The Names Have Been Changed

"The story you are about to hear is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent..."

That introduction line from “Dragnet” is somehow a memorable part of my childhood. It is etched in my head like a brain worm and just thinking of it evokes the sound of Jack Web’s voice.  Although I was never convinced that the innocent needed to be protected because they are not the ones who should  feel ashamed.  It is the guilty who should feel ashamed and want to hide their identity from those who would take revenge.  I have come to realize that sometimes the names need to be changed to protect the guilty. I am not talking about witness protection for former mobsters turned state's witnesses, but common folk who were guilty of being young and naive. I realize in the telling of my story that sometimes using a current name to describe a former person does that person injustice, because they just aren't that person anymore.

Sometimes the distinctions are subtle. For example, in the Old Testament God changes a  man's name from Abram, meaning “exalted Father,’ to Abraham, meaning “father of many”, to indicate Abraham's destiny is to give birth to a nation.  So sometimes a person’s name needs to be changed to give direction as to who that person is meant to become.  Abraham’s grandson was a different story.  Born the second of a set of twins Jacob means “he grasps the heel,” a Hebrew idiom for “he deceives.”  Jacob in his youth knew how to grasp his way to the top using opportunity and his brother’s weakness to finesse his brother out of his birthright and then later turning the tables on his father-in-law to finesse him out of his sheep. Then comes that pivotal moment in Jacob’s life when he wrestles with God and he refused to tap out until he is given a blessing, that blessing was a new name, Israel, which most likely means “struggles with God.”

In my book Days of Elijah I talk about a wrestler who I called the Ranting Man.  I don’t know if he ever wrestled with God but I know that he wrestled with his own experiences of loss.  On the mat he had a good ankle pick but in real life he was not a heal grabber in the sense of being a deceiver.  Quite to the contrary he was known for being perhaps a bit too honest in the expression of his immediate thoughts in the form of some monumental rants.  However, that was the person of his youth and not the person of his present state.  He has gained a new name or at least a refurbished birth name.  Thus in the use of pseudonyms I acknowledge the person who was as well as the person who is with respect for his transformation with time. 


To read about the lives and positive transformations of a lot of wonderful people pick up the hard copy of Days of Elijah at

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