My Middle Name


Can you spell “embarrassed”? How about “proud”?

“Okay, I’m going to need your full name for these records. Last name?”

“Trent,” I answered, sounding a little cocky. I was proud of my last name. I had ancestors involved in all sorts of historical events. James Trent was one of the first men to found Virginia; there was the Council of Trent that reformed the Catholic Church; and there’s also a street in England bearing my last name. Trent. What a great name, I thought to myself as the secretary typed it.

“First name.”

“Jared,” I answered with even more pride. I had created a name for myself at school. I was the crazy kid, or—my personal favorite—“Ask Jared, he can answer anything.” I wondered if the secretary knew how wonderful my name was. She was, after all, typing it in bold print.

“Middle name.”

“M,” I answered as if the question wasn’t even worth an answer.

“Come on now, Jared. I need to know your middle name, not just your initial.”

Now was the hard part, disclosing my middle name. She wasn’t going to buy my middle initial trick. I was trapped.

“Moroni,” I said quietly.

“Could you spell that for me.”

“M-O-R-O-N-I.” I was growing uneasy.

“Hmm, that’s an interesting middle name. Is it Italian?”

“No, it’s a religious name.”

“Odd, I don’t remember ever reading about any Moroni in the Bible. At any rate, let’s finish this so you can start work.”

I didn’t know then why I was embarrassed by the name. It just seemed so odd to me. No one I knew, not even any of the people in my ward, had a name from the Book of Mormon. I remember once receiving a letter addressed to Jared Moron Trent. One slip of the computer, leaving off the last letter, and I was Moron.

Then, one day in seminary, my teacher asked us if we had ever read about Captain Moroni. I knew who the Angel Moroni is—the one whose statue stands on top of the temples. But I had never read the Book of Mormon, and so I had never heard of this captain guy. All I knew was that he shared my name. Then my teacher told us about the bravery and brilliance of Captain Moroni. He had invented armor for his soldiers at a time when armor wasn’t heard of. He protected entire cities and used military techniques far more advanced than some used today. He was a genius. I kept reading.

The next day my teacher asked the class if anyone knew what my middle name was. Most didn’t because I hadn’t told many people. Then she asked me to tell the class. After I did she explained that my parents had named me with an unusual name to help them share the gospel. In Saudi Arabia, where I was born, it is illegal to discuss other religions unless people ask about them. So my parents had named me, hoping that people would question the origin of my name and that would lead them to discuss the Church. I was completely surprised. I hadn’t known I had been a missionary when I was born. I was not only named after a great general, but the angel that helped to restore the gospel.

I no longer wanted to hide my middle name. I realized that the importance and nobility of it far surpassed my first and last names. I say it now with pride, explaining to people the origin of it, and why it’s such a wonderful name. I no longer think of it as one letter away from meaning idiot, but as one step away from achieving celestial glory, as the two Moronis of old did. I only hope that I might live up to its greatness.

[photo] Photography by Phil Shurtleff