Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 228: What the heck is Holy Week?

March 27, 2021

This was my thought when, in my twenties,
I first heard of Holy Week.
Forty-eight years later, in a Pandemic, I still wonder about it.

This isn’t a painting of Jesus of Nazareth.

This is what is called an Icon [LONG before computers]. Icons began to be painted for use in the Orthodox Church, because Creator told the Hebrew people to not ‘make graven [carved] images. Being a painting, there is no engraving involved. Icons play a huge role in the Orthodox Church; they have almost no role in the Presbyterian Church [and many others].
There is an entire vocabulary involved in the creation of Icons. From this vocabulary, the Icon isn’t painted, it is ‘written’. The maker of the Icon is always left unknown, as far as history is concerned. There probably was a man who commissioned the writing of the Icon; but the writer is always named ‘Anonymous’. This Icon appears to show a Caucasian man; since “Christ Pantocrator” isn’t a painting of Jesus, his appearance does not reflect a theological statement.
Every “Christ Pantocrator” Icon that has been written has the same elements. Many are identical, century after century.

The White Evangelical Church tends to give the impression it’s beliefs are tied directly to the Apostles, uninterrupted.

Church history is entirely about interruption.

Holy Week is about ritual. Rituals that can help people be connected with a Creator that we rarely perceive. I haven’t participated in Ritual for over a year. I’m still connected to Creator.
 Holy Week begins tomorrow [as I am writing], with Palm Sunday; and ends next Sunday with Easter.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for His last time there. He came in riding on a borrowed donkey as prophesied [following a passage of Scripture from the Older Testament]. There were people who were cheering Him on, who threw palm branches on the road.
Next Thursday [as I am writing], is called Maundy Thursday:

Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter.
It commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels.[1]
It is the fifth day of Holy Week, preceded by Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday) and followed by Good Friday.[2] “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment.”[3]               Wikipedia
A new command I give unto you: that you love one another. As I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are My Disciples, if there shall be love among you; one towards another.”

As this last Election Cycle has shown, the Church doesn’t do a very good job with this Command.
After Jesus and His disciples finished their Passover meal, Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, heads to the Chief Priests in order to betray Jesus. Judas ate with Jesus. The Religious leaders of the day knew of Jesus, but lacking the Internet, they did not know how Jesus looked. Having the Internet, neither do we. Judas was paid to point out Jesus to the Roman cops, so that Jesus could be arrested.
Good Friday is the day upon which Jesus was tortured, tried, tried again, tortured some more, and finally crucified. The Gospel attributed to Matthew paints a dramatic scene:

And, from the sixth hour to the ninth hour, darkness fell over all the land. And around the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, my God, why did you forsake me?”
And some of those who were standing there, hearing this, said, “This man calls to Elijah.” And one of them immediately ran and—taking a sponge and filling it with vinegar and putting it on a rod—gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Leave off, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, gave up the spirit. And look: The veil of the sanctuary was rent in two, from top to bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were split, And the tombs were opened and many bodies of those holy ones who had fallen asleep were raised; And, coming forth from the tombs, they went into the holy city after his resurrection and appeared to many. And the centurion and those guarding Jesus with him, seeing the earthquake and the things that were happening, were extremely afraid, saying, “Truly this was a god’s son.”
The New Testament – David Bentley Hart

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon that included the dead rising from their tombs and entering Jerusalem, appearing to many, once Jesus died. It would be an interesting sermon and generally is not included in the White Evangelical Church canon.
I have heard at least one sermon about the ‘veil of the Sanctuary’ being torn in two, top to bottom. This ‘veil’ was a two-layered curtain, in a very tall space [approx. 30ft], that separated The Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and even he would only enter once a year on Yom Kippur, to offer the blood of sacrifice and incense; and a rope was tied around his leg, so that if he died while encountering the Almighty, he could be pulled out; leaving the Holy of Holies secluded.
The Temple was a very tall space; they didn’t have extension ladders. Therefore, the veil was torn by Someone who was at ceiling height, and my guess is that Someone wasn’t human. The Torn Curtain meant that there is no longer a separation between Creator and Mankind. This is far more important than what the churches I’ve belonged to hardly ever [never] mentioned. This interferes with the following:
Non-believers are very familiar with John 3:16—signs with this Bible reference show up at any sporting event that has people in the grandstands. The short translation is ‘anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is going to Hell’. This isn’t Biblical interpretation, it’s human interpretation.
People who pay a lot of attention to John 3:16 don’t talk much about John 3:17:

And whoever hears my words and does not keep them, I am not judging him, for I have come, not to judge the world, but to give life to the world.

My question is, “did Jesus fail in His mission?” Jesus came to give life to the world. He either did that, or Jesus failed. If Jesus failed, the Church has a big problem.

 Aramaic Bible in Plain English  
1 In the origin The Word had been existing and That Word had been existing with God and That Word was himself God. 2 This One himself was at the origin with God. 3 Everything was in his hand, and without him not even one thing existed of the things that existed. 4 In him was The Life and The Life is The Light of men. 5 And The Light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. 6 There was a man sent from God; his name was Yohannan [John]. 7 He came for a witness, to testify about The Light, that everyone by him would believe. 8 He was not The Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 For That One was The Light of Truth, which enlightens every person that comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world existed by his hand, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not…

I consider myself fortunate, in that I was raised without Ritual. I came to Faith in my third year of college, kicking and screaming. I’ve spent most of my 48 years with Jesus in the White Evangelical Church; and I have been ashamed/angered over the beliefs that have been displayed in the last five years, in the news and on Social Media.
I have not gotten past my anger.

What I have learned is that Creator is not some sort of local ‘mystic fairy’ that grants our wishes. Creator has made/is making a Universe so large that we don’t even have the language to describe it. The Universe is likely Filled with inhabited planets; and I believe that on each of those planets there will either be a ‘Jesus Story’; or that the ‘Jesus Story’ was not needed—their “Adam & Eve” did a better job of parenting.

I don’t know what to do with people who believe Creator is responsible for the evil in the world—those people who believe that the Older Testament is God’s-Truth-Written-Down seem to forget why Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden. They had learned how to tell good from evil. We humans are fully capable of doing evil on our own. We don’t need Creator’s help to do that.

Our Creator is infinite, which does not mean ‘really, really big’—Creator is outside the Universe, working within the Universe. Creator is outside of time. Creator has known all about your life from the moment the Universe was Created. The good stuff and the shitty stuff and everything in between. While it may feel like you have walked away, you haven’t. You always will be taken care of, which does not mean, being spared from shitty stuff.

This life is only the beginning of your Real life. We are souls with bodies. We are all Eternal. We will one day realize that there was a better choice to be made at a given time, but that choice never separated us from the Eternal. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding a new definition. I don’t believe, any longer, that the new definition will come from a group of believers and a pastor–all of whom are flawed. I have been through too many churches to believe that any group of people has it all together. We do well in certain areas; but not in every situation.

You are always loved by Jesus, and by your Creator. The Spirit is at hand, even when you don’t realize it.

Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 227: We hold these truths to be self-evident…

February 27, 2021
Magical Thinking told me that the National Nightmare would be over.
Magical Thinking told me that [secretly] most Republican politicians in Washington would be glad to see him go. Foolish thoughts.
I should have been prepared; Magical Thinking has been an enemy for most of my life, in the form of FEAR [False Evidence Appearing Real] and HPtFtU [Human Propensity to Foul things Up] The latter phrase coined by Francis Spufford in his book Unapologetic, uses a slightly different phrase.
I followed the commentary on MSNBC nearly every weeknight for 5 years; after the second Acquittal, I sort of gave up. Six people were killed, hundreds were maimed or injured. The Vice President and the Speaker of the House, as well as other notable Democrats were targeted by the mob of Insurrectionists and marked for death. Excrement covered the walls and floors of the Capitol Building; personal property of lawmakers was stolen after office doors were broken down.
The man who said he could fire a shot at someone on Fifth Avenue, with no consequences, proved that he knew what he was talking about.
No Consequences.
The question then becomes, what happens next. Hopefully State and Federal charges will be made against trump; and he will end up in jail alongside his long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who was indicted for crimes committed for the benefit of Donald J. Trump. Rape, Sexual Assault, Bank Fraud, Insurance Fraud and whatever else ends up on the docket will need to be enough.

Give a Damn
Noel Stookey
©1971 Songbirds of Paradise Music
You remember the song called “Give a Damn” Some group sang last summer?
About people livin’ with rats and things the paper couldn’t cover?
Well, it wasn’t very popular Nobody wanted to hear
And that’s a shame ’cause a pretty tune Was just what we needed that year
The first thing nobody wanted to hear was “damn” – that was on the label
I mean it’s okay if you just read it there, but you didn’t bring it up at the table
So the radio didn’t play the song Except on the FM stations
Until some looter worked his way Down to the United Nations
Then word got around that there’s this song All about the riots and stuff
So, they played “Give A Damn” on the noon report Just once, but that was enough
Some cameraman with groovy footage of glowing embers and charred remains
Put the pictures with the song on the six o’clock news Following the baseball game
Then everybody said it was a real fine song “Why didn’t we hear it before?
Let’s all blame the radio stations for bringing on the domestic war

Oh sure, we’d seen some articles We knew some people needed help
But social workers take care of that I mean, why give a damn yourself?”
Well, the reason that you didn’t and the reason that you won’t
Is you think you got a lot to lose and the other fella don’t
Oh, you give a damn, well so does he ‘You think the rest of us are just fakin’?
I mean what do you need that you got to give Less than what you’re takin’?
Where could you go? Who could you see? What could you do the best?
The book is in your left hand Your right hand knows the address
Address your questions, address your money Address your telephone number But above all else, please address yourself to give a damn this summer.

More than 500,000 people have died from COVID-19

Studies show that 40% of the COVID-19 deaths did not need to occur. Had the 45th president made any real effort to address the Pandemic, hundreds of thousands would not have died.

I consider this to be unforgivable.

Too many government leaders consider this to be ‘business as usual’.

My Give a Damn has broken.

but…

Do not be daunted by the enormity
of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
-The Talmud

From Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait
“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history.”
That is what he said. That is what Abraham Lincoln said.
“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility.” [Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862]
He was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and lived in Illinois. And this is what he said. This is what Abe Lincoln said.
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country.” [Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862]
When standing erect he was six feet four inches tall, and this is what he said.
He said: “It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says ‘you toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.” [Lincoln-Douglas debates, 15 October 1858]
Lincoln was a quiet man. Abe Lincoln was a quiet and a melancholy man. But when he spoke of democracy, this is what he said.
He said: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of these United States, is everlasting in the memory of his countrymen. For on the battleground at Gettysburg, this is what he said:
He said: “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 226: A New Year in Pandemica Part 2

January 6, 2021

January 3, 2021

President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that legal scholars described as a flagrant abuse of power and a potential criminal act.
The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”

January 5, 2021

At 10:50 PST, ballots are being counted in Georgia. Jon Ossof leads David Purdue by 3500 votes. Raphael Warnock leads Sen. Kelly Loeffler by over 40,000 votes.
Tomorrow, Congress receives the Electoral Votes for the Presidential candidates.
On Wednesday, some of Trump’s GOP allies on Capitol Hill will attempt to block congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-to-232 victory in the electoral college—two weeks before Biden is set to take the oath of office.
Trump’s strategy represents a brazen attempt to overturn or “steal” the election, historians and political scientists agreed. Some said he is tiptoeing toward an “autogolpe,” a Spanish term popularized in Latin America to describe a “self-coup” attempted by leaders who came to power legally and acted outside the law to try to maintain it. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

This is the America we live in for another two weeks. Meanwhile, 357,377 Americans are dead because the president refuses to do his duty to the country by leading a plan to fight CVirus. He does not know how. But it isn’t his fault or failure… For the first time in his 75 years, he has become what is commonly called, ‘a loser’.

Adoration of the Magi and a Time Lord based on a painting by Norman Rockwell

By the time I finish this, it will Wednesday, January 6th; and it will also be the Feast of the Epiphany. The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on the 6th of January in Western tradition. This celebrates the coming of the Magi to the newborn infant.

The word epiphany comes from the Greek ἐπιφάνεια (epiphaneia) meaning to make manifest, to show forth, to appear. This was associated with the appearance of the Spirit at Jesus’ baptism and the voice of God making manifest the identity of Jesus as his Son (cf. Mark 1:11).
The gospel calls the men from the East who visited the Christ child μάγοι (magoi) meaning sage, wise or learned. They are first referred to as kings by the theologian Tertullian (160-220) who calls them fere reges (‘almost kings’ – because of their noble calling, representing the Gentiles paying homage to Christ and no doubt reflecting the Old Testament reference to kings in Psalm 71 (‘The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts’) which is used at the Mass of the Epiphany). The gospel does not say how many Magi there were; this tradition seems to have started with the theologian Origen (185-254) who assumes there must have been three kings because there were three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh).

http://jesuitinstitute.org/Pages/Liturgy/Epiphany.htm

Historically, this is when my wife and I give presents to our children. I grew tired of Christmas as celebrated in the US, long ago. Creator entering Time and Space as a single cell inside the womb of a teenaged girl, has ALWAYS been the gift.

“The letters of the name of God in Hebrew are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are unutterable. This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing. The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is the name of Being itself.”

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Your very existence, every breath, is an unceasing invitation to awaken to the reality of God. You inhale God and exhale God. Every breath is into and out of God. YHWH. Breathe, and your being calls out to the name of Being itself.
This also adds a whole new dimension to taking the name of God in vain. It’s about your life, your existence.

Jacob M. Wright

Historically, the three Magi are considered to be Kings. What better event for a Time Lord to attend…he is also a British Lord, in an investiture by Queen Victoria. Immediately followed by Victoria banishing The Doctor from Britain for consorting with that which should not be mentioned; and coinciding with the creation of the Torchwood Institute, dedicated to the protection of the Realm from Alien intrusion…

When life gets too crazy, I visit The Doctor.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 225: A New Year in Pandemica

December 31, 2020

By Michael Gerson for The Washington Post December 24, 2020

“One of the stranger elements of the strange Nativity narrative is the way an angel addresses Mary: “You who are highly favored.” As a teen mother, pregnant before marriage and destined to give birth among barn animals, she might have been forgiven for regarding this as angelic sarcasm. Fast forward three decades, and the most favored one will see her son executed among thieves before a jeering crowd.
“The whole Christmas story is pregnant with enigma and violated expectations. The Creator pulls on a garment of blood and bone. Almighty God is somehow present in a fragile newborn. The deliverer of humankind is delivered, slimy with vernix, in a place smelling of dung. If God can come here, amid the shame and straw, he can come anywhere. If God came here, he has come everywhere.”

The dumpster fire that was 2020 will still spread into 2021. But it will get better. Fighting fires takes a long time.

If vaccination for the COVID-19 virus continues as it has so far, it is projected that it will take 10 YEARS for the entire country [only the US] to be vaccinated. “Operation Warp Speed” has produced the same sort of vaccine results that his administration has accomplished over the last four years. One might be forgiven for thinking that the Keystone Kops have been running the show. Or Larry, Moe and Curly. One doesn’t bankrupt himself five times for being skillful with deadlines or productivity.

How to end this year that has denied so much, and cost so much…

Words from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

“The “Christ Mystery” is much bigger than Christianity as an organized religion. If we don’t understand this, Christians will have little ability to make friends with, build bridges to, understand, or respect other religions or the planet. Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time.
“Many Christians have a very limited understanding of Jesus’ historical or social message, and almost no understanding of the Cosmic Christ—even though it is taught clearly in Scripture (see John 1, Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, 1 John 1, Hebrews 1:1). Christ is often taught at the very beginning of Paul’s and other New Testament authors’ writings, yet we still missed it. But you can’t see what you were never told to look for. Once you do see the shape and meaning of this cosmic mystery of Divine Incarnation, you’ll be able to see that the Presence is everywhere—and the archetypal Jesus will not be such an anomaly, accident, or surprise.
“God is saving everything and everybody, it is all God’s emerging victory, until, as Paul says, “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). If Christ is truly the “savior of the world” (see John 4:42), then God’s shape, form, meaning, and message are all far bigger than any single religion. Talking to the intellectual Athenians, Paul is wise enough to say: “God is not far from any of us. It is in him [sic] that we live and move and have our very being” (Acts 17:28).”

For me, this has been a dismal Christmas season.

Social Distancing and Shelter at Home are my normal life habits. I miss being able to freely see family and friends; but I value these people so highly that I would not dare to infect someone simply because I wanted to see them in person.

A new Variant of CVirus is working its way across the globe. The Variant is significantly more infectious; so far, it does not seem to be any more deadly.

What has made this season so dismal is witnessing the callous disregard that the president and the senate has shown for the people they have sworn to represent. The violence that more-than-I-thought-possible have inflicted upon fellow citizens.

And worst of all, the Evangelical Church’s callous disregard of everything that Jesus taught about loving our neighbor and caring for the poor.

So as not to end this Chronicle on such a sour note, I offer the following illustration of what we need, moving forward:

Remember to hug, physically or symbolically, the ones we love; and carry a stick. My grandson loves sticks. They are useful tools for discovery.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 224: Xmas in Pandemica

December 24, 2020

I don’t know when American Christmas lost its meaning for me.

When I was a child, Christmas [as I remember it] was about getting pajamas instead of toys. Our extended family met at my maternal Grandparents’ house and ate Norwegian cookies. There was dinner food as well, but I was a kid.

I did not understand the Meaning of Christmas until my 4th year of college.

I have, for most of my life, seen Christmas in America as something that does not resemble the story in the Gospels…
This scene…

…is the result of the image above:
A sculpture representing the Massacre of the Holy Innocents

But this image does not go well with Christmas in America.

Joseph and Mary were refugees, fleeing their home because they were told by an angel to flee to Egypt. After the Magi left, Herod ordered that all Hebrew children under the age of 2 years old were to be slaughtered. The Magi told Herod that they were seeking the new King who had been born, based on their analysis of the stars. Later, when Herod had died, an angel told Jesus’ family that it was safe to return home.

I’ve never understood how a star, no matter how bright or unique, would enable three guys to figure out where the star pointed. I’ll credit the navigation to heavenly beings. By the time the Magi showed up in Bethlehem, Jesus might have been 2 years old [see paragraph above]. I have trouble imagining that Joseph and Mary were still hanging around the stable. It makes a great story. The image above is based on a painting by Norman Rockwell.

Then there’s this guy:

My wife and I always taught our children about Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in the Third Century, as opposed to Santa Claus. The legend of Saint Nicholas is that he supposedly gave money to the poor and left treats in the shoes of children left on the porches. How Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus is problematic. Largely a product of the United States.

We did Christmas while our children lived with us, tree, lights, etc. I honestly don’t remember whether or not we did lights on the outside of the house. My Mom lived with us for the last year of her life; she did not really know who we were. In time, she seemed to have the idea that I was her father. My Maternal gene pool is very strong, so it’s possible I looked like the grandfather I never knew. She came to live with us on a Christmas Eve and we had a tree and decorations for her benefit; she went Home to Creator on the following Christmas Eve. After the morticians left, we went to church; and people were shocked. Where else would we be? Has this affected my feelings about Christmas? I don’t think so, but the human psyche is difficult.

My first experience of Christmas in church, the first time it began to make sense to me, was in an African American church I had not planned on going to. I missed the bus; and was more than a little annoyed. A woman at the bus stop invited me to her church. A very different church experience than I’d had previously. I did not know that church services could last for two hours or more. I left early.

I don’t know what the ‘correct’ way of doing Christmas is supposed to be in a Pandemic. As I’m writing this, there are 18,236,614 Americans with CVirus. My daughter is struggling with her recovery from a ‘mild’ case of CVirus. There have been 322,832 American deaths by CVirus. 322,832 empty chairs at Christmas time. The notion that there are people who still believe CVirus is a hoax.

Vaccines are coming, but it may be summer of 2021 before every American is vaccinated. Deaths will continue, possibly at the same rate as present.

This year, I think this is my image of Christmas.
The Gift of the Magi

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 223: Everything is Connected

December 15, 2020
12/5/2020: California certified its election results, bringing the Biden
Electoral Votes to 276; assuring his election victory.
In 2016, Trump had 306 Electoral Votes.
In 2020 Biden received 306 Electoral Votes.
Biden received 7 million more votes than Trump.
Attorney General William Barr has stated that
there is no evidence of election fraud.
12/15/2020: State Electors Vote for Joe Biden

I avoided Avatar for a long while, primarily because of the Jarhead Colonel and his total lack of comprehension for any life but his own.
Sort of like humans today.
We live in a world where everything is connected; and we are too blind to see it.
We live in a Universe where everything is connected; and we are almost totally blind to its reality.
For years, I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy that explains my understanding of the Universe, and a life of Faith. I found what I was looking for by watching Avatar the other day.
For those unfamiliar with the film, the story takes place on the far distant planet, Pandora, far in the future. As with all examples of Manifest Destiny, the planet Pandora contains an incredibly valuable mineral called Unobtainable; a name, and a metaphor. The largest deposit of Unobtainable on Pandora is located under a Great Tree in the center of a forest amidst floating mountains. As with all examples of Manifest Destiny, earthlings who have created spacecraft and machines of War believe they can plow their way through any obstacle to get to the Unobtainable and steal it. [Manifest Destiny is a term coined in the early days of the European Occupation of the lands on which the America’s Indigenous peoples lived. An expression of belief that their occupation of lands belonging to others was, ‘ordained by god’]
The Indigenous population of Pandora, the Na’vi People, resembles, in terms of technology, the Lakota Sioux of 19th Century Earth. Defending themselves from gunships with arrows. Each of the Na’vi People has a nervous system that connects with all life on Pandora, animal and plant. “There be Dragons” on Pandora. For Dragon Riders, the bond between Dragon and Rider is permanent, once made. The Rider communicates with the Dragon by thought and the physical neurological connection between them.  
Manifest Destiny on Pandora is occurring by means of mercenaries commanded by the Colonel Jarhead mentioned above. Since the Indigenous People do not use technology, they are considered to be ‘savages’ that are in the way of the human armed heist. A repetition of the histories of the Americas and of Earth.
In order to ‘encourage’ the Indigenous population to relocate, ‘Avatars’ have been created to infiltrate the Na’vi People. These ‘Avatars’—living robots to a large degree—are inhabited by a human intelligence and personality, linked to an individual’s DNA. The Na’vi refer to these Avatars as, “Sky People” and they are looked upon with suspicion. Enter Jake; a soldier whose legs have been blown off in battle. Jake relies on a wheelchair to get around; by inhabiting the Avatar of his deceased brother, a scientist working to better understand this mysterious culture, Jake once again has working legs. He understands his job as a soldier; he learns how to live as a scientist understanding a different culture. In the story, Jake has his own destiny, one which he does not understand—Jake will be the One who will inhabit both worlds—for he has become a Na’vi by will of the Creator—his own world, and the world of these people connected to their planet, as one entity. 
The Na’vi are victorious in resisting the attack of the earthlings, but at tremendous cost. Unlike the intentions of the mercenaries of Earth, the Na’vi allow the mercenaries of Earth to leave Pandora.
Since numerous sequels to Avatar are in production at this time, no doubt the mercenaries will return, and the battle will start again.

The Universe is so large that we don’t even have words to describe it. Some astronomers believe there could be two trillion galaxies in the Universe, spanning an unknown distance. Our Milky Way galaxy has perhaps 200 billion stars; many of these stars will have solar systems; many of those solar systems will have planets; a fraction of which will be located a distance from their suns where life can exist.
I’ve been a designer for close to sixty years. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t draw. Designing stick figures on a sheet of paper, telling a story in my imagination. In time, I designed furniture for my shop class; then I started designing houses; and in time I designed schools. When I worked for the City of Portland, I analyzed the designs of architects building high rises, to ensure that the buildings were compliant with the Building Code.
This all took place when Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.
In this century, I started designing books and videos in addition to designing construction solutions for architects and building designers. In relatively recent years, I’ve had to design a new way to create illustrations, since my hands don’t work very well anymore.

After sixty years of exploration, I recognize design when I see it.

Creation is designed. I’m not referring to “Intelligent Design”—there is too much in Creation that defies logic—the appendix, for example. That open question that nearly took my life. The chicken and the egg. An Australian website claims to have solved the age-old question of ‘which came first’—”At some point, a different kind of egg began to evolve” as explanations go, that one is pretty lame. Why would a different kind of egg evolve? Do we owe our breakfasts to a evolutionary mistake?
There is no reasonable explanation as to how light-sensitive-skin cells in our genetic chain evolve into the wonder that is the human eye. I don’t have a problem with the idea that humans are incapable of understanding the intricacies of how we got here. The Human Genome Project has shown that the Human Genome has similarities to a wide variety of creatures on earth. As a designer, I use repetition whenever it is productive. Newly created things don’t have to be entirely original.
One of the problems that arise when people of Faith start talking about science, is that they let their religious belief system get in the way. Much of the theology of the White Evangelical Church is a system of theological ideas, mostly derived from an interpretation of Scripture, rather than Scripture itself. Frequently, these interpretations come from Prophecy; and seem to overlook the notion that, in Scripture, if the words of a Prophet did not come about, the Prophet was supposed to be stoned. I tend to think that some of the prophets were stoned, in the modern sense of the word.
Most people in the White Evangelical Church don’t do a lot of research through the historical documents that shape their belief systems. This practice is often discouraged by Pastors who seem to think that they have special powers of interpretation. The historical record—the actual documents that have been found, which shape these beliefs—is pretty sparse.

This above image is a photo of one of the oldest papyrus fragments that collectively became the Bible:
This page contains 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9
There is no punctuation. There are no spaces between letters. There are no verse numbers. “Papyrus 46 is one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts in Greek, with its ‘most probable date’ between 175 C.E.  and 225 C.E.—two to three centuries after the events took place. The document uses the abbreviated version of common divine names and words, a type of writing that began in the first century C.E. and referred to as nomina sacra. Words such as God, Jesus, cross, mother, Israel, and heaven are shortened from their conventional Greek.” 
Another text, The Codex Sinaiticus, or Sinai Book, is an ancient fourth century C.E. Bible, handwritten in the Greek language. This manuscript contains the Septuagint, a version of the Hebrew Old Testament, that was adopted by early Greek-speaking Christians, as well as being the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The pages are made of vellum parchment, or calfskin. The work is written in scriptio continua—without spaces between words.”

Hebrew script relies on a variety of added symbols for understanding. Greek does not include these added symbols. Therefore, the Septuagint is flawed, compared with the Hebrew text.
We live in a time unlike any other in the less-than-United States, one where objective truth is doubted by almost half of the American people. All because of an extremely successful propaganda campaign put into place in the last four years by the President of the United States [‘the President said it, therefore it must be true’]. Protests over the results of this year’s election occur every day, some violent, some threatening violence against State officials, the goal being an attempt to overturn a legitimate election, falsely described as ‘stolen’. The idea is held by 73 million voters. 80 million voters agree with the outcome.
This week, on 12/8/2020, the President’s hand-picked Supreme Court Justices, and all of the other Justices of the Court refused to hear the President’s suit to have the election overturned. Something like 49 other suits have been found to be without merit.
With Donald Trump losing the 2020 election and refusing to concede, and his ‘believers’ certain that COVID-19 is a hoax created by Progressive Liberal Democrats, it seems that there are a bunch of ‘prophets’ that need to be stoned.

 As I’ve watched the current election cycle unfold, I have seen what I’ve encountered for decades—people who seem to equate Creator with some sort of ‘fairy godfather’ who grants our wishes. This ‘fairy godfather’ apparently floats above the Earth, controlling the events on Earth. Despite help being called upon from ‘angels in South America and Africa’, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election. Despite a belief system that says COVID-19 is a hoax that was perpetrated by Progressive Liberal Democrats, over 3000 Americans died from COVID-19 yesterday. That number will be exceeded tomorrow. More people will die from CVirus every day than died on 9/11; and the CDC predicts that this will continue for months. The number of deaths that will exceed 300,000, could have been greatly reduced if half of the population believed that the wearing of face masks was a tool for public health, rather than an imposition upon individual liberty.

Imagine, if you can, a Universe that is entirely connected to an invisible ‘neurological system’ located outside Time and Space, one that we usually cannot perceive through our normal senses. This ‘system’ is the Spirit of Creator, available to all who desire to be ‘connected.’ This description is what I believe, because this is what I have experienced. I have no ‘proof’ beyond my experience.
Creator exists outside Time and Space. The words, ‘eternal’ and ‘omniscient’ and ‘omnipresent’ are in our vocabulary because these words refer to an experience outside of our normal understanding. I believe that all of Creation has been known from the moment of Creation; in such a manner that everything that happens, and has happened, and will happen, is known by Creator. Creator is never surprised by the events of our life. Not because Creator controls these events, but because Creator has known these events since the moment of Creation. Does Creator cause bad things to happen to us? No. Creator has known about CVirus since the moment of Creation. Did Creator create the virus? No. Viruses are part of the nature of living things. Not all viruses are ‘bad’; viruses enable immunity to occur, and CVirus is a virus transmitted from bats to humans. CVirus does not seem to harm bats and a growing number of other animals; it does harm humans. About 2% of the humans that are tested Positive for CVirus die. Many people that have been infected with CVirus have serious physical problems that take a long time to recover. Some people seem to think that a virus that does not kill 98% of its victims as something that is not worth the effort to avoid.

Until the victim is a beloved family member or friend.

Does Creator intervene in our lives? I have to say, ‘yes’, because there are events in my life that I cannot explain in any other way. Do these events happen often? No. Do these events occur because I am in some way, special? No. I believe these occurrences happen in my life as a ‘side effect’ from some other intervention into Time and Space, some other place. Sort of like a cosmic ‘twofer’. However, I cannot prove this assertion.
Thirty-plus years ago, our 5-year-old daughter was subject to painful earaches; a not-uncommon phenomenon. We had ear drops that normally reduced the pain; but this night it wasn’t happening. I tucked her into her bed, still crying. I checked-in with her, an hour or so later, and she was happily playing in her room. I asked her, ‘what happened to the earache?’

‘I asked Jesus to take the pain away, and He did.’ The faith of a child. 
Do I believe these ideas make sense to the general population? No. They only make sense to those who desire to better understand Creator.

A lot of religious people believe that their experience of god is the only way to believe; as if there are multiple gods in the heavens, and you select the god you want. Happens a lot in the White Evangelical Church. ‘Our way or the highway.’ My explanation is that there is only One Creator; and people use different names/addresses to contact the same place. A ‘place’ that is outside Time and Space.
There are four centuries of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Four hundred years with no Prophecies, no recorded interventions into human life. Creator apparently had nothing more to say to the people rescued from captivity. Believers would do well to remember this.

I am of the opinion that when Creator does attend to us humans, it’s more like picking up a rock in the yard and looking what is underneath that rock, than anything else. The Human Propensity to Foul things Up fills our millennia of warring upon each other. The savage warring that is occurring right at this minute; the abuse of children, the abuse of women, the abuse of those who do not have the power to overcome their adversaries. You and I are doing nothing to stop this savagery. We feel powerless.
Creator entered time and space in the form of a single cell implanted into the womb of a teenager; the young woman who gave birth to Jesus; the Man who came to us to show us a new way to live. Jesus ended the four centuries of silence and promised that through the Spirit of the Creator, we could change. And that we could stay in our brokenness, if that is what we want. Freedom from the jail cell that is locked from inside the cell.
The religious elite, who had power over the Jewish people, had Jesus murdered in the most shocking way that the Roman invaders had: Crucifixion. This death was to prove a point—Rome rules. Tyrants Rule. Autocrats Rule, unless they are voted out of office.
People want proof that there is Life on other planets, so that we will know we are not alone. Our knowing that we are not alone is one of the major accomplishments of Jesus’ short life on Earth. Creator entering Life on Earth. To prove we are not alone.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 222: Live Your Life in Such a Way That…

November 25, 2020

Saturday, November 7th I sent my adult children a portion of an MSNBC broadcast—Saturday evening, the day that Joseph R. Biden Jr. became President-Elect of the United States, church bells were ringing in Paris, there were fireworks in London. Dancing in the street in cities around the world—a new era in the governing of the United States. Governance based on Science, not Partisan Politics. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Devi Harris will have their hands full in the next years. It will take years to repair the damage done in the last 4 years. Damage that continues today, because the person currently behind the Resolute Desk is pouting and refusing to concede the election. He’s done such a good job of spreading propaganda for the last 4 years that nearly half the country believes the lies…
Propaganda is based on the idea that some specific entity is responsible for our problems. A story is told that has just enough ‘truth’ that someone will accept it as fact. That one political party is an enemy of ‘democracy’ and that the country’s news outlets are ‘enemies of the people’. The US Constitution differs in that perception:

First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or freedom of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. And yet, for most of 2020, peaceful assemblies have turned violent as two opposing sides fought to express their animosity; egged on by the man behind the Resolute Desk. More than two weeks have passed, and he still refuses to concede the election. Having lied and cheated already, he and his supporters tried to steal the election. People with Power could stop him; they apparently find value in the chaos. At least, General Services Administration confirmed that Biden is the probable winner, and his Transition can begin.

November 25, 2020, 6:30pm
12,769,915 CVirus infections in the US. 262,132 deaths. 178,750 new infections since yesterday. Statistically, the CVirus US death rate, per infections, is about 2.1%. 2.1% seems like a small number. 2.1% of 178,750 is 3,753 people who reported to a hospital somewhere in the country today and are now marked for death. A number in the thousands will be marked for death tomorrow.
“The most powerful man in the world” does not care. He’s too focused on the legal battles that will begin on January 20, 2021, when he is no longer the President of the United States. His indicted co-conspirator, the guy who says that he ‘knows where the bodies are buried’ because he ‘dug the holes,’ is certain that his boss will be joining him in an orange jumpsuit.

The largest voter turnout for a President at any point in American history resulted in 80,087,842 [51.1%] votes for Joe Biden; in contrast to the 73,903,127 [47.1%] people who voted for the current President’s reign to continue. The difference between the two numbers is 6,184,715. The Bush/Gore election that ended in the Supreme Court deciding for Bush, was over 500 contested Florida votes, not 6 million.
So, while 3,753 people were marked for death today [probably a large percentage of Republicans, who consider it ‘a violation of their civil liberties’ to wear masks], the President will do nothing to avert the deaths. He could, with a few phone calls, if he cared. He doesn’t. He cares about himself. And he convinced 74 million people that he was concerned about their lives. He isn’t concerned about anyone but himself.

Donald Trump skipped the G20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness” event to visit one of his golf clubs on the same day that a record 195,500 new Covid-19 infections were reported in a 24-hour period in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins.
The summit, attended by world leaders from across the globe, is being held virtually this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has now killed more than 250,000 Americans – by far the largest total in the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/21/donald-trump-g20-pandemic-golf-club

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

There are nights so dark, that the dawn is not merely distant, but beyond imagination.
These are the hours where grief lives, where fear rules, where truth lies exposed, like a wound.
Hope hides, peace is for others.The minutes extend, repeating the distress of the hours that went before, and every thought begins and ends in silence.
Let the light shine.
Watch for it falling on each other’s faces.
Count the beams, catch them, let them be reflected back.
See the hope, see the promise.
Never hide your fears in silence.
Listen to those you cherish.
Hold them in your arms.
Let them hear your heart.
Tell your truth. Tell your story.
Call the Midwife Series 8 Episode 8

Stories.
Our lives are told in stories.
Again, from Jupiter Ascending [2015]
Caine Wise:
“Okay. When I was in the Legion, they gave me protocols for this. It can be difficult for Terrsies, or people from underdeveloped worlds, to hear that their planet is not the only inhabited planet in the Universe. Protocol actually says that most Terrsies will say that this has to be a dream.”
Jupiter Jones:
“Yeah, because a dream is the only way any of this makes sense.”
Caine Wise:
“Compared to what? The idea that you’re the only intelligent species, on the only inhabitable planet in a universe so full of planets that you don’t even have a number to describe how many there are?

What isn’t mentioned above is the fact that there is a 360° repetition of the image.
Newton’s laws of motion are assumed to be applicable to our entire Solar System.
One translation of Newton’s laws reads:
Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.[14][b]
Law II: The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impress’d; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impress’d.[15][c]
Law III: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.[d][e]

The Laws of Physics are also assumed to be applicable throughout our Solar System.
It seems reasonable to assume that these laws are applicable within the Milky Way galaxy.
If they are applicable throughout our galaxy, it seems reasonable to presume that these laws are applicable throughout the Universe.

I’ve been a designer for close to sixty years. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t draw. Designing stick figures on a sheet of paper, telling a story in my imagination. In time, I designed furniture; then I started designing houses; and in time I designed commercial buildings. When I worked for the City of Portland, I checked the designs of architects, to ensure that the buildings were compliant with the Building Code. When I went out to inspect buildings, I discovered that carpenters don’t always follow the plans; and that the architects weren’t always paying attention to the progress on a project.
This was all taking place when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
In this century, I started designing books in addition to designing construction solutions for architects and building designers. In relatively recent years, I’ve had to design a new way to create illustrations, since my hands don’t work very well anymore. Nonetheless, I recognize design when I see it.

Space is HUGE; and we are so small.
These last 4 years have given new meaning to the smallness of some people.
Our nearly immense inability to ‘play nice with other people’ has been on prominent display for the months of this Pandemic, which gives no sign of stopping.
I’m tempted to blame this horrid time on one man. The reality is that we would not be in a state of chaos unless a very large portion of our American population had wanted to follow this man down a road that leads to death. This year has shown that people have a nearly infinite capacity to do harm to others, while bystanders across the street and across the world [thanks to the Internet], cheer on those who want to solve all of our problems with violence.
The horrid man has given us license, being the ‘most powerful man in the world,’ to be as ugly toward other people as we want.
A public health nurse is getting death threats because she ‘dares’ to tell the public that CVirus is a threat to the health of everyone…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/11/18/health-care-worker-threats-coronavirus/?arc404=true

We humans live in a small solar system in a low-rent district of a galaxy; a solar system so small that it can’t even be seen on the image above. The yellow dot representing our Sun is probably immensely out of scale.
I am of the opinion that our solar system has warning beacons that cover the exterior diameter of our solar system, warning intelligent species to avoid this place because we are infected by a Plague. A Plague that is far older than our CVirus Pandemic [one that apparently will be remarkably similar to the Pandemic my grandparents lived through].
There really isn’t a name for this Plague; greed, selfishness, prejudice, a lack of willingness to live with each other in peace. A desire for power, and the corruption power brings.
People in this country can’t wait until we are able to ‘get back to normal’—in my opinion, ‘normal’ sucked. We need to aim higher.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 221: Homeless Jesus

November 8, 2020

“The Problem We All Live With” is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell. An iconic image of the civil rights movement in the United States, it depicts Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African-American girl, on her way into an all-white public school in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1960, during the process of racial desegregation.
Kamala Devi Harris October 20, 1964 Oakland, California, U.S.
“…there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.

Today, November 7, 2020, the world is celebrating. Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been elected as the 46th President of the United States of America. Today, the first woman, and the first woman of color to be elected Vice President is Kamala Devi Harris.
On January 20, 2021, the 45th President “joins history’s bitter club of one-term presidents — those who were elected, served one full term, and were rejected by the American voters they had led for four years.” Washington Post
On January 20, 2021 the Department of Justice memo from the Nixon years, the memo that presents the opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, will no longer be in effect for the 45th President. The 45th President has already stated that he won’t be at the Inauguration. Will he be in the United States on that day, or will he be in a non-extradition country where he owns property? My guess is the latter; my hope is that he will be punished for all his crimes waiting for indictment. And they are many.

Celebration this day is entirely appropriate. America has been under siege for the last four years by its President, and a wide following of White Supremacists, whether or not they accept that definition of their character.
To quote a letter to the White Evangelical Church, as written by John Pavlovitz:
“…They see that all you’re really interested in doing is making a God in your own ivory image and demanding that the world bow down to it. They recognize this all about white, Republican Jesus—not dark-skinned Jesus of Nazareth.
“And I know you don’t realize it, but you’re digging your own grave in these days; the grave of your very faith tradition.
“Your willingness to align yourself with cruelty is a costly marriage. Yes, you’ve gained a Supreme Court seat, a few months with the Presidency as a mouthpiece, and the cheap high of temporary power—but you’ve lost a whole lot more.
“You’ve lost an audience with millions of wise, decent, good-hearted, faithful people with eyes to see this ugliness. You’ve lost any moral high ground or spiritual authority with a generation. You’ve lost any semblance of Christlikeness. You’ve lost the plot. And most of all you’ve lost your soul
.”

Homelessness is a major issue in Portland, Oregon, my home for nearly seventy years.

Homeless Jesus

“A new religious statue in the town of Davidson, N.C., is unlike anything you might see in church.
“The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes.
“Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away.
“The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn’t.
“One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by,” says David Boraks, editor of DavidsonNews.net. “She thought it was an actual homeless person.”
“That’s right. Somebody called the cops on Jesus.
“Another neighbor, who lives a couple of doors down from the church, wrote us a letter to the editor saying it creeps him out,” Boraks added.
“Some neighbors feel that it’s an insulting depiction of the son of God, and that what appears to be a hobo curled up on a bench demeans the neighborhood.
https://www.npr.org/2014/04/13/302019921/statue-of-a-homeless-jesus-startles-a-wealthy-community

Matthew 8, Aramaic Bible in Plain English
19 One scribe came near and said to him, “Rabbi, I shall come after you, wherever you go.” 20 Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have lairs and birds of the sky have shelters, but The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Maybe it’s different in Davidson, North Carolina, but the statue seems to match Jesus’ self-description. As I’ve written in other places, somehow the White Evangelical Church believes that following Jesus means living in wealth and privilege, while much of the world starves.
As I write this, 3:00am on November 8, 2020, 9,861,898 Americans are infected with COVID-19 [CVirus]; 237,123 Americans have died. For the fourth consecutive day, a single-day record in the hundreds of thousands of new cases was set for coronavirus, with more than 134,000 reported.
Statistically, in the US, the CVirus death rate is about 2.7% of those who are found to be infected. A number like 2.7% seems pretty small, until 100,000 people per day test positive. 700,000 times 2.7% equals something like 17,500 deaths per week. As long as Americans keep behaving as we have done for the last 8 months, the death rates will continue to increase.

The same man that has been ridiculing face masks for the last 8 months continues his ridicule today; and will probably continue for the 10 weeks he remains in office. The example raised for nearly half of the voting adults in the country. The man who learned in February of this year that CVirus is deadly, and that if one is the ‘wrong person’ there is no hope for their survival. These comments are all on tape, in his own words. Perhaps he likes the power of killing people with no effort on his part. Especially when they applaud and chant about the opportunity to die in his presence.In the days of the Roman Empire, slaves who were to die in the ‘games’ are said to have saluted the Emperor with, “We who are about to die, salute you.” Maybe nothing has changed.
If only our wannabe Emperor could be forced to spend a week in an ICU unit in a hospital, when COVID patients are brought in by the hundreds each day. Where the hospital staff sends a patient home to die, because they have no room for treating the most tragic patients. Or they leave the patient in a parked ambulance, waiting for the victim to die; after which the body is packed into a refrigerator truck because the morgue is full.

This is Trump’s America.

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The new congregation is gathered in a barn in Lenoir City, Tenn., with a roof that has a 60-foot American flag painted on it. And they are praying for a Trump landslide.
Standing in a circle, the dozen or so men and women, young and old, lay their hands on their pastor, Ken Peters, as he raises their requests to God.
He prays that “communism and socialism and transgenderism and homosexuality and abortion will not have their way in this land.”
“Yes, Lord,” someone cries.
He prays that the nation’s “Christian roots” will remain, that the church of Jesus Christ will be a “restraining power.”
“God, this nation is a miracle for you,” Peters continues. “You rescued us, and you gave us our independence for a purpose.”
After another “amen,” the service begins with everyone’s hands raised to “Here I Am to Worship,” a popular contemporary Christian song performed in many evangelical churches.
This is a Patriot Church, part of an evolving network of nondenominational start-up congregations that say they want to take the country back for God. While most White conservative Christian churches might only touch on politics around election time and otherwise choose to keep the focus during worship on God, politics and religion are inseparable here. The Tennessee congregation is one of three Patriot Churches that formed in September. The other two are near Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and in Spokane, Wash., and Peters says he is talking with several more pastors of existing churches who want to join them.
The 50 or so people in attendance may identify as born-again or just as generic “Bible-loving” Christians. Peters’s flock is not affiliated with a specific denomination, but it does have a distinct identity. The Patriot Churches belong to what religion experts describe as a loosely organized Christian nationalist movement that has flourished under President Trump. In just four years, he has helped reshape the landscape of American Christianity by elevating Christians once considered fringe, including Messianic Jews, preachers of the prosperity gospel and self-styled prophets. At times, this made for some strange bedfellows, but the common thread among them is a sense of being under siege and a belief that America has been and should remain a Christian nation.
From his lectern during the worship service, Peters rails against perceived attacks on First Amendment freedoms, decrying government mandates and calling masks “face diapers.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/10/26/trump-christian-nationalism-patriot-church/

This too is Trump’s America.

It would be presumptuous of me to define what I think Jesus’ America would be, because it would not be America. Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph would not have known that the Americas even existed. Jesus the Son of Creator, knew about the Americas, but we have no evidence that the single cell implanted in the womb of the teenager named Mary, the fiancée of Joseph the carpenter, grew into a man that knew the future. Jesus said that even He did not know when the time of Judgement would be. The point at which the Earth would be made new. And yet, there are White Evangelical Church members who know that the End Times are coming soon. Apparently because the people of the Twentieth Century did all that they could do, to ruin Earth; perhaps irrevocably. However, Scripture does not say that we get out of here alive. There are interpretations of Biblical prophecy that claim we get out of here alive; these are interpretations that have been made by very fallible men.

Megachurch pastor and televangelist Paula White-Cain, who is spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump, delivered a prayer service Wednesday night in an effort to secure Trump’s reelection.
During the service, which was streamed on Facebook Live, White-Cain called on “angelic reinforcement” from the continents of Africa and South America.
“I hear a sound of victory, the Lord says it is done,” she said. “For angels have even been dispatched from Africa right now… In the name of Jesus from South America, they’re coming here.”
White-Cain also stated that “demonic confederacies…are attempting to steal the election from Trump.” As of Thursday morning, Joe Biden had 264 electoral votes and Trump 214, according to USA TODAY counts.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/11/05/paula-white-trumps-spiritual-adviser-african-south-american-angels/6173576002/

To quote the immortal Inigo Montoya [The Princess Bride], and the sound of victory:
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 220: his ghastly illusion

October 18, 2020

Picture to yourself a man who has risen to wealth or power by a continued course of treachery and cruelty, by exploiting for purely selfish ends the noble motions of his victims, laughing the while at their simplicity; who, having thus attained success, uses it for the gratification of lust and hatred and finally parts with the last rag of honour among thieves by betraying his own accomplices and jeering at their last moments of bewildered disillusionment. Suppose, further, that he does all this, not (as we like to imagine) tormented by remorse or even misgiving, but eating like a schoolboy and sleeping like a healthy infant-a jolly, ruddy-cheeked man, without a care in the world, unshakably confident to the very end that he alone has found the answer to the riddle of life, that God and man are fools whom he has got the better of, that his way of life is utterly successful, satisfactory, unassailable …. Supposing he will not be converted, what destiny in the eternal world can you regard as proper for him? … Even mercy can hardly wish to such a man his eternal, contented continuance in such ghastly illusion.
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain [1940]

At the NBC Town Hall, the President Demonstrated That He Is Completely Insane

NBC was kind enough to broadcast to the world, yet again, that the President of the United States is completely insane. At one point during a town hall in Miami on Thursday night, Donald Trump explained that he shared a conspiracy theory with his 87 million Twitter followers alleging Joe Biden helped orchestrate the killing of Seal Team 6 members—to cover up that the Osama bin Laden assassination was, in this formulation, faked—on the following basis: “That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody. And that was a retweet. I put it out there, people can decide for themselves.” Elsewhere here, the president was able to simply denounce white supremacy this time, having kicked off a flurry of excitement and activity among the right-wing paramilitary set with his inability to do so two weeks ago. It’s a low bar, sure, but he failed to clear one of similar height when it came to a question on QAnon. But even beyond the nutso elements—on whether he got tested before the last presidential debate, the president offered, “I test quite a bit, I test all the time, I don’t even remember, I probably did, I possibly didn’t”—there is the more basic element that the president does not have any goals or plans for the country he’s asking to lead for four more years.              By Jack Holmes  , Oct 16, 2020

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a34388971/nbc-town-hall-trump-recap/

Tonight, my adult daughter, 1000 miles away, is crying and trying to keep her emotions together as she struggles with a ‘mild’ case of COVID-19. She alternates between fevers, nausea, dizziness, and now the thing that thousands of COVID-19 infected people deal with: they call it COVID Brain-Fog. My daughter has always had confidence in her highly trained brain, which at the moment has trouble remembering simple tasks. She dare not hug her 18-year-old daughter at the other end of the house, who hasn’t displayed any symptoms. They text across the house, and when they need to be in the same room, they both wear masks.
My daughter was infected by her husband, a Long-Haul-Trucker who thought he had caught a cold. Now he’s gutting-it-out driving to Maine and back, eventually to Colorado. He is masked every time he leaves the truck. He apparently caught the COVID-19 virus in Texas, where he spent time with friends.
My daughter has been in Colorado for a long time; I am still her father, and I am angry with every idiot in this country who ridicules mask-wearing. Over 8 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and more than 220,000 deaths. Our so-called President refuses to accept any responsibility for these deaths, and he does not even acknowledge the deaths. He does not acknowledge the refrigerator trucks at hospitals across the country, because the dead outnumber the refrigerators in the Morgue. He does even acknowledge the mass graves in New York City.

Mass Graves in the United States.

We have become one of “the shithole countries” the President talked about in 2018.

LBJ: 40,000 dead in Vietnam

Trump views 200,000 Covid-19 deaths as a PR problem. We should view them as someone’s loved one

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah
(CNN) On Monday, [9/21/2020] with the US on the verge of reaching the solemn number of 200,000 dead from Covid-19, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News where the topic of the virus was raised. Did Trump express sympathy for the heartbreaking losses caused to families across the nation from this deadly pandemic? Nope, instead he patted himself on the back for doing what he called “a phenomenal job” in handling Covid-19, giving himself an “A+.” The only criticism Trump would offer was regarding the public relations for the virus, saying in that area, “I give myself a D.” He blamed the low grade on “fake news.”
…they all deserve a better response from the President. They are not a PR crisis to be managed—they were someone’s loved one. They were beloved mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. They were grandparents who taught their grandchildren about life, teachers who made students smarter, coaches who pushed their players to be better, deli owners who remained open so neighborhoods would have food during lockdowns. They were doctors, nurses, police officers and others who worked while many of us were able to stay safe in our homes. They were the apple of someone’s eye, a soul mate, a reason for living. The people who died were not only like us, they often were the best of us.

U.S. Records 70,000 New Cases in a Day for the First Time Since July [10/17/2020]

Epidemiologists warn that nearly half of the states are seeing surges unlike anything they experienced earlier in the pandemic.

How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have spread coronavirus across the Upper Midwest
Within weeks of the gathering that drew nearly half a million bikers, the Dakotas, along with Wyoming, Minnesota and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita…The surge was especially pronounced in North and South Dakota, where cases and hospitalization rates continued their juggernaut rise into October.
Experts say they will never be able to determine how many of those cases originated at the 10-day rally, given the failure of state and local health officials to identify and monitor attendees returning home, or to trace chains of transmission after people got sick. Some, however, believe the nearly 500,000-person gathering played a role in the outbreak now consuming the Upper Midwest.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/17/sturgis-rally-spread

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 218: To Look at the Stars, and Know that We are Not Alone

October 8, 2020

The Present:
I’m stuck with a new version of WordPress; because “it is better”
In my opinion, which I pay WordPress for, it sucks.

The President has been infected with COVID-19. The Virus he’s been lying about since February, when he learned the COVID-19 is deadly [Bob Woodward has the tape]. The Virus the President did nothing to quell until mid-March.  
If the United States had begun imposing social distancing measures one week earlier than it did in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak, according to new estimates from Columbia University disease modelers.
And if the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than most people started staying home, the vast majority of the nation’s deaths — about 83 percent — would have been avoided, the researchers estimated. Under that scenario, about 54,000 fewer people would have died by early May.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/20/us/coronavirus-distancing-deaths.html

The Virus Trump has been ridiculing for months; to the point where Trump supporters today still refuse to wear masks; even though their Leader is infected. No one knows exactly how bad the President’s infection is, because ‘the White House’ by choice, cannot be trusted to tell the Truth. The SUV in which the President, against doctor’s orders, decided to take for a drive to New Jersey is hermetically sealed to protect against gas attacks. It is air-tight. The Secret Service agent in front of the President, as well as any other individuals in the SUV are breathing the air in the President’s lungs and are probably infected with COVID-19. It is unlikely that they will be treated with the experimental drugs and steroids being used on the President.
The President has shown over the last 4 years that he has no more appreciation for the Secret Service agents sworn to protect his life than the children still rotting in ICE cages. And religious people throughout the country believe that the President has been blessed by god. As of today, the man who has said he has no need to repent, because he has never done anything wrong, says that his COVID diagnosis was a ‘blessing from god’. His niece and his sister have stated on tape, that Trump has no use for religion…
From J. H. McKenna, Ph.D:
Jesus did not arrive to lecture and berate the righteous or the virtuous or the upright or the honorable.  He said so himself. It’s sinners Jesus wants. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
At the right moment, in the fullness of time (as is said) Jesus would come to earth with an antique message, not for good people, but for bad people, for people who need to repent in order to become good people…
In other words, from all eternities past, God conceived a religion precisely with Donald Trump in mind. So why hasn’t Donald Trump repented and converted to Christianity? (Don’t pretend he has.)  Why does Trump resist a religion invented precisely for him?
Can his Evangelical enthusiasts help him to an authentic, remorseful penitence? What could a repentant, truly reformed Trump look like?  Can we imagine Donald Trump becoming an honest, humble, humorous, charming, generous, open, self-deprecating moral titan?
Can the religion of Jesus, engineered with Trump in mind at least several billion years ago, actually snag Mr. Trump and save him and reform him and better him and allow him plenty of years ahead to perform restitution for his long, long, indeed life-long, slog through all the categories of sin?
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/humanistplus/2020/08/will-trump-repent-in-time

Tonight, at the Vice-Presidential debate, Mr. Pence proved that he can sling BS as well as his boss. As of one hour ago, according to the Johns Hopkins website, 7,549,429 living Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and 211,793 Americans have died. Those infected but not yet hospitalized suffer each day, to restore the life they had last year.
“The first claim that Vice President Pence made in the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday night was not true. He claimed that President Trump had “suspended all travel from China” in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. The travel restrictions were sufficiently porous that nearly 40,000 people traveled from China to this country after the restrictions went into place…
Pence attempted to defend Trump’s record on the pandemic — and his own, given that he’s ostensibly in charge of the response — by pretending that a challenge to the administration’s record was somehow a disparagement of the public.
“When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn’t worked,” Pence charged, “that’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made.”
I mean, you work with what you’ve got. But this seems unlikely to work as a strategy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/07/all-honest-politicians-are-same-each-member-trumps-ticket-is-dishonest-his-own-way

 

I’m not sure how much further into absurdity this country can fall.

 
   

The Future:
The best part of the movie, Jupiter Ascending:
Caine Wise: It can be difficult for Terrans, or people from underdeveloped worlds, to hear that their planet is not the only inhabited planet in the Verse.
Jupiter Jones: Has to be the anesthesia. I mean, it’s gotta be a dream.
Caine Wise: The Protocol actually says that most Terrans will say that this has to be a dream.
Jupiter Jones: Yeah, because a dream is the only way any of this makes sense.
Caine Wise: Compared to what? The idea that you’re the only intelligent species, on the only habitable planet, in a universe so full of planets that you don’t even have a number to describe how many there are?

NOT SCIENCE FICTION

COSMOS-AzTEC-1

A newly mapped [2018] starburst galaxy labeled COSMOS-AzTEC-1 – located 12.4 billion light-years away, in the early universe – is now known to be forming stars 1,000 times faster than our Milky Way. It’s also been found to have star-forming regions not in its galactic center, but in vast clouds located off-center by several thousand light-years. [Emphasis added]How these galaxies have been able to amass such a large quantity of gas in the first place and then essentially turn the entire gas reserve into stars in the blink of an eye, cosmologically speaking, was a completely unknown question about which we could only speculate. We have the first answers now.
https://earthsky.org/space/starburst-galaxy-cosmos-aztec-1-unstoppable-monster

Why is this important?
This is an image of a galaxy as it was, 12.4 Billion years ago. Two years ago, it became known that the galaxy is forming stars 1,000 times faster than our Milky Way.

The idea that you’re the only intelligent species, on the only habitable planet, in a universe so full of planets that you don’t even have a number to describe how many there are?

Look at the night sky on a clear night where city lights cannot be seen. Each of those points of light is a solar system in the Milky Way galaxy. Creator may still be forming stars from cosmic gas. The number defies counting.

In another 20 years, the current President will be dead [at 94 and morbidly obese].
My granddaughter, preparing to vote in her first Election, will be nearly as old as her mother is now.
The United States of America will hopefully still exist.

The Earth may not be habitable in 20 years [2040]. The oceans will have new ‘sea levels’ due to the melting of our Ice Caps. There may only be portions of the continents in their most extreme distances that are habitable. Global Warming/Climate Change is Real. Bangladesh is largely under water due to typhoons.
In every election for every office from now onward, we Earthlings need to elect people who respect science, and rely on the wisdom of experts, if we are to survive.

I know people who believe that Climate Change isn’t important because Jesus is Returning Soon. Jesus, all of the Creator that could be stuffed into a human, did not know when He would return. The Return/Second Coming is an interpretation based on a handful of verses from the New Testament, the Revelation of John, in particular.
 1 John 2:18 in Aramaic [the language used in Jesus’ time]
My sons, it is the end time, and as you have heard that something will come; the false anointed one, and also now, for, there are many false anointed ones, and from this we know it is the end of time.

As near as I can tell, Time for Earth did not end two Millenia ago. The author of 1st John was making a prediction based on what he knew at the time.
What scientists know is that we have a limited amount of time for keeping Earth habitable. This was the purpose of the Paris Agreement that our President dumped shortly after he took office.
How late is too late for policies to have a reasonable likelihood of achieving the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree goal in 2100? Assuming a moderate mitigation strategy, a 2-degree warming threshold, and accepting a 67% likelihood of remaining below the threshold, the Point of No Return will arrive in the year 2035.
https://environment-review.yale.edu/too-little-too-late-carbon-emissions-and-point-no-return

There are other dates, dependent upon mitigation strategies and the rising of the Ocean due to melting glaciers.
Only the Creator knows our planet’s future.
If we are wise, we can help heal the planet. This is the job Jesus set out for us.

Stewardship

for Malakai


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