Better Than Ezra

“Our names are an integral part of the faces we show to the world. If we’re judged first on outward appearances, we’re assessed next on our names.” ~Sharon Bolton

ezra_nehemiah3The most popular boys’ name in the United States last year was Ezra, the biblical name of a forgettable Old Testament prophet. The name brings to mind an old guy with a cane who doesn’t wear his hearing aid too often so he talks too loudly in mixed company. But somehow enough parents decided their little bundles of joy had to wear this moniker for life. What lucky children.

When I was a kid the popular name was Matthew, which is incidentally the title of the first book of the New Testament. It seemed like every other kid I went to elementary school with was a Matt, or a Matty, or the stodgy Matthew. They all had the same look too, as if there was a mold, an assembly line that kept churning them out in groups of 12 per box. And now they’re getting older just like me…

And naming their sons Ezra.

I don’t have any sons, but even if I had one I wouldn’t name him Ezra. There are just so many names that are better than Ezra, like Jeremy, or Trent, or even Luke (if you want to stay biblical). There’s just something about Ezra that doesn’t quite sit right with me, like it’s a placeholder for a better name along the way somewhere. If I had a son I would name him Liam, another popular name, but a bit farther down the popularity list.

Girls have a better champion, in my opinion. The number one girls’ name in the U.S. for tattoo-design-name-ezra-062016 was Olivia, a classic name that has absolutely no biblical parallel (which gives it bonus points for me). An Olivia is a girl with curls, with a ready smile that says she’s up to no good but you’ll never catch her at it. She’s neither stuffy nor pretentious, just a regular girl next door. You know, like a Jenny, or a Trina, or even a Lianne.

But Ezra… it is a throwback to a different time, another era that has come and gone. Perhaps everything really is cyclical and we just come around to the same things over and over again if we wait long enough. Maybe we never learn our lesson, that maybe there should be something new under the “son.” Or it could all just hearken back to the idea that our boys should have biblical names, that by naming them something religious in origin maybe we will destine them for some kind of greatness.

But Ezra… I just don’t see it.


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