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How Many Names Hath God?

No matter when we say the word God, whether in church or in vain, couldn’t we all use a couple synonyms for the all-mighty one? MICHAEL ROTTMAN examines the many possibilities, e.g., Abraham, or Clapton.

Abe

This name was God’s first besides “God.” God had spoken to Abraham, at the time called Avram, and told him, “You shall be the father of a multitude of nations. And your name will no longer be Avram, but Abraham.”

And Abraham found the courage to whisper, “Yes.”

“It’s good isn’t it?” asked God.

“Yes,” Abraham whispered.

“No, I really like it,” said God. “Mm. You know what? Abraham shall be my name.”

“Yes,” Abraham whispered. “And… who am I again?”

The Lord pretended not to hear, but He had, because He is the Lord. “Abe, they’ll call me,” He said proudly. “‘Hey, Abe.’”

“Yes?” said Abraham, the one who wasn’t God. God began to see the smoke of confusion upon the future.

Cheyenne

For a time, God carried a pearl-handled revolver. No one knew where He had gotten it, but they knew better than to ask. He enjoyed shooting it, though He was not as perfect a shot as He expected He would be. He began wearing boots and drawling. The heralds foretold a mighty, rootin’-tootin’ city, and its name pleased God very much.

Gosh

The popular exclamation greatly confused the Lord and the heavenly host. God kept asking if they thought His children were talking about Him. The heavenly host didn’t know. God thought it sounded kind of blasphemous. The heavenly host said that Gosh may be a substitute for God, but in a way that tries to avoid blasphemy. God nodded and dropped the subject, but He kept repeating the word and shaking His head wistfully.

LawyerGod

Muttered by an Israelite after sitting through four hours of Moses proclaiming the Law at Sinai. Those standing nearby began repeating the name. God, annoyed, told Moses to stop and let the Israelites “settle down.” Someone began snoring loudly, and a chuckle spread through the crowd. God took out His pearl-handled revolver and fired, killing a donkey, which for some reason sent the Israelites into gales of laughter. God shook with rage. The man whose tongue had uttered the nickname was stricken dumb. See also StuffyGod and Jerkhovah.

Allah

Some precocious, tow-headed second-graders in America’s heartland learned that Judaism and Christianity have the same roots as Islam. Darned if those adorable tykes didn’t go home and tell their parents that God was Allah! The one true faith had a long laugh over that one! Predated the Buddha/Santa Claus and Jesus/E.T. debacles.

Jimmy

The archangel Gabriel was summoned by the will of God. Gabriel bowed his head and replied, “How may I serve you, Jimmy? I mean, Lord?” Thus followed the awkwardest silence in the history of heaven.

Am

Moses cried, “When the slaves in Goshen ask your name, what shall I tell them?” and God said, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh. I am who I am.”

“Are you sure?” asked Moses.

“You will say, ‘Ehyeh has commanded you.’”

Moses went and did the Lord’s bidding. He returned a short time later.

“No one really takes the name Am seriously.”

God said, “Did you use the word Ehyeh?”

“They already know that Ehyeh means Am. It’s our language. They think it’s a weird name. And not as pleasing as Osiris.”

“I wasn’t speaking literally. It’s kind of a play on words, like, I’m sort of beyond a name, because I AM. So for them, that’s all the identity I need. I am.”

“I think the problem is the verb being used in place of—”

“OK, you know what? Tell them they can call me He Who Doesn’t Put Up With Shit Like This, or better yet, they can call me He Who’s Gonna Leave Them to Rot in Egypt. See if they like that name better.”

Hilroy

The Most Holy personally oversees production of this brand of spiral notebooks.

Clapton

God accepted the late-’60s slogan as a compliment. However, after listening to God trying to get the riff from “Sunshine of Your Love” for the umpteenth time, one of the cherubs suggested cancelling “the divine jam session.”

Aphrodite

God partook of an exchange program with the 12 Olympians, which proved fraught with difficulty. He Who Is Most High was put in charge of love. God’s patience was sorely tested. He became known as the pantheon downer. When the original Aphrodite was recalled—she had grown mad with power and had inspired many needless holy wars—God wearily resumed His post and masculinity, vowing to love His subjects as little as possible. On His last day at Olympus, He nicked that golden apple for Himself.

Rambo

God ran into the Fallen One.

God asked, “Well, how fared the Savior against thy trickery? How is he enjoying his earthly riches? Hm?” God knew full well that Jesus had refused the Fallen One, but these two had this thing going on.

Lucifer said simply, “It didn’t work out, Rambo.”

“What?”

“Rambo. Because of the rams.”

“Rams?” asked God, worried that He looked stupid.

“You know. ‘Go and sacrifice this ram, go sacrifice that ram, bring your son and a ram to the mountain, blow through the ram’s horn.’ What is it about rams? I always wanted to ask. I think you’re obsessed.”

God just smiled indulgently and walked/drifted away.

“Do you hate them, or do you eat their souls or something? Do they turn you on? Do you wish you were a ram? Where you going, Rambo? Hey, Ramalama!”

Thereafter, Lucifer used every opportunity to bother the Lord with his ram jokes. Truly, he is the Father of all Lame Shtick.

The Railsplitter

God looked down at Abraham Lincoln and said, “Oh, sure they love him, sure. Why? The name! He’s president because of that name, my name.” God decided to take one of Abe Lincoln’s nicknames to see how Lincoln liked it.

Zagbrobbagaghra

Used by missionaries in those foreign lands where respect for a deity is earned by a fearsome-sounding, multi-syllabic name. God knows how to play ball.
biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Michael Rottman lives like a lord in Toronto. His miscellany has appeared in print in The Fiddlehead, Grain, and Opium, and online at Yankee Pot Roast, Cracked, News Groper, and McSweeney’s. More by Michael Rottman