"Why Should I Change My Name? He's The One Who Sucks"


“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

– Luke 16:19-31


“I’m praying for you and your father to be reconciled” – A variation of the most common message I get from strange men, sometimes on Twitter, sometimes in my email inbox; my father has never expressed interest in reconciliation with me, nor I with him.


  1. In December of 2019, I filed a legal petition in the state of California to change my name from “M****** E******* Ortberg” to “Daniel M. Lavery”

  2. Although I have placed asterisks following my former first and middle names, you could easily find them in a simple Google search using my current name

  3. Or you could pick up a book I’ve written

  4. Or you could pick up a book my father has written, many of which contain humorous and heart-warming anecdotes about my childhood

  5. One of them involves a humorous and heart-warming anecdote about how I used to run around the house naked

  6. My father has never changed his name

  7. My father is a rich man

  8. There is a great gulf between us

  9. Easter weekend is usually the biggest revenue weekend for evangelical megachurches

  10. Every Easter my father usually becomes a richer man

  11. This is the first Easter since my father stopped speaking to me because I would not countenance his plan to ensure a self-avowed pedophile continued to have unsupervised access to children

  12. My suggestion was that this person seek treatment and stop working with children

  13. My father did not want to hear me

  14. My father did not want to repent

  15. Usually during his Easter sermon my father asks everyone in the congregation to close their eyes, so people who have abruptly come to Jesus on the strength of my father’s Easter sermon might raise their hands in secrecy

  16. Usually I attended church on Easter Sunday as a child

  17. Usually I closed my eyes

  18. Usually I would hear my father count out the people who were raising their hands

  19. Usually only he could see them

  20. Usually his voice as he did so was choked with emotion

  21. Usually his voice as he did so was also conspiratorial

  22. What I mean by conspiratorial is that his tone was reassuring, private, protective: “This is just between you and me”

  23. “There. I see you,” he’d say

  24. “Yes. There. Yes,” he’d say

  25. Sometimes rich people refer to themselves as comfortable

  26. My father is a comfortable man

  27. Sometimes I would sit in the pews with my eyes closed and wonder what would happen if I opened them

  28. I did not open them because I knew my eyes were not supposed to be open

  29. If the eyes which were supposed to be open saw my open eyes, my eyes would get me in trouble

  30. I found my father impossible to persuade

  31. I had no way of knowing for sure whether anyone raised their hands

  32. I still don’t know how many people raised their hands

  33. I knew my father would be angry with me if I opened my eyes

  34. I knew that my father would be angry with me if I interrupted his private agreements

  35. This is the first Easter I have ever spent without speaking to a single member of my family

  36. This is the first Easter since my mother stopped speaking to me because I would not countenance my father’s plan to ensure a self-avowed pedophile continued to have unsupervised access to children

  37. This is the first Easter since my grandmothers stopped speaking to me because I would not countenance my father’s plan to ensure a self-avowed pedophile continued to have unsupervised access to children

  38. This is the first Easter since my sister stopped speaking to me because I would not countenance my father’s plan to ensure a self-avowed pedophile continued to have unsupervised access to children

  39. There is a great gulf fixed

  40. None of them want to pass from there to me

  41. I do not want to pass from here to them

  42. Sometimes when people hear I do not go to church, they will encourage me to come to their church, which they believe is different from other churches

  43. These people generally mean quite well and I want to be polite to them

  44. Sometimes when people hear I do not speak to my father, they will tell me that they hope someday soon I will start talking to my father again

  45. These people’s motivations are often quite obscure to me

  46. I rarely want to be polite to them

  47. I find my own anger useful

  48. I find my own anger unbearable

  49. I find my own anger terrifying

  50. I find my own anger bracing and vivifying

  51. I find my own anger appropriate.

  52. Many churches are not holding in-person Easter services this year.

  53. (No connection to the other Lazarus)

  54. “Abraham’s Bosom” sounds like a wonderful sort of gay bar


 Lazar and Dives lyveden diversly,
And divers gerdon hadden they therby.
(Lazar and Dives lived diversely, and diverse rewards had they thereby.)

– The Summoner’s Tale, Chaucer


  1. It’s true that different things happen to different people

  2. It can be dangerous to think of oneself as solely wronged, solely outraged, solely victimized, and solely right

  3. So perhaps the safest parallel to draw between Dives and Lazarus and my father and me is

    • I spend a lot of time in wonderful gay bars

    • We live differently

  4. And that’s all.