Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Where does "Kempisosha" come from?

If you've encountered me online very much, including here, you've no doubt noticed my screen name and wondered where I came up with it. I've had it for a long time, and used it everywhere, and you can determine by browsing a few of the 5,400 results that you can find by clicking this link: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=kempisosha. The oldest one of these is from March 22, 2003 from StumbleUpon. The name predates that by about 5 years.

When it was time to convert from BBS to "real" internet, the main destination for doing so was America Online. My first email address was kempisosha@aol.com, back in 1998. The graphic to the left was my "Buddy Icon", one of the stock icons available to the AOL Instant Messenger program. I've never seen anyone else use it. I copied it so I could continue to use it in all of my other messenger programs.

I think it may be obvious where part of "Kempisosha" comes from - "osha". I don't have some kind of sick fascination with the Occupational Health & Safety Asministration, it's the first four letters, sans apostrophe, of my last name.

Leaving "Kempis". Perhaps it's more familiar to you now that you see it by itself. It's somebody else's last name: Thomas à Kempis. Thomas left home when he was around my middle son Calvin's age, and went to the school his older brother had attended. There he encountered the religious community the Brethren of the Common Life, which led him to eventually take holy orders. He became the prior of the monastery, and wrote The Imitation of Christ for the monks under his care. This little devotional book was to Catholic Christians what The Way of the Pilgrim became in the East, and what The Pilgrim's Progress became to the Protestant West - the best-selling book after the Bible. You can download it for free from Project Gutenberg.

I encountered this book in my late teens, browsing our own extensive library at home. I was struck by the depth of the devotional literature, and especially by the acceptance of spiritual disconsolation as a normal phase of the Christian walk. I read the book several times, and recommended it to others. Although I tend to credit G. K. Chesterton for my eventual conversion from American Protestantism to a catholic (small c, since I became Orthodox) traditional form of the faith, it was really this little book that set me on the right path. I am reminded of this every time I type my screen name or email address.

No comments:

Post a Comment