Thursday, February 5, 2009
What's in a Name?
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 1-2)
There's a nice little book about prayer that I came across recently. The authors present a fresh view of what prayer is about, and it's quite a good book. I couldn't help but notice, however, that one author's name is misspelled. On every single page of the book. Okay, either it's wrong throughout the text or it's wrong on the cover, on the title page, and endpage bio.
People whose names are slightly unusual are often extra sensitive to names and how they're spelled, and we're used to disappointment when our own names are misspelled. I have a friend who is blind and uses screenreading software to listen to his emails. When we first became acquainted, I noticed that his usual spelling of other words is often phonetic (and therefore technically incorrect) but he always spelled my name right. When I asked how he knew, he said that names are important, so he makes it a practice to have new names spelled out until he memorizes them.
One of my readings this week brought another aspect of the importance of a name:
We give thanks to Thee, O God, we give thanks,
For Thy name is near;
Men declare Thy wondrous works.
Thy name is near. What is significant about God's name? His name stands for His character, His attributes, and His identity. Not only that, but He has adopted us so that we may take shelter under His name. Sure, God is near -- but everything for which He stands is also near. His reputation as Sovereign and Savior is at stake, all the time, on our behalf. These tremendous benefits never depend on correct spellings, or even on exact precision when we pray. His name is ever near.