Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Naming Harry Potter Style (Part XI)

Hey it must be school time because that was the last time I posted about naming, and here I am thinking about it again. It's been about a year since I read the Harry Potter series. I can't remember if I reread the series after I read Book 7 or what happened. Oh there were some audiobooks in there. Hmm. This is where rereading gets you... Long tangents.

Anyway, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (book 1 for the uninitiated; SS for the fanatics; PS (Philosopher's) for the diehard Anglo-philes). As Harry is adjusting to life in the wizarding world he is faced with this odd habit of referring to Lord Voldemort as You-Know-Who. The wizarding world doesn't like to hear the name so they obfuscate it. Also I believe we find out in later books that there is a location charm on saying the name so it kind of makes sense. But anyway, once Harry goes through everything including near-death at the hands of Quirrel/Voldy, he talks to Prof. Dumbledore using the phrase "You-Know-Who" to which Dumbledore replies:
"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." (Pg. 298)
It's reminiscent of FDR's "Only thing we have to fear is fear itself" which is probably what makes Dumbledore awesome. But I wonder how applicable it is to everyday life. What do I fear which I refuse to name? I name a lot of things, talking through problems until the angsty feelings resolve. I make lists when I'm overwhelmed both to make a plan of action and to quantify what needs to be done so it's less vague and scary. I guess I generally subscribe to the theory by choosing to name everything and go with it.

Oh but this is interesting: So I'm taking this class at Hebrew Union which is obviously Jewish and so there's the whole tetragrammaton issue.* Do you pronounce the four letters referring to God's personal name or do you gloss over them with "the Lord" or "HaShem" (the name)? One of my flimsy reasons for taking Hebrew was to determine is YHWH really referred to God or not so I tend to side on saying it, but for the weaker brother (oh yeah way to use Christian references to support Jewish traditions) I've been training myself to say Adonai.

The Jewish tradition comes out of reverence, a holy type of fear. "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all thing." But can it devolve into hocus pocus (which also has Christian roots BTW) fear of incurring wrath and judgment? I'd say so. Balance in all things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. Certainly a healthy dose of "fear" is smart in the face of the Almighty, but then there's the whole Jesus/Abba/Papa/intercession thing that pretty much pwns fear. "Perfect love drives out fear." I John 4:18.

*Though I have read this argument that says if the early Jews were so worried about being reverent and not saying the tetragrammaton it wouldn't be ALL OVER the scriptures. And that makes a lot of sense.

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