What's in a name?
Hunting for a church's phone number in the Yellow Pages last week, I was struck by the monopoly saints and mountainshave on church names.
Saint Thomas. And Andrew, John, Luke, Philip, Martin, Anne and Margaret and so on and on. The mounts are just as repetitive, with innumerable Mount Carmels and other famous hills from biblical lore.
Naming churches, I've concluded, must be a bit like naming beachfront motels. After a while, you run out of creative forms of identification.
Jewish places of worship are a bit better. The synagogues soundcreative to someone who doesn't know Hebrew, because the untrained tongue trips over the pronunciation.
But for the vast expanse of worship places that fall within Christendom, the options seem repetitively -- sometimes humorously -- familiar.
The religioso are forced to wrack their histories and holy books for something original, though charting out church names, one could get the notion that some denominations don't care about original. It's history and tradition that ring their bells.
For example, traditionally formal denominations such as the Roman Catholics or the Presbyterians aren't likely to get very spicy. Usually such churches bear names little funkier than the solid-sounding Rock Presbyterian Church. The mere words suggest staunchness, a faith unencumbered by excess emotion.
But the free-lancegroups, those not tied to any denominational hierarchy, have more leeway.
Thumb through a Baltimore metropolitan phone book. Here, too, the very labels make promises, sometimes of experiences beyond the ordinary.
You're subtly (perhaps subliminally?) enticed to show some moral courage by meeting at The Lion's Den, over in Baltimore County. Or to satisfy some rooted hunger by seeking spiritual nourishmentat the Living Waters Assembly in Mayo or the Manna Fellowship in Severna Park.
A few enterprising churches preach a sermon by their names, such as the church tagged Christ is the Answer Deliverance Center of Annapolis. It takes a bit to say it all in one breath, but when you've got it, you've got the church's essential message, too.
At the simplest end of the options is one two-worded title that gets right to the point: Christ Church.
I rather like that one. For this Episcopal church in West River, no fancy label, nothing showy, nothingthat would excite the admiration of Jim and Tammy Bakker.
NAMING OF ROUTE 10 GOES NOWHERE, TOO
The road to nowhere now goes somewhere few want to go.
Now to the matter of naming it.
The road is Route 10, a.k.a. the Arundel Expressway of the 1950s that was to run clear from the Baltimore Beltway to Annapolis and turn Ritchie Highway into one of those little-used byways made irrelevant by bigger, better roads.
So much for planners' vision.
Theyobviously can't be trusted to name a road.
We thought we'd offer a little help in giving Route 10 a proper name.
Sure, it could be named after a governor, a la Ritchie, but then would you want your name associated with exhaust clouds and the MVA for eternity?
We could take the cue from county road names firmly grounded in reality -- Chemical Road, Mack Truck Road, Hog Farm Road -- and bestow upon Route 10 a name that tells something of the road's environs.
Cancer Expressway, in honor of Maryland and Anne Arundel County's distinction,comes to mind.
Given the road's proximity to Ritchie Highway, with its strip of two-bit used car dealerships a bit north, the Gino Marchetti Jones Memorial Parkway seems fitting.
Among other possibilities:
* A tribute to the area's biggest and best-known landmark, anything resembling Marley. Just who or what was this Marley anyway?
* Or Gibson Island. Surely, the State Highway Administration can figure a way to use the name of the place where most of us aren't allowed. All the highways go to Gibson Island -- or so it seems, judging from signs -- even if none lead to Pasadena.
* The Road to Nowhere.OK, it goes somewhere now. But it's only siphoning off a third of the cars and trucks it's supposed to, and Ritchie Highway still looks too much like Ritchie Highway at rush hour.
* Route 10. The editorswant to keep it Route 10. They convened another meeting and voted onit. Route 10, they concluded, would make an ideal name for a new weekly column proposing future names of future routes to be built sometime in the next three or four decades.