Back in 2004, in Sweden, a baby boy was born with one arm pointing upward, like Superman in flight. So it only stands to reason that his parents would want to name their son after the Man of Steel. The Swedish government disagreed, expressing concern that a child with the name Superman would be the object of ridicule. The family responded by pointing out the inconsistency of the government’s position. They had already allowed parents to choose the name Batman.
It’s a shame the boy wasn’t born in New Zealand. In 2007 the Kiwi government allowed a couple to name their son Superman, but only after denying them their first choice. Pat Watson says that, when he first saw his son during an ultrasound, he finally realized that his wife’s pregnancy and his impending fatherhood were both “for real.” So, naturally, the Watson’s chose to name their child…“4real.”
But the government forced the Watson’s to resort to their trusty fall-back name, because in New Zealand, it’s illegal to use a number when naming a child. [I can’t help but wonder which clairvoyant Kiwi MP foresaw the need for such a law.] At the time of the article’s writing, the Watson’s were undeterred. Superman might be the name on the birth certificate, but in their minds, their boy would always be “4real.”
A lot is made of names in the Bible, especially the names of great people in Israel’s history. This Sunday we’re going to be reading a lot of names. Two of the four gospel writers chose to begin their version of Jesus’ story with his genealogy. It’s usually something we preachers skip over. But, as we prepare for Christmas, I think we might be able to learn something from the lists of names at the beginning of the gospels.