What’s in a Name?


There’s a new study out today which tells us that some names make people seem more successful, lucky or attractive to other folks. 

We wonder if it works the same for churches.  The Vicar says she tends to avoid churches called Emmanuel or Saint Saviour’s, as there’s generally not enough incense around, whereas Ss. Hilda, Silas & Dunstan by the Gasworks is usually a good bet.

According to the study, John is a really unlucky name, which is a bit ironic, since it means ‘God is gracious’ or ‘gift of God.’  And clearly, Saint John the Evangelist, Forton is a great place, where God is gracious with both the incense and the wine.

The whole thing probably explains why in the Hebrew Bible, God has a Name that you can’t pronounce and doesn’t really mean anything except that God exists.  It was supposed to stop people attributing things to God, like whether God is male or female, or posh or common, or prefers cheese and onion or salt and vinegar.  Apparently the early Saints of the Church did the same sort of thing through a process called apophatic prayer or the via negativa.  They said the only thing you could truly know about God is that God is.  You have to shed all your imperfect ideas about God, a bit like peeling an onion.  The Vicar’s quite into all that stuff, though we don’t remember her ever having peeled a vegetable in her life.

As for our names, Mary probably means something to do with bitterness, which is not very appropriate; although some people think it might come from an Egyptian word meaning ‘beloved,’ which is certainly true.  And Martha?  Apparently it’s Aramaic for Mistress of the House.  Nuff said.


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