Recently, I saw a news article on Fudgebook stating that a judge had ordered a mother to think of a different name for her son than “Messiah”. I say that it is about time. Did I mention that this judge and mother were Americans?
Years ago, as related on the Eightball Magazine website, there was a couple in Sweden who were trying to name their child Metallica. You see, in Sweden, when one names their child, they have to register that name with the Swedish tax office. Mainly for purposes of identifying where the tax is coming from and whom it is going out to is the best explanation I can think of for that. But the Swedish tax office would not have a bar of it. I do not know the ultimate outcome of this story, but given how long ago I heard of it, I am pretty sure the child in question has probably stated that they would not want to be known by the name of such a coattail-riding talentless group of poseurs.
I would not mind changing my own name to Jesus Hitler right now, but that is neither here nor there.
There are a number of problems with naming your child Messiah. Oddly enough, the whole verse about the child being subjected to a lifetime of constant mockery is the least of them.
I have to admit, I have not exchanged words with a Christian of any stripe, fanatical or otherwise, in a long time. But were I to be told that the woman fighting for her “right” to name her child Messiah has no idea what that word really means, let us just say I would not be very convincing at pretending I am surprised.
In the third Omen film, Sam Neill is given the thankless task of telling us that if there is one thing “these pedantic Christians” believe in, it is sticking to the letter of their prophecies. Do we not wish? In reality, Christians almost never know the actual sources of their prophecies or their proper meanings. Indeed, one gospel author was noted for his affliction of desire to pick any small group of words out of the Old Testament and proclaim it a prophecy that Jesus apparently fulfilled. So when I say that the Christians who proclaim the Jesus of the gospels to be the Messiah have no idea what the word Messiah means, understand my meaning.
There are several criteria that a man (note: man) must meet in order to be what the Jewish authors called a Messiah. In no particular order, these are:
- He has to be a descendant of the Jewish King David. And the parent he is descended from David by has to be male.
In the time that the prophecy of the Messiah was written, it was believed by the prevailing wisdom that the woman’s uterus was the “soil” in which the complete Human being, present in the male’s sperm, was “planted”. The ovum, the cell without which life cannot grow now matter how healthy the uterus in question is, was not identified until 1859. Does that date amaze you, given how long Humans of all kinds have been reproducing for? It certainly amazes the hell out of me. But the point here is that any writings about who is descended from whom predating this event are immediately rendered suspect by it.
This is the reason why one gospel author spends paragraphs stating who begat who in a way that was hilariously parodied in The Simpsons. Said author wanted to demonstrate that Joseph was a descendant of King David, thus fulfilling the requirement that Jesus had to meet in order to give his claim of being the Messiah any teeth. But when Jesus’ story was changed to make him the son of the Abrahamic god, that broke any connection between him and Joseph. In the process, it broke any connection between Jesus and King David.
Jesus is either god’s son (as proclaimed multiple times in multiple books of the New Testament), or Joseph’s. He cannot be both. And if he is the former, then he cannot be the Messiah. This is just for starters.
- There is a big difference between the Jewish Messiah and the Hellenistic Christ. The New Testament story fits the latter much better.
In the New Testament, we are told how the Romans tried Jesus for various crimes before nailing him to a tree with a bad joke written above his head. Various details about the four stories of this execution leap out, but let us stick to the pertinent one here.
Prior to Jesus’ execution, the Jews were a persecuted people in what they thought of as their homeland. They traded stories of a great member of their race who would rise up, vanquish their foes, and put them in what they perceived to be their rightful place once again. That is, as rulers of the world they knew. And if you have not guessed it yet, the word they used to describe this great member of their race was “Messiah”.
There is just one problem with this. Well, actually, there are a lot, but they all boil down to the same thing. The Jewish Messiah is not meant to just die with no apparent change in the station of Jews on Earth. He is meant to reclaim what the Jews consider to be their homeland, and rule over it in a Kingdom of the Jews that will be the envy of the world. In a monarchistic manner, I might hasten to add.
The Jews do have a state of their own that more or less coincides with what they consider to have been their homeland. Today, it is known as Israel. But it is ruled by what is meant to resemble a parliamentary democracy, and has war waged on it from all fronts by the Arabs that surround it. During the first Gulf War that occurred towards the end of the last century, these Arabs made serious threats that they would use nuclear bombs on Israel if America did not stop attacking poor Iraq. Israel said in response that for every nuclear missile that hit their soil, they would retaliate tenfold.
Does this sound like King David reborn, absolute ruler of a realm that outsiders weep at the wonder of? (Yes, this is a rhetorical question.)
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the family into which this child they want to call Messiah is in the lowest quintile with regards to income. This makes the likelihood of him being what the Jews wrote of before Jesus was ever dreamed of very small indeed.
- Names given at birth are rarely descriptive of what the individual will be as an adult.
I can promise one thing to the parents of this child they are trying to make go through life with the name Messiah. You do that, and I can promise as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow that they will not ever meet any of the tangible requirements to become anything vaguely Messiah-like. Likely, they will drop out of school in a fit of severe anguish, go around wanting to hurt others, and end up either hurting others or fatally hurting themselves.
I am only aware of one man who was named Jesus Christ at birth. His father was an extreme religious lunatic whose parenting practises can be deemed abusive. His mother changed his name when he was a little older, for the purpose of giving him a chance at a mockery-free childhood. As an adult, however, he made a name for himself playing concerts in which he would fling his own fecal matter at the audience, get in fistfights with his audience, and rape female members of his audience.
This is one of the big reasons why, in the scheme of my novels and stories, Dwarrow are given a name when they are born, and then a second one that describes what they are best known for. Names like Gravewater, Stonehelm, Orcshield, Bloodmirth, and so on. Because the possessors of these names waterboarded an Orc to death when he was a young adult, can break other peoples’ heads with his, picks up Orcs (living or dead) and uses them to intercept incoming arrows, or puts on a Swedish Chef act whilst operating on patients who are in bad shape. Respectively.
People do not behave in ways that befit being called a Messiah or a hero because they are named so at birth. I am sure that when Gregory Peck was born, neither of his loving parents knew that he would grow to be a giant of a man in more than one sense of the word. Naming a child Messiah, from this knowledge makes less sense than saying “I am off to Proxima Centaurii, see you again in a day”.
So when I hear Americans (cough) piss and moan that it is somehow not democratic to have a government board telling you that you cannot give your child a daft name, I tell them to eat me. Democracy means your child has rights, too. And your child has a right to identify themselves with something that does not make them want to ask you “why?” in an anguished fashion.
In that spirit, I leave with with a song based on the best mixing of names (and rearrangement of riffs) I have heard in my life:
To say that the man on bass and vocals was more Messiah-like than the majority of folks I heard of during my life is like saying that shit smells. It is redundant.