Mark Oppenheimer’s piece in today’s New York Times, about a Tennessee judge who has forbidden his parents to name a baby boy “Messiah,” reminds me of how agreeable it was to think that whenever my favorite atheist, the late Christopher Hitchens, signed a check or autographed a book about how religion poisoned everything, he was, whether he wanted to or not, extolling the privilege of a human being to bear Christ into the world; how the uttering of my own first name rebukes the Devil, or any blasphemer; how the before the name of the Guatemalan guy who mows my next door neighbor’s lawn every knee must bow and every tongue proclaim that Jesus is Lord. (To say nothing of my old Lebanese buddy, a Moselm whose nickname was “Mo.”)
To pray without ceasing is an imperative of our faith, and it’s marvelous that even the names we are given, the names we use, can help us out with that, and can, at the very least, join the litany of the saints. No simpleton judge, no tone-deaf civil libertarian, no court of law can do a thing about that. That’s an agreeable thought, too.