Friday, April 2, 2010
On Easter, let's resurrect the name Judas
This is the weekend when I’m always chagrined we didn’t have a son. By God, I’d have named him Judas.
One of the keys to succeeding in this life is simply to exceed expectations.
Being called Judas in the 21st century would ensure this. No name in history is freighted with worse connotations than Judas and that would forever work in the kid’s favor.
Fair-minded evaluators would say, “Naturally, I had my suspicions Judas was going to be a real turncoat, but I find him to be very trustworthy. I recommend we give him a raise. Let’s start with 30 pieces of silver and see if he counters.”
I’m always fascinated why some Biblical names -- Noah, Joshua, Samuel -- endure, while others do not.
I’ve never met an Obadiah, a Nahum or a Habakkuk and that strikes me as strange. The world is awash with so many religious fanatics you’d think at least a few of them would honor the obscure Old Testament prophets rather than name yet another child Bob or Pete.
When Mr. and Mrs. Pilate named their son Pontius they had no way of knowing they were passing along a handle with would terminate with his historic misdeeds. I feel for them. They must have been busting with pride that their son had risen to be a powerful Hebrew governor.
Here in America, we’re always harping at politicians for doing what Pilate did: he slavishly followed the polls. Of course, our president with two Old Testament-sounding names is in trouble for doing just the opposite. Sometimes you just can’t win.
With Pilate, they should have just term limited the guy, not the name. Because when you think about it Pontius is a great sounding name. It should be in play.
I think it would be fun for a family that was really into aviation to name a son Pontius and steer him into the airlines just so one day our routine flights from Pittsburgh to Charlotte could be enlivened by hearing the speaker crackle: “Hello, my name’s Pontius and I’ll be your pilot today ...”
I’ve always loved the Elton John song, “Levon,” and am stirred by the line, “He called his child Jesus, ‘cause he liked the name.”
Levon’s Jesus aspires to go to Venus on a balloon. I try to never let the senselessness of the lyric interfere with my enjoyment of a really great tune.
There has to be scores of men named Joseph who’ve married women named Mary, but I wager not a one of them had the playful audacity to name a son Jesus.
Too bad. A trio like that could start a dandy end-of-days cult and that’s where the real money is. Sex, too, from what I hear.
People of Spanish descent have no such sheepishness about naming males Jesus. They pronounce it with a joyful sounding “Hey! Zeus!” which always sounds like an informal shout out to a remote and powerful god with a human weakness for mortal women.
Kind of like Tiger.
Major League baseball is littered with Jesuses. The lowly Pittsburgh Pirates organization has a bunch of them, including Jesus Brito whom we acquired in January from the Cleveland Indians.
And, get this, Jesus Brito was born in 1987 on December 25. I’m not kidding.
I don’t care whether this Jesus can walk on water or not. I’ll be happy if he can bat a measly .280 with runners in scoring position.
I like to think one day I’d be at the ballpark when some Jesus turns water into wine, but I know cheapskate owner Bob Nutting would spoil the miracle by charging $7.50 for a 4-ounce plastic cup of the stuff.
I have so little faith in the Pirates organization that I know if this Jesus ever gets good my buddies and I will scornfully recall the day we traded a guy named Jesus who was born on Christmas Day for two has-beens and a player to be named later.
But back to Judas. He’s enjoying something of a renaissance. Biblical scholars are saying Judas was really Jesus’s BFF and the only one the Nazarene could trust to fulfill scriptural destiny.
How they divined this, I have no idea. Maybe Judas had a Facebook page no one’d ever bothered to check.
Of course, my name has a powerful Biblical connection.
I am Christ-opher.
Before I’d bothered to look it up, I’d always assumed the “Christ” meant “Messiah” and “opher” meant “who toils in blogger obscurity,” and I was only living up to half the bargain.
In actuality, it means “one who bears Christ in his heart.”
That pleases me.
Still, I think I’d have done better associated with the worst name in the Bible, rather than the best.
And, hell, it’s been ages since anyone’s offered me a cash equivalent of 30 pieces of silver to do anything.