A couple of years back, when I was in the thick of writing Patron Saints for Postmoderns, I started doodling with anagrams for my “saints'” names. This is what I came up with:
Margery Kempe = “Kerygma per me”
That’s a Greek/Latin hybrid, meaning, “the Gospel proclamation for me.” So much of what Margery did was in response to her deeply personal sense of what the Gospel proclamation meant–for her and for all people.
I once wrote a clerihew (a kind of biographical poem invented by a friend of G. K. Chesterton’s) about this trait of Margery’s. It uses the 50-dollar German loan-word meaning “salvation history”:
Had Margery Kempe
been puffing the hempe?
No, her heart was transfichte
by the heilsgeschichte.
Charles M. Sheldon = “Lord’s Mensch: Heal!”
Mensch is Yiddish for “a really nice guy.” According to Rabbi Neil Kurshan, “It means being sensitive to other people’s needs and seeking out ways to help them.” That was Sheldon to a “T”! And he was all about healing wounded people in a sick society.
A tough one . . .
“John, no miscue”?
No, in fact his tendency to believe wacky prophecies from a couple of his friends was definitely a miscue. And it is not an “elegant” anagram, because it repeats his first name.
“Shun, come join.”
Having read The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart, one can imagine Comenius issuing this invitation to all he meets, to shun worldliness and join the community of believers. Yet he was no sectarian: rather than shun the world, he stood in the midst of it and sought to educate Christians for greater effectiveness in all the world’s situations, stresses, and strains.
But that’s the best I can come up with for now. So on to:
Dorothy L. Sayers = “Story lady, she. Or . . .?”
I like this one, because the first and only thing many people know about Dorothy Sayers is that she wrote mystery stories (her famous detective was Lord Peter Wimsey). Yet there is so much more to know about her. And it’s that “or . . .” category that we will look at most: she wrote Christian apologetics as clear and pungent as any by C. S. Lewis. She wrote several dramas with Christian themes. She did a world-beating translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (her higher degrees, from Oxford, were in romance languages). Etc. Etc. A really fascinating person.
Amanda Berry Smith = “Madame brash in try”
Though a little awkward, this says something true about Smith: in everything she tried, she had a holy boldness. But it was mixed with a winning humility–a real sense that anything good she did came from the gifting and enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Or . . . “Madam try rehab sin”
As a holiness teacher, she did try to rehabilitate folks from their sin, I suppose . . .
Well, I really should turn in.
Anyone wishing to try their hand at this sort of silliness should have a peek at the anagrammist’s secret weapon.
Aged Fettled Author
(Grateful to the Dead)