What's In a Name a Blog by D. Podhajsky

The leaders of our spirituality group recently posed a question to the group, “What name do you use for God?”  If we believe Juliet this question wouldn’t elicit much thought, after all a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But many people disagree with Shakespeare believing that the name of a thing or a person does matter.

 I know that my name has influenced the course of my life. An example is when I married, I went from being a Dunlap to being a Podhajsky.  People suddenly assigned me a different ethnicity and because people are often sorted alphabetically, I met different people than I would have as a Dunlap. But a more lasting influence was the uniqueness of my first name. People looked at the name and had questions.  Was Dea a nickname? What nationality was I? Why did my parents give me the name? Because of the questions I felt a little special. I had an exotic name so perhaps I should create a life to match the name.

 But the reason for the original question about our name for God was an underlying premise that the name we used would reveal something about us not God. If we used Father, did that mean we embraced a patriarchal theology? What did selecting ‘my Lord’ say about us or “Creator” or any of the hundred names that we were given.

I thought about the question off and for several days. I realized that when I am talking about God with others, I use the word God. However, if it is just me, I don’t use a name. God is a mystery, a concept beyond the capacity of my vocabulary. But like Juliet and her rose, I believe that God by any name is still God. It doesn’t matter what name a person uses; what matters is their acknowledgement that the universe is God’s. God being God does not change depending on the name assigned to her. To return to the rose analogy. Shakespeare  tell us that the essence of the rose is its sweet smell. The essence of God is love. Therefore, “What’s in a name?  That which we call God by any name, would still be love.”


Last modified on Friday, 10 May 2019 23:32

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