrote, “AMDG.”

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, “for the greater glory of God,” a Jesuit dedication. At first I suspected it was a habitual hangover from his own school days, but Rob — who hadn’t struck me as religious — explained that it represented an earnest desire to dedicate life’s activities to God. Even the teaching of Shakespeare to rowdy kids.

I have begun to realise the power of this philosophy, even, or especially when, it is applied to life’s mundanities. AMDG would naturally attach itself to the most pious of our activities, but as a motto it is more useful written on lesson plans, or to-do lists, or inwardly as we perform A-Z. This is why I do not fault Julie Beck for her talk last year, at least in its most charitable reading. In fact, I think the men should hear it. Mow the lawn AMDG. Bath the kids AMDG. Do your taxes AMDG. Clean the toilet AMDG. Rake the leaves AMDG. Do the washing up AMDG. Respond to your emails AMDG. Draft a letter AMDG. Conduct a meeting AMDG. (Blog AMDG?)

Yes, a life lived AMDG has the potential to turn into Mormon-perfectionist OCD. Rob, however, never seemed obsessive, just quietly determined and remarkably cheerful. It cheers me up no end to think one can watch the football AMDG.

Anyway, my wife is sick and so I’m making dinner. I intend to defrost and microwave the leftover chili con carne and clean up afterwards AMDG. Seriously, the thought of doing it that way makes it seem so much less odious.

Comments

  1. Thank you!
    I love this post; on so many levels, too…

  2. Now it all makes sense. Bush is a Christian, although not Jesuit, but he probably has similar sensibilities related to holy motives.

    So Dubya went to Iraq AMDG. We have the Patriot Act AMDG. Obama will become president AMDG.

  3. Awesome write-up Ronan. Very inspiring.

  4. J.S.Bach wrote “To the glory of God” on all his compositions. That may be why he composed sublime music. This post is inspiring. Thanks.

  5. Adam Greenwood says:

    Splendid.

  6. queuno,
    I don’t think Rob would go to war AMDG. He isn’t that presumptuous.

    I did tidy my garage today AMDG. It’s now a temple, not because of any Stepfordian order or cleanliness but because I did it well. And I enjoyed it!

    I’ve also been watching the World Series and trying to explain the alien sport of baseball to my wife AMDG.

  7. Martin willey says:

    Thanks, Ronan. This is really great. It motivates and inspires. Could LDS accurately use WESHG (With An Eye Single to His Glory) as a translation (not that one is really required).

  8. Beautiful. Thank you.

  9. @Ronan

    That’s what I always use, unabbreviated of course; especially on Fast Sunday.

    AMDG

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    When I first saw your post caption I dyslexically thought it was going to be about Adam God. Or Adam Greenwood.

    The actual post itself was a great thought; thanks.

  11. I’m going to paint that in 4 foot letters on my kitchen wall.

  12. Very good stuff. I like the Mormon equivalent of “with and eye single to the Glory of God” but, of course, the Catholic Latin expression has much more style than that.

  13. Put it in Latin then. I’ll work on a cuneiform version.

  14. Wonderful, Ronan. Thanks to Rob.

  15. I think the Mormon version is “Holiness to the Lord.”

  16. I took 3 years of Latin from a Jesuit in high school and had seen, translated, and read aloud, but not pondered, AMDG. Thanks.

    Oh, and Wow! J Stapley, I gasped in wonder and smiled at “Holiness to the Lord.” So apt.

  17. I love the Jesuits but I’ve always sort of seen myself as a Benedictine man. That would make a great tattoo too. The cuneiform version anyway. Good post! AMDG!

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    For the Mormon version, how about:

    COAGDC

    cum oculo ad gloriam Dei consecrato

    [lit. "with an eye dedicated to the glory of God"; I don't think "single" works in a literal translation]

  19. That’s a great version Kevin. :)

    Though it might be more of a mouthful then the Catholic version.

  20. I love that! I prayed fervently once on how to do housework, how to have a clean house, when that work is so tedious and unrewarding, when it all has to be done over again the next week or day or even that afternoon. I got a clear impression of an answer, “Do it for love”. I caught a glimpse then, only a glimpse, and I haven’t been able to hold onto it. This post reminded me and brought back that feeling again. Thanks.

  21. Oh, can someone please translate it into Quenya?

  22. Forget Quenya, cuneiform, or Latin, this American is still trying to figure out “posh,” “secondment,” and “ropey.”

    /sigh/

  23. Awesome post, Ronan.

    J. Stapley: I love “HttL” as the Mormon version.

    Hunter: Ditto.

  24. I almost didn’t read this post.
    Glad I did.
    Thanks :)

  25. This is great–thank you.

  26. This discussion of the “Holiness to the Lord” motif is pretty interesting, especially if you are only familiar with its use on temples.

  27. This post reminds me of a favorite blog….is it allowed to share the link? Well, if not, I’m sure someone will delete.

    http://aholyexperience.com/

    Some of the most beautiful and proofound writing on the holiness in everyday living.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    OK, here’s one that’s snappy and easy to remember, even if the acronym is unfortunate:

    SAD

    sanctitas ad Dominum

    “Holiness to the Lord”

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    Or we could use Hebrew, from which the expression “Holiness to the LORD” derives:

    QL

    qodesh laYHWH

  30. Akkadian:

    ana Ilim ellutu. Written logographically it would be DIŠ AN KUG, although I’m a bit out of practice, so maybe our other Assyriologists can help.

    𒁹 𒀭 𒆬

  31. And in pig latin:

    Da-ay aioremmay ei-day loriamgay

    or

    DAEL

  32. Peter AMDG says:

    A lesson plan scrawled on a sheet of A4? What is this, a race to the bottom? Rob’s clearly forgotten that “you can’t polish a turd” no matter how much of a moldy language you append.

  33. KB 18–a little pun possible? say with “one” eye to the glory of God? seems like one fancy way to translate it inaccurately.
    Nice post Ronan. New Agers might say “for beauty” or some such, a similarly expansive view.

  34. For #22 I had to look them up.

    Secondment
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Secondment is the transfer of a person from their regular organization for temporary assignment elsewhere, to transfer an employee, official, or soldier temporarily to other duties.[1]

    Secondments offer different work situations, which is valuable for staff development. Specific required experience/skills, which do not exist, can be brought into the organisation.[2]

    Definition of Ropey Options|Tips
    1. [a] (British informal) very poor in quality

    Victoria Caroline Beckham (Born Victoria Caroline Adams; born 17 April 1974)[1][2] is an English pop singer, songwriter, dancer, turned fashion designer, author, businesswoman, and occasional actress and model.

    During her rise to fame with 1990s pop group the Spice Girls, she was dubbed Posh Spice, a nickname first coined by the British tabloid press.

    oops! try this for Posh

    Dictionary: posh (p?sh)

    Smart and fashionable.

  35. Makes me think of Paul

  36. My AMDG mantra is currently something like, “jesus loves the little children,” when I want to snarl and growl at my fourth grade class.

    It helps.

    Thanks for such lovely thoughts.

  37. POSH- is understood to mean someone upper class, or who has upper class tastes, income, and habits (I know you Americans don’t get the concept of class, but bear with me). I always understood it derived from the days when wealthy Britons travelled the world by sea; their wealth meant that for their voyages, they could book cabins which were ‘Port Out, Starboard Home’-thus ensuring the best cabins on the boat.This became abbreviated to POSH.

    See Chity Chitty Bang Bang for further explanation. The song the Grandfather sings explains it pefectly :-)

    And no, I’m not posh, altho I did attend a posh school (via scholarship through hard work, and that’s secondary school not university) and my son attends the uni which Prince William attended, so that is considered posh.

  38. Ah, Ignatian spirituality. It’s quite compelling, very interesting, and quite powerful (the Exercises, the remarkable education they provide).

    Anne, St Andrews is only posh for the English kids who go there (not so much for the Scots)–and not even for all of them. (I did a pre-Williamite study abroad there. St Regulus!)

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