A Collector Who Wished to Honor the Creator
WHEN American sculptor and butterfly collector Herman Strecker died a century ago, he left behind what was at the time the largest and most important collection of butterflies and moths in the Americas. His collection, some 50,000 specimens strong, now belongs for the most part to the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. One species of giant silk moth from South America stood out in the collection because of its name. In his book Lepidoptera, Mr. Strecker explained that he did not name this species after some individual who might have rewarded him with a dinner or a loan of money.a Rather, he named it after the Creator. That way, this “most wonderful” species would direct the thoughts of those who see it to God. Thus, as a result of Mr. Strecker’s wish to honor the Creator, today that silk moth bears the scientific name Copiopteryx jehovah.
However, some of Mr. Strecker’s contemporaries objected to his use of God’s name because, as one critic wrote, “the name brings up to serious and contemplative minds everything that is sacred.” To that, Mr. Strecker responded: “If such be the case, then indeed am I happy in my selection, for methinks anything that would lead us to think of the Creator . . . cannot but be well; and what better than to reflect on sacred things,—on the evidences of the majesty and power of the Supreme Being?” Therefore, collector Strecker concluded: “That there should be any reasonable objection to the bestowal of the Creator’s name on one of the most interesting of His works, I cannot possibly surmise.”
Strecker’s piety and his reverence for the Creator are noteworthy. Christians today are careful to use the majestic name Jehovah in ways that dignify it.
a The complete title of Mr. Strecker’s book is Lepidoptera, Rhopaloceres and Heteroceres, Indigenous and Exotic; With Descriptions and Colored Illustrations (1872).
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Herman Strecker: From the book The Passing Scene, Vol. 8/The Historical Society of Berks County
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