Enter Marilynne Robinson, whose expansive vocabulary and prose are adored by roughly 97% of the English-speaking world, including 63% of theologians:
I am thinking about the word ‘just.’ I almost wish I could have written that the sun just shone and the tree just glistened, and the water just poured out of it and the girl just laughed – when it’s used that way it does indicate a stress on the word that follows it, and also a particular pitch of the voice. People talk that way when they want to call attention to a thing existing in excess of itself, so to speak, a sort of purity or lavishness, at any rate something ordinary in kind but exceptional in degree. So it seems to me at the moment. There is something real signified by the word ‘just’ that proper language won’t acknowledge.Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (London: Virago, 2004), p. 32, italics original
I suppose that anything that helps the rhetorical effect of a prayer to elicit the all-important ‘amen’ at its conclusion is invaluable. Perhaps I should tolerate the limited—and perhaps the not-so-limited—use of ‘just’ and similar adverbs in extempore prayers. Or does John Ames (the protagonist of Robinson’s Gilead) simply not understand that however much a signifier intends to point beyond itself, sustained repetition will do little more than draw attention to itself?