What’s in a Name?

Two of my readers sent me an article yesterday about Lord Jesus Christ, the Massachusetts man who was hit by a car. Lord Jesus survived the brush with death this time. Clearly the angle on this story is the human interest aspect instead of the courtroom precedent or the political scope of its ramifications. In our minds, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we’ve already come up with a profile for a man named “Lord Jesus Christ.” We’ve already judged him and determined his motives in legally taking such a name. This is a book to be judged by its cover.

From a purely semantic point of view, the victim’s name would probably have more impact with the definite article: The Lord Jesus Christ. As it is, the name differs only in degree from the thousands of Chrises out there, of either gender, or the many Hispanic men named Jesus, or those Anglos with the surname Lord. Not to mention all those Joshuas. Our names are the labels that others immediately use to prejudge us, although mostly our names come from our parents, or sometimes spouses. We are known through life by tags branded on us by parents who have no idea who we will become. As the non-adopted step-son of a second father I changed my name and I know the baggage that goes with such a change. The burden became so great that I reverted to my birth-name after college. I felt like I had been living a lie for much of my youth. What’s in a name?

Our injured man with the newsworthy name has not yet become the savior of the world. Some religious folk are offended by his appellation, yet most of us would be flattered by someone naming their child after us. Why not aim high when it comes to names? If we are to be judged by our verbal moniker, why not select one that states our point of view? With religiously motivated terrorism on the ascendant, however, it gives me pause to think about Lord Jesus Christ being run down. A man was injured here, while crossing the street. It could have been anyone. If it hadn’t been for his epithet, the story would not be national news. More than anything else, this may reveal the significance of the name.

A message from on high?

3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Hi Steve…

    Would we not all at least agree having the legal named, Lord Jesus Christ, is atypical?

    And if we run our perceptions through our historic filter, most of us would recoil from thoughts of peculiar people we once knew who believed themselves to be reincarnates of significant people from the past, particularly Jesus?

    I think a double-take is entirely natural. Reliable on the other hand? No.

    Attempting to be objective here, who of us could possibly ever know why this man has this name. At one time, I had heard of a girl named “Cindy”, who had shortened her name from the one her fanatical, ‘Jesus People’ hippie parents had given her legally, “Repent of Thy Sins”.

    Now should it ever have been known what her legal birth name was, that all manner of bias and speculation would emerge. Yet this was entirely circumstantial and completely beyond her control.

    Yet I will wager $5 and a box of donuts that anyone reading the above paragraphs either flinched or smirked in some manner. It is simply unusual.

    So Lord Jesus Christ of Massachusetts, whoever he may be, has my benefit of the doubt in spite of my filtered recoil.

    Maybe he, or whoever named him, has just achieved what they set out to achieve by us now dialoguing over the matter.



    PS… Steve… as a Relgious Studies Professor, I would welcome your comment on a recent post of mine on religion and spirituality.




    • Steve Wiggins

      Surely the name is atypical, Chaz. What I find sad is that many people are struck by cars and not ever given more than a bandaid (my brother was hit by a car twice when we were kids and received no notice at all). I’ll be glad to stop by to look at your post!


  2. Pingback: Robots and Religion « Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

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