When We Take God's Name in Vain
What does it mean “to take God’s name in vain”? Apparently, not everybody knows the answer. However, “don’t take God’s name in vain” is a common reprimand. Respect God and God’s name.
I am not disrespectful, but I am not religious. I don’t believe in God.
It is a label, a concept, a brand. But not a name. In different languages, the word “God” sounds differently for this particular reason. We translate words, but not names.
If God hears everything, including thoughts, he knows everything, including intents, understands everything, including content and context, then I am in no danger. Because I never mean any harm. God knows that I am not disrespectful. God knows my quest for knowledge is to be encouraged, not to be condemned. God knows.
I am speaking on God’s behalf. “You are not allowed”, you would tell me. “Neither are you.” But you think you know the rules. Who told you? God? Right.
Admit it, we don’t know. We were told. We respect God, but we decided to abandon old beliefs. There were other Gods/gods before. Does it mean we lost respect for the dead/fallen, fallen out of favour? Oh, yes. Not only, we don’t remember them all.
Seeing and Believing
- Seeing and Believing - The New Yorker
This casualness carries over to conversations with God. The Vineyarders asked him “for admission to specific colleges, for the healing of specific illness—even, it is true, for red convertible cars.” Some women had a regular “date night” with Jesus.
Perun visited Toronto today, it was such a thunderstorm!
“In Slavic mythology, Perun (Cyrillic: Перун) is the highest god of the pantheon and the god of thunder and lightning. His other attributes were the fire, mountains, the oak, iris, eagle, firmament (in Indo-European languages this was joined with the notion of the sky of stone), horses and carts, weapons (the hammer, axe (Axe of Perun) and arrow) and war. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal.
Like Germanic Thor, Perun is described as a rugged man with a copper beard. He rides in a chariot pulled by a goat buck and carries a mighty axe, or sometimes a hammer. The axe is hurled at evil people and spirits and will always return to his hand.”
El – el – el – el – el …
I don’t know everything and neither do you. Do you realize that old times still echo in our language?
El – el – el – el – el …
I am not singing, I am not tripping. I am saying God – god – god – god – god …
Is it really so bad to say “Good Lord!”, “Oh, my God”, “God dammit”, “Jesus Christ!”? I don’t know. To me, it is only an exclamation that has nothing to do with God; it is something – a linguistic atavism. I grew up in an atheistic country, but similar expressions were used fairly widely. “God!”
Even my son picked it up somewhere, but not only he says “God!”, but the person he imitates apparently says it with such exaggeration “Goooooooood!” that I jump up every time I hear it. You will have no trouble figuring out his displeasure. No, you don’t need to know the word. Does he understand what he is saying? He has no clue. It is very pervasive, he cannot get rid of it, not that he is trying. Maybe he is more attached to the power of the expression than to the word itself. But God knows what is what.
You would say, we are not seven-year-olds, we are adults, we know what we say. I would not be so sure.
How many times do you say “God”? Don’t try counting. It’s impossible.
Every time I say “God” … In Russian, the phonetic combination “god” means “year”. Now imagine how many times the word gets thrown around – “every “god”…
What exactly are you saying?
I wonder how God perceives names. He does not have a problem with translation. He understands everything in every language. But it might get quite noisy hearing same words meaning different things.
Let’s look at those names that contain the word “el” – God. Which God? I don’t know. It’s not specified. But I know that you are not disrespectful. Unaware, maybe, but not disrespectful.
What exactly are you saying?
Name: Daniel – translate and use its original meaning – “My Judge is God”.
Name: Emmanuel– translate and use its original meaning – “With Us is God”.
Name: Gabriel– translate and use its original meaning – “My Might is God”.
Name: Ariel– translate and use its original meaning – “Lion of God”.
Name: Nathaniel– translate and use its original meaning – “Gift of God”.
Name: Michael– translate and use its original meaning – “Who resembles God?”
All I am asking you to do – substitute. Just play along.
- “Who resembles God?” did you brush your teeth today?
- Not yet. I don’t want to and I am not going to.
- Go to bed, or there will be no TV the whole day tomorrow.
- Who are you going to see tomorrow, “My Judge is God”?
- “Lion of God”?
- I am not quite sure you can, I talked to his mother and he has piano lessons.
- You know, darling, this boy “The Gift of God” is such a terrible influence on our “With us is God”. Maybe it is time to stop the relationship with that family.
Do you get my point? It’s absurd!!!
Translate your names and go around with the translation. How does it feel?
I know what you would tell me – it is ridiculous. Wait…
There are names that you understand and I doubt you would tell me it is ridiculous.
Christian, Christopher, Christos, Jesus.
- I’m Christian.
Does it not sound the same? How can we go and throw around the word “Christ” so often without even realizing t it?
Because it became a habit. Just like with other expressions that contain the word God.
Never mind. My son “Whose Judge is God” was told “You are not a Christian”. He is not.
I told him – respond “No, I am not Christian, I am Daniel, I am “My Judge is God” and, please, leave it up to God to judge me.
Poor boy has difficult time at school. And even though I told him the meaning of his name, I thought it would go above his head. But no, he remembered. I guess it bothered him enough to be called “not a Christian”. Is everybody supposed to be a Christian?
What does it mean to tolerate beliefs of others? To accept that all Gods that are being believed in exist? To respect all Gods and not throw their names around like soccer balls?
I respect your beliefs. I respect all Gods. The only thing I don’t want to is to be told what to believe in and be reprimanded for making my own choices. My choice is to question. Questioning is not disrespect. Neither is thinking. Our minds are made for thinking.
Yet, I would have made a different choice for my son’s name. Why did I choose a name that contains two words that I don’t like “God” and “judge”? That is a separate story. Daniel’s story. Maybe it was providence. I don’t deny that God exists, I doubt that people are knowledgeable of who he/she/they … You get my point.
Like everybody I have my preferences. I don’t like name Christian. To me, it lacks imagination. Nobody goes around saying “My name is Muslim”. Maybe I am ill-informed. I am. I was.
I remembered that there was a singer Muslim Magomaev – very talented. His name was pronounced “Mou’slim”. Words migrate from one language to another, transform, emphasis is changed, spelling is changed, and sometimes it is really hard to see interconnectedness of everything.
So, there you go: Christian, Muslim. Why not Buddha? There are Dianas and Aphrodites and Venuses.
Sometimes, when you least expect…
- What is your name?
- Don’t you dare! Your name cannot be Allah.
- Yes, my name is Alla.
It is a Russian (?) name for girls that is probably originates from Greek “other”. I don’t know. It’s not my favourite, but it is a name. But God knows what it means and he knows that by naming girls Allas we don’t mean to offend anyone, least of all, God.
Russian Prima Donna
Alla Pugacheva was a prima donna of the Soviet pop culture. She was rather a scandalous figure, talented, but odious. The song that I included has nothing to do with God/gods and theophoric names. I am showing that there are people under the name of Alla. She sings a Russian version of the very famous song “La Paloma”.
The clip was changed to the song itself (not the girl singing karaoke)
She is such and such and such...
The second clip, you don’t have to watch, but it is an eight-year old girl sings Alla Pugacheva’s song about a wife left by her husband for another woman. The abandoned wife devotes most of her energy to say how bad the other woman is and how good she is herself and how could he leave for that baby with a soul of a cat (In Russian to call a woman a cat is not very flattering). It is vulgar and funny at the same time, but to see a girl singing it, it is simply hilarious. For me, or for those who understand Russian. I hope that maybe with time there will be at least a few readers who understand both Russian and English.
No, I haven’t lost my mind. Coming back to the names. It is very simple. Parents want the best for their children. When names were created the best concepts were used and there was no better or divine concept than God. Names that contain word God or names of Gods are called theophoric. Every time the name is called, it gets God’s attention “Don’t forget to protect the bearer of your name.” “In God we trust”, yes indeed, but we’d better call Him more often lest He forgets.
So, that is precisely what you are doing even if you don’t realize it.
- God! God! God! God! God!
- How dare you taking God’s name in vain!
- I? What did I do? It was not my idea.
You know what is a good idea? Check out what your name means. Or the names of your loved ones. Because theophoric names just like other names were created with love, given with love and they echo love from all those generations. It was not disrespect.
Maybe all those people who choose theophoric names for their children cheat by trying to be first in line and getting God’s attention. Which God? I don’t know.
Daniel, my son. Were you given to me by God or did I give you to the world?
I don’t know. The only thing I know is that I LOVE you.
Did I cheat by naming you Daniel just like others?
I don't know. But God knows I had a different name in mind.
Do I call God every time I say your name?
I don’t know. I hope it is not all in vain.
But only God can judge.
- Theophoric name - Wikipedia
A theophoric name embeds the name of a god, both invoking and displaying the protection of that deity. Some names of theophoric origin remain common today, such as Theodore.
© 2011 kallini2010