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Monday, October 27, 2008

How Not To Name Your Children

Remember the story about the guy from Elizabethton who named his baby Sarah McCain Palin without his wife's knowledge? He posted a letter in today's Elizabethton Star that tells the world why. He claims to be following in the tradition of the Old Testament:
It's been one week since reports went out about my decision to name my baby girl Sarah McCain Palin. It's beyond my amazement to what happened next. I must unfortunately say that I was not prepared. I'm not sure if I really anticipated one phone call let alone a hundred. I just never thought about what the what if scenario. And it seemed that many interviews never portrayed what I really wanted to get across. So that's why you're reading this now. Since my story made headlines across this nation, I only see it fair to myself to those that are interested to hear the reason why I did so in my own words. I won't cover the details again but only the reason why. But this time it will go deep into the roots.

The Old and New Testaments are ripe with name meanings. Names that symbolize circumstances and events in Israel's long history. Israel we're not, and I do acknowledge that God loves all people, but America as we've come to know it is hanging in the balance. This great nation and all it represents across the globe is at a crossroads. To say this could be the last great battle of our time is an understatement. The battle I'm referring to is moral debauchery and a decay in our founding principles (which includes ideologies that divide us), vs moral values and solid foundational principles that have made this country great and unified. What we need most in Washington at this pivotal time is character, trust and change. John McCain and Sarah Palin are real people for a real hurting America that will bring these much needed attributes to Washington.

We as a country must make a decision to keep America's greatness. I'm willing to stand up for her namesake and I encourage you to do the same. Let's keep God's Grace shining down, and let us not forget the pools of precious blood that is soaked deep within our soil and the soil around this planet. Now is the time to muster the American Spirit. Now is the time more than ever to get out and vote. Let's not forsake this Great Land. Let's boldly vote John McCain and Sarah Palin into the White House.

Apparently, the advice is for all religiously-oriented Republicans to foist their personal politics on their children for life by branding them with names of insignificant political figures. Mr. Ciptak claims to be following a biblical tradition. It is true that in the Bible, names are associated with meaning. Isaiah was told by YHWH to name his child, Mahershalalhashbaz.
Then the Lord said to me, Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, ‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz’, ("the spoil speeds, the prey hastens") and have it attested for me by reliable witnesses, the priest Uriah and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah. And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; for before the child knows how to call ‘My father’ or ‘My mother’, the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria.
Hosea is told by YHWH to marry a prostitute and name the children accordingly:
When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.’ So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

And the Lord said to him, ‘Name him Jezreel ("God sows"); for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.’

She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Name her Lo-ruhamah. ("not pitied") for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.’

When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said, ‘Name him Lo-ammi, ("not my people"), for you are not my people and I am not your God.’ Hosea 1:1-11
Is this what Mr. Ciptak thinks he is doing? Is he making some kind of prophetic statement to the world? For Mr. Ciptak to present himself as some sort of prophet demonstrates more than just a little hubris. What does the name "Sarah McCain Palin" supposedly mean?

It is one thing to name children after people in history who have done significant things. But this is done after those individuals have proven themselves and stood for something important. Usually, we don't know those things until after they have been long deceased. Perhaps Sarah Palin or John McCain will some day be significant. For now, they are not. It is likely that in nine days when Obama is elected, Sarah Palin will be forgotten. Even if elected, what happens to his daughter when, like all human figures, Sarah Palin shows herself to have feet of clay and is not a person with whom even a Republican would wish to be associated?


This was a silly stunt. He achieved dubious fame for it. He makes himself even more foolish by claiming a biblical precedent. For his sake and his daughter's, I trust they will quietly change her name to something normal and forget Dad's bizarre foray into prophetic politics.


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