I’m not getting this question as much of late, but I think I’ll go ahead and answer it here anyway. The question is: Is Jimmy Akin the same as James Akin, and if so, why the name change?
The answer to the first part of the question is yes, as long as you are referring to the James Akin who is the director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers. I am the same person as myself. (In fact, it would be metaphysically impossible for me to not be me.)
The answer to the second part of the question is as follows:
- Jimmy Akin is my legal birth name. It is what is on my birth certificate. (Ah’m from Texas, y’see, an’ it’s a Southern thang.)
- As a young man, struggling to prove my adulthood, I decided to start going by "James" because it sounds "more grown-up."
- In the last few years, I decided that I didn’t need to prove how grown up I am anymore and started thinking about changing it back.
- The clincher was: I’m a junior. In other words, my dad’s name is also Jimmy Akin. I know it didn’t please my father when I changed my name to James. I’m sure it couldn’t come off as anything but a kind of rejection when I change the name he gave me–his own name–but I was immature and anxious to prove my adulthood to the world, and I did it anyway.
- So, on the principle of "Honor thy father," I decided to change my name back to Jimmy.
- I researched how one does that in California, got the forms, filled them out, took out the relevant ad in a local "newspaper" (really a xeroxed bundle of papers with a staple) that exists to do nothing but print legal notices, went to court, and got the situation fixed.
- Afterward, I took a copy of the court order, framed it, and sent it to my dad for Christmas. (I also sent him a DVD player.)
- Finally, I announced the change on "Catholic Answers Live" and explained it.
- And then I explained it again . . . and again . . . and again . . . and again . . . and again . . . ad nauseum.
The question is starting to taper off now, but I decided to explain it here so there’d an explanation on the web that I can point people to (and thus have less repetitive explaining to do).
It took people a while to get used to the change. That’s only to be expected. I was pleased, though, when shortly after I made the change one woman on the Catholic Answers Cruise pointed out: "The name Jimmy suits you better than James because you’re such a smart aaaa-aleck.""
So now you know! And please, don’t call me "James." That’s not my name.