What is in a name?

My name is rather common and plain. It is not one you would mispronounce unless you are seeking do so with purpose. In my travels, work life, and friendship circles, I have met and married and associated and navigated relationships with many folk. Some with hard to pronounce names and others with exceedingly easy for my tongue to recall. 
The thing that has irked me the most are people I meet from far away shores who live near me here in America who have absolutely lovely names. Names that their parents almost certainly thought long and hard about. Perhaps discussed long into the night. Prayed over. Had ceremonies to imbue the name. But as soon as an American mispronounced the name, they would alter its pronunciation simply to ease tensions, calm prejudices, or worse ‘Americanize’ the name. Whatever that means. I met a young man who enjoys Chinese heritage. He was introduced to me as Lee. Upon further discussion I learned it’s spelled Le. So I asked him, “Is your name Lee or Le?” He replied Le, but everyone pronounces it Lee. I asked why that was so when that was not his given name? He supposed that “… It was easier for Americans to call him that.” I was saddened that a man would lose his identity and nationality. Le is Chinese. Lee is typically Japanese. I had never yet called him Lee and do not intend to start. 

Then my mind wandered, as it often does, to the bible. I began to wonder why is the name of the persons in the sixty six books so important? Their lineage. Their surnames. Their heralding comes from their name. Someone is always named something son of someone or somebody daughter of something. More than that, the name is rarely Americanized. Beersheba.  Malachi. Uzziah. Gershom. Abram. All are uniquely biblical but are not so complex that they defy repetition. But others are complex and clearly without much amusement from its original pronunciation. Aminadab. Naasson. Obed. (Matthew 1:4,5) Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai (Numbers 1:6) 
But then the is Mary and Joseph. Mary? Joseph? I’m pretty sure these names are not common in the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. So what we’re their names? I looked. 

Mary was Maria Mariam pronunced mar-ee’-ah mar-ee-am’ or mirjam. 

Joseph was Iōsēph pronounced ee-oh-safe’

Honestly I like their original names better. They speak more to their namesake and heritage and direction in life. The appropriation of their names for the palatability of the masses is of little interest to me. I hope that in time I will slowly replace their common speak names with the names spoken by Γαβριήλ, or as we pronounce it, Gabriel an angel of the LORD. 

It is my prayer that we seek to know one another better. To seek relationship with one another as human to human. Heart to heart. And it starts with a name. Our real name. 


God and cinema

I am a movie buff. Not that I’m versed in arcane knowledge where films and movies are concerned. I’m simply one who enjoys the films I am willing to watch. The television I watch is chosen because of the writing and, if I’m lucky, the acting. Most films have great intentions. They have people behind them who had a dream and maybe a little money. Maybe not. But the creators and the dreamers found someone who believed in them and their vision. Believed that what they had to say mattered. Was important or humorous or had a socially redeeming quality that must be shared. Felt that this is a story that must be told and cannot be allowed to die with the one who came up with the tale.

Noble, really.

So when I watch a film, I choose to honor those storytellers by looking for the reason they wrote the story to begin with. What motivated or caused them to want to place pen to paper or finger to keypad. I watch for the Easter eggs that the writers and directors and vision keepers put in the images that dance and stroll across my screen. I believe they place those eggs in there because some folk believe in things other than the ones who hold the vision. The story that must be told. Many times I agree with the editors or censors or whatever titles they go by now. I agree that gratuitous violence, blood, and gore for the sake of violence, blood, and gore is unnecessary and irritating. Very few films do I watch where I feel those extras are needed to further the plot or characters being portrayed.

Enter The Walking Dead.

Normally I am not the kind to cotton to gore filled media couched as “entertainment”. I find the idea of zombies a contrived one attempting, with varying degrees of success, to supplant sparkly vampires and dystopian future flicks. In general I am not impressed. But then I saw an episode that made me wonder why I didn’t see the eggs before. Maybe I wasn’t giving the show credit for making an effort to be different. To be a cut above. Something more than just a creature feature. Good for entertainment. But not for redeeming values. Hardly.

I hope I am wrong.

I watched an episode recently, that made me ask the question: is there a deeper message that the writers wanted to convey, but time and sponsorships made them compromise? In this episode the living characters were in an Episcopal church with a fallen priest carrying a catholic rosary. I’m still trying to understand that juxtaposition. But as I said before, I saw Easter eggs. Those are little stage props or hidden images that fit, and yet don’t. I saw a guilty priest. A group of folk held together by circumstance and a group of others pursuing them who chose to become cannibals to survive.

In this church, as in many folks churches, there was posted several bible verses. I haven’t read them before writing this so let’s look together and see if there was an egg there. One that furthered the plot.

Numbers 6:4 all the days of his separation shall be eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
Ezekiel 37:7 so I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
Mathew 27:52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Revelations 9:6 and in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from him
Luke 24:5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them,Why seek ye the living among the dead?

Numbers is focused on how one should prepare themselves to separate from the world and become avowed to God physically both by diet and physical appearance. Abstinence from razors and certain foods are called out. It’s interesting I think to see how the characters in the walking dead haven’t really changed their hair but one character has recently in another episode been poked at about his mullet. This passage may simply be interesting but not specific to the show. I’ll write about that later.

Ezekiel is very ominous when viewed through a Walking Dead lens. A valley of dead bones that are brought to life with fresh and sinew but having no breath expect by the breathe of God Himself. Can yet these bones live? Shiver.

Mathew is very applicable except that in this show, the cries of Jesus are only uttered by the dying beseech in his help. The dead saints being raised up and the living witnessing them. Clearly this is a vision I am sure Matthew didn’t intend.

Revelations seems to be a foretelling or retelling. For Five months they are to endure insect born torments. Those who were to suffer it would have no relief. Even seeking death, but still no relief. These Walkers are very insect like. They horde and surround even in their plodding walk. And they are ever present and appear when you least expect. Very frightening.

Luke is the most interesting. To me this is the one that is prophetic and maybe even foreshadowing. In this biblical passage, the women came to Jesus’ tomb seeking to apply spices to his body. But an angel was upon the tomb and expressed confusion at their mission. Asking why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is in Galilee as He said He would be. This moves me because in the context of The Walking Dead, they are all looking for salvation in Washington, D.C. which is in and of itself crazy considering how that towns politics are today. But I shall not digress here.

They are looking for something or someone to save them from this Hell they are living through. Fighting through so many terrors. Death is a daily thing for them. Like taking lunch with coworkers. So it seems to me that if this verse is fulfilled in the television show, they will reach Washington, D.C. But they are not likely to find anything there but the dead. The living will have already gone. Not a spoiler. Just a guess.

This is why I watch well written shows. Zombies are boring, usually. Zombie killers, if that oxymoron makes sense, are usually one dimensional. But here, the writers have made an effort to be better. To do better. And I am glad I found that out. I suppose that means I am a fan now. Uh oh…

I beg your pardon

When i was a child, I recall very clearly the large poster on my wall that paid homage to the virtues taught me in kindergarten. Robert F. had many words of wisdom for me to learn and live. Hold hands when you cross the street. Be kind. Treat others as you’d have them treat you. And more. It seemed that if all I needed to know in life could be taught in kindergarten I was good to go when I was handed my pushpin to hang the poster as reference. After all, I’d finished kindergarten hadn’t I? And hadn’t all my friends as well? What more did we need to know?

As it turns out, it’s not what we needed to learn, but what we needed to not forget.

You see, I was of the impression that basic courtesy and decency was expected from all. That being kind and polite to others was universal and common sense. But then I heard someone say if that’s such common sense, then why is it not so common? I had no answer then but I’ll try and understand it now.

I don’t really know when it was considered passé to be considerate and kind to others. When inquiring into the health and well being of another was thought antiquated. Looked on as old fashioned and good for another generation, but not this one. Maybe it faded around the same time we started to feel vanity or envy. When we looked for differences more than commonalities.

They say that when culture is stripped away, the first thing to go is language. The connection to our roots and heritage are intermingled, intertwined, and steeped in our languages. Griot in Africa. Fables in the Mediterranean. Faerie tales in Western Europe. And in those tales we learn about ourselves and the community. By losing these connections, we start to drop important things. Like, politeness and consideration.

I don’t really know when these things changed. Perhaps it was when my generation started watching shows like The Simpsons or Married With Children. Or perhaps it was when the author of the writers guide to style Strunk and White insisted upon “..BREVITY..” I don’t know. But it happened.

It’s not so much that we’ve stopped saying complete phrases but that even trying to say them now causes us to falter and stumble through a once simple sentence. It even makes one feel awkward to utter a proper sentence without feeling as if one has just walked out of a medieval movie set. “.. My Lord, if it pleases thee, prithee find it within your heart of hearts to forgivest me..” I’m not advocating a full on reversal to the medieval ages to restore honest requests for forgiveness. I’m only saying that when fault is made, there should be a real effort to seek forgiveness for it. And it begins with a request, not a demand, for that forgiveness.

I can not count the number of times I’ve seen sports figures and politicians fall all over themselves trying to express sorrow without being sorrowful. “.. If I offended anyone, it was not my intension..” 0_o that’s just tragically sad. And pathetic. A real apology and request for forgiveness need not be wordy and highbrow. But it should never be a demand for forgiveness. Rather, it should be a request.

These asks are all very common phrases. But I believe the intent behind them have been muddled and conflated over time. Worse it seems like they’ve been used interchangeably.

I have seen a precipitous drop in the politeness barometer on a daily basis. I beg your pardon. Pardon me. The former is asking for a pardon while the latter demands it.

Excuse me. Please, excuse me. The former demands that you forgive them for some infraction while the latter asks for the other to offer relief from the burden of the fault. You see forgiveness is an act that release both from the yoke of guilt, shame, and a hard heart. Forgiveness allows both the offender and the offended to move forward without lingering malice or ill will. I merely suggest that since the act is so important, why not ask it in the spirit of contrition and not false superiority.

He who has not sinned…..

Biblically, John 8 brings this into even better clarity. The woman was accused of a crime and in the end, those who accused her were forced to reckon with their own faults. They left her without malice because they too had a lesson in forgiveness to be reminded of. They hadn’t yet sought forgiveness for their own faults and so they had not yet been made free to move forward in life. Held captive to their unforgiving pasts.

I am certain there is someone who has read this that has been offended. For that fault, I beg your forgiveness. It was never my intention to offend or hurt you. But if you can find it within you to forgive me, I would be grateful. Thank you.