The Catholic Church is slow to change. As for the names of our churches, that is a good thing.
Last week, Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of Staples Center in Los Angeles, announced an early Christmas giveaway to sports fans in LA: As of December 25, the stadium will now be known as the Crypto.com Center.
If this sounds more like a ‘Someone’s been really mean this year’ special, you’re not the only one feeling that way. “No,” LA Clippers star Reggie Jackson said. Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa posted a photo from Staples Center with the caption: “Still known as the house Kobe built. Meanwhile, New Orleans Pelicans fans were thinking, “At least you’re not the Smoothie King Center.”
While some of these name changes aren’t all that horrible, we seem to be in a time when it’s common to see long-standing arenas have their naming rights bought out by the latest what.com. Crypto.com is a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange that allows people to buy and sell Bitcoin and other digital currencies, because that’s apparently something we’re doing now. This is the second such exchange to buy the naming rights to a U.S. sports site (FTX bought the arena rights from the Miami Heat earlier this year), in what appears to be an attempt to do so. something that involves the word “crypto” sounding common. and not at all summary. The company has no connection to Los Angeles, but it theoretically had $ 700 million to spend over the next 20 years, like some of my favorites. America the editorials of yesteryear ended with “Time will tell” – so here we are
While some of the name changes aren’t all that horrible, we seem to be in a time when it’s common to see long-standing arenas to have their naming rights bought out by the latest what.com.
In a better world, we would be able to report this name change to some sort of federal aesthetic office. Dear Middle Aged Business People of the World: Adding Internet domain suffixes to your IRL name doesn’t make you look hip, and we blame you for making the world uglier. For those who think Shakespeare was right – a rose by any other name would still smell so sweet – try rose.biz or rose.blog for size.
Plus, is there anything more cheesy than changing the name of a place that means so much to people for a little extra money? I understand, AEG is a for-profit company (although Staples Arena has long been one of the most lucrative arenas in the country). But its activity here relies on sports teams, which are only successful to the extent that they build lasting and fiercely personal relationships with their fans. The name of where the Lakers won their last six NBA championships, the LA Sparks three WNBA championships and the LA Kings two Stanley Cups, the place where Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and Lisa Leslie have played, is included of people’s memories of those experiences. Seeing the name change, as LA Clippers player Paul George put it, is “like just deleting the story here.”
In a sense, the Catholic Church is familiar with these kinds of dilemmas. Many rooms and buildings on our campuses are either nominated (or renamed) for a donor willing to give a big check to support the school.
Dear Middle Aged Business People of the World: Adding Internet domain suffixes to your IRL name doesn’t make you look hip, and we blame you for making the world uglier.
But overall, the church is slow to change. Indeed, he is often attacked for the extent to which he can insist on continuity despite everything around us suggesting that times have changed and that we should too. And yet this emphasis also reflects our understanding of the importance of the history of things, not only as an anecdote or factoid, but as the foundation upon which our own experience rests.
New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral has changed in many ways since it opened in 1878, as has the city around it. And yet walk through its doors (and walk past the crowds) and that sense of spirit you get is largely the result of the millions of prayers that have been said there, weddings, funerals, baptisms and confessions that have been celebrated over the past 143 years. Whether we realize it or not, our current experience is steeped in the practice of our ancestors.
And the name of a place is part of it all. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral will no doubt continue to change over the next few decades, but one thing it will never do is rename itself #JesusWins Cathedral, not only because that name is terrible, but because changing the name of this place would be to remove something essential from it.
Unlike many secular places, for Catholics part of the problem is the person behind the name itself. To name a cathedral after Saint-Patrick, a chapel after Saint-Joan of Arc or a high school after Marie, is to invoke these figures as patronesses of this space. It is asking these holy women and men to watch over all those who come here and to dedicate the place to their mission. Spiritually, we believe that Saint Patrick, Saint Joan and Mary will seek out those who are linked to the Catholic institutions that bear their name and that what we are as a community of Saint Patrick, Saint Joan or Mary will be shaped over time by whom they were.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral will no doubt continue to change over the next few decades, but one thing it will never do is rename itself #JesusWins Cathedral.
Obviously, we wouldn’t say that former White Sox fans asked for Charles Comiskey’s blessing when they came to this baseball cathedral, or that the mission of a cheap office supply store is somehow becoming. so our own mission the more we frequent the Staples Center. But there is a way that public spaces like arenas, parks, and even skyscrapers come to life in a community. When this happens, their names no longer refer to the donors they came from but to the blessings people have experienced there.
We would never say we pray to Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, or Dorothy Chandler, but for those who frequent places named after their names, their names can have a saint-like meaning of shelter or gift. And to take that away from them is to undermine something important and spiritual in its own way.
It is also a bet that you may regret. Do we really think there will be a “Crypto.com” in 20 years? To be clear, it’s longer than Facebook, smartphones, or Netflix’s streaming services. And again, it’s called “Crypto”, which basically sounds like someone in the 80s who wanted to rename Wrigley Field “Sony Walkman Field”.
Some say that the Staples Center will now be known as the “Crypt”. It’s a bit of a scary name for a place that intends to be welcoming to families with kids, although I guess the silver linings take odd shapes sometimes. But in the end, maybe that’s what all these renowned stadiums are, sites under which great stories and characters are buried.
Correction: A previous version of this article identified Kobe Bryant’s widow as Shannon. Her name is Vanessa.