“Some Memphians can thank Mrs. Pauline W. Arnett for saving them from outlandish names that would be a constant embarrassment to them.”
These words were penned by Eldon Roark, a human-interest columnist who wrote for The Memphis Press-Scimitar in 1945. Mrs. Arnett was the former head of the Memphis Health Department’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. During her twenty years of service, she was not opposed to parents naming their children unique names, but she believed that some parents were victims of pranksters. There were prominent names like Booker T. Washington, President Roosevelt, Admiral Dewey, Jack Dempsey, Mae West, and Joe Louis; however, there were also the strange and amusing names like Fairy Queen, Forceps, Sarsaparilla, Mythology, Listerine, Augustus Pius, Anthony Cleopatra, Toad, Princess Precious, and Pokey.
Names are important. There was a time when we did not exist, and our parents needed something to call us. When they named us, we had no say in the matter. Perhaps you were named after a grandparent or some other ancestor.
Not so with God. He has always existed, and no one has dominion over him. He revealed his holy name (Exodus 3:14), and he commands us not to trivialize it (Exodus 20:7). God’s name is important, and we must be careful with our words for he demands our respect (Matthew 5:33-37). Christian, are you up for the task?
“Speak the name of God so solemnly,
Speak the name of God in prayer.
In a world so full of profanity,
Speak the name of God with care.”