Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

A Lesson from a Tombstone: Part Four

{If you missed it you can read Part One here, read Part Two here, and read Part Three here.}

The dead man was nameless.

From antiquity to modernity, a person’s name has typically been symbolic of his or her identity.

For example, Solomon, the name of the King of Israel who famously wrote, there is a time to live and a time to die, means peace. Remarkably, his was characterized by a reign of peace.

Throughout history, one’s surname was often associated with the family trade or with the father’s name (i.e. Smith is derived from blacksmith; and if Solomon had a last name, it would have probably been Davidson).

My name, Scott, derived from my parents’ favorite song, “Watching Scotty Grow” by Bobby Goldsborow, was given to me for the relational significance it held for them.

On another level, a name can stand for one’s reputation. It is common for people to say that an individual made a “name” for himself, meaning he succeeded in attaining some level of influence or renown.

The Proverbs tell us, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1, ESV).

While, no doubt, one’s identity or character is not based on the semiotics of one’s name alone, and as such can potentially devolve into various forms of vanity, the idea that our name is significant to our identity is not without its merit.

Like Abel who continues to testify long after he succumbed to his brother’s rage, the nameless man spoke to me that day, and begged me answer: what is your name, your real name?

[This is the fourth post in a series of segments. Read Part Five here. Want to get posts like this in your inbox? Subscribe Here.]
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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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