Julie Cook

is an assistant professor of English at Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando, Florida.


“Juli-Buli, it is so good for you to join us,” the woman in the church foyer gushed as she wrapped her arms around me. I stiffened as she released me from her bear hug. Only my dad calls me that, I grumbled to myself.

To have a stranger use my dad’s nickname for me made me uncomfortable, but it reminded me of an important fact: nicknames are almost sacred. When friends call us by our nicknames, it is as if they are also saying, “We are close. We have a history. We are friends.”

One of the most powerful truths in the Bible is that Jesus used nicknames for His disciples. “These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave …

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