What’s Your Name?

“Who can give a man this, his own name?” –George MacDonald. (Unspoken Sermons.)

Hi, I’m back today with a much more mystical subject than I’ve been covering, (and by the way, mystical is not the same as mythical, mystical can be real, but very hard to understand unless you are a Mystic.)

What brought this on was recently watching the Anime Best Picture winner “Your Name.” I was both skeptical and hopeful when I heard about it, and so my siblings and I decided to try it out. We’ve only discovered we like anime over the last year or so, and we’ve been slowly trying different kinds. (I seem to like Slice of Life best aside from the shows I’ve gotten into.) I loved Koe no Katachi, a different anime movie, so I thought, what the heck?

And I thought Your Name was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, from a visual and story perspective, though not without its flaws.

However this is not a movie review, watch it if you’re into that sort of thing, otherwise don’t bother, if anime turns you off. But the concept of the movie was something I did want to talk about, because part of what  I liked about it was how similar it was to other things I’ve read, and it’s mostly read, since I’ve seen few movies tackle the subject.

The movie centers around a couple different ideas which I’ll list here for clarity before breaking them down.

  1. The idea that Love transcends Time and Space
  2. The idea that there’s power in knowing someone’s Name.
  3. The idea that people are destined to meet, despite whatever impossible obstacles seem to stand in their way.
  4. The idea that time is interwoven, not just a long line of events.

The first two are the most important, and the ones I feel the most informed of, if you could call it that.

I happen to be a fan of Madeleine L’Engle’s first three books in the Wrinkle in Time series, my favorite out of the three is “A swiftly Tilting Planet,” it’s amazingly complex for such a short book, and it focuses on Joy, and Love, like all three of the books do, as well as Time Travel.

What’s interesting about it is that just like in “Your Name” the boy in this book time travels by going within someone else. Only it is several different people and all male. Also he other person’s conscious remains. he just blends into it, giving them help when he can but only subtly. they can’t know it’s him or it would scare them too badly. It is not possessive, but sharing, like a passing traveler.

The boy, Charles Wallace, goes within for the same reason Taki in the movie does, it is to redeem people and save others. There is a disaster int he book that is going to wipe out the world because of an evil man, and he has to redeem the parents of this man and save some of them also. Taki has only to save an entire town, but it proves just as difficult.

Interestingly, both stories share the theme of someone forgetting quickly as soon as they come out of it, what happened. Only, instead of Charles Wallace forgetting, it’s Meg who is only helping him by a sort of telepathic connection they have (more spiritual than mental) and because she is not there, it fades from her mind. Like a dream. Other characters in the book have dreams that are actually from Charles Wallace’s life, while he is within them.

I find the similarities astounding.

Here we have the idea that lives can be shared across time and space, and it is because of love, joy, and the need for salvation (in every sense of the word) that it happens. We have the idea that our spirits are not bound by time, space, or our minds. Because Meg’s mind may not be able to retain it (her brother has a rare mind that is able to, not many people do) but her heart and spirit can. In the movie, the two people’s minds are only able to remember for a short time what happens, but their hearts and souls remember always.

It’s actually a common idea in Japan that people can be connected and share sorrows and joys, especially with lovers. And the idea is actually not unbiblical. I’ve heard stories of people sharing feelings or some other kind of connection in the spirit, or even physical pain.

But and even more important thing (at least for the average person who probably won’t expereince that kind of trascendential existance in this life) is the second thme. The power of names.

I again turned to L’Engle, this time her second book int he series, A Wind in The Door. In this book Meg learns more about her task in the universe (in Church we would call it spiritual gifting or calling, the secular world also calls it a calling, rather mockingly, but also with some seriousness.) It is to be a Namer, and she does not get it. She asks her teacher about it:

Meg: “Well, then, if I’m a Namer, what does that mean? What does a Namer do?”

Proginoskes: “When I was memorizing the names of the stars, part of the purpose was to help them each to be more particularly the particular star each one was supposed to be. That’s basically a Namer’s job. Maybe you’re supposed to make earthlings feel more human.”

He goes on to explain that their enenmies, the Echthroi, are trying to destroy the world by doing just the opposite:

“I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming – making people not know who they are. If someone knows who he is, really knows, then he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then the Echthroi will be vanquished.”

In “Your Name” the problem is not that the characters forget who they are, but that they forget each other, every time the barrier of time is reinstated between them, they forget. And eventually forget even that there was a person they were trying to remember. Though they have a vague idea that they are always searching for someone or somewhere or something. Because they cannot remember the name they don’t know who each other are. It echoes L’Engle’s idea so closely, it’s bizarre.

Knowing your own name is important, so is knowing other people’s. But why?

George MacDonald had some very profound thoughts about this, in his Unspoken sermon about names he notes that the names we give each other are just shadows of what a real name is, since the real name, that God will give us at the end of time, is one only he and we will know, and only that one person will have.

“The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the being, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol,–his soul’s picture, in a word,–the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is, or even, seeing what he is, could express in a name-word the sum and harmony of what he sees.” 

(Link to the full sermon here: http://www.online-literature.com/george-macdonald/unspoken-sermons/5/)

Taki and Mitsuha are not names that sum up who they are exactly.

Mitsuha means “third leaf” and is similar to her grandmother’s, mother’s and sister’s names, which are first leaf, second leaf, and fourth leaf, in that order. It symbolizes he place in the story as a carrier on of tradition, but not her personality.

Taki means waterfall or water plunging. He does plunge into water in a sort of vision in the movie, and that is when he is able to save Mitsuha and her village by switching with her one last time. But it doesn’t sum him up.

In the end, that’s not really the point. The names in the movie do just what MacDonald points out our human names for each other are meant to do, identify us to ourselves. Help us distinguish each other, honor each other, and of course, remember who is who.

But as MacDonald and L’Engle both point out, there’s a higher reason for names. Names carry our identity.

My full name (which I don’t use on this blog and won’t actually give here for privacy reasons) mean “joy/rejoicing, Christ’s Birthday, and guardian/one who guards or protects.” If you knew me in real life, it makes sense. Even on this blog, it makes sense.

I’ve been told many times my name was no accident. Not everyone is blessed with a good name. In India many girls are cursed with a name that means “unwanted” there’s a group that takes in some of these girls and allows them to legally change their name into something better. If your name has absolute no positive connotations, I’d suggest you consider going by something else, but most names do have some good meaning.

Why is it important?

It might surprise you.

In the Bible a lot of stress is put on names, I’d say more than almost any other religion. Names are seen as so powerful that priests could not even write the full name of God because it was so holy, they abbreviated it to “Yah.” The bible doesn’t actually say not to write God’s name, that I know of, it’s more of a Hebrew culture thing added later, but that is how seriously they take it.

The second commandment is not to misuse the name of God. Sadly, even Christian often don’t take this one seriously.

But even so, other names have power. Abigail’s husband Naboth, who disrespected King David, name means fool. Sometimes bible names come to mean that thing because of the bearer (I think Ruth is like this, it mean friend), but Abigail tells David he is just as his name suggests, meaning it already meant that and his parents clearly sucked.

Judah means “praise,” and David was of the tribe of Judah, as was his son Solomon, both of whom wrote psalms and considered worship to be very important.

Jesus means “deliverer”, Emmanuel means “God with us.”

The list goes on and on and on, any important Bible figure almost always has a name that connects to their purpose. Noah means “rest or peace”, Jacob means “usurper”, Moses means “drawn out”, and if you know their stories, it all makes sense.

But even more importantly God himself tells us names are important.

Phil 2:9 “Therefore God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

In Exodus 3:15, He tells Moses his name is I Am Who I Am (Yahweh) “This is My name forever.”

Google verses about names if you want an even more in depth list, but even this tells us names can be eternal, and higher, and powerful. Names mean authority.

Heck, everyone knows this, think of even a couple hundred years ago when black people had “slave names”, names usually not in proper English, that they would change when they were freed or they would finally get a last name like a legal citizen would have. Changing the name was a sign of being able to be though of as an intelligent human being. Even before they really were, by most people.

Even in fiction, every writer knows, names are important. My character’s names always come to me, and then unless I use them, no other name will stick in my head. After awhile I started looking up the names when this happened and was shocked to discover that (at least when they were real and not made up ones) each name had a meaning that matched the purpose I had for the character, and something about their personality too.

Even when we don’t know a meaning, a name has immense power. There’s a whole cultist idea about this, but let me say, names don’t dictate everything. They help, sure, but you still choose what you do with your name. So don’t worry about it if your name has a personality associated with it that you don’t like. (I prefer not to look into that stuff at all, I stumbled on some by accident. It was scarily accurate in some ways, but wrong in others. No one can fully predict who you will be except God.)

Well, this ran long because of all the quotes, but it was interesting. I hope it inspired you to go look up what your name means, it might surprise you. And until next time–Natasha (Christ’s Birthday.)


Sound off.

I’m not sure if this will be a philosophical post, by my usual standards, but I’ve had this thought going through my mind lately:

You remember my post about my struggles with asl class?

Since ASL 1 I’ve had the same problem in every class, I find myself getting sleepy and my attention wandering.

This happens in spoken classes too, but I found it to be much more immediate in ASL.

I finally decided it has to be the silence. I’m one of those people who needs almost no noise to sleep, so when I’m in a  very quiet space, it’s easy to go into sleep mode.

But this time around in ASL 4, I have a new edge to this feeling. Perhaps it’s been getting more pronounced with time, or maybe it’s the attitude of the class (as I mentioned before in Greatness: a blog essay inspired by deaf events. It’ll be listed as my previous post at the bottom.) The sensation of missing something is growing on me.

It’s kind of like a hunger. I didn’t really become aware of it till I noticed that when I leave class and my classmates and I immediately resort to English once outside the door, there’s a part of me that breathes a sigh of relief. I’m missing: Sound.

Who knew you could miss voices? But it’s not just voices, it’s any sound at at all, beyond meaningless scraping of chairs and clicking of pens.

Think about it, for many people even written words carry an idea of sound, you can hear the person’s tone in them, even if you’ve never heard anyone actually talk this way, you get a feel for their unique voice. Other people think more in images, I’m not one of them, but for a lot of us, sight and sound are almost inseparable.

I consider myself a visually oriented person overall. I like reading, watching stuff, and doing things that require visual detailing. But I missed how many of those things also involved listening. In fact, I play music while I write fairly often, I listen to things when I knit or do puzzles. I get bored very easily when there’s a lack of sound. I enjoy driving when I can hear my favorite music or talk to a passenger, I loathe it when it’s too quiet.

This can be a flaw to some extent. We need peace and quiet every now and then. But it’s also important to recall that peace and quiet are never total silence. The more you search for total silence, the more the simple sounds of nature and city life will strain your nerves.

People complain the city is too noisy, but nature is noisy in its own gentler or wilder way. I visited a state park recently, it was very quiet of city sounds, but the wind was blowing so strongly you had to speak loudly to be heard.

The sound of silence dis actually very bizarre if you ever hear it uninterrupted. And awkward. Sound is a part of this world.

To me it’s strange that there’s a group of people who’ve never experienced it at all.

I suppose you cannot miss what you’ve never had.

Still, as I’ve said, my reliance on sound is treated like some sort of reverse handicap in Sign Language. It has many advantages to it, yet it’s as if it’s only condescended to being used.

I’m not sure why so much stress is put on separating sign and sound as much as possible, except in music videos, when it’s hardly going to reflect real life.

Actually, the presence of sound in a classroom is far more realistic to how anyone in real life is going to  use signing. It’s not like hearing person can just turn off their ears, they’ll have to learn not to be distracted by sound.

Actually, I find sign great for focusing when it’s too noisy to hear myself very clearly. But when it’s already quiet, voice seems better.

Anyway, I’m not really arguing for which is better at the moment, just for not separating the two of them so much.

I wonder if Deaf people feel the same about a lack of hand movement in conversation.

I’m trying to reconcile my enjoyment of signing with my craving for sound. I don’t know if it would be so much of a problem if I didn’t find it made class so much harder to focus in. I think if we were allowed to even have music (wordless or turned down low) it would wake us up a lot.

Interestingly, I’m not the first person to note this hunger for sound. I recalled while I was writing the opening paragraphs that there’s actually a chapter devoted to this in The Phantom Tollbooth. A book I’ve read several times but never thought of in relation to this. Which is weird, because there is literally a Sound Keeper who stops all the sounds in a valley because she gets greedy for them and doesn’t trust the people to use them well. She spends her time listening to different kinds of silence, but is still able to speak within her castle and hear other noises. Milo, the protagonist, finds this selfish. She hasn’t stopped using sound, but she won’t let anyone else use it. He ends up releasing all the sounds again.

The Sound Keeper hated Dinn, the representation of chaotic noise in this book. All the sounds we hate most, like fingernails scraping a chalk board. Yet at the price of beautiful sounds like music, laughter, animals, familiar homelike things, was a little peace a quiet really worth it?

In fact, the sound of laughter later saves Milo and his two friends’ lives when they travel through the dangerous  mountains towards the end of the story.

I’m not sure quite what profound conclusion to draw from all this, other than science has recently discovered a kind of sound to be the thing that binds atoms together at the smallest level.

Hebrews 11:3 says God created the things which are seen (visual) from things that are unseen (His voice.)

Sound came before sight, oddly enough. Maybe that’s the reason it’s tied to us to tightly.

Well, that’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

Greatness: A blog essay inspired by Deaf Events.

Greatness is not in our weaknesses, but in how we overcome them we can become great.

So, I have to go to Deaf Events for my ASL class, as I think I’ve mentioned before.

And while there are a few I enjoy, for the most part, I don’t get much out of Deaf Events.

I’ve noticed this thing with the deaf community, I think it’s best if I express it through some notes I took while actually at an event yesterday at my college:

Some of these stories are interesting, and it’s good to know what these people have experienced, but I still don’t understand why they make their disability their identity.

I think how horrified they would be if Jesus healed one of them right now, horrified, because they don’t think they need to be healed. What a way to spit in the face of the Gd who made the ears, and clearly intends most of us to hear.

It all reminds me too much of how The Incredibles points out that exceptional people are pushed down by the ordinary. The kicker is all of us can be exceptional in different ways, but instead of pursuing excellence, we pursue equality.

The strong are shoved out of the way of the weak, instead of the weak being elevated to the strong’s level. Perhaps they (the people sharing) did learn to join the hearing world, but they do not view it as a more complete picture of life. Blind people know they are missing out on something, and who would argue that?

All my life people have wanted me to put my strength aside, one lady here just said “put your hearing aside.” Why? Will deaf people put their deafness aside? No one would even ask them to.

Whether out of pity or a false sense of equality, it really doesn’t matter, either way they still aren’t our equals. [I meant in terms of ability, not that they are not human beings just like anyone else.] Reminds me of Adam Taurus from RWBY and his “lionized” ideas of faunus. Being at a disadvantage does not automatically make you worthy to rule. We forge our strength in suffering–and in joy–if we never have the second, then the first will warp our strength.

I learned to be stubborn by being afraid and angry, but I learned to use my willpower with joys. Why am I always being told to shut up? Using my strength has been the only way I helped people. And we need the strong to lift up the weak. God makes our weaknesses strength, until He does, they don’t help anyone. True of physical weakness as well as other sorts.

That was a bit raw, I know.

Perhaps I sound a bit like a disgruntled hearing person, mad that my advantages are being exposed.

Well, guilty as charged I guess. I am hearing…like most people…and I do have advantages because of that.

Saying deafness is not a disadvantage is akin to saying you don’t need your right arm. You can live without it, and do almost anything really important, but you do need it. Only a lunatic would cut off their right arm.

Yet people willingly choose to be deaf because the idea somehow got popular that it was something to be proud of. Like it was their choice!

Well thanks to the stupidity of socialism, now it is. I don’t mean you should have to get a hearing aid if you don’t want to, but the whole notion that turning down the opportunity to hear is somehow liberating is…insane.

Sure, you might feel like it is…people feel like a lot of things that aren’t true, but objectively, it’s better to be able to hear. IT’s safer, easier on the people around you, and lets you enjoy a lot of things in life.

Deaf people have begun to take pride in the fact that they miss out on all these things, because it means they get to be a part of their deaf culture, and only them. There’s an attitude that hearing people are somehow intruders into it.

Which is totally backwards. I don’t know of a hearing person who’d look at a deaf person as an intruder into our culture, because our culture is…culture. It’s based around being able to hear.

Some people now have the nerve to resent that…like it’s not okay!

And that just gets under my grill, because why the heck should the rest of us feel ashamed for not being…deaf

Oh excuse me for being able to use my ears…that I have…because I’m supposed to be able to hear…yeah, I should be so ashamed.

Lest you think I’m going off on deaf people, let me just say, I’ve met some who are not like this. I believe the ones I know would probably not say this to my face, or even realize they think this way. What’s unfortunate about it is they don’t realize the implications of the term “deaf pride.”

I have no problem with deaf people in general. The ones I met who treated me like a person who was honestly trying to understand them, I liked. I found them very easy going, friendly, and open. Great! I like people like that.

Imagine my shock when I discovered via my liberal college’s biased material that there’s a lot of deaf people who not only embrace deafness as some kind of gift just by being what it is, but actually think I, as a hearing person, should have to be at their level.

Here’s the deal: I’ve seen videos openly implying that  I should just freaking learn sign language because deaf people feel so unheard and unseen and shut out by hearing people…the irony? The video had to have been shot at a school that welcomed deaf students if there were that many of them involved.

Also, uh, writing exists.

What was funny is one deaf lady at the event I was at was saying “Deaf people don’t need you, they can write, interpreters just make things easier.” Really, well if you don’t need us, quit whining about not being heard…start speaking.

That’s not meant to be cruel. Many of them can speak, or could, had they chosen to learn. And they can speak through other mediums. It’s silly to expect everyone to learn your language. If they want to talk to you, they will; but if you want to have a voice in their culture, you need to learn their language.

I would not take up residence in another culture without learning it’s language. Which is why deaf people do learn to talk… so why the shaming? I’m not really sure what the problem is.

They swear they are oppressed, but in their country, (I know I have readers not from America, so this won’t apply unless you have a similar set up) you literally can get paid for being disabled…yeah…that’s definitely oppression.

“But hearing people just don’t understand deaf people, Natasha. We need to be more accepting of those who are different.”

Oh please.

Yeah, there are jerks out there who mistreat anyone who’s different. Ten to one, it’s not just deaf people either. Bullies are bullies. But there’s more people learning sign now than ever before, more programs for deaf people than before, and more interpreters joining the field. I’m trying to become one for crying out loud!

But if that meas I need to apologize for being hearing, something I cannot control, then why the heck would I want to be involved in their culture? Feeling welcome works both ways.

Oddly enough, the attitude doesn’t seem to carry over into actual conversation very often. It’s  usually just in how we’re taught. Hearing students are made to feel ashamed for being hearing.

My teacher mocks one student in my class for signing one sign wrong weeks ago…it’s now her name sign…her mistake. A minor one at that. Somehow, I imagine if I nicknamed a deaf person based on a word they mispronounced, I would be labeled a jerk. But of course, if you’re the victim, it’s perfectly okay.

Do not tell me it’s different. It is completely disrespectful to a hearing person to do this, just as much as a deaf person. My classmate has spent 4 classes, (a whole year’s worth of her life) learning your language, how dare you mock her for one mistake repeatedly and make that her name. And my other classmates are participating in it.

The girl doesn’t even realize  she’s being dissed, though she’s clearly slightly uncomfortable with it, she laughs it off. What else cans eh do?

I hate bullying, and I would never condone bullying a deaf person. But I won’t condone bullying hearing people either,

See, this may shock some people (probably not you readers) but I couldn’t care less about your race, gender, social status, or abilities; if someone is mistreating you, I want it to stop, and if you are mistreating  someone else, I don’t care what you’ve been through, that’s still wrong. And I will want you to stop.

People may hurt each other thinking they are dong the right thing, because they have been hurt before, and it’s up to those of us outside the cycle of pain to sort things out. An impartial person, as it were.

I won’t say I’m that currently, I’m kind of mad over this whole thing. And I think I should be mad, if students are getting shamed for what they did not do and cannot help.

I’m tired of hearing over and over again that certain people groups are oppressed, and yet all I’m seeing is them being extolled, given special funding, and their own clubs, based on how they were born or what they like, and not on their character.

Oh wait…isn’t that what they say white people are like?

Yeah I have news for you, it’s hard all around, I’m having a terrible time getting hired, and I fit the stereotype perfectly for what people consider white privilege…aside from actually being rich, or privileged in any way I can see outside supposedly being looked at differently. I’ve never had this proven to me.

I am lucky I admit, but I don’t really think it has much to do with being white. If it does, it’s not something I can change anyway.

Anyway, what does bug me about this is everyone has to be a victim to be taken seriously now. You have to have “survived” abuse or cancer or bullying, you have to come “from a background where…” and grown up being “treated differently” or you have no right to speak. Conversely, if you have, then you can speak even if what you’re saying is nothing new, and nothing profound.

You know, call me crazy, but I happen to think truth is truth. And if someone who’s had a good life speaks it, it’s still truth. No one should have to earn that right by being put through crap.

Suffering can add weight to your words because some things only become clear to us after we suffer, but suffering itself does not make you profound or wise, only how you handle it.

Like I was thinking to myself while jotting down my notes, I became stronger because I had joy as well as suffering. I hear people talk about pain all the time, not many of the talk about the joy that brought them out of it. It’s like they don’t even find that important, or maybe it never happened.

We have a culture telling us to accept out issues as unchanging part so who we are that we can manage, but we can’t shake.

Because the world has tried and failed to fix things, by psychology, medicine, laws, and self-expression, and failing at that, (since only God can heal us) they decide to just give up and live with he problem.)

And that’s why it would be horrifying to many dead people to be healed. Because they know no other life, and they think this is part of who they are.

I can see the world thinking this, but when Christians start to, it scares me.

We are clearly taught that God heals, restores, and his design for us is to be whole, inside and out, maybe some things do not get healed in this life, and that can be come people’s gift. But it is only a gift because God redeems it, it isn’t a gift in of itself.

It might totally change your life to be healed, because the truth is, we get comfortable with out flaws and weaknesses. Both inward and outward. It can be scary not to be that way.

But God would warn us  not to put our identity in anything that is not of Him. It will always lead to us limiting Him, and then ourselves.

I apologize for the length of this, the title was partly  a warning, I wanted to complete my thoughts–until next time, Natasha.





True Strength.

Let’s talk about strength.

Strength gets defined a lot of different ways.