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  • Writer's pictureArnie Ken Palyola

Reflection: Archeology or Architecture?

Updated: May 19, 2022

Arnie Palyola
May 7, 2020
What was it like growing up in Germany in the 1970s-80s? We were guests in a country of very kind German speaking people, a people and culture and their history were all around us. We grew up in it, we visited castles for school field trips or as a family, we took a trip to see the “Berlin Wall,” in the town of Fulda. We regularly took walks in old downtown Nurnberg, Germany and passed by the Cathedral Frauenkirche1 ("Church of Our Lady”). It stands as an example of brick Gothic architecture, it was built on the "hegemony of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor "(1352-1362). My last year there was my senior year in high school. By then, we passed the cathedral without much of a second look, on our way somewhere else. Yet the time had come to decide if college were important and what would one study? I loved archeology, I considered the study of history and research in archeology. You know, in popular movies of the time, Harrison Ford in the Raiders of The Lost Ark series of films. I actually have quite a few of those films in VHS. I do have a working VHS tape player. I also loved Architecture, I first noticed it in our local church in Fabens, Texas and finally in the Cathedral Frauenkirche, and the castles and general architecture of a German city and town.
I was fascinated by art and music, and it would be the latter that I would invest the next several years in rigorous study. For an 18-year-old, this was a “great” decision, but honestly my grandfather, seeing a video on the newly created MTV, said to me “see those guys,” (Yes grandpa? What was he going to say?) “Those guys are making a lot of money.” I agreed. The band on MTV whose video and song were way outside of my grandfather’s worldview, seemed successful and a video implied success. I was already teaching myself music theory; I had the books for over a year and had read them. For my 18th birthday, my parents bought me a bass and an amp. If they had bought me a Craftsman’s set of tools, I might have approached them the same way. I had tools, let's get to work. My parents bought me the bass and amp; that was a qualifying on their part, so to speak, it was now “my responsibility” of a mastering of these tools and making a living with them. Fast forward 30 plus years, and I had learned music theory and performed with 100s of bands and performed under my band leadership over 2000 shows over ten years and produced a handful of CDs. Whether or not I achieved success by anyone’s standards did not matter, I had done everything I set out to do, and realized something was missing.
It was not something having to do with my music career, like some monumental success; I had determined that would have been detrimental, it was an ‘unknown’ and recent history did not speak well for successful musicians. Self-management was success to me, an independence from the typical corporate gig. In other blogs I talk about my developing Christian experience, this was the start to a seeking of wisdom by the Bible. But I realized that what I felt was missing: wisdom. I felt no wiser for my 30 plus years as a musician. It seems my life had been narrowed down to a set grouping of similar experiences that would have a minimal variety of outcomes and this was a stagnation to my spiritual, psychological, and philosophical growth. A metaphysical roadblock?
In my jobs over the years, I relied on a physical capability, and hard work was never a problem, I welcomed the physical challenge. An epiphany told me it was time to challenge my mind, again. A new set of goals, and a purpose of which to be passionate about, like I had been about music. Reading the Bible again in 2013 started this new passion, ignited by the Spirit; I could study theology and the Bible like an 18-year-old studies music theory.
The Liberal Arts: To date, I have taken liberal arts classes for music appreciation, a study on literary classics such as Homer, Virgil and Dante, studied early Western civilization up to the reformations, and scratched at the philosophy of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (the classics), Augustine and Descartes. Theology related books outnumber all other subjects on my shelves. Although my philosophy shelf is growing, the theology shelves are many. They include books on church history, several specialize on early American history, etc. I have many books on the early apostolic fathers, including Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Justin Martyr. Studies in Greek. Biblical books, such as study Bibles in KJV and ESV and the Catholic Bible in NASB. A Latin Vulgate Bible, and four or five Greek New Testaments. An English translation of the Torah, The Septuagint (in Greek,) and a variety of Bibles in NIV, NLT, KJV, ESV, and La Version Reina-Valera 1960 in Spanish. (Since the date of this writing, my personal library has grown exponentially.)
I am glad that I can blend what I learned at Grand Canyon University with what I am learning at Houston Baptist University. Three classes I took at GCU have helped me gain understanding generally; Christian Worldview, Psychology and Sociology. If I could add a fourth, it would be World Religions. I am one assignment from completing a Hermeneutics class. This class, and the New Testament Theology class opened my eyes and informed me about the methods of exegetical commentary and writing. The debate of methodology for approaching what the Bible means. It seems that I am developing the skills for archeology after all, in the study of the spiritual architecture of the early church. These are my thoughts, in this first "free thinking" moment. A lot is going on in the world. I am focused on the immediate tasks at hand, in the moment. I am looking forward and leaving behind me the wake of change, "we have been there, no need to look back." I am grateful for the purpose God has given me.
I am grateful for the scholars who lecture us on our academic path...and for books which lead to the development of understanding and wisdom. (Update 5/19/2022; I have earned my BA in Theological Studies and am enrolled to continue into Graduate School at HBU for an MDiv degree.)

Archeology involves an extraction from history what can be known about God, Humanity and The Created Order. Thoughts?

1-Numerous works of art from the Middle Ages in the church; such as the Tucher Altar (c. 1440, the high altar of the Augustinian church of St. Vitus) and monuments by A. Kraft (c. 1498).



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