Posted by Sarah: A Google News search of the past 30 days of headlines shows over 2,000 uses of the same three word phrase.

Fall. From. Grace.

And if we wanted to define this phrase based on it's use in these articles, the following would qualify as "falls from grace":

  • A prime minister caught in a string of sex scandals.
  • A hollywood A-lister fighting ongoing drug addiction.
  • Various basketball teams on losing streaks.
  • Companies whose stock has gone bad.
  • An oil giant whose leak damaged the Gulf (okay, so that one's not so anonymous).
  • A billionaire indicted for investment fraud.
  • A Hollywood superstar whose movie tanked.
  • Our country's educational scores comparing poorly to other industrialized nations.
  • A corporation that filed for bankruptcy.

Of course no one would argue that the basketball team whose shooting percentage dropped through the floor is the same sort of "fall from grace" as, say, the alcoholic who beats his kids in a drunken rage.

But it's not exactly shocking that reporters are all over the map on what constitutes a "fall from grace." The general public tends to be pretty divided too.

We all, for example, know people who want to string up the guy who fails to replace the paper in the copier. But, still, we know others who want to let drunk drivers walk away from accidents with just a slap on the wrist.

Lock us all in a room and we wouldn't come to a definitive definition of grace itself, let alone what qualifies as a fall from it.

Which might be a kind of definitiveness in and of itself. Because maybe our phraseology is wrong and falling from "popularity" or "public approval" isn't the same thing as falling from grace at all.

Maybe what is most true is that actual grace is a whole lot deeper and bigger of a concept than whatever smutty-stuff sells newspapers.

Maybe the phrase "fall from grace" is a big oxymoron because grace is...well, grace. And you can't fall out of grace anymore than you flunk out of failure. The falling is an understood, built-in part of the idea.

Maybe grace defies definition and therefore, by nature, defies exclusion. And thus can't ever belong to or be reigned in by any one person or group.

Maybe I should follow the lead of people like graphic designer Ben Requena and take back grace for all my fellow humans--whether I know them or not.

Maybe if enough of us do that, we'll reclaim a universal human possession aimed at a universal human need.

And maybe people like the Utah Utes (I still can't believe they're called that) and the New Orleans Hornets will thank us. =)