Here’s a random fact–there are 270 species of termites in Australia but only 8 species are of economic
concern–ie. they’ll eat your house (says Dr Ken Walker, Senior Curator of Entomology at Museums Victoria on ABC’s Ockham’s Razor [19/5/19]). How do you know whether you’ve got a ‘bad’ one, well you identify it, and check out its name. Welcome to the binomial system of naming by which we name every living thing. As more species are discovered, we are still naming them. It is an ongoing thing. The same I understand is happening in astronomy as more ‘things above’ are discovered. Once you can see it or identify it or even theorise about it, the ‘it’ needs a name.
I understand I am Homosapien but you probably regard me as ‘George’ or a variation of my name. If you know my full name you know my ancestry in terms of geography (less so in the last few centuries due to migration), culture, and language. If you know my context you will know that knowing my names means you know my paternal grandfather’s and my father’s names as well. I grew up with an awareness that other people might have my full name and that I am–and am not–unique. (I chuckle that the current Lutheran Bishop of Poland and I share the same first name and surname–and I’d be going ‘wow’ if we share middle names).
To name is to have power. To know a name is to have power. Names reflect and, more than that, are part of being and existence. Naming (and the adjective) are some of the closest ways we become gods or god-like in (pro)creating beings around us and discovering the world around us and having dominion and understanding of it. We can use names to elevate or entrench ourselves in relation to others. We can use names to communicate and respect. We can use names in love and hate.
Today, the Christian Church remembers the name of God. The issue today, however, is that when we name God–give God a name–we are in idolatry if God exists! Reality for Christians is that there is a God who speaks, who communicates, who has given us his names–words by which we can communicate and relate to him. Personalised in Jesus, the followers of Jesus have learnt this name
–it was given–we didn’t make it up–as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There has been much talk about whether these are names or descriptions but after nearly 2,000 years it is still the only full name of God we have and it expresses the mystery of oneness and community
–singleness and relationships–and as we meet and meditate on this name–we are drawn into mystery that there is more to this universe than what our senses and theories tell us. There is a Being who is gracious and merciful, caring and loving of creation–and we are not insignificant, forgotten names at all.