What’s in a name? Honor, Providence, and Arrow

I knew three different girls named Mercy as a child, though Bible names were more common in my community. For every Faith or Patience or Grace, there were half a dozen Elijahs and Hannahs and Rebeccas. But there were no Tiffanys or Stephanies or Ryans. Names are very important in families in the orbit of the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movements.

Let me offer an example. Doug Phillips is the president of Vision Forum. His children are named Joshua, Justice, Liberty, Jubilee, Faith Evangeline, Honor, Providence, and Virginia Hope.

Want another example? Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies has grandchildren named Zadok, Sharar, Rashida, Crusoe, Jireh, Arrow, Tiveria, Sahara, Iqara, Saber Truth, Meadow, Bowen, Rocklyn, Noble, and Autumn Rose.

But I have more! Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy have grandchildren named Joseph Courage, Ryshoni Joy, Hannah Sunshine, Elijah Music, Chaiyah Eve, Alitsia Rin, and Laila Truth.

Let me finish with a final example. Peter and Kelly Bradrick have named the five children they’ve had so far Triumph Perseverance, Knox Defender, Loyal Cromwell, Geneva Constance, and Michael Courage.

One thing that is really fascinating is that you can sometimes tell when a family came under the influence of the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements by their children’s names – the first few children will have names like Erika or Jake, and the rest will have names like Ruth or Honor.

So what’s going on here, exactly? It wasn’t until I read the following passage in Mintz’s Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood that I really pondered this. In this passage Mintz is talking about naming practices among the New England Puritans.

Although some parents bestowed common English names on their children, many first-generation Puritans, who had joined the movement after breaking with their parents, underscored this new beginning by choosing names with religious and moral significance. Some drew names from scripture (such as Zachariah) or their English equivalents (like “Thankful”); others chose phrase names (such as “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned”). Roger Class and his wife named their children Experience, Waitstill, Preserved, Hopestill, Wait, Thanks, Desire, Unite, and Supply. These names gave tangible expression to the first generation’s basic values and religion’s importance in their lives. 

The author goes on to explain that this practice didn’t survive the first generation.

Parents in the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements are doing the same thing these first-generation New England Puritan parents were doing. They are “underscoring” their “new beginning” and giving their children names that “give tangible expression” to their “basic values” and to “religion’s importance in their lives.” I find this fascinating.

I remember hearing that some of those involved in the flower child movement of the 1960s and 1970s gave their children names like Vishnu or Willow. And I remember hearing that more than one Stardust and Blossom changed their names upon adulthood rather than have that following them around their entire lives. I wonder if the same will be true for Perseverance Phillips or Loyal Bradrick.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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