Christine Rhyner

Blog

What's in a Name?
9/30/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Vhristine

  Names are important in Vietnam.  Introducing themselves to foreigners, English-speaking Vietnamese will often translate the meaning of their names.  “I’m Orchid(Lan)” one might say.  Or “Shining Jade(Ngoc Minh)” or “Spring Rice(Lua Xuan).”  Some names sounded like poetry.  I knew three brothers named “Mountain(Son),” “River(Giang),” and “Ocean(Hai),”  I had a friend named “Moon Lute(Nguyet Cam)” in honor of a traditional Vietnamese stringed instrument.  Another couple had named their three boys, all born during the years of the American War, Ling(after Abe Lincoln), Red(for the Communists), and Binh(which means “peaceful”).  Binh must have been a popular name during the years of war, because I knew a lot of Binhs who were born at that time.

      In Vietnam, names also carry a powerful force.  Tradition clams that evil spirits like to steal babies, particularly the attractive ones.  In the countryside, where old customs linger longer, new parents would go to lengths to make their children seem unappealing.  They would never compliment their newborns.  Instead, they’d call them “ugly,” or “rat,” or even “shit,” in order to trick the spirits into staying away.  Ironically, even such hideous names would come to sound like the sweetest of endearments when they were uttered by adoring parents.  Urban Vietnamese, like Tung and Huong, liked to scoff at superstitions, but even they would cringe when I forgot the custom and cooed over how beautiful the baby was.  “Trom via,” they’d hiss, reminding me to say that phrase before the compliment.  As one friend later translated it, trom via meant “to sneakily talk behind a spirit”—in other words, to keep evil away.  …The supposedly irrational concern over “evil spirits” actually spoke to very real, widespread, dangers that newborns in Vietnam had faced forever:  poor hygiene, inadequate nutrition, and lack of medical care.  Because infant mortality was such a risk, tradition dictated that only close family members would visit a new baby before its one-month birthday, the time at which its chance of survival was thought to be more secure and the moment of which it could be brought into society and openly named.

Share This Blog:


Previous Posts

Is the Church Changing?
4/25/2017 10:55:00 AM  by: Christine

What Are Our Values Anymore?
4/14/2017 7:29:00 AM  by: Christine

The Final Frontier (Part Two)
4/3/2017 10:10:00 AM  by: Christine

The Final Frontier (Part One)
3/27/2017 9:00:00 AM  by: Christine

Soulmate
3/17/2017 5:00:00 AM  by: Christine

The Colors of a Writer
3/10/2017 5:00:00 AM  by: Christine

Camp Fear
10/9/2016 3:56:00 PM  by: Christine

What's Not to Get About the Writing Life?
8/15/2016 1:24:04 AM  by: Christine

Learning to Sing the Song of Winter
8/2/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Perspectives & the Second Half of the 10 Commandments of Conflict
7/24/2016 9:57:10 PM  by: Christine

Perspectives & 5 of the 10 Commandments of Conflict
7/17/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Run Writer Run! Make Music with Your Words
6/20/2016 5:30:43 PM  by: Christine

Mom, the Fishstetrician
4/18/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

The Radicalization of Hillary and the Democrat Party (PART 2 OF 2)
4/16/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

The Radicalization of Hillary and the Democrat Party (PART 1 OF 2)
4/15/2016 2:51:12 PM  by: Christine

Why Ted Cruz NOW?
3/19/2016 12:26:00 AM  by: Christine

Why is the GOP Committing Suicide?
3/14/2016 12:30:25 AM  by: Christine

Dear Chicago
3/12/2016 9:36:14 PM  by: Christine

The CONSTITUTION For President
3/3/2016 3:41:00 PM  by: Christine

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?
2/29/2016 10:08:29 PM  by: Christine

That Unanswered GOP Debate Question
1/9/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

America's Lifeline
12/31/2015 3:04:50 PM  by: Christine

Fractured Nation (2 of 2)
11/14/2015 8:42:06 AM  by: Christine

Fractured Nation (1 of 2)
11/11/2015 11:04:35 AM  by: Christine

What is Orphan Sunday?
11/8/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

November's Gratitude and Longing
11/4/2015 8:30:39 PM  by: Christine

Losing a Child is Like...
9/12/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Finding God in a Tenement
9/3/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Doing School in the 21st Century
8/22/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Superstition vs. Planned Parenthood
8/19/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Addicted to Giving Birth?
4/21/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Why We Should Have "The Talk" Before Marriage
3/20/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Adoptive Parents "Hypersensitive" & "Selfish?"
3/12/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

What's So Wrong With Calling It "Gotcha Day!"
2/26/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

How God Connected the Dots
2/7/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Exposure of Transracially Adopted Kids to Their Races a Bad Thing?
2/2/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Out With The Old
1/12/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Those Who Scoff at International Adoption
8/16/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Setting Aside Birth Story Facts for Truth
7/31/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Sneak Peak, "How much did you pay for her?"
6/11/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Blessing Through Adoption Pain
5/16/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Eight Ways Publishing Your Book is Like an Adoption Journey
2/23/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Neglected Ministries?
2/17/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

It's a Boy
2/8/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Thoughts of Her
2/1/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

To My Son
1/30/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Rational Thinking?
1/25/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Minority Against Minority
1/12/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Happy New Year!
12/30/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Happy Thanksgiving
11/25/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

You ARE my mother?
11/10/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

The Transracially Adopted Children's Bill of Rights and Some Thoughts
11/3/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Infertility Is...
10/19/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Will He Speak English?
10/11/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Kitty-Sam
10/5/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

What's in a Name?
9/30/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Vhristine

An Adoptive Mom's Message to Those in the Healthcare and Education Professions
9/25/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Being Tested
9/11/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

When We Are Weary
9/1/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Trailblazers
8/24/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Chrisrine

A Fresh Start
8/22/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

God Works Behind the Scenes
8/13/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Why Adoption Requires Forgiveness
7/28/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Dust Bunnies and Poo
7/19/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Reality Check
7/13/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Forgiveness is Work
7/9/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

An Answer to Prayer, Part Three
7/3/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

An Answer to Prayer, Part Two
6/27/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

An Answer to Prayer, Part One
6/22/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Are They Really Brother and Sister?
6/16/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Infertility's Not Fair
6/13/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Has He Ever Eaten a Dog?
6/11/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine

Sometimes We Fail
6/9/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Christine