The Gospel Truth

Nevaeh and the Language of Paradise | June 15, 2012

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare asked the rhetorical question, What is in a name?  For a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

I beg to differ with the old Bard.  Names are very important.

If a mother calls her son, Pimples or her daughter Slutella she is condemning that child to a lifelong battle with teasing, ridicule, derision. and now the near epidemic of bullying.

Names have always fascinated me.

If done with thought and prudence, the right name can be of great benefit to a child.

Family names and names of heroes, patriots and the like all serve to elevate one’s self-image and outlook for the future.

The wrong name can be devastating.

I am quickly reminded of the old Johnny Cash hit, A Boy Named Sue.

That boy learned to fight.

Sue learned to fight

Every year the U. S. Social Security Administration releases its list for the prior year that details the most popular male and female names, for babies born that year.

On last year’s list, Emily was first for girls for the 16th year in a row the list since 1996.

Jacob has been number 1 since 1999.

Elizabeth returned to the top ten after a two-year absence.

The 2007 success of popular race car driver Danica Patrick undoubtedly inspired her first name moving from number 352 to number 307.

Shiloh, the youngest daughter of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, debuted on the list at number 804.

Maddox, the name of their oldest child, has seen steady gains since first appearing on the list in 2003 at number 583 and now ranking at number 226.

Suri, the name of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter, did not make the list.

Tom Cruise: Suri, 5, Was "Born" With Great Style

Suri didn’t make the list…yet.

I had erroneously thought that in 1943 my name William was number 1 on the official list.

Actually it finished out of the money behind James, Robert and John.

I did beat Richard however.

As I got older its popularity seemed to drop.

I hope it wasn’t my fault.

However since 1912, there have been over 3.7 million Williams registered.

That ranks number five all-time behind James, John, Robert and  Michael.

It means protector and I have always been proud of that responsibility, even though I could always run better than I could fight.

There have been some very famous people named William.

Bill and I are on the list

The year my wife was born, her name was number 6 but when I was born, it had dropped to just number 13.

She hates it when I beat her at anything.

My favorite names have been Jim, Tom and Nancy.

They are the white bread of all nomenclature.  Steady but unexciting!

My father wanted to call me Adam, after him, which means man.

My mother refused but did give me that as a middle name, which I respect to this day.

If I had been named Adam, I probably would have had more fights than I eventually did.

A recent article by columnist Christina Capecchi in the St. Louis Catholic Review, a paper for which I used to write, had an engaging article on this very subject.

( I checked out her blog and suggest you do as well @ )

Since she was writing for a Catholic newspaper, her bent is toward the abundance of family and religious names.

Mary at number 1 has had over 3.6 millions uses since 1912.

Mary’s name was #1

However that is surprisingly fewer than the Williams.

Of course there are several variations of Mary available.

Experts also may be surprised by the extent to which American parents are naming their daughters after spiritual and philosophical concepts.

Also represented were:  Destiny (No. 41); Trinity (No. 72); Serenity (No. 126); Harmony (No. 315); Miracle (No. 461); Charity (No. 673); Journey (No. 692); Destini (No. 914); and Essence (No. 930).

One of the most popular names for girls (rising this year to number 31) is Nevaeh, which is Heaven spelled backwards.

Heaven, the real thing came in at number 263.

I have always marveled at the difficulty, especially among Hispanic families of naming their sons, Jesus.

Former SF Giant baseball player, Jesus Alou was probably the most famous athlete that had to live up to THAT divine name.

Christina then took this nomenclature to a new theological high with her citing of the book, One Thousand Gifts, written by 38-year old wife of a Canadian hog farmer Ann Voskamp.

She wrote of how Edenic is the art of naming.

Saw Eden in naming

To be able to name one’s children or even pets is tantamount to a near act of God.

Ann pictured herself as Adam in the Garden as he named all the beauties of creation.

In doing so she discovered her own meaning and that of God.  She was literally speaking and writing the language of paradise.

We do the same every time we name something significant such as our children or even our pets.

I wonder if Fantasy Football names count?

I have had better luck at picking names than players—last good name was Occam’s Razorbacks.  (Won just three times)

We become God’s helpers in the story of creation.

All we have to do is open our eyes because Heaven is all around us.

It is a God-given joy that we should not ignore.

As an afterthought, the word paradise, literally means enclosed garden.

One writer recently applied that definition to a baseball park where green grass, sometimes real, is surrounded by outfield walls that designate the playing field.

An expression of paradise

For the diehard fans there can be a paradisiacal aspect to the game.

But that may be a story for another day.



  1. BB, Back in my childhood, Mary was a very popular name but I rarely meet one now. It was Mary Catherine (my name) Mary Ann, Mary Louise, etc. The teacher had to use both names in the classroom. I have 3 brothers. Robert (Bob) Thomas (Tom) and James (Jim) and one younger sister Julia. All were saints names among Catholic families. No more. Too bad.

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — June 15, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

  2. I remember Bishop Connors, auxillary Bishop of the Melbourne unable to get a couple of bibical names right.
    Daniel and Goliath.
    Just as well he was open to correction on that matter at least, he wasn’t too seasoned on many others.

    Comment by L. Newington — June 16, 2012 @ 2:52 am

  3. William, you are in great company with the name William, enjoy.
    James the Lesser

    Comment by Jim — June 17, 2012 @ 12:20 am

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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