Monday, July 10

De-hyphenating a name

My last name is a pretty significiant part of my identity, just as much as my first name or nickname. Yesterday Heather, my sister, announced she's engaged to her long-time boyfriend Tim Albano. We all saw it coming, so there wasn't a big reaction. She casually mentioned that she would take his last name. The two ardent feminists voiced our opinion briefly but there wasn't much discussion. The justifications of hyphenating names (if I have ranted to you in person yet) are
  1. Keeping the name of the mother's family alive,
  2. Showing that the family is a dual product of two converging families. Whereas taking the husband's name historically signified that the wife was leaving her family and joining her husband's,
  3. Reaction against the wife sacrificing her identity for her husband's and being "branded" as his property,
and some minor reasons. But since the single name is mostly just a fossil of anbandoned sexism, it's not a huge deal. Then something hit me at work today. Our name not only reflects our family past, but also identifies, defines, and especially labels our family in this generation as a distinct entity! There are lots of Johnson familes and quite a few Bakers, but we are uniquely the Baker-Johnsons - the BJs. I don't care about the survival of our name; if five generations from now there are no Baker-Johnsons or etymological descendant, I'm fine. If the name disappeared now, however, I'd be absolutely tramatized. If Heather abandons "Baker-Johnson," she, in my perspective, abandons our family. She chooses to kill or forget that part of her and the Baker-Johnsons exist fundamentally different and deprived from then on.

Monday, July 3

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a

No, I never wonder what heaven is like. I guess until I get there, I don't care. To be arrogant, I've got better things to do. I do wonder a lot about what the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven is about (which are equivalent, thank you Greek 101). Honestly, sometimes that consumes my life. Jesus seemed to care a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven, and very little of this Heaven itself, if he even thinks it exists. "The Kingdom of God is within you." Or, Thomas records the same dialogue as, "The Kingdom of God is spread upon the earth, and people don't see it."

But I suppose I don't think it will be that magnificient. I don't think we'll all have super powers or sit around having picnics and petting lions all day. I'm not even sure it will be 'perfect' in the way we think of. God speaks of transforming hearts and actions, not situations so much. I suspect we'll still have to deal with global warming and relatives we're not thrilled about - we'll just be better at it.

But I'm soure a lot of conservatives would just say I'm falling down the slippery slope because I'm modeling what I can't see after what I can see. Then some day I will stop beleiving in an afterlife altogether. Maybe. Time will tell.

But mostly I think heaven's a crock belief to make Christians feel better. "Don't worry, Grandma's with Jesus now." What bull. That's far from Jesus' "Do not mourn the dead. Let the dead bury the dead." And heaven's a crock to make non-Christians feel worse. "Do you know where you're going after you die?" Compare with Jesus' style of 'take it or leave it.' Jesus spoke as if choosing to follow him was the hardest thing you'll ever do. We speak as if it's the easiest thing we can do. Well, I'd better stop before I rant.