Living Up to Your Name

This past February, Sarah, Kezzie took a trip to Europe.  We flew in and out of Barcelona.  When we landed, we spent the day walking (a lot) around Barcelona.  People told us we had to go see Sacrada Familia, so we wandered until we found it.  Apparently, this is the big attraction in Barcelona, so we didn’t want to miss it.

The building is an architectural masterpiece that has been under construction for over a century.  They were still working on it when we saw it.  It is a sprawling basilica full of elaborate carvings and details that depict Biblical stories and themes.  It is the brainchild of Antoni Gaudi (1825-1926) and the best word to describe the architectural jungle is, well, gaudy (excessively showy, elaborate).

And that begs the question.  Did we get the word “gaudy” from Antoni Gaudi?  I had even heard that or read it once or twice.  But as I dug into the etymology of the word, “gaudy,” I found that it comes from a 16th century Middle English term meaning “a cheap, bright trinket” (see this article in The Examiner).

So, does that mean that Gaudi lived up to his name?  I guess that is a subjective topic, since gaudiness is in the eye of the beholder.  Though I think few people would disagree that if anything in the world is definitively gaudy, it is Sacrada Familia.  That’s not a bad thing.  It is a descriptive term for the style.

Many people in the Bible lived up to their names: Nabal, Joshua, Peter, Abraham, and many others.  Sometimes names are given after qualities are noticed or a change occurs in one’s life (Paul) and other times names are given at birth and the person perfectly lives up to the name (Jacob).  Do you think names are self-fulfilling prophecies?  Do you think a name affects a person’s behavior.  I tend to think it can.  Was that the case for Gaudi?  I don’t know, but the connection is hard to miss.

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Jesse Joyner travels nationwide performing a comedy juggling act for family and kids events. He is also working towards his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Kezzie.

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