The game of the name

My general practical nature came to the fore, and I wondered whether we get new names in Heaven. (As opposed to wondering, for example, what on earth I’m making for dinner. I only have so many brain cells, and now you see what occupies them.)

There’s all sorts of evidence through every ancient culture that names are powerful, and even in the Bible you find this. Naming implies ownership. When certain individuals take on a new role, God gives them a new name: Abram becomes Abraham. The angel names we know all mean something (Gabriel is “Strength of God,” for example.)

It wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that on entering Heaven, we receive a new name, and maybe a meaningful one at that. Otherwise I’d hate to be one of 45 million John Smiths in Heaven.

(Maybe we get referred to by number? Our Social Security Numbers in Heaven would have twenty digits, though. I’m not sure that’s a supportable system.)

So then I thought, maybe you get into Heaven, there’s a huge party, and at the end of it, God bestows your new name. So I enter it as Jane, and I exit as Enthelbarethabretheliel or something never before said in Heaven.

Angel: What–?
God: It’s very meaningful and profound. Trust me.
Angel: …okay…

And then, of course, because it’s in the Heavenly language, I break down sobbing because I can’t remember it.

Guardian angel: That’s okay. It’s also written right here on your entrance certificate.
Me: I can’t read Heavenly writing!

And then the inevitable adjustment period, during which the human tries to get oriented in Heaven.

Me: I need to set up a household, but I can’t afford anything more than $20.
Heavenly Target Manager: Surely you have more Mitzvah credits than that.
Me: I do, but then I’d need to sign the credit card slip, and I can’t write my own name.
Guardian Angel: It’s okay. We’ll put it on my card.
Heavenly Target Manager: You know, we sell tracing paper in aisle three so you can learn to write it…
Guardian Angel: I already put that on the list.

So my point is…okay, I had no point. What am I making for dinner again?

Guy on phone: Heaven’s Pizza. Will this be takeout or delivery?
Me: Takeout.
Guy on phone: And who will be picking it up?
Guardian angel: Give me the phone.


  1. diinzumo

    Being that it’s Heaven, they’ll be efficient about it. They’ll likely do what we had to do in order to visit a prominent Buddhist temple in Kyoto. To get in to sightsee, you had to write out a specific prayer. In kanji. To accommodate us illiterate gaijin, they provided brushes, ink and a form to trace.

    1. philangelus

      That’s interesting. Did they also provide information about what it was the prayer said?

      It will be efficient, I’m sure, but I think the system breaks down in the fact that I’m lousy with other languages. 🙂 I hope God gives out some bilingual points in Heaven.

  2. Ken Rolph

    Since we know that God is an Englishman ten foot tall, heaven will no doubt resemble an English Public School. We new boys/girls will be welcomed with the traditional cry of approval.

    Well done . . . that boy!

    1. philangelus

      I like it!

      When I graduated from Cornell, Frank Rhodes stood on one of the balconies cheering as we past. “Well done! Good show! Great job! Well done!” I didn’t realize that was a British thing. God can do that too and I’ll be just fine. 🙂