A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME…
How A Name Really Can Influence Who We Become.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
by any other name, would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet
Act 2 scene 2
What is in a name?
That is an excellent question.
What is in a name, William?
Or should I call you Willy…Billy perhaps?
The simple fact that the name William Shakespeare flows from the tongue like fine honey, and makes most of us listen with bated breath when his words are recited, begs this question:
What would happen if we were to introduce this great literary giant by the first name Willy or Billy or; God forbid; Bud?
What if we renamed Bud’s most iconic play “Romeo and Juliet”?
How about we call it “Reggie and Bertha”?
Now that flows off the tongue, right?
Ah yes, “Reggie and Bertha” by Bud Shakespeare.
That would certainly go over like a lead balloon.
Our western world is dominated by Christian culture; and within that culture has evolved an affinity for names and, with them, the power of their meanings.
Christ himself manhandled demons by demanding to be told their names. (Mark 5, 1-20)
My heroes, as a child, were the great prophets, kings, and saints that populated the Biblical landscape.
There was David, for example, the second and most powerful king of ancient Israel. Then there was Jeremiah, the so-called “weeping prophet” who lived during the days leading up to the Babylonian exile. Of course, we have King Solomon, David’s son; the wise and legendary heir to the throne, who ruled over the longest span of peace and prosperity in ancient Israelite history.
Each man’s name epitomized, for me, key virtues within the Judeo-Christian ethos.
David conveyed a sense of valor and justice, first by besting a powerful, Philistine giant in hand-to-hand combat. Then by slowly and systematically wresting the Kingdom from the unjust, money-grubbing fingers of King Saul.
The prophet Jeremiah, epitomized both patience and compassion as he spent years calling rebellious Israel back to God. Jeremiah hoped that God might have a change of heart, and abandon his plan to bring the Babylonian armies down on Israel, to the walls of Jerusalem herself.
Then there was Solomon, the quintessential archetype of kingship, who had inherited the golden years of Israelite nationalism. Solomon had managed to construct a world-famous temple; land seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines; and…