Hollowed Be Thy Name
I don't know about you, but I'm still in Canto XI, in the midst of Dante's invocation and paraphrasing of the Lord's Prayer. The question is, why is the Name to be hallowed -- or praised, as Dante puts it?
Hallow: to make holy or set apart for holy use; venerate.
Pope Benedict has a helpful meditation on the subject in his Jesus of Nazareth. Please note that the reasons for preserving the sanctity of the Name are in no way sentimental, or "procedural," or merely customary, but very much rooted in metaphysical principle.
First, God -- the Absolute -- has a name. Secondly, we cannot know this name unless it is disclosed to us. It is not for us to name God; for one thing, doing so would presume knowledge of what we are talking about.
In other words, when we name something, it is founded upon recognition of a thing's boundaries -- how it is set apart from other things. But since the Absolute can have no boundaries -- nor is it a thing among other things -- it can have no personal name we could give it.
Furthermore, since the Absolute is One, it can have only one name. As the Pope expresses it, God is not "one among many; he cannot have one name among others."
In an important sense, God cannot actually have a name. Rather, he must have a name that is simultaneously no-name -- a kind of algebraic "place marker," or empty category, that we may use to talk about him, without pretending to know what we're talking about.
Thus, when Moses asks his name, God simply says "I AM THAT (or WHO) I AM"; but my friends call me "I AM" for short. This designation is "My name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations."
The Pope says that this name conveys the idea that the Absolute is "without any qualification": it "is a name and a non-name at one and the same time."
Thus, the icandescend Israelights were "perfectly right in refusing to utter this self-designation of God," instead giving Him the unpronounceable tetragrammaton "so as to avoid degrading it to the level of names of pagan deities."
And now you know, my children, why we prefer to call it O. This pneumaticon was first used by Toots Mondello, who was a little dyslexic, and thought it read "hollowed be thy name." Since nothing is more hollow than an empty circle, the unname stuck. But it serves its purpose, as Raccoons go one step further than Jews in preserving the name of the unnameable.
It was always presumptuous and wrong -- and defeated the purpose -- to convert the nameless name to the name "Jehovah." Such chutzpah!
As the Pope says, Israel always regarded the Name as "mysterious and unutterable." To treat it as "just any old name" is to drag the mystery of God "down to the level of some familiar item within a common history of religions."
This is, of course, the ubiquitous problem of atheists, who necessarily deny the existence of some pagan god of their imagination. They are correct to deny this entity, but presumptuous in the extreme if they pretend that this personal god is the Absolute -- the I AM.
The Absolute is. To deny that It Is is to deny that anything at all essentially is. It is to sunder the very possibility of knowledge and meaningful discourse at the roots. It is the cosmic nul de slack of Truth.
God is not the object of my reason, nor of my sensibility, but of my being. God exists for me in the same act in which I exist (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).
One of the metaphysical principles that flows from the Name is: I AM, therefore I think. Thought is posterior to, and rooted in, Being, not vice versa. That Being the case, we really can know reality, whether through science, aesthetics, mysticism, or other modes. The I AM guarantees it "to all generations."
It strikes me as a matter of some consequence that the more accurate translation appears to be I AM WHO I AM, which immediately suggests an interior, as opposed to THAT, which implies an exterior, or IT, that we can somehow place boundaries around.
Simply put, THAT is an object, whereas WHO is a subject. And to say "subject" is to say "relationship," for there can be no relationship in the absence of the subject, only external interaction, like billiard balls knocking together.
In the words of Don Colacho, If we believe in God we should not say, “I believe in God,” but rather, “God believes in me.” We cannot relate to God unless he first relates to us.
The Pope agrees that the Name "creates the possibility of address or invocation," and thus "establishes relationship." In other words, "God establishes a relationship between himself and us. He puts himself within reach of our invocation. He enters into relationship with us and enables us to be in relationship with him."
However, in doing so, he is creating the possibility -- no, the certainty -- that his Name will be dragged through the mud, man being what he is.
You know the mentality -- they build you up in order to tear you down. The worst offenders are without question the religious idolators who hijack the Name and essentially engage in cosmic identity theft.
Repetition of the "Jesus prayer" of Orthodox Christianity is considered the very essence of the faith, so long as one is aware of the underlying principle, which again comes down to a name God has revealed to us.
Schuon writes that the Name, "when ritually pronounced, is mysteriously identified with the Divinity. It is in the Divine Name that there takes place the mysterious meeting of the created and the Uncreate, the contingent and the Absolute, the finite and the Infinite. The Divine Name is thus a manifestation of the Supreme Principle, or to speak still more plainly, it is the Supreme Principle manifesting Itself; it is not therefore in the first place a manifestation, but the Principle Itself."