Thursday, June 12, 2008


Afternoon / by Nancy Merkle

The other day a friend used the word cast when I and most others would have used the word, throw; throw is similar, but cast has the nuance of being done with more abandon or more deliberation. It got me wondering why it is so little used. Maybe it makes us sound English, as if we were on stage. Like Shakespeare's Caesar saying, “The die is cast.” Meaning, in Caesar's case, that it’s time to cross the river Rubicon and to let come what may.

If Caesar had lived a few years later, he could have followed Saint Peter’s admonition to “cast all of your cares upon Him," before crossing. You can cast your bread upon the waters, which is an act of benevolence, I think. You can cast lots, if you want to make a decision by chance, or cast your lot with others in an uncertain venture; more usages from the King James Version of the Bible. The common, modern usages of the word are sea related, like casting off from the dock or casting a line into the river. Then again we do cast shadows, I'm not sure how that fits.

But my favorite use is in our Lord’s admonition to the self-righteous, "he who is without sin may cast the first stone."

Something, by the way, I’ll never get to do.

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