Calling evil good, and good evil

Shakespeare put the question, “What’s in a name?”

I choose my flower varieties on their own merits — appearance, ease of culture, hardiness, taste, etcetera. However, while putting together a design for a renovated flower bed, it became apparent that some of the gorgeous members of the new color collection had some very questionable names.

The Devil’s Eye daylily, with the dark purple eye zone will match the Hot Spiced Wine iris, although they won’t bloom at the same time. The Fiery Temper iris, with the luscious black falls (lower petals) sporting bright orange beards is going to be front and center among these, along with a little “Devil May Care” iris. Then the dark red “Honky Tonk Hussy” will lend its voluptuous dark red blooms to round things out.

How can such luscious colors sound so wicked? This garden bed sounded more like a hotbed of sinister activity. I suppose the dark colors bring up dark ideas in the minds of those who name the plants. After all, my white iris and yellow daylilies on the other side of the yard are named “Eternal Bliss” and “Happy Returns.” Now there’s a serene scene!

The names given these garden beauties do not bother me. What does make my blood pressure rise is when I hear so-called landscape “experts” recommend the bane of my existence – the dreaded Bermuda grass! This stuff is pure torture to control, and steals valuable hours that could have been spent sitting back and enjoying that Hot Spiced Wine. (The iris by that name, that is!)

How can a horrible weed like that ever be sold as something desirable? Maybe their praises of this pesky turf grass is based on their own love for green expanses of lawn in the heat of summer, to the exclusion of anything else besides trees. Maybe they are golfers. Maybe they really never grew anything but a lawn, and never wanted to.

That’s all well and good — for them. But telling a perennial gardener to grow Bermuda or even Zoysia grass is just nonsensical. One speaker at our local garden club recommended this invasive grass, and he was so roundly rebuked that some of his listeners almost feared for his safety!

We tend to paint a rosy picture of those things that we like, without considering the big picture. In the case of Bermuda grass, we might not think of what it will do to any other plant in its path. In the case of our “pet” sins, we justify them as good when in fact the bigger picture tells a far different tale.

Do you laughingly excuse your fiery temper on your Irish or Russian heritage? Do you dress like a honky tonk hussy because you have the figure for it? Do you boast that you can hold your liquor well, and so excuse your indulgence in hot spiced wine despite the dangers of addiction or lack of control?

What happens when we adopt a “devil may care” attitude? It won’t be as endearing as we pretend it will, especially to our God. Naming our bad traits as something good is an old and effective scheme of the Devil.

Calling a beautiful flower a sinister name is one thing, but calling the truth “hateful” is no joke. Be careful not to label righteousness as “prudish” or those who practice it as “naive” or “judgmental.”

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, NASB).

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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