Architect

dictionary with letter A

Architect: (n) a person who designs buildings and often supervises their construction.

Have you ever been so ignorant about a subject that even as you explained how ignorant you were, you said something ignorant? That’s the way I feel about building anything.

When I look at the meticulous qualities an architect must possess, measuring corners to establish an edifice, I am not only in awe, but also baffled.

When I was seventeen years old, I took a crack at my only carpentry and building project.

Our dog required a house. This is commonly referred to as a dog house.

If you look at one, it doesn’t seem terribly complicated–basically four walls and a roof. The mutts rarely require a floor.

So I found some scrap wood back behind the local lumberyard and was delighted when they told me I could have it. I purchased some nails from the hardware store, acquired a hammer and saw and set in motion to build my dog a home.

I am not a profane person. But I have never done so much cussing in all my life.

It took me three days to finally get all the pieces to fit and a roof on the house, only to discover that when I set it on the ground, it was crooked. One of my friends affectionately referred to it as “The Leaning Tower of Bow-Wow.”

I was humiliated.

I tried to correct my mistake by filling in some dirt in one corner, to make the construction appear even but then it went from leaning to tilted.

It gave me a great appreciation for those who know how to take nothing and turn it into something.

Fortunately for me, my dog was not picky.

 

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Archetype

dictionary with letter A

Archetype (n): a typical example of a person or thing; an original that has been imitated.

Even though I am sure the number changes continually, the numeral I garnered from research was 353.

That is the number of Protestant Christian denominations at work in our world today.

Some people think this is a necessity so that we’re able to express our personality flair with our spiritual experience. But with each and every one of these denominations comes a focus on a specific point of philosophy or doctrine, which makes them imbalanced from the overall impression that was intended by the archetype of the faith, Jesus of Nazareth.

If you want to be mocked and considered naive, just merely suggest that the ideal circumstance for Christians is to attempt to live like Jesus. People will smile at your abstract innocence and say, “Well, many things are open to interpretation.”

(With that I would agree. That’s why we should avoid many things.)

But the gospel records give us a great shadow of the lifestyle of this carpenter-turned-preacher, so we certainly should be able to focus on a few personality traits and incorporate them into our practice.

1. Our archetype, Jesus, didn’t care if people were religious or whores–just as long as they knew that a certain amount of repentance is necessary for us all.

2. Jesus didn’t favor Jews over Gentiles, making the Jews very upset and the Gentiles stomp around, joyously saying, “‘Bout time.”

3. Jesus was not impressed with the traditions of men, which were manipulated so as to generate a climate of intellectualism instead of true spirituality.

4. Jesus didn’t really care much about people who wanted to be mediocre.

5. Jesus didn’t chase people down. He let them find him and bring their faith.

6. Jesus was more concerned about people who were lost than about people who were found–or at least, thought they were.

7. Jesus wasn’t impressed with the Temple.

8. Jesus was not a person who was focused on the family. He said, “Those who love only their family are no better than the heathen.”

9. Jesus bravely died on the cross but made it clear that the person who betrayed him was the Son of Hell. Certainly not a letter of recommendation for Judas.

10. Jesus made his gospel about love and challenged those who trivialized it to seek a deeper understanding of the word and its potential.

There’s only one thing I know for sure–if all these denominations came face-to-face with Jesus, there would be 353 disappointed board meetings.

Jesus didn’t come to make everybody happy. He came to get us to feel and think. That usually, for a brief season … makes everyone a little uncomfortable.

 

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Archer

dictionary with letter A

Archer: (n) a person who shoots with a bow and arrows, especially at a target for sport.

When I was growing up, the pursuit of sports in my home was very seasonal–not in the sense of baseball in the summer and football in the fall, but rather, attention span.

My father and brothers developed interests in activities, and always would find a “good deal” on equipment relating to this endeavor, which they would purchase, only to discover that the materials were inferior, which made it impossible to adequately perform the task.

  • We bought a canoe that leaked.
  • We had some water skis that were cracked and fell apart the first time someone got on them in the water.
  • We had a basketball hoop that was supposed to be easy to set up in your driveway which never got higher than four feet.

Likewise, while watching Robin Hood one day on the television set, my older brother wanted to purchase a bow and arrows. My father thought it was “a champion idea.”

So with no understanding whatsoever of archery, they set out to the local hardware store, where the proprietor sold them one of his old bows and six arrows for “a really good deal.”

Without exaggerating, I will tell you that it took them two weeks to learn how to string the bow. The amount of energy it took to bend the bow for stringing nearly crippled their comprehension. The power required to pull the bow back, to shoot the arrow even two feet, was also extraordinarily daunting.

But after a couple of months, they convinced themselves they were experts on the subject and took me out to the woods to try my hand at shooting at a target.

I hated it immediately.

It took too much energy to pull the string, and because the bow was bent from the numerous attempts to manipulate it to our will, the arrows flew crooked, more resembling boomerangs.

After about the sixth attempt, they were ready to have a competition, to see who could hit the target the most often.

My dad stood ten feet to the side, away from the target, so he could give instruction to my brother and myself to make the competition more interesting.

I pulled back the bow and was ready to shoot it when my dad piped up and said, “No, Jonathan! Use more of your thumb!”

Not understanding what he said, I turned towards him in order to be respectful to his instruction, and as I did I slipped and released the arrow, which flew through the air, knocking his hat off.

It was William Tell without the apple.

My dad never said anything about it, but we quickly packed up the gear and it was stored from that point on, in the garage … next to the half-water ski.

 

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Archangel

dictionary with letter A

Archangel: (n) an angel of high rank

Gabriel drew the short straw.

God had decided that announcing the birth of the Messiah would have to be prompted by a visitation from an archangel.

Gabriel lost.

It isn’t that the archangels were especially angry about saving mankind–it’s just that trying to tell a fourteen-year-old virgin that she’s pregnant is not exactly the most pleasant task.

Angels are always a little perplexed with humanity anyway. Matter of fact, the only thing an angel and a Homo sapien share in common is free will. And any respectable angel will be quick to tell you that they use their free will much more righteously than earth-bound bipeds.

Gabriel mused. How do you tell a young girl that her life is about to be interrupted in the most inconvenient ways, only to be further dismantled by adventure and mayhem?

It fell Gabriel’s lot.

He spent a few moments alone to make sure he had rid himself of all preconceived ideas and prejudice. He realized that a certain amount of compassion would be necessary to talk to Mary of Nazareth about welcoming a baby which would not be easily explained tor either her betrothed or to her parents, sitting around the dinner table.

In contemplating it, the archangel gained more and more heart and sympathy for the human race:

  • They were certainly more tempted than angels, who spent time surrounded by goodness and mercy.
  • Humans also possessed an emotional explosion not fully comprehended in the heart of the standard celestial inhabitant.
  • And on top of that, Mary was a young girl with dreams which would have to be melted into a divine mission of being the mother of God.

Yes, Gabriel drew the short straw.

The rest of the angels flew away, giggling in delight. But instead of viewing it as a burden, Gabriel took it on as a challenge, which turned into an opportunity.

“Behold, Mary, you are blessed.”

That’s a pretty nice thing to say.

Even though the rest of the message was much more daunting, he felt good about blessing the little lady.

Archangels are the bridge between God and human beings.

Michael, one of the other members of the team, once noted, “We angels have just enough of God to know what we should do, and enough human to sometimes be miserable doing it.”

Maybe that’s true.

But without the archangels, our world would slide into a pit of mediocrity, and nothing of excellence would be achieved.

Time passed (though angels have no watches).

Gabriel sat for a moment, remembering what it was like to speak to Mary. There were many jobs that followed.

He recalled that one of his favorites was whispering into the ear of an artist who was staring at the ceiling, wondering what to do … prompting him to paint God.

 

 

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Archaic

dictionary with letter A

Archaic (adj): very old or old-fashioned

I am of the belief that human beings do need things in their lives that are “fashioned.”

Yes–well-constructed, organized, purposeful, sensitive, gentle, aware and involved.

Without these “fashioned” virtues, we begin to rely on our own understanding and become a prideful lot, not worthy of interaction.

Unfortunately, no one ever uses the word “fashioned” without adding the prefix “old.” So at the whim of any cynical individual lies the weapon to disembowel great ideas, emotions and courtesy.

We also can attack art because it dares to reflect a stream of intelligence from a former time.

Certainly music cannot contain any beat, lyric or sentiment that was ever expressed before, lest we become slaves to our history instead of innovators in techno-pop.

Here’s my criterion for determining whether to use something that is well-fashioned: has it survived the past, still works today and has all the signs of being universal for the future? If the answer is yes, it is not archaic, just underused.

So I am not going to be discourteous just because the tendency leans in that direction.

I’m not going to be surly in order to appear focused and stubbornly irreversible.

I’m not going to reject the beauty of poetry because a generation of numbskulls have deemed it corny.

And I’m certainly not going to follow the bigotries of my time which have been conquered–often by the blood of martyrs.

Before you call something archaic and throw it in the trash-heap labeled “old-fashioned,” just make sure we can actually live without it.

 

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Archaeology

dictionary with letter A

Archaeology: (n) the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts

I am susceptible.

I am a product of my times and therefore the word “archaeology” conjures images of Indiana Jones and his whip.

I am ready to freely admit how shallow I am before you decide to dive in.

But also, I have found the subject of archaeology to be fascinating–that digging up objects from a former culture can tell us about their lifestyle and choices. Honestly, it more illuminates our study on what they were presently using when they went bye-bye and what that substance was made of, which enabled it to survive the span of time.

It caused me to think about the things that surround me.

Obviously, the elements in my life that would push through to another era are mostly made of plastic. So anyone studying me or my culture eons from now would contend that we were a generation that was obsessed with containers, bottles and all sorts of paraphernalia. For all of our papers would turn to dust; glass would be crushed and not survive.

Yes, in a thousand years, if they dug up our defunct civilization, they would ascertain that we really liked plastic and that most of it was formed into gadgets.

So comically, an alarm clock might survive, which would lead the archaeologist to conclude that we were a very efficient society, living off the clock, and probably extraordinarily productive.

If they found one of our computers, which survived the press, they would report that we were an intellectual culture, always chasing down the truth.

Gone would be:

  • The wrappers from our fast food
  • The pages from our silly magazines
  • And the most recent creams and salves we favor to prevent oldness, baldness and impotency.

So I have to admit I’m a little suspicious of archaeology. Just because something survives being buried does not mean it was predominant in the social structure of the time.

For after all, in a thousand years … what will be left of reality shows and the Kardashians?

 

 

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Arcane

dictionary with letter A

Arcane: (adj) understood by few; mysterious or secret

Arcane:

1. War has no purpose other than thinning the herd.

2. Self-esteem never leads to unity of human beings and greater understanding.

3. Women are better than men or men are better than women. Just not so.

4. Politics has no function in governing people.

5. A religion of rules is a prison of morals.

6. It is impossible to watch dark things without becoming darkened.

7. There is no way that studying one’s culture ever aids you in becoming a citizen of the world.

8. All religion is not the same. It must be held to a standard of mutual respect and cooperation with fellow humans.

9. Money does not give happiness, but the lack of money certainly welcomes despair.

10. The pursuit of knowledge without the appreciation of life is owning a race car without fuel.

11. Just as choosing up sides at basketball in gym class was an extraordinarily unsuccessful adventure, so is any attempt to segregate one another.

12. As soon as we stop being known by our skin color, our politics, our religion and our sexual orientation, we can actually begin to be known by the openness and good cheer of our hearts.

These ideas may be arcane, but they will continue to follow us until we turn around and welcome them in.

 

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