Chronicles in Ordinary Time 230: Changing the Way We See…

Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and I became ‘serious’ about illustration, I became fascinated by the eye; particularly the human eye—this small ‘camera’ which defines the world for most people. I don’t have enough faith in Science to credit Evolution with the conversion of light-sensitive cells on a marine animal into a ‘device’ that becomes the model for the digital cameras currently located on Mars…

One aspect of the wonder that is the experience of sight is the Blind Spot. We all have a blind spot in each eye—the ‘hole’ in the retina where the optic nerve connects with the brain. So, find your blind spots—I’ll wait… 

You can’t find them, can you? The brain ‘fills in’ the hole in our vision with data that is adjacent to the blind spot. This should not be surprising, in that our experience of vision is a ‘construct’ created by our brain. Our visual perception of the world around us is created by ‘electrochemical’ signals that travel between the light-sensitive retina cells at the back of our eyes by way of the optic nerve, into to the brain. To make things stranger still, the lenses of our eyes flip the image upside down [represented by the candle in the image above]. So, not only is your visual experience of the world a creation of your brain, but the data your brain receives is upside down.

Close your eyes and the world is darkened; open your eyelids and you suddenly see the world as if you are watching television, or a streaming service to the screen in front of you. Stranger yet is the fact that each eye sees the world from a slightly different angle—this is how we perceive Depth—but again, the perception of depth is a ‘translation’ of the world created by the brain.

Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and cameras were analog rather than digital, light traveling through a camera lens caused the light-sensitive chemicals on a piece of film to create a ‘negative’ image on that film, when exposed to a different set of chemicals. Shining a light through that film onto a chemically treated piece of paper produced a ‘positive,’ but invisible, chemical image on the paper. By applying other chemicals to the paper, seemingly blank sheets of paper became photographic images on paper.

Our concept of the world is essentially the analog process by which we perceive the world. Our perception the world is based on the ‘chemicals’/ideas that are in our environment. I grew up in Portland, Oregon—sometimes called ‘the Whitest city in America’. The original State Constitution specified that Oregon was intended to be for White people. The City of Portland was intended to be a place for White people to live. That idea was shattered by World War II [does it bother you that Wars get numbered/identified by decade?]. Portland had shipyards, which were converted for use in the construction of Liberty Ships to replace vessels lost at Pearl Harbor. Most of the White guys were in the War or preparing for the War; Portland’s ‘City Fathers’ had to allow brown-skinned people to move into the City for ships to be built [when the War ended, the City Father’s relocated the brown-skinned people into the part of Portland with the lowest property values].

My Dad, labeled 4-F after learning he was diabetic while nearly dying on a troop train, went to work in the shipyards. My Dad was relatively small and skinny; he knew how to weld, so he was hung by his feet and shoved into a ship’s funnel to weld the connection between the funnel and the ship. My guess is that the men on the rope, keeping my Dad from falling, were brown-skinned.

My Dad’s brother, when I was old enough to notice, was a racist, and a mean drunk. He served overseas during WWII. Prior to that, the two brothers were raised in the same environment. This is all conjecture on my part—I never had much reason to interact with the adults in my family. The problem was mine, not theirs.

I never heard a racist word come from my Dad’s mouth, my Uncle, not so much. I wonder if the difference came from my Dad working in the shipyards among brown-skinned men.  

If you’ve read my stuff before, you are probably aware of parts of my Faith journey. It doesn’t matter to me if that description has meaning for you; and my lack of concern isn’t judgmental. We all have our own faith journeys. Some more difficult than others. Some, more complex than others. ‘Seventy’ is a number that will have new meaning for me, in about 15 months. My world became entirely different in my twenties [last night I watched an older Doctor Who episode that revolved around one of the Doctor’s companions, and her decision to make a right-turn one day, instead of turning left. That single decision alters the entirety of Earth history from that point forward. Donna Noble thought she was nothing but a ‘Temp’—a person of no significance. She becomes the most significant person in Earth history. Fiction? Yes. And the analog version of our lives—we have no idea who we will influence. Faith was my ‘left turn’ [no, not that Left—my first turning was to the Right].

How do we see our world…

I’m listening to a song about how the Breath of God breathed dry bones into a mighty army. Factual? Probably not. Stories to provide courage to those without.

Today, this sort of story comes under the general heading of “Conspiracy Theory”—the explanations that certain members of the electorate, and those they support, as to what their ‘enemy’ believes, and is working to accomplish. Nonsense, that sells a message.

When did our two-party governmental system become war, with enemies?


Jesus’ opening speech in Mark’s Gospel: “repent and believe the Good News.” The word so often and misleadingly translated as “repent” is metanoia. This Greek word is based on two words, meta [beyond] and nous [mind or spirit], and thus, in its most basic form, it means something like, “go beyond the mind that you have.” The English word, “repent” has a moralizing overtone, suggesting a change in behavior or action, whereas Jesus’ term seems to be hinting at a change at a far more fundamental level of one’s being. Jesus urges his listeners to change their way of knowing, their way of perceiving and grasping reality, their perspective, their mode of seeing…

Robert Barron

“Christianity moved from the position of being a type of exilic community, existing on the fringes of society of the first cen­turies of the common era, to becoming the religion of the state. When this move was made, certain changes emerged in the com­munity which would alter the direction of faithful witness down to the present age.
“Previous to the year 313 C.E., Christianity was in a precarious position. Outlawed at various times by different rulers, enduring several waves of local and empire-wide persecution, the church had developed a way of being in the world that addressed the present culture in challenging and prophetic ways…

“All this changed when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, a decree of toleration for Christianity. While the accounts differ, the impetus for this shift was Constantine’s victory at Milvian over an­other claimant to the throne of the empire. One account says that Constantine had a vision that showed the cross in the sky, accom­panied by the words, “By this sign you will conquer.” Whatever may have happened, it is surely the case that with the Edict of Milan the position of the church in the Roman Empire changed. No longer were Christians ostracized for their faith or persecuted to the point of death; rather, they entered into the agenda of the empire in a new way…

“…Once the cultural pretensions of the state were baptized with a Christian veneer, the results were mixed to say the least. When Christians held political power, they did not hesitate to use it to force conformity to their own beliefs and morals…

“And in the captivity to political powers conformity was always exacted to compel adherence to particular doctrines and pronouncements of the church. This history has been one of embarrassment to the church. Even though the church needed to have some discernment about what represented faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the exclusions and history of slaughter and murder carried out in the name of the church make a sorry spectacle. Indeed, the efforts of the church to assure conformity to its doctrines would lead to such a backlash that modernity would seek to deny the church any place at the table of the political process at all.

“The removal of the church from the political process and the founding of society on secular principles in the Enlightenment were ample evidence that coercion in matters of faith left a tragic legacy. It also called into doubt how the most central convictions of Christianity became the guiding factor for people’s faith. How could you trust something built upon the edifice of political power? Once Christianity let itself be identified with the aims of the state, how could anything be trusted that was a product, not of discerning consensus, but of who had the greatest political power?”

The Matrix of Faith Jeffrey C. Pugh

In this time of Pandemic, people keep waiting until things can return to Normal.

Normal is what got us here.

Normal is what inspired the deadly insurrection attempt at the US Capitol Building in January.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
Not Albert Einstein; no one seems to be really sure who said this first.

I would add, Normal is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

What would Not Normal look like? I have no idea; this is the task that presents itself to us. Much like Climate Change and CO2 emissions and a raft of environmental and social problems that need to be fixed.

There is no shortage of money to fix these things; there is a large shortage of Will and Imagination; and an excess of the desire for Power.

We need to change our way of knowing, our way of perceiving and grasping reality, our perspective, our mode of seeing…


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