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Earlier this week, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful that parents should give their children good, Christian names. Apparently, the Pope thinks that Nicholas Cage's son, Kal-El, has a very inappropriate name. No doubt he's opposed to names that needlessly single out individuals, which you should probably expect from a man who has "XVI" in his name. I say that's one man's opinion, even if that one man does happen to be the voice of God.

Of course I'm safe from the Pope's wrath. My first name is an English variant of the Hebrew "Jacob," meaning "one who supplants." My middle name is a Germanic word meaning something akin to "strong fighter" or "commander." My last name -- an Ellis Island imposition -- is derived from "Stephanos," Greek for "garland." English, German, and Greek! Oh, my.

Had my parents named me "Usurp Leader Crown," the Pope would have been very upset indeed. "Kal-El" is a better name. But as it is, I have one of the most common names in America. "Walter" and "Stephens" are among the top 200 most common first and last names, respectively, in the country. And no first name is given to boys more often than "James." It's even the name of 6 U.S. Presidents. That's 5 more than have been named "Barack," a name that probably galls the Pope no end.

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To be continued...


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