Committee

Committee: (n) a group of people appointed for a specific function

As the years have passed, I have selected to remain silent when hearing ideas which are doomed.

When younger, I often voiced my opinion and even offered prophetic utterances of the gigantic failure which lay in the future of these ideas. It made me a nasty bastard, especially when the words ended up being true.

There are things people get excited about.

Voting–even though we continue to discover that the American public can vote for a candidate and prefer that individual by the popular vote, and a handful of elitists will go into a back room and change the will of the people.

Some folks get excited over new discoveries–an ingenious, creative way to use your toilet paper.

And truthfully, many, many of my fellow-delightful-humans are completely enamored with the idea of committees.

It seems so right: “Why don’t we all get together, discuss this and come up with a suitable compromise?”

I have perched myself in committees. I have watched them–and often been the victim of their anemic passivity.

Because after all, what a committee does is trim the edges off a knife until it looks sleek, is safer, but won’t cut a goddamn thing.

That’s what discussion does. We decide to become inclusive of every opinion, when honest to God, sometimes our opinions don’t matter.

Having a committee to discuss gender bias, racism, personal freedom–and voting, for that matter–is absolutely useless.

But yet:

We learn Parliamentary Procedure.

So we can have our committee.

And obviously pretend that we live in England.

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Chickpea

Chickpea: (n) a round yellowish seed, used widely as food.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that garbanzo beans were also known as chickpeas.

For years, when I traveled with my friends, had brief attempts at weight loss and hovered over salad bars, I wondered if the garbanzo beans
were calorically low enough to be included in my pile of greenery and anemic salad dressing.

One day I asked the waitress at the local Ruby Tuesday’s in Alabama if they had garbanzo beans. She stared at me as if I were a Yankee who had come to ransack her plantation.

“What’s that?” she said in utter disgust.

So I described it, as much as one can manage wording to verbally recreate a non-descript object.

She replied, “You mean chickpeas?”

At this point, I was trying to be patient. I am fully aware that people from the Southern part of our great nation often have different names for things–usually with a country tinge to them.

“Chickpeas?” I questioned. “I’ve never heard them called that.”

As we were conversing, a lovely woman, gracious and well-spoken, came up and added, “Both names are correct.”

She had an English accent.

I was aggravated. I thought I had a young southern girl trapped in a language faux pas–and then this agent straight from the throne of the King’s English steps over to thwart my enthusiasm.

“See, I told ya’,” drawled the girl, strolling away.

I glanced over at the dignified Englishwoman and said, with great conviction, “I will always be a garbanzo man.”

 

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Chap

Chap: (n) A true gentleman

Writers are insane from spending too much time in their own brain–drunk on the intoxicant of finding new words to make great phrases.

Often in writing a story line, when you’ve used “he, man, guy and fellow” so many times that you know the reader must be gagging, you go to the Thesaurus and look for other terms for the same idea.

You often land on a word like “chap.”

No one actually refers to another person as “a chap.” Even in England, you probably would not find many people pointing at others and saying, “Now, there’s a fine chap.”

But in a pinch, a writer who wants to extend his story by one more paragraph and needs a variable to describe a male figure will insert the word “chap,” hoping that the person reading his or her novel will overlook it and move along to the next verb.

It is in that moment when you know the writer has run out of words before running out of ideas.

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Bittersweet

Bittersweet: (adj) sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

Dictionary B

There is a reality that follows every miracle.

A “morning after” to each and every excitement.

An epilogue to a happy ending.

There is an unwelcome balance in life which often tries to cloud the beauty of a single giddy moment with an overall coloration of gray.

It’s why the human race–through blessed by sunshine–still curses the rain. It just doesn’t seem to be even.

So we naturally begin to focus on problems. We worry. We conjure additional sadness, awaiting the next conflict.

This is why, whether you are in China, England, Japan, or the United States, you will meet human beings who are tinged with a little despair, waiting for the present flickering flame of joy to be blown out by a new foul wind of difficulty.

So is it mature to be cautious, since at any moment our sense of satisfaction can be dampened? Or is there a certain charm in ignoring the tribulation and instead, mustering a determined good cheer?

It is bittersweet

People will argue this until the day they die.

It is at that juncture that most of us hope we are wrong … that there really is a happy ending.

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Antietam

dictionary with letter AAntietam: historic site in northwestern Maryland, known as Antietam Creek, the scene of a major Civil War battle in September of 1862.

It was a lost cause.

Unless you’re a careful student of history, you may fail to realize that Abraham Lincoln was probably the most hated man in America.

Not only had he been elected President, causing the South to secede from the Union, but he had also made a decision to surround himself, in his cabinet, with competitors and critics.

When the war began, it was a fiasco. At the First Battle of Bull Run, the South nearly ended the entire conflict with one day’s murder and mayhem. But Lincoln continued, searching for a means to keep the country together, and possibly in the process, heal some old wounds and atone for the sins of slavery.

The problem was, the North couldn’t win a battle. Not even close.

So rather than being considered a great leader or a man of vision, he was viewed by his contemporaries as a clumsy goofball, ill-prepared for the challenge of repairing the breach.

He kept replacing generals in charge of the Army of the Potomac, hoping that someone might grow a backbone or at least field an army.

Lincoln had two goals:

Primary was to keep the Union together, for a reason which he almost singularly held within his breast. Everyone else had varying degrees of indifference on the issue.

But secondly, he realized that emancipating the slaves was not only an important step of contrition, but also would keep England and France out of the war,siding with the Confederacy. But it was certainly difficult to issue any kind of Proclamation in the midst of defeat.

The Battle of Antietam was a standoff, with more soldiers killed on the field than in any war in history, and Lincoln seized on that result, deeming it a moral victory, and set in motion to free the slaves.

Even though the Union became more proficient at war and eventually wore down their Southern brothers, it was the Battle of Antietam that gave Lincoln the doorway to make the Civil War about something other than states’ rights. In doing so, he robbed the countrymen clad in gray of the possibility of gaining international acceptance, therefore stifling their resources to those found within their own borders.

It was enough.

It’s why we still honor Abraham Lincoln today instead of shaking our heads in sadness over another failed Presidency.

Antietam was a bloodbath which ended with no conclusion–except permission for a President to change the rules and certainly, change the world. 

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Anglican

dictionary with letter A

Anglican: (adj) relating to or denoting the Church of England or any Church in communion with it.

If my only job were to teach and promote atheism, I would choose, as a platform for my presentation, to just share pieces of church history.

In no time at all, the most ardent believer, based upon the information I shared, would shake his or her head, turn his or her back and walk away from the “stinky pew.”

Why? Because faith is meant to be a leap, not a step.

When men like Martin Luther, John Knox and John Wesley decided to depart from the Catholic Church, they eventually got around to holding committee meetings about who they would become, and ended up keeping much of the religious ceremony, traditions and superstitions of the Mother Church from which they allegedly wanted to orphan themselves from.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Anglican Church, which, when it came to America by boat, became the Episcopals. With its founder, Henry VIII (an unlikely theologian) it continued to take on the heavy burdens and abstract practices of the Church of Rome, while loosening the belt on the underbelly of less important issues.

It is the problem with the religious system–at least in the Christian faith.

Even though we have a movement which dubs itself Protestant, there really isn’t a lot of protesting going on. What actually occurred in the Reformation was a reaction instead of a revolution.

Rather than returning to the teachings of Jesus, which would have expanded the vision of the Christian movement to include all cultures and all people, the Protestants basically embraced the teachings of the Apostle Paul, while sprinkling in portions of Catholicism.

Therefore, Christianity is the most “choiceless” option of spirituality available. This is why many of our young people end up dashing among Buddhism, Muslim, Judaism and agnosticism. Even the denominations that are much more relaxed in their approach, like the Pentecostals, still maintain the seeds of the Vatican, with communion, offerings, trappings and ritual.

The Anglicans essentially left the church of Rome because their King, at the time, wanted a divorce. There’s nothing spiritual about it, and until we actually have a soulful awakening, returning us to the tenets of our founder from Nazareth, the church will continue to be a jumbled mishmash of ingredients, thrown together in a dark kitchen, baked in the oven … with the aspiration that it will end up to everyone’s taste.

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Abaft

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abaft: {nautical} adv. in or behind the stern of a ship. prep. nearer the stern than; behind: the yacht has a shower just abaft the galley.

It was weird.

One morning I put on my sweat pants backwards. I knew almost immediately–because the tag was in the front. Tags aren’t supposed to be in the front. They’re supposed to be abaft.

See, I found that out this morning.

Stubbornly, I decided not to take my pants off and put the tag abaft. It bothered me all day. I became convinced that my crotch was being crushed by a lack of cloth which was intended to caress my backside, and was now kissing up to my front portions.

It was so annoying that when I saw a public restroom in a shopping center, I went into the bathroom, took off my pants to turn them around.  As I was disrobing, another fellow walked in and saw me pantless. His eyes twinkled, obviously seeking an explanation.

“A religious practice,” I stated, making the symbol of the cross on my chest.

Though bewildered, he continued about his business and I restored my pants to normalcy.

Likewise, I once heard an English professor refer to the US as a backward nation because we still cling to our religious fervor. I smiled. I thought about how many times we refer to other countries as backward, and now to have ourselves thrust abaft was unnerving.

I have never used the term again.

Also, at one time we called people who were shy backward. Now we insist they have some attention deficit disorder and give them a pill. Obviously, medication is thrust forward and never abaft.

There are many things I wish were abaft. Prejudice. Anger. Violence. Stupidity presented as pseudo-intellectualism. I-Phones that don’t seem to have a “we” application. And for that matter–back to the original definition–being stern. Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we actually WERE abaft to being stern? If we realistically stopped thinking that serious faces have deeper thoughts?  Yes, let’s put THAT abaft.

And for the record, I became so obsessed with my sweat pants and which way to put them on that I took a pair of scissors and snipped the tag. Sometimes it’s just better to be ignorant than obsessed.

Yes, obsession of that sort should be abaft.