Things We Do With Names
I've been thinking a lot lately about all the things we do with names.
Here's my present list....If you can add substantively to it, PLEASE
email me. This stuff is important to me.
- What is the first thing we do when a new human being is born into this
world? The very first thing, often before the umbilical cord is
even cut? We give that person a name.
- Names mean things....The less industrialized a people is the
more important this tradition is to them. But even to us, names
mean things. They have a history and a purpose.
"Leroy", for one example, comes from the French "Le
Roi", which means "The King." There are literally
countless thousands of examples. For $4.99 you can go to your
local bookstore & buy a book that will tell you what your name
- And what is the first, the very first thing we do when we meet
someone? We learn their name....We tell them our name. At
the first meeting, and on the phone, even over the internet, the first
thing we do to establish contact and the beginning of a relationship is
the exchanging of names.
- A simple piece of paper is worthless; but with the signature of a famous
person it becomes an
autograph worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. That's because
the signature attaches or connects that (otherwise meaningless) object to the
person who signed it, conferring on it great value. (I was in
Vegas, in one of the celebrity shops. They had a picture of Marilyn
Monroe, $40. Right next to it, the identical picture, but with her
authenticated signature, they wanted $800.
- I think about product lines...Somebody recently saw my stereo (I worked 20
years for it, it really is my "pride & joy"), and it really
doesn't look like all that much, till he saw the NAME on the
amplifier, which he recognized..."Wow...that's the real
thing...." See, he didn't even have to hear it, he just knew:
that NAME means something, a reputation, and his entire perception and
expectation of the sound were entirely, 100% changed, because of the Name!
- And "Name Protection" (aka copyright infringement, etc) is a
MASSIVE, multi-BILLION dollar enterprise on this planet...I am perfectly
free to make my own brown bubbly soda...I am free to sell it to whomever
will buy it. But if I put the name "Coke" on it, I will have
a lawsuit slapped on me, and if I do not stop then they will throw me in
- This is anecdotal, but I read that Disney spends upwards of $200,000,000
(That's 200 million!) a year in the legal department alone, protecting the
Disney name, hunting down forgeries (figurines & T-shirts etc that say
Disney but don't come from Disney) and prosecuting the
- In short, WE PROTECT OUR NAMES. Because they have value. And
from what I've been told, certain of our political leaders are now
regretting they did not do a better job of protecting their names!)
- If I know your name I can find out everything about you. Your
birth, where you live, where and when you went to school, how much money
you have, what you own, driving record....All of this is available to
the determined investigator who is equipped with your name.
Lately, I've been inundated with Spam email advertisements (here's an example)
(perhaps you have too?) that promise (for $20) to show me how I can find out
EVERYTHING about ANYONE, with only their name.
- Your whole personality is embodied in your name: "Keep my good
name." There's been a lot of talk lately about the
"Clinton Legacy." What will, for history, that NAME
embody? I mean come on....NAMES come into our vocabulary and become
nouns or verbs based on the actions or personality of the people
involved....Does anyone really wonder what the comic means when his says
he'd "Love to get a Lewinsky?" And what a tragedy that her
name will be remember for just that one act.
- One of the main targets schoolchildren have to make fun of each other
is their names. Do you remember the pain? Do your kids
even NOW come home crying because someone at school made fun of their
name? Heck, I remember like it was yesterday....My birth name was Mark
Huppert...And for years, I mean years, I was "Old Mother
Hubbard." I'd be innocently walking through the halls at school
and some idiot would scream, "Old Mother Hubbard! Better go get
your dog a bone!" Nothing, nothing, bothered me
more. And my dear stepdaughter's last name is Doody...Somewhere,
somehow, in the 80's that word became nearly universally used on TV as a euphemism
for "excrement." Think she didn't have any problems?
- No document becomes legal until someone's name is attached to it. So
simple, so obvious....But whether it's a check or a trust deed or a business
deal or peace treaty, until those NAMES get written on the paper, the paper
is worthless, and the deal it represents does not happen!
- Sometimes, when it is really important (I recently refinanced my house)
you need to get your signature notarized, meaning you have to provide proof
you are who you say you are...
- 3 years ago I changed my name, legally. But the problems continue,
even to this day...You would not BELIEVE what all is involved in just trying
to do a name change (not a simple let's-get-married-type of name change, but
a real one...obscure...not to mention that it's weird, and I have only ONE
LEGAL NAME......Do you know, for example, dear friend (can we talk?) that
yours truly, "host of God's Homepage", professional programmer for
18 years, 100,000 software users in the country (ready?) cannot even order
things over the internet! (Well, sometimes it works, but more often
than not it won't.) See, the online order forms (I KNOW you've seen
them) REQUIRE a first and last name, and they REQUIRE that this match
EXACTLY the credit card....MY credit card says "Ahyh", because
THAT's MY NAME!!! But the system just will not handle it...Not that
this has anything to do with anything, but changing my name has been one of
the most EXCITING things I have done in years. Really...And to watch
the daily (yes, daily) repercussions continue to echo because of that one
decision is fascinating....endlessly amusing. (Unless I'm in a hurry,
at which point it can get frustrating. Oh well.)
- Forging someone else's signature is a crime; they can throw you in
jail for years.
- Names really do have power. They contain the power of the person
or thing named.....Names can open doors, get appointments, make things
happen. The "Ahyh" name is not getting an appointment with
George Bush, no matter what. But the "Cheney" name has a
standing appointment. Walk right in.
- I guess what I'm pointing to is the DIRECT, IMMEDIATE connection between
the PERSON and their NAME...The name actually represents the person...You
could say that your name is your ambassador. The Name really is, in
many ways, the person.
- I can "assign" my name to you, through Power of Attorney, or
send you as an ambassador in my name, (just did a quick check....the phrase
"In my name" appears in the Bible 27 times.) You, then,
"using" my name, have all the powers that I do.
- Names even have money. Take a simple piece of paper and it is
worthless. But turn it into a check, and put on it the name of a
rich person, and that worthless piece of paper has immense power because
of the wealth of the person who's name rests on the check. You can
call my accountant, ask for $10,000 cash, and they will hang-up on
you. But if MY name makes the request, the envelope is waiting.
- Then there's the entire, mysterious object-word, person-name
connection. Names (words) are the basis for our entire system of
language and, indeed, thought. It has been repeatedly shown that
the words we have to use shape the thoughts we are capable of having,
and vice versa....Eskimos with 40 words for "snow"...Arabic
with 30 varieties of "brown"...English with only 1 word for
"Love", but 200+ words for the female breast. These things
TELL US THINGS about ourselves....what we name, how we name it, a very deep
and fascinating subject.
- It is AMAZING to me that YHWH gave Adam 3 "jobs":
- Be fruitful & multiply,
- Eat from every tree in the Garden, save one, and
- Give a name to everything.
- This may seem obvious, but It is important to us that our name be
spelled correctly and pronounced correctly. Just think about all
of the effort that goes into TV, radio and newspapers to make sure the
media knows and communicates the correct spelling and pronunciation of
people's names. And every time they mispronounce or misspell a
name, the will apologize!
- Then there's fringe, "weird" stuff that I don't recommend, but
still a part of what we do, like "Your name reveals your
personality", by counting the letters and giving values to the letters
and combining that with the sun's angle at your birth, that kind of
thing. Personally I've always found it a bit silly. But still,
even in our modern, secular world many people find almost a "magic
power" in names.
I've written about this a lot...a briefer list can be found in God
is Not God's Name.
Names are SO IMPORTANT...you could make a case that they are the basis of our
entire social order.
And yet, the overwhelming majority of humanity does not know God's
Name...those who know don't care...The Bible translators refuse to even PUT
THE NAME IN THE BIBLE!!!!!!
The practical application is actually so simple, so straight-forward, and yet
so overwhelmingly powerful:
- The Creator of the Universe has a Name.
- In Exodus 3:14 He reveals that Name. Says it's His memorial Name for
- Every single paragraph above could be re-written in terms of how it
applies to God's name, and how That Name applies to YOU!
But I will leave that exercise to you, should you care. Call it