Today I listened to the memorial service. I knew from beforehand that President Barack Obama had sworn not to speak the name of him who carried out the massacre in Colorado. But, I think that Gov. John Hickenlooper said it most clearly, “I refuse to say his name.” This particular stance by not only the President and the Governor, but by many others, is a worthy stance. You see, this reminds me of the Orthodox funeral service and of our sayings when someone dies (sleeps in the Lord). At the Trisagion service, at the funeral service, whenever we formally remember him we sing or say, “Let his memory be Eternal.” The shorthand version of that is, “Memory Eternal.” The almost final prayer/blessing is when the priest says, “May your memory be eternal, dear brother (sister), for you are worthy of blessedness and everlasting memory.”
To not be remembered by God is to have no Eternal life. We do not know whether that will be true of him who committed the atrocity. He can always truly repent and be forgiven by God. But, if he does not, then the President and the Governor have taken a most Biblical stance. May his name not be remembered either by us or by God. “I refuse to say his name,” is one of the ultimate curses for it says that neither we nor God have any knowledge of him. “I refuse to say his name.”
The Anabaptists, particularly the Amish, the Brethren, and the Mennonites use shunning as one of the most severe disciplines that they know. When shunning is invoked, it means that the community behaves as though the person no longer exists. “I refuse to say his name,” means that a person’s own relatives will not know the person, even on a public street. It is a strong discipline.
And so, I join in with those who have said, “I refuse to say his name.” Let there be no memory of him. Let him be denied the fame that he wanted. Let him be no more by name in our minds. Unless, unless, unless he repents and turns his heart to the Lord our God. But, until such a time let his name not be spoken.