4

I can't decide which meaning of the verb mark is involved here.

As always, it's a passage from god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens:

If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world. Faithful parents are divided over this, since they naturally hope to share the wonders and delights of Christmas and other fiestas with their offspring (and can also make good use of god, as well as of lesser figures like Santa Claus, to help tame the unruly) but mark what happens if the child should stray to another faith, let alone another cult, even in early adolescence. The parents will tend to proclaim that this is taking advantage of the innocent. All monotheisms have, or used to have, a very strong prohibition against apostasy for just this reason.

I can't decide whether mark is attached to the verb hope to or used in the sense as in mark my words. I strongly assume it is attached to hope to but can't be sure as I read the rest of the passage.

Thank you very much.

6

Faithful parents are divided over this, since they naturally hope to share the wonders and delights of Christmas and other fiestas with their offspring (and can also make good use of god, as well as of lesser figures like Santa Claus, to help tame the unruly) but mark what happens if the child should stray to another faith, let alone another cult, even in early adolescence.

The meaning is definitely "mark my words". This part is addressed to the reader:

but mark what happens if the child should stray to another faith, let alone another cult, even in early adolescence.

The reader is told to pay close attention to what happens if the child decides to change their faith. And exactly what happens is described in the sentence that follows:

The parents will tend to proclaim that this is taking advantage of the innocent. All monotheisms have, or used to have, a very strong prohibition against apostasy for just this reason.


If we read this as

Faithful parents hope to share the delights of faith with their children but mark what happens if the child changes his religion. (= "but the parents observe the situation closely if their child changes his religion")

This would mean that if the child changes his religion, the parents would pay attention to what happens next. This presumes (at least to me) a degree of detached passivity. The very next sentence contradicts this:

The parents will tend to proclaim that this is taking advantage of the innocent.

Clearly a religious couple will not restrict itself to "marking what happens" if their child commits an apostasy in favor of another faith. They will express their displeasure in some or other way.

  • 1
    Thank you very much. This is much more a comprehensive explanation than what I actually expected. I appreciate it greatly. – A.K. Jul 25 '15 at 12:06
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    I think Hitchins' punctuation is poor here. If the sentence was "... divided over this since ... tame the unruly), but mark ..." you would probably have answered your own question. Or insert a semicolon: "... divided over this, since ... tame the unruly); but mark ..." – alephzero Jul 25 '15 at 14:27
4

It is used in the sense of "mark my words". It can be replaced with the verb "notice":

"...but notice what happens if the child should stray...:

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