Monthly Archives: April 2014

What’s In a Name?  (Musing after Easter) 

Faith adherents and non-believers alike call up religious names.  California contains Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) with coastline saints like Santa Monica (pictured)Image, San Francisco and San Diego, topped by the capitol Sacramento (for the sacrament of Eucharist).   A timely name with the passing of Easter.

Mention Los Angeles, California and Corpus Christi, Texas, and you invoke angels in translation and the literal body of Christ for diversely populated hometowns that are also beach vacation destinations.   Cities provide famous reminders of our search for the sacred.

To celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, nobody need travel to the West Bank because  Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania also have their Bethlehems.  Biblical inspiration provides mailing addresses from Mt. Zion, Georgia to Beulah, Colorado and Damascus, Oregon.

The U.S. is not alone.  Religious names abound globally, from Christchurch, New Zealand to the nation of El Salvador (The Savior).  The Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Pagan and other religious traditions lent their language to places here and there.  Tel Aviv in modern Israel historically harkens back to the scriptural prophet Ezekiel.  Other examples of religious place names are Makkah al-Mukarramah (the Holy City of Mecca) in today’s Saudi Arabia, Mahakali (the Goddess Kali Ma) in contemporary Nepal, and Stone Henge in England.

Combined these places receive a fraction of the traffic that daily flows through Los Angeles, Corpus Christi and the Bethlehems, yet they still pinpoint the global fascination with religious naming.  While formal religion may not be in our DNA, spirituality is.  We simply cannot live in this world without spiritually motivated imprint to our linguistic consciousness.   In all times we evoke the greater power behind the names of wherever we live and move and have our being.  Name it whatever you want, timeless love remains real.   We want to believe.   Name  the Infinite whatever you want, God meets that desire wherever we are.

Owl Post signage from the realm of Harry Potter (YA blockbuster books and films)

Owl Post signage from the realm of Harry Potter (YA blockbuster books and films)

With the Christmas celebrations at Hogwarts and the iconic clash of good and evil in the Harry Potter tales, nothing but wise owls would do for delivering important messages.

Before traditional herbal healers (aka witches) were horrifically targeted by insanely normal churchmen during the real-world witch hunts (approximately 1480 to 1750 A.D.), the “craft” had a good following and the word “witch” came from the root words for wit and wisdom. Used for good, to help others, witchcraft of the type Harry Potter practiced had an ancient history that foreshadowed the healing care and other good works of Jesus. Small wonder some thought it mere magic as had been foreshadowed instead of the supernatural dispensation of the Holy Spirit.

When we pay attention to what has captured the YA imagination, we see updated renderings of the same story Jesus embodied as Incarnate Word, bringing light into the dark spots of humanity’s heart, uplifting mere sport into vocation.

Jesus also promised, in the less frequently taught version of the Sermon on the Mount (see Luke’s Gospel), that those who’ve mourned would laugh. This is the “be happy” beatitude.

Funny —- when we laugh to keep from crying — how Christianity excised a sense of humor so many times in so many eras and forget to take the Savior at His humorous and compassionate word.

YA fiction like the Harry Potter saga can bring us back to the resurrected themes of Jesus and authentic goodness that a Churchianity He (The One  of God Who Must be Named) never intended nearly buried.

Four Owls, that’s right, four heart faces, backgrounds as dark in contrast as the light around my darkened mestizo face. Spiritual growth = darkness turned to good in the light of Christ aka the Anointing Freely Given to All Without Exception (Emergent Christianity and Beyond, Way Beyond).

Barn OwlBarn OwlScot Four Owls

Barn OwlBarn Owl