Monday, March 01, 2010

Mr. Arthur Mijares of Oakley, California, claims that God spoke to him recently and demanded he lead a campaign to change the name of his county's lone mountain from Mt. Diablo to Mt. Reagan.
"Diablo", as many of you already know, is Spanish for "devil" while "Reagan" is, as some of you passionately believe, English for much the same thing. So it comes as little surprise that Mijares' divinely mandated application for a name change has sparked some controversy among his neighbors in his San Francisco East Bay community. According to an article this week in The Los Angeles Times, more than 80,000 people have registered their opposition to the re-naming. Still Mr. Mijares persists claiming that the mountain's name is "derogatory, pejorative, offensive, obscene, blasphemous and profane."
Mr. Mijares describes himself as "an ordinary man that worships God," who received his instructions from the aforementioned divinity during his prayer time. Much like Moses, Mijares was initially reluctant, "Lord they're going to think I'm a loon." But religious man that he is, Mijares moved forward, filing the proper papers with the proper authorities. And that's when all hell broke loose.
Having lived for four years in the shadow of beautiful Mt. Diablo, I read with interest of Mr. Mijares' quixotic quest. Indeed, residing now in a county whose forebears' depleted imaginations have many of us living underneath mountains with the lackluster names of "Peak 7, 8, 9" and, not too surprisingly, "Peak 10," I was curious as to the implications of this attempt to alter the title of one of California's cherished landmarks for the sake of one man's claimed religious obligation.
Precedent would seem to favor God and Mr. Mijares. All of California's major cities are named in honor of either a saint, a sacrament or even an entire heavenly host of angels. Nevertheless, relying on that decidedly Christian tradition could be dangerous as Californians in the interceding years since their cities were named have become, how shall I say it, less traditionally religious. Way, way, way less.
The danger to God-hearing Christians is that these modern heretics might decide to file counter-appeals in an attempt to rid their state of the vestiges of the Spanish Catholicism that permeates California's history. If God makes a move on the devil at Mt. Diablo, there may be petitions from the dark side to change San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego into Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo and maybe even Fargo.
And please do not think that we in Colorado are safe from such mischievous maneuvering. When you have an entire mountain range named for the blood of Christ, we all should be taking notice of what is going on in Contra Costa County. For instance, just imagine what would happen if Colorado's Jews decided to mount a campaign to change the peaks of our Sangre de Cristos to something like The Mazel Tov Mountains. Oy veh!
Of course it isn't just the Jews that Christians should be worried about. Buddhists could demand Nederland be renamed Namaste and the Hindus could petition to make Aspen into Ashram...and it won't stop there! Every agnostic and atheist among us might start clamoring to take the tabernacle out of Tabernash and the trinity out of Trinidad!
Deciding on a completely secular designation, however, is not without its own problems. As evidence, one need only be reminded of such charming Colorado towns with dreadful names like Basalt, Silt and Rifle or, dare I mention, Leadville.
Here in Summit County we've managed through our naming to irritate the million or so folk from San Francisco who still growl at any tourist who deigns to designate their city as merely Frisco. And our own county seat of Breckenridge came to its name, as most locals know, only by altering the name of another. But Silverthorne has a real mountain ring to it and Dillon, Blue River and Copper Mountain are satisfyingly inoffensive...although anyone who has travelled south of the border may find the name, Montezuma, revengefully reminiscent.
In any case, word has arrived that the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors have voted unanimously to oppose the renaming. All of which means, of course, that the devil got his due.