Archive for the ‘self-employment’ Category

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 193: The Wind of our soul… Part Three

June 8, 2019

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of the Creator
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Yeah, I’m getting mileage out of this image…it did take a while to finish.
This coming Sunday, June 6th, is called Pentecost Sunday in a majority of Christian denominations.

The Christian holy day of Pentecost, which is celebrated on the eighth Sunday after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31). In Christian tradition, this event represents the birth of the early Church.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost

I don’t plan these writings ahead of their writing, so, if there is some Planning involved in the image above happening at this time, the Planning isn’t mine. I don’t live my life by Church holy days. Some people do. The Monday following Pentecost is the beginning of Ordinary Time, in the liturgical calendar. In terms of religion, I consider most of my life to be in Ordinary Time, hence the title of this blog. Even after forty-six years on this Faith journey, I mostly consider myself to be a ‘converted pagan’ rather than the member of some denomination… I know a lot of people who would define themselves as a Lutheran or a Presbyterian. Technically I am still a Presbyterian Elder—apparently a lifetime ordination. I haven’t been to a Presbyterian church in a long time.

A few days ago I read an article in the Atlantic, describing the journey of Mike Pence to the White House: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/gods-plan-for-mike-pence/546569

The article raises the question I keep asking, as politics works its way deeper into the life of Faith—how do people reconcile the “porn-star President” that is applauded by evangelical leaders; and the clear teachings of Jesus? The President will be prosecuted for his crimes, eventually. The breadth of his crimes grows weekly as investigations continue. Mueller was simply one investigator.

“At least 14 Democratic-led House committees have been investigating various aspects of President Donald Trump’s businesses, campaign and his presidency since the beginning of this year, an NBC review shows. In all, those committees have launched at least 50 probes into Trump world.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/house-investigations-trump-his-administration-full-list-n1010131

“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not… Robert S. Mueller III

The Justice Department may be unwilling to indict a sitting President; but that condition will change. The Constitution guarantees that he won’t always be President, in spite of what he may think. When the change occurs, there will be a lot of people who will attempt to justify their support of the man—this always occurs when wrong-doing is discovered. It starts in childhood, when we lie about who ate the cookies… My guess is that evangelical leaders will lie and say that they did not realize what kind of man he is, because he was so skillful in hiding his faults…Perhaps some will confess that they chose politics over Faith. I don’t expect to see much of this; I’m cynical.

From Os Guinness:
“…a few years ago, my son and I were in Singapore, Southeast Asia’s vibrant “intelligence island.” An economist from the University of Singapore was outlining his vision of the post-Cold War era world from the perspective of the Pacific Rim. His argument was unambiguous.
“What we in Singapore want,” he said, “is the modern world, not the West. We want the Asian way, not the American way. We want to follow Confucius, not Christ.” Continuing, he explained, “Having given rise to the modern world, the Jewish and Christian faiths have now been reduced to ruins by the modern world.” Asian countries, he concluded, should take a different path. They should pursue the best opportunities of modern capitalism, industrialized technology, and telecommunication within the setting of their own beliefs and cultures…”
…the modern world quite literally “manages” without God. We can do so much so well by ourselves that there is no need for God, even in his church. Thus, we modern people can be profoundly secular in the midst of explicitly religious activities. Which explains why so many modern Christian believers are atheists unawares. Professing to be believers in supernatural realities, they are virtual atheists; whatever they say they believe, they show in practice that they function without practical recourse to the supernatural. An Australian business leader once told me when he shared his faith with a Japanese CEO, the response was dismissive: “Whenever I meet a Buddhist leader, I meet a holy man in touch with another world. Whenever I meet a Christian leader, I meet a manager at home only in this world like I am.”

There is another world. We all have the capacity to live in this other world, because the ‘instrument of change’ is already inside us. Can we take everything we are, into this other world? Probably not. For me, living in this other world requires, among many other things, that I become more compassionate toward strangers. I can do this for short periods of time; I have yet to be able to live this way all the time.

The Spirit of the Creator lives in all of us; and possibly empowers the soul. I believe that the Creator has known the entirety of our lives since the Creation of the World. The Creator lives in Kairos time; not in Chronos time, as we do. Unlike many of the Creator’s followers, the Creator does not demand our belief. At the same time, if we ask the Creator for help in changing the person that we are, the Help will be here. But no magic. Change requires time, and a desire to change.

…and the monstrous creatures of whales_3.1

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #17: Self-Image, Part 2

You will most likely become the person you tell yourself you are. This is sort of how it works. We become the person we expect to be. If you don’t like the person you are now, you need start changing the way you talk to yourself; talking the person you want to be, into existence.
This sounds like a platitude from a Self-Help book [and it is]; however, I was able to do it myself. Have I arrived at some mystical level of the Universe? Nope.

I dislike encounters with absolute strangers.
Consequently, I live in a forest.

My forest happens to be located in suburban Portland…
I’m sure that neighbors complain about our lowering of the neighborhood property values;
I really don’t care.

Thankfully, I have a son that is willing to keep the yard from getting totally overgrown. I built the house right after I graduated with my degree in Architecture. I knew nothing about building houses, and truth told, I knew little about designing houses. I built the house for my parents, planted all the trees and shrubs that didn’t magically appear on their own. We live on the side of a volcano [Portland is surrounded by volcanoes]; the ground underneath the topsoil is pure clay. Since I knew nothing about building a house, I did not instruct the excavator to set the topsoil aside, when the hole for the foundation was dug. Consequently, our topsoil ended up underneath 2000sf of clay. Every ‘growie’ I planted was placed in a separate ‘pot’ dug into the clay and rooted itself into the potting soil I made, filling in the hole. After that, I was done with landscaping. I’d kept my parents’ yards in line since elementary school.

I digress.

My first job placed me in front of customers all day long, in a lumber yard. I hated it. We paid bills and ate because of that job. I did not want to work for an architect. Eventually, I started a construction company and began associating with people who wanted to better themselves. My construction company eventually died; and I ended up working for the Bureau of Buildings in Portland, assigned to the Permit Center. A new customer every 20 minutes; most of whom did not want to be there. I didn’t want to be there either.

I hyperventilated in the rest room on breaks. I ate lunch by myself every day, listening to relaxing music. I drew; I wrote in journals. I came to work late and went home late—it was a good way to avoid people.

Benjamin Franklin carried a diary with him every day. In that diary was a grid listing Personality Traits he wanted to achieve. He marked down, each day, whether or not he had improved in acquiring his Personality Traits, or whether he’d blown it entirely.

I followed his example. It works.

I read self-help books and listened to self-help stories every day for five years. I mostly did not watch television or movies [back when dinosaurs ruled the earth]. Every day, self-help input. If you read something often enough, it is possible to believe it. I did not believe myself into wealth through selling stuff. My goal was comfort with people; especially with certain people I admired, but rarely met. A different story.

I worked in the Permit Center for nine years. By the time I gave myself permission to go upstairs and review commercial plans for multi-story buildings, I was teaching classes. After I left the City to become a consultant, I taught classes for architects and engineers. When I went into sales, I taught classes in stuff I really didn’t know all that well, sometimes using interpreters…I’d say three sentences, and it sounded like I had said far more, when it came from the interpreter. I have no idea what I supposedly said.

I did not change my aversion to strangers. I learned to get past my aversions and practice new behaviors.

Sherlock’s Mind

This is all metaphor.
Inside the maze of nerves and neurons and electro-chemicals that make up our minds, we have two hamster wheels. At some point in our lives, nearly everyone gets stuck on the hamster wheel. There are two hamster wheels—the one we use most often has gotten dingy from staying in the dark attic of our painful memories; the other wheel is new and shiny because it hardly gets used, and Mrs. Hudson comes on a regular basis to keep the lighted attic room clean.

The two wheels are next to each other. Going from the dark and dingy part of our brain to the clean and bright part of our brain ‘simply’ requires that we stop running our static-filled brain and stepping across to the light side of our brain. We can climb onto the shining hamster wheel and jog in the sunshine of our mind.

It is an act of the will.

You can do this; it isn’t easy. It’s simply doable.
With a lot of work and determination, you can become a new you.
You have to change the way you think. You need to continually reduce the negative self-talk and learn positive self-talk. You are going to talk to your mind all of the time anyway; learn new ways to think.

Changing the way we think, in this world, with ALL of its problems, is incredibly hard; but it can be done. We are surrounded by people on the Hero’s Quest who are working to make a better future.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 192: The Wind of our soul… Part Two

June 2, 2019


The Spirit of the Creator
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Last time I wrote about the Star Wars aspect of the above image…
We are not ‘a long time ago’ nor ‘far away’.
We are here, and now. Governed by an American government that is every bit as corrupt as the Galactic Empire. The Rebel Alliance here seems to have trouble getting their stuff together.

A question raised by Season Four of Madame Secretary: why would one follow the Muslim path when the world hates you? The question in that story is brought about by the plight of the Rohingya People; and the plight of the Muslim people in Palestine; the Muslim people in China; the Muslim people in the Middle East and across the globe. The Muslim people in the United States of America. Here we celebrate ‘Freedom of Religion’ while our President wants to ban all Muslim people from our country.

This was the same question raised about the first followers of Jesus. Why would you believe, when to believe means that you will die as entertainment in the Roman Coliseum?

I believe there is one Creator of the entire Universe. The God that the Muslim people pray to, five times a day, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the One God of the Jewish race; the One God of those who follow the Christian Way. I believe that anyone who worships the Eternal, who worships the Divine, worships the One God, worships with equal devotion, regardless of the name they pray to. The Jewish nation was taught that the Name of the Creator is unpronounceable. The Name of the Creator in Hebrew, if this Name was ever written, uses characters that are four ‘breath’ sounds, in Hebrew; the Name of our Creator is the sound of our breathing.

The Creator is within every person who has ever lived; the Gift given to all; but understood by so very few. When I asked the Creator into my life, there were no ‘tongues of fire’—not even a business card falling from the sky. Nothing entered me from the outside. I simply became ‘woke’. I experienced some of the ‘religious circus’ stuff in the years that followed, but nothing came into me from the outside.

The Creator gives us the power of Choice, Knowing the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up. The Creator gives us the Choice to see the world with new eyes [the actual meaning of the word translated as repent]. And yet, so many encounter a religion that divides people by rules.

Some Biblical language instruction:
In the Hebrew scriptures, aka The Tanakh, Creation happens by means of the Spirit of the Creator, who is described as ‘ruach,’ a wind…

Hebrew | ruach: breath, wind, spirit | Original Word: רוּחַ |Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: ruach | Phonetic Spelling: (roo’-akh) | Definition: breath, wind, spirit

The New Testament was written in Greek [or translated from the Aramaic, into Greek]. In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit of God promised by Jesus arrives among the followers of Jesus in the sound of a rushing wind, with ‘tongues of fire’ [there are no mentions of fires being started, or people being injured by flames]. The Greek word for ‘wind’ is pneuma [from which we get the word ‘pneumatic’]…

Πνεῦμα
Greek | pneuma: wind, spirit | Original Word: πνεῦμα, ατος, τό | Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: pneuma | Phonetic Spelling: (pnyoo’-mah) | Definition: wind, spirit, breath

In traditional Chinese culture, qi or ch’i is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity…

qi
Qi translates as “air” [wind] and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force“, or “energy flow“. Qi is the central underlying principle in Chinese traditional medicine and in Chinese martial arts. The practice of cultivating and balancing qi is called qigong.

If humans miraculously survive for another thousand years, Star Wars will have become a legend, as well as a fantasy. The Star Wars saga may become a fairy tale read to children [possibly Star Trek, as well…].
The stories found in Holy Books will become a thousand years older…
Here’s where I get in trouble, according to many:
While the Tanakh and the New Testament, are said to be ‘the Word of God’, it is important to realize that when the events described in these books occurred, there were no journalists, no voice recorders, no pencils for that matter, nor were there notepads.

   It was not unusual for ancient narratives, poetry and rules to have been transmitted orally for several generations before being committed to writing. Before the Aramaic-derived modern Hebrew alphabet was adopted circa the 5th century BCE, the Phoenician-derived Paleo-Hebrew script was used instead for writing, and a derivative of the script still survives to this day in the form of the Samaritan script…The oldest manuscripts discovered yet, including those of the Dead Sea Scrolls, date to about the 2nd century BCE. The common traditional dating of the Pentateuch suggests it was written between the 16th century and the 12th century BCE…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Hebrew_writings

In short, men [probably] whose only job was memory, told stories around campfires; and it was believed that these stories told the histories of people of Faith. Eventually these stories were written down on various non-acid-free scrolls, parchments, scraps of leather; and none of the original documents exist. Scripture that exists today are copies of copies of copies of copies, translated from one language to another. The Hebrew and Greek texts were translated into Latin in the early centuries of Christian history; Martin Luther was the first person to translate scripture from Latin into his colloquial language: German. Martin Luther, with the help of Gutenberg, invented the first wall posters—illustrated passages of Scripture printed on large pieces of paper, to decorate houses. The King James version of the Bible was translated from Latin into the colloquial English of the time. At present there are MANY versions of the Bible:

The Bible has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As of October 2018, the full Bible has been translated into 683 languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,534 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,133 other languages. Thus at least some portion of the Bible has been translated into 3,350 languages.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations#Differences_in_Bible_translations

The Prophet Isaiah

The Point: The point is that good people, with the best intentions, do things poorly; because ‘poorly’ is the best they can do. From a lot of reading, I’ve learned that English is a crummy language for translating ideas. My usual example: Greek has four separate and distinct words for connections between people that get translated in the English version of the New Testament as ‘love’. My love for ice cream is entirely different than my love for my children.

There are a lot of religious people who believe that a particular version of the Bible is the only correct version [because they believe someone who told them this]. There are a lot of religious people who believe that because ‘the Bible is the Word of God,’ they can pick out any verse in the Bible, by itself, and expect other people to believe that the sentence is absolutely correct, and appropriate to any given situation—’a teaching from the mouth of God’. Language does not work that way. The fact that someone talking to me believes they are correct, does not make it so.

I believe that the Bible is entirely true, in the original languages, for the purpose that was intended; and the time for which it was written. I cannot think of a single instance today for which these verses are true [Psalm 137: 8,9]:

8 O Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, blessed is he who repays you as you have done to us.
9 Blessed is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

And yet, they are in the Word of God. And there is probably someone in the world who takes these verses to heart; probably as they perform genocide. They are ‘excused by god’.

There are religious people who are cheerfully heading down the Road to Armageddon, because there are specific prophetic passages in Scripture that ‘state’ that at the Right Time, Jesus will return, and the entire world will be made new. And the Right Time is ‘very close’ [it was very close, forty years ago; and long before that]. There is nothing in Scripture that presents the idea that Jesus would be returning in 2000+ years from Jesus’ resurrection; the authors of the New Testament never expected that two millennia would pass before the prophecies take place. Many of the peoples of the New Testament had expected that Jesus would raise an army to kick the Romans out of Palestine.

There are people in Congress who believe that ‘there is no need to worry about Climate Change, because Jesus is going to fix everything at the second coming’. I heard the statement myself.

Religious people do tremendous harm by making verses from the Bible apply to current events in the Americas. No one east of the Pacific Ocean in Biblical times, had a clue that there was land on the west side of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas might have even seemed like Heaven; until the invaders showed up.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #16: Self-Image

The hardest work that someone can do is to decide to change ‘who I am’ into ‘who I want to be.’ Frequently, the internal message is, ‘there must be something wrong with me, because I feel like I’m failing.’ In my opinion, you are too close to the problem to see it clearly. It is necessary to somehow ‘step back’ from the situation, so that you can gain perspective.

Remember/realize that everything that you struggle with/against is a construct of your brain; a construct of your mind. The fact that you are reading these words is a demonstration of the problem.
If you are like me, you are looking at this screen as if there is somehow a hole in the front of your brain, that is projecting these words onto the screen; and you are reading a projection.
There is no hole. Light enters your eyeballs; the lenses in your eyeballs flip the image of this screen upside down [the nature of lenses]; light shines on your retinas; light-sensitive ‘neurons’ turn the information about the light into electro-chemical signals to your brain; portions of your brain turn that electro-chemical information into a construction which appears to your mind as if you are seeing through your eyes—as if you were looking through binoculars. What you see, what you are reading, is constructed inside your brain. When you close your eyes, the light stops; the message isn’t retained for more than a moment, inside the mind associated with the closed eyes.

Because of the ‘magic’ of computers, you are probably reading something that doesn’t really look like what I’m typing. I’m typing in a specific font, with ‘black’ ‘ink,’ on ‘white’ ‘paper’. You may be bored with black on white, and instead have your computer set to show these words as dark green on beige ‘paper’ in some sort of font that looks like calligraphy.

Who you are, to a large degree, is a construction in your brain.

Commercial Art is very much like Performance Art. You create your work for an audience of some sort. The results of that performance [often measured in dollars] determine your sense of ‘success’.
I received another Award this last week. The third Award this year from the same organization. My Amazon KDP royalties for this month total… [drum roll]

$0.04

I can usually buy a cup of coffee with my royalties, as long as I don’t do it at Starbucks.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, there was a clear distinction between Commercial Art and Fine Art. Art created for commerce was somehow beneath the ‘great’ artists. Norman Rockwell, easily one of the great illustrators in America, was always ashamed that he created Commercial Art. He was taught to be ashamed of his success. As time went on, the necessities of printed magazine art required him to use tools [like an opaque projector] and photographs, in order to meet deadlines. He loved his work; but always felt that he should be painting from life, as his heroes did.

When I ventured out on this Illustrator gig, I wanted to illustrate Adventure Stories. I studied the great illustrators of the 19th and 20th Centuries; and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I wanted to use realism to illustrate adventure stories. The sort of books one could find in libraries, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
I spent about 10 years, honing my skills, and learning to illustrate digitally. Sadly, the Children’s Illustration market left me behind. There are few illustration opportunities for Adventure illustration for children, using adult characters. There was a time when Children’s Books were just about the same as books for adults, but with illustrations and less gore.

I have an improbable goal of bringing it back.

Artie Shaw [his anglicized name] was one of the most popular musicians in the ‘Swing Era’ of the 1930s.

   Well, the minute you became a big, big, smash hit, it became very confusing. Nothing in life can prepare you for stardom. Success is a very, big problem. Bigger than failure. You can deal with failure; it’s tough, it’s hard, you fight like Hell to get going. But success is an opiate. You get very confused.
Things happen that you have no preparation for. Money comes in, and popularity, and people throw themselves at you. You don’t know what you’re in to. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t know what to do with it.
The basic truth is that popular music has very little to do with musical value at all. I still wanted to play music. And the audience was saying ‘play what you’ve been playing. Play the same thing over and over. We like that.’ They could never get it through their heads that what they liked was what I was playing on my way to getting better. That record that they liked, “Begin the Beguine,” was like an albatross. It became a millstone around my neck.
The overwhelming success of “Begin the Beguine” would eventually propel Artie Shaw past Benny Goodman in popularity. But in 1939, Shaw disbanded his orchestra in frustration. “I’m unhappy in the music business,” he said. “I like the music; love and live it, in fact. But for me, the business part plain stinks.”
Artie Shaw, “Ken Burns’ Jazz”

During World War II, Shaw re-formed his band and toured Army and Navy bases throughout Europe. The reactions of the soldiers and sailors, as they heard swing music from home, stunned Shaw. He had no idea what he had created.

Vincent van Gogh, one of my heroes, was a total failure as a painter. He sold only one painting in his lifetime. He started his career as an evangelist; he found that he identified so closely with the people working to survive, that he could no longer see a path out of that life. He thought he could capture the life of the people in his paintings and show the world what he saw. The world wasn’t ready to see what he saw.

“Prices realised for just his nine paintings listed below, when adjusted for inflation to 2017, add up to over US $900 million.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings

Portrait of Dr. Gachet This painting is the first version of this motif Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted in June 1890 at Auvers-sur-Oise, during the last months of van Gogh’s life, before his suicide. He made two versions of the painting, which differ in color. Both are oil-on-canvas and measure 67 by 56 cm (26″ by 22″) in size. The first (this picture) was sold to a private collector in 1990 for $82.5 million; the second painting is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.
This is one of the most expensive paintings created by
Vincent van Gogh.

We mostly do not know the importance of our lives. Your importance is not measured in money. Your importance is measured in the quality of your living. Your importance is measured in what you bring into existence.

A message to the President of our country; one he will not read; and may not even be able to understand:

“Tonight, there will be few Americans who will go to bed without carrying with them the sense that somehow they have failed.
“If in the search of our conscience we find a new dedication to the American concepts that brook no political, sectional, religious or racial divisions, then maybe it may yet be possible to say that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not die in vain.”
“That’s the way it is, Monday Nov. 25, 1963. This is Walter Cronkite, good night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 191: The Wind of our soul…

May 26, 2019

 

The Spirit of the Creator
View Larger Image

Sometimes the images grow past their original boundaries. This image became far more complex than I’d planned, which is somewhat appropriate. Life is far more complex than I’d planned.

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you, hmm? And well you should not, for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. [looks around him] Life creates it. Makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Everywhere. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and the ship.
Luke Skywalker: You want the impossible. [starts to walk away]
[Yoda sighs, then concentrates on the ship. Using the Force, he raises it out of the swamp and places it safely on dry land, then looks back to Luke.]
Luke Skywalker: [astonished] I don’t believe it!
Yoda: That is why you fail.
—————————-
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

George Lucas apparently did not identify with a particular belief system; however, he had studied a number of religions. The Force was intended to represent the notion of faith that exists in most of the world’s religions.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and I viewed Star Wars for the very first time, I was instantly captivated by the concept of the Force as a representation of what, three-plus years into the journey, I understood about Faith. As I have mentioned many times before, I came to my first hearing about Faith during my third year of college. I’d never darkened the door of a church prior to then. I had not been raised on the stories of the Bible, I’d never attended Sunday School. From my hearing in high school the complete performance of The Man of La Mancha, I came to an understanding that there could be something more in my life beyond the purposeless day-to-day events of my life. Life could have meaning.

There is little in Christianity that is harder to understand than the teachings about the Spirit of the Creator. During the years when I was first exploring this strange thing called Faith, I visited Pentecostal events called Revivals; in my opinion, religious circuses.

Steve Martin made a film called Leap of Faith, in which he plays a con man with a traveling ‘miracle’ tent show, presenting healings and miracles to gullible audiences in Middle America. From his perspective, he was presenting a better show than one could find in New York, with a far cheaper admission cost [donations]. He provided entertainment—until the climax of his tour occurs—a boy is actually healed during the Revival Meeting. Not a shill in the audience; the real deal. The lame walked. Like Job, when the Creator of the Universe appears before him and Job is found speechless [after dozens of chapters of speeches], Steve Martin’s character realizes that he’s ‘been found out’—he has encountered Truth. That night, he hitches a ride on an eastbound truck, leaving his crew to clean up the mess.

In college I met intelligent students from different backgrounds, who appeared to believe that when they ‘talked to the ceiling’ during times of something called ‘prayer,’ they knew that a Presence was listening; a Presence Who sometimes responded. For me, it was the stuff of science fiction or psychology—until it happened to me; and then I knew.

The above image represents the Spirit of the Creator as a rushing wind; the element of Spirituality that appears in many different forms of Faith. I’ll write more about that in Part 2. “The wind blows where it will.”

There have been many times in my life when I have known that I was in the Presence of the Spirit of the Creator. Most recently, when I made three trips to the Gulf Coast, repairing damage done by Hurricane Katrina, the Presence of the Spirit of the Creator was as palpable among us as a room filled with an invisible steam. I was in the Presence of the Spirit of the Creator one night when I represented Medical Teams International in Oaxaca, Mexico. That was in 2008. I can’t think of a time, since then, when I’ve known that I was in the Presence of the Creator; my lack of awareness doesn’t mean that the Spirit hasn’t been Present. I’ve been so focused on my own bodily challenges for the last 11 years—sometimes obsessively so—there is much I haven’t paid attention to. Over the years, I have witnessed events that were difficult to explain in any ‘non-Faith’ way; but those events haven’t been something I could describe as Presence. I call them Grace Gifts. I experience Grace Gifts in spite of my ‘dissolving’ body.

Religious people and the texts of the Church often use the phrase, “Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost” to represent the “Third Person of the Trinity”—a religious concept. For me, these terms imply that there is some sort of distance between myself and the Spirit of the Creator. I have come to a place where I believe the distance between my Soul—a religious concept—and the Spirit of the Creator is very small; if a distance at all. I have come to a place where I believe that the Spirit of the Creator exists within every human being; whether or not we are aware of the Spirit’s Presence. One might ask, “if the Spirit of the Creator is inside you, how can you not be aware of the Spirit’s presence?” Valid question. I can be in the same house as my wife, and not be aware that she is present. When I’m with my entire family and we are all awake, I can’t possibly believe that they are absent. When I am engrossed in a project or engrossed in an unexpected event in the life of my family, I can ignore lots of things. One of the ways that I deal with continual bodily pain is distraction. Last night/early this morning, an hour passed in ten minutes time…

Much of the Created world is not alive—rocks, cars, buildings; much of that part of Creation that is alive, is not sentient—does not appear to realize that it is alive—life just ‘is’ [of course this may also be an invention of our arrogance]. A cluster of cancer cells is alive, while in the body—the unchecked replication of cells obstructs with normal body function. The cancer shares in the life of the host; remove the cancer from its host, and it dies. To be animate is to have life.

http://www.roncobb.net/cartoons.html
a drawing that I copied in the past

There are many creatures in the world who appear to be sentient—to be aware of their lives in some fashion—and we are destroying them every day, to the point that we are causing the extinction of many of the species on earth. Our destruction of the world’s climate, our destruction of forests, our destruction of the oceans goes on, every single day, and most of the world’s population feels powerless to effect change; or simply doesn’t care.

I believe that when we die, we go Home—I have no idea how Home might be described. Biblical descriptions from thousands of years ago are, for me, simply symbolic of a ‘place’ that defies description. I believe [some would say ‘hope’] that when we arrive at Home each of us will see the scope of our lives in their true context. I don’t believe in Judgement—as in appearing before a Judge to await a sentence—I believe the Creator has known the entirety of our lives from the moment of Creation. Judgement is not required.

I FEAR that we have mistaken the ability to communicate with words we can understand with the idea of “Identity,” and we will see our part in the damage to our world. We damage the world with the food we bring home from the store, and its packaging; by the chemicals we use in maintaining the landscape. Online shopping is incredibly convenient and produces a lot of plastic we have no use for.

I believe we will also see the Grace [unmerited favor] we have brought to the world. I think that most of us will feel an extreme shame for the damage we have done. Or we will display an Arrogance that is actually a disease. I believe that the acts that induce shame will be Forgiven; I believe that Arrogance cannot be Forgiven until shame occurs.

Our interaction with the Spirit of the Creator, for the most part, is voluntary. We can be so damaged by our circumstances that we cannot even believe the Spirit exists. We can also be so shaped by our circumstances that we are able to Believe even more than seems possible. I believe that that this is one of the ways the Spirit of the Creator communicates with our Soul—the Creative Imagination. Many do not believe that the Soul even exists, because our Science cannot detect the Soul. ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’—Shakespeare

All I can say for sure, is that in the Fall of 1972, I did not believe in the Soul; by the Spring of 1973, I knew that I have a Soul. Nothing ‘magical’ happened; no ‘magic poof’. I don’t think that my Soul entered me in this period of my life; I believe that the Soul that has been within me for all of my life had been awakened in a new way.

When do we become ‘equipped’ with a Soul? This is the question at the heart of abortion debates. When does a fetus become a ‘human being’—a person? Is an 8-week old fetus that cannot sustain life outside the mother’s womb, considered a person because the fetus has a beating heart? I DO NOT KNOW.

I also believe that what happens inside a woman’s body is not the business of our Government. I believe that people who call themselves ‘pro-life,’ but do not care what happens in the child’s life after it is born, are merely ‘pro-birth’.

I don’t believe I’ll know the answer to these questions until I reach Home. My grandson is about 5 weeks old; looking at the photos taken minutes after birth, and the photos taken yesterday, I see significant changes. He is growing, he is developing, and is loved beyond his ability to understand—most of his life is involved in the ingesting of food, and the elimination of that food from one end or the other. With crying, when he is uncomfortable. It is a good thing that we don’t know about our future discomforts.

Perhaps the positive connection we make with another person is our Soul, connecting with another Soul. Perhaps that connection is a Gift from the Creator; a tangible presence of the Spirit of the Creator.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #15: More on Marketing

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and the internet did not exist, we needed to use print advertising to get our message out to the world. The rule of thumb at that time was that only 4% of our ads would create a response by a prospective client. To put that in a better perspective, if one sends out 199 fliers, one should not expect to receive more than 4 inquiries. If one sends out 220 fliers, one might hear from 8 prospects. The average number was an average; it wasn’t a guarantee.

According to the Netcraft January 2018 Web Server Survey there are 1,805,260,010 (over 1.8 billion) websites. Yes, the Internet is very big. However, most of those websites get almost no visitors. If I was really into marketing myself, I would tell you that “I have the formula for bringing thousands of customers to your website,” but I would be lying. There is no formula. MY guess is that the 4% number is probably still accurate.

Despite the assurances of people who want to sell you something [you are their prospect] you cannot control who visits your website. Does this mean you should not try to sell your work online? Of course not; unless you have some method of getting your art into the hands of the astute buyer.

I use three online retail outlets for selling my work: Society 6, RedBubble and Artist.com in that order. I have designs on another t-shirt site; the printing on the shirts I bought doesn’t last well in the washing machine. You should always order prints or clothing with your designs, to see the quality of the work, and to track how long it takes for the delivery of the work. Announce your work on Social Media; making sure you have links to the place[s] they can buy your work. It’s also a good idea to go to Kinko’s or FedEx Office or some similar place to print your work on paper—find out if the colors from the copy machines match the colors in your computer. If there is a discrepancy, you need to change the settings on your computer. “Monitor Gamma”

I’ve been doing this for over twenty years, starting when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars over that time, marketing my work. For me, nothing seems to work. Or, if it does work, the people who contact me can’t remember where they saw my work. The amount of dollars does not mean that I earn tens of thousands of dollars from illustration. I’ve managed to create a huge debt load; which is the wrong way to go about this work. I just haven’t had a different choice. I bagged groceries in high school; my body won’t allow me to do it again.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 190: The Plan, Part Two

May 6, 2019

27 April 2019
Another shooting this morning, in a synagogue in Southern California; an apparent vehicular murder a few days ago—the driver thought the group of people were Muslim. The murder of 300 Muslim worshippers on Easter Sunday. A would-be autocratic President who denounces the shooting of Jewish worshippers but has no respect for Muslim worshipers.

30 April 2019
Another school shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus killed 2 and injured 4 on the last day of classes.
The President of the United States remained silent.
The eighth school shooting this year.

How do we move forward?

[I’ve written about this before; sadly, it is still relevant]

For decades, I have heard religious people say that “God has a plan for your life;” and the worst one, especially after some sort of calamity, ‘it happened for a reason; it’s part of God’s plan.’

I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes from The Princess Bride:

Vizzini: He didn’t fall? INCONCEIVABLE!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I think for some people, ‘God’s Plan’ is often used in the same sense as INCONCEIVABLE!

15 June 2018

Some include ‘calamity’ in “God’s Plan”, as if somehow God desires to destroy the innocent. As if it is the Creator’s desire that homes are being destroyed by the eruption of Kilauea, that non-combatants in Syria are being destroyed by American missiles; that the Rohingya people are suffering tortuous persecution; that one of the foulest dictators alive at this point in time has just been given the legitimacy of being an equal to the President of the United States [something no other President has stooped to doing] and the list goes on and on, to the killing of individual students in schools and the murder of people-of-color carrying cell phones, by white policemen who aren’t punished…

There is so much chaos in the world that it has become difficult to remember the disasters of last year.

These calamities are not designed by the Creator.

I have to interject here—I was raised by an authoritarian father. He was a good man; I don’t think I can go so far as to say he was a kind man. I doubt that he was ever taught much about kindness. In many ways, I feel as though my life ‘began’ when I left his house and went off to college. His form of demanding discipline was by yelling. One shrinks from yelling as much as from blows. A few years after his death, I watched the blossoming of my Mom—it was an amazing transformation; she became a woman I had never seen before. She was happy.

Sadly, the early stages of dementia brought the blossoming to a close.

Having been raised this way, I was never inclined to simply accept what some guy on a platform was attempting to teach about “God’s Word”. I struggled with the idea of some guy I knew nothing about, telling me what I was supposed to believe. I rely instead on critical thinking.

Over the years, I have learned to not take a passage of Scripture out of context and rely on that passage to be an explanation or promise from ‘God’s Word’. The concept of the ‘inerrancy of Scripture’ is problematic, in that the meaning of Scripture varies, depending upon which version one uses. English is a limited language when one is discussing Eternal subjects.

“God has a plan for your life.”

Isaiah 14:26
New International Version
This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations…

Young’s Literal Translation
This is the counsel that is counselled for all the earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out for all the nations.

Transliteration from the Hebrew
This [is] the purpose that is purposed against all the earth and this [is] the hand that is stretched out over all the nations

“Plan”
Original Word: עֵצָה  [Hebrew]
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
NASB Translation (instances used): advice (11), consultation (2), counsel (52), counselor* (1), counselors* (1), counsels (1), designs (1), plan (8), plans (2), purpose (6), scheme (1), schemes (1), strategy (1).

52 times in the Bible, the word translated as ‘plan’ in English means counsel; 11 times the word means advice; there are very few instances that imply ‘requirement’. And yet, religious people around the world speak as though the Creator of the entire Universe desires that children should die at the hands of murderers.

I’ve been drawing plans for most of my life—over 50 years. There isn’t even a consistent meaning for the word, plan, when it comes to architecture. A plan can be a general idea on a napkin, or it can be very specific—down to knobs on a cabinet. The plans I reviewed during the last 5 years of my work at the City of Portland were 3ft X 4ft in size and 2 inches thick. I checked for Building Code compliance; the fire rating [or none] on a single door can be calamitous. The width of a single door, or the direction a door swings can cost lives.

And then there is ‘God’s Will’
In Hebrew, that which is translated as ‘God’s Will’ in English, actually means ‘to inquire of God’. A question, not a statement.

When it comes to understanding Scripture, English sucks. Other languages have better meanings. For example, in Greek, there are four distinct words [and meanings] that are translated in English as “love”. Statistically, when we use the word, ‘love’ we get it wrong 75% of the time. A guy may tell a girl that he loves her, when his brain is stuck on his fondness for pizza; or his desire for release of sexual tension. Women: guys give other guys advice on their behavior with the female; we are instructed to talk about ‘love’ when we mean sex.

Some will ask if I believe that the Bible [however they define this word] is the Word of God. I believe that the Hebrew Scriptures, and teachings of the New Testament are entirely true, in their original languages, for the purpose they were intended. The mere fact that one can find a verse in the Bible that justifies their particular understanding of the world does not mean that this was the intent of the verse.

Psalm 137
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

I’ve never heard anyone state that Ps. 137:9 is their ‘life verse’. The Bible has a large number of verses that are difficult to swallow, if one treats the version of the Bible they like best, as being Literally True. The Creator in the closing chapters of the Book of Job, states that 2/3 of the Book is wrong. And yet, the ‘wrong’ verses are still part of the Book.

There is a statement, used when disaster strikes, that the disaster is part of God’s plan; or when a gold cross in a burning cathedral that survives the fire, becomes a miracle. Non-believers ask, how can a Loving God spare a piece of gold when babies are dying because our government has decided to bomb a city? The audacious ones attribute this situation to ‘God’s will’, ignoring the horridness of the statement.

Shit happens to people that are devotedly serving the Creator of the Universe, without regard to the form in which their devotion takes. Grace happens in the same manner. In the same sense that an American can only speak of ‘love’ correctly 25% of the time, I don’t think that human beings have a vocabulary that does justice to the nature of the Creator, and the way life works on Earth.

Horrible things happen on planet Earth, and the Creator of the Universe does not intervene to stop the horror. Is this part of a plan, or somehow designed, or is the horror somehow seen as ‘good’ on the part of the Creator?
No. This is the nature of Free Will given to horrible people. We CHOOSE to be horrible to others. This is hard for our society to swallow. Society’s monsters started as beautiful infants. They were taught to be horrible.

Babies are torn away from their mother’s arms at our southern border and placed in our ‘Child Welfare’ system, without any intention of returning the baby to the parents. Our current Administration considers this a good/useful means of reducing immigration into our country. But is this morally good? Does morality have a set of standards? If there is a set of moral standards, and if the behavior of our government violates this set of standards; and if you and I do nothing to oppose our government’s actions, are we somehow not responsible for the violation?

At this point, a lot of people simply choose to deny the existence of God.

Given the horrible examples of ‘Christian piety’ that I see displayed on my social media pages and the pages of the news, I completely understand those who deny the existence of a Creator. If personal computers and the Internet existed in the 1970s, many of my life choices would have been entirely different; and I don’t think Faith would be part of my life.

Something happened in my life. I experienced Something I cannot ‘un-experience’. I believe this ‘something’ is the Spirit of the Creator. For reasons unknown to me, on rare occasions something happens that I cannot understand in any other way. Since I believe that the Creator has known me from the beginning of Time [Kairos], and since I have asked the Creator to take charge of my life, I know that nothing in my life surprises the Creator. I get surprised on a regular basis.

I clearly haven’t been very effective in communicating the Something that happened in my life; tens of thousands of words later. I cannot fix people; I cannot change people. The only one I can fix is myself; the only one I can change is myself. The most that I can do for others is to create an environment where change is possible, when another person wants to change.

I know that the Creator of the Universe is as different from myself as are the bugs crawling under the rock in our yard; or the seemingly unending hordes of little ants that have discovered there is food in our kitchen. I know that the Creator is angered [a human word] by the millennia of senseless violence over territory, that humans seem to be incapable of growing beyond. I believe that the Creator of the Universe entered time and space in the form of a single cell implanted into the womb of a teenaged girl, so that another way of living could be demonstrated to we frail humans. In the words of Eric Bibb, singing as I type, we’ve got to do better if we want to survive.

this image from Hubble frames a perfect spiral specimen: the stunning NGC 2903

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #14: Contests and Awards.

I’ve won four Awards this year; two of them for reasons that haven’t been made known to me. Two of the awards were a result of entering one of my favorite images in a contest. Having won an award, I submitted the image to the same organization for a magazine cover. I received an Honorable Mention.
A “Best of Portland” Award is an attempt to have me buy a plaque to hang on my wall. The concept of my being ‘best of Portland’ is far more grandiose than I need or deserve. I suppose it looks good on a plaque.

Problem #1: my walls

This is a really old photo, but all of the vertical surfaces in my office look like this. I have no room for a plaque.

Problem #2: I NEVER have clients in my office. I don’t need plaques to raise my self-esteem. All of the images on the vertical surfaces are either images that inspire me; or images that remind me that I have done some things well.

I am my own worst critic [actually, my wife can be worse than myself; she doesn’t often provide input].

Entering contests can be worthwhile, especially if you think that the image you enter is exactly what the contest needs. When it isn’t selected, you have learned something about your opinion. Entering contests often require entry fees. Modest entry fees can imply that the publisher is paying someone for their time while they review entries.

I tend to think that really exorbitant entry fees for some contest half-way around the world, where I’m not likely to actually see the results of my effort, are simply ways for someone to generate income. I’m really not likely to travel to Dubai to see my image on a wall or a screen.

I really like the image I created for the contest; the image that awarded me as Artist of the Year and earned a separate Honorable Mention. I reused a character I created at the beginning of this century, in a new setting. A small homage to Vermeer. The irony is that the company I created the image for, did not like it; and did not pay me for the three images I created. The latter was my choice. I don’t want clients saying that I cheated them in some fashion.

Winning a contest can be good for a dispirited ego; not winning a contest can cause a dispirited ego to feel worse.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 189: Pain

April 24, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to think that emotional pain was somehow different from physical pain. As the years have passed, and as I’ve learned more about how the brain functions, I find I was mistaken.

Emotional pain and physical pain are processed in the brain by synaptic connections; and the information is stored in the brain; and the brain prompts a reaction to that pain. The connections the brain makes, and the pathway the connections take will be similar. Sometimes pain becomes attached to a memory. If the emotional pain and the physical pain happen at the same time—an ‘accident’; an assault; someone getting pushed down a stairway after receiving a near-fatal blow [I watch a lot of British cop shows]—the memory of physical pain can become attached to an emotional pain.

The Japanese boy in the image above is minutes away from dying from the radiation poisoning that killed his his sister. An illustration from a Hiroshima Diary—the encounter occurred. After the bomb destroyed Hiroshima, what was left were children wandering through the rubble, trying to find their parents, who had already been killed by falling construction debris or ‘shrapnel’; or simply had disintegrated. The teacher who wrote the Hiroshima Diary [a genre in Japan] was looking for her niece and nephew. She had been away from home when the bomb dropped; upon her arrival home, and learning about the missing children, she entered the blast range. She survived, and lived to an elderly age, scarred by radiation.

There are no winners in a nuclear war. Certain Politicians often seem to ignore this fact.

In Hiroshima and Nagasaki there are ‘shadow people’ who have been ‘enshrined’. People destroyed by the blast; and before their bodies disintegrated, they provided ‘shade’ on buildings that were ‘bleached’ by the blast. The only thing remaining of these people was their shadows.

There are no winners in a nuclear war.

Lyrics from Jason Gray:
…wounded’s a part that I’ve learned to play well; though the wound may run deeper than I know how to tell.
Where pain’s an addiction that keeps me buried alive; but when it’s all that I know, I’m afraid to leave it behind. And bring my heart to every day and run the risk of fearlessly loving without running away.

I have a CD in the car, about 18 songs, that always plays while I’m driving by myself. Lyrics I want myself to remember; lyrics that help me define who I am. “Without Running Away” is on that album. Fearlessly loving, without running away, is one of my life goals.

I’ve mentioned this before, in spite of my inward desire to be anonymous; a desire that I am training toward transparency. I had a trampoline mishap in a PE class in my 3rd or 4th year of high school. I was supposed to bounce up and land on my belly; instead, I landed on my upper chest, and my legs flew backward over my head—my face on the trampoline fabric. Sort of like an Ω with my head on the right leg of the omega. I heard/felt the sound of a zipper as my vertebrae ‘popped’.

Being able to get to a doctor, there apparently was no need, in my parent’s view, for me to see a doctor. For a long time, I could not rotate my head to the side; when someone was next to me, I had to rotate like a door on hinges in order to face them.

I majored in architecture, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and we used actual pencils and paper for drawing. One spends most of their time while drafting, bent forward at the waist. By the time I graduated from college, and started building my parents’ house, I found that excavating dirt by hand was very uncomfortable. The back pain disappeared, for a time, after my future wife and I went to an evangelistic Crusade. I felt a compulsion to go to the stage despite my desire not to go. I chose obedience. I wasn’t aware of anything happening, while I was lying, embarrassed, on the stage floor. A day or three later, I realized the pain was gone. A Grace gift to encourage me on the strange Quest I had decided to take.

Three totaled automobiles; years of being a stupid contractor; working in a lumber yard and going back to drafting brought the high school injury back.

My first migraine happened in the winter of 1979; I spent a day on the floor of a house my partners and I were remodeling. Having gone to my doc, and having received pure caffeine as a medication, I continued to work on the following days, using the bathroom a lot, and my stomach being unhappy. Self-employed people don’t get sick days.

The migraines eventually became weekly, continuing until the early years of this century. I spent a lot of time on weekends in a darkened room with Blue Ice encasing my head. My brain apparently knew that I needed to work; my brain apparently considered being unconscious to be the equivalent of recreating.

The Neuropathy arrived in 2008; took up residence in the spring of 2009; and has taken residence in larger areas of my body, every two years. So, while my sensory nerves degrade, the degradation is accompanied by continual internal nerve pain. At present, I have no reflexes, and my feet no longer feel that I’m walking on a flat surface; there is an invisible ‘step’ on the underside of my feet. One of the good things is that my sciatic nerves no longer function well—I no longer have sciatica. I no longer wear a black wrestling glove to deal with tendonitis in my right hand.

The above is way more than I usually say. I refuse to define myself by pain.

Refusal isn’t always successful. There are a lot of days that I feel as though I’m addicted to pain. Unlike my past addiction to barbiturates, I don’t have solutions to the addiction to pain. And I continue to refuse to be defined by pain, or by my inability to walk on an unpaved surface [my ‘z’ axis is difficult to find—too little information from my feet]. It’s becoming harder to not define myself by being ‘uniquely abled’ [I refuse to use the d-word].

I distract myself from the pain by focusing on illustrations or client work; or by being engrossed by a video. Nowadays, I find myself limited by my inability to sit in one spot for very long. This requires more variety in my distractions.

Forty-six years ago, I began a Quest to find a new self by connecting with my Creator. There have been instances, like the Crusade thing above, where I have found a Grace gift of decreased pain. By and large, the pain has continued despite my connection with my Creator, and despite stupid things that church people say, ‘proof-texting’ [take a Bible verse out of context and claim that verse as a promise]. One of the oldest books in Hebrew scripture is the Book of Job—two-thirds of which is declared BS by the Creator. Job is about ‘shit happens.’ The Human Propensity to Fuck things Up continues throughout history. I learned that I can trust my Creator to enable me to get past the shit. Sometimes it means going right through the shit; but it isn’t permanent. While I am sometimes surprised by the events of my life, I know that my Creator is never surprised; I know that the shit doesn’t have to define me. It won’t be there when I die; and death is a doorway into a much larger life. That is a promise we are given.

There are people, some of whom are friends of mine, who talk about ‘the Victorious Christian Life’. It isn’t my life. Unless Persistence is the equivalent of victorious. I didn’t get into this gig expecting Victorious. I got in because I was lost; I had no clue how to live a life. One of the deficiencies of not talking with my parents—but I did not want their life. My wife and I have inherited all of their houses, consecutively; but I did not want their life. I didn’t see meaning in their lives; like Alonso Quihana, I sought a life that I read about in books. I wanted to follow a Quest. I wanted higher goals; I wanted something heroic; I wanted to stop being afraid of people; and to be willing to take risks.

In a post from a few weeks ago, I talked about Benjamin Franklin’s Quest to become a different person. I invested five years of my life learning how to become a different person. The reason I took on that task didn’t have the ending I’d expected; but the learning was immensely valuable.

Enough of that.

A thought, via Functional MRI

  • Illustration Tip #13: Repetitive Stress Injury

It’s a thing. IT IS POSSIBLE TO DAMAGE ONESELF BY ‘MOUSING’. I learned this a couple of years ago. I was attempting to help an author/illustrator to digitally publish a children’s book on Amazon by what used to be called CreateSpace—Print on Demand. There was an upcoming presentation, for which a stack of books was desired.

At the beginning of the project, I ordered one of my books for myself, so that I would know the turnaround time between the order and the delivery. That time frame because the calendar for progress on the book. The problem was that the author/illustrator was a perfectionist and kept changing the illustrations. There are rules and guidelines for printing in a book that aren’t applicable to printing a single page. Every time the illustration changed, I needed to tweak the illustration. For the last week or three I was probably working on the book continually, 6 hours a day; clicking my mouse button hundreds of times per day. Before we hit the ‘finish line’ I was using all sorts of methods to stop the burning pain in my neck. My trapezius muscle, which connects to the muscles of the neck and scalp was contracting on my right side. The back of my neck, on the right side only, had developed folds of skin because the underlying muscles were contracting. There were pains in m arm and hand as well [despite the Neuropathy].

I finally decided to try acupuncture. I went to one of the local schools’ clinics. On the first visit, needles in my feet made 90% of the pain go away. The next three visits, with different practitioners, had no discernable impact. I forced myself to avoid the computer for 2-3 weeks. It got better. It changed. The grooves in my neck flattened out again.

I still have repetitive stress issues; I found a CBD lotion that I use every night, and as needed during the day. An hour from now, the alarm on my phone will go off, reminding me that I need to stop working before 2a.

Mariana John Everitt Millais

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 188: Easter

April 18, 2019

My father had many faults; as far as I am aware, he was never cruel.
His brother could be cruel. I had another uncle that could be cruel. My assumption is that they learned cruelty at the hands, and belts, of others.

Every evening, while working on re-creating my Korean-language version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, using the original text, I listen to news coverage of The Scandal in Washington D.C.

Recently I realized that the man who sits in the Oval Office is not only lacking in moral integrity, he is also cruel. Anyone who tries to weaponize women, children and infants seeking shelter from cruelty is cruel himself. The people who defend and justify the cruelty for the sake of power, are also guilty of the same cruelty.

I don’t know how we return.

We, as a nation, must desire to return to ‘liberty and justice for ALL.’ I know that when Jefferson wrote, ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’, his definition of ‘all men’ was far different than many of us seek today. Such is the pitfall of law and language; language changes, with time and society. If Jefferson really meant, ‘all white males who own property,’ he should have written that. Instead, he used inclusive language. We have a national mythology that we seek to defend liberty; sadly, our actual history does not reflect the mythology.

Thomas Jefferson Writes from The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

Maundy Thursday
“Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment.” After the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem early in the week, and encounters with various people and the Jewish elders, Jesus and his disciples share a meal towards the end of the week. After the meal, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, and then crucified”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Supper

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

If only this commandment was followed more often.

Each of our lives is a story that we create; a story that others create through us; a story that others create with us, sometimes, without our knowing about it. I have a rather large prayer list; my weekday walks are my prayer time, as well as while I drive. The Creator does not need my instructions or suggestions as to how the world should work; in reality, there are a large number of people on my list that I’ve never met. I believe that my prayers, inadequate as they are, connect me with the Universe that is being created each day…

There is nothing in Scripture that suggests that Creation is complete. We live in Chronostime that is dependent upon Earth’s rotation and our sun [there are billions of other suns in our Milky Way galaxy, much less the entire Universe—billions of time zones]. The Creator lives in Kairos—the Eternity that exists outside our understanding of time. It is entirely possible that we are in the midst of Creation right now. The Book of Genesis, which isn’t a science text—light exists before the sun, moon and stars exist—Genesis talks about the stars in the sky, which are thousands and millions of light years away. The Days of Genesis would have to last for thousands of years, in order for the starlight to reach Earth.

Our life is a story.

From a Facebook Friend, Jacob M. Wright:
Life is beautiful. You didn’t have to be here in the first place. But here you are. Why? It’s a mystery and a miracle. Why you…why me… instead of some other person. Decades ago, as far as we know, we didn’t exist. But then we did. A unique conscious self-awareness contained within matter began blossoming in the universe. And here you are…
Ineffable wonders fill this world. And with every surprise our hearts become new. We’re always growing younger, as long as we awaken, as long as we hope, as long as we know the divine life that pulses at the center of our being. The longer that we are here, the younger we get, as long as we feed and thrive on that insatiable curiosity for beauty and truth. Keep your gorgeous curiosity alive. It will lead you to life. What is “aging” except our experience growing deeper and discovery growing wider and awakening birthing awakening birthing awakening forever.
Your heart is free, and you were endowed with a wonder and longing and unquenchable curiosity from the day you arrived into this reality; screaming and bloody from your mother’s womb. It can be a terrifying journey, this world, but no matter what, it’s love. It begins and ends in love. You awoke into love. You will never ever be detached from love. It’s what fuels everything, guides your destiny.

‘Awaking into love’—an audacious statement.
The reality is that we aren’t all born into love. According to statistics there are 360,000 births in the world, each day; many of these births come into a world of starvation, disease, fear and hatred. However, sometimes there is a moment, when the pain has subsided, and a young mother looks at the child she has carried for nine months; sometimes there is a moment, when a father connects with his child.

Generations
My daughter holding her brother,
My son holding his son,                 My daughter holding her daughter,
minutes after his birth                                  minutes after her birth

All sorts of people are ‘weighing in’ on social media regarding the partial destruction of Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris; the portions that suffered minimal damage; the portions that were destroyed. As usual, people attribute ‘miracles’ of Grace in relation to those things that weren’t destroyed to acts of the Creator. There are, accurately, the naysayers: why would the Creator spare a gold cross, but allow the innocents of the world to die?
I don’t know the answer.
I believe that the Creator has intervened in my life on numerous occasions; events I can’t explain in any other fashion. One of Jesus’ promises was that the Spirit of the Creator would live in us. In my opinion, this means that there are no coincidences in my life; no accidents. Even when shit happens. It becomes a surprise for me, but the stuff I don’t want to happen isn’t a surprise to the Creator.
Meaning? Maybe. I’m inclined to believe that intervention for me was on the order of ‘fringe benefit’. The gift a parent picks up for a child on the ‘spur of the moment’. However, the Creator has no ‘spurs of the moment’ in Kairos.

I like this answer:

“I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive—nor will we deserve to.”
Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance

Before one talks about Divine Intervention, as a participant in the Christian Church, I think some perspective is in order. Perspective that I have never heard from a pulpit or platform.
Matthew 5:18
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Amen, I say to you that until Heaven and earth will pass away, one Yodh or one Taag [strokes of the pen, which add meaning to the text] will not pass away from The Written Law until everything will happen.

Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. When He taught, He taught from Torah. When Jesus refers to the Written Law, Jesus refers to Torah. The Apostles and disciples that followed Jesus probably [the New Testament isn’t clear] gathered on Saturdays at the synagogue to learn from Torah.

The Apostle Paul considered himself to be ‘a Pharisee of the Pharisees’—
If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to righteousness under the law, faultless. [from Philippians 3]

I never hear this mentioned from a pulpit: if I was able to tell the Apostle Paul that the letters he and the other Apostles wrote to individual churches, would one day supplant Torah, I think he would probably ‘rend his clothing’ and scream.
And yet, that’s what has happened within the Evangelical Christian Church—Torah [the Old Testament] is mostly used for ‘proof texting’; and the Newer Testament is the considered the part of the Bible that Christians should focus their attention upon.

Christians seem to readily assume that we are somehow the focus of the Creator’s special attention; that our being created ‘a little lower than the angels’ gives us Privilege. This sort of thinking comes from mostly reading the New Testament. If one reads Torah, one finds that the Creator set one family on earth aside, and that from that family the Creator would create a people that would be considered the Bride of the Creator. The majority of the prophecies spoken by Prophets state the fact that the Creator’s ‘chosen people’ act like a whore, rather than a Bride.

There are four centuries of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Creator had nothing more to say, for generations. The ending of the Creator’s speaking through prophets really wasn’t a ‘happy ending’. And there was no announcement that there would be a break in communication.

After those four centuries, John the Baptist announced to the Jewish people and whoever else was around, that he was a Prophet of the Creator; and that One would appear who was greater than John: One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

I am of the opinion that when the Creator does attend to us humans [this is Chronos language], 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 covers the millennia of warring upon each other that we do. The savage warring that is occurring right 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. Our government leaders fail us.

In spite of countless sermons to the contrary, the Creator did not enter time and space to save us from our sins. This salvation is a ‘fringe benefit’.

The Creator entered time and space in the form of a single cell implanted into the womb of a teenager; the woman who gave birth to Jesus; the Man who came to us to show us a new way to live. Jesus promised that through the Spirit of the Creator, we could change. Jesus said that we could learn to become decent people who don’t murder each other.

The religious elite, who had power over the Jewish people, had Jesus murdered in the most shocking way the Roman invaders had: Crucifixion.
Jesus did not stay dead.
You will not stay dead, either.

From Jim Wallis, of Sojourners:
I believe in the resurrection — the actual historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Both my faith and my hope absolutely depend on the resurrection of Jesus. I remember a conversation I had, many years ago, with some of the Jesus Seminar New Testament theologians. One of them asked me, “Do you actually believe in the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ?” I felt the eyes looking at me. “Yes, I do,” I replied. “Well, the resurrection is more metaphorical for us,” they said. I silently pondered their statement, and whether to start up again the endless theological debates about the reality and meaning of the resurrection in the Christian apologetics. It has all been said before. Instead, another question came to mind, so I asked them, “Do you think a merely metaphorical resurrection would have been adequate for Desmond Tutu in South Africa?”
The question brought silence to the table and ended the conversation.”

Easter

 

I have no idea how this guy fits in.

For my sister: The Return of the Chocolate Bunny

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 187: Magical Thinking

April 12, 2019

All of life is beyond our control. “Magical Thinking” [for which I think I am an expert] merely gives us the idea that we have control.
I have long wanted to learn “3-D” graphics [they are really 2-D objects, because our monitors are 2-D; “3-D” graphics does not create holograms—but 3-D enables one to rotate the 2-D image around an axis]. I have long wanted to learn “3-D” graphics but have never ‘found the time’.
‘Finding time’ [as well as raising children] is not like finding an apple on the ground. It’s more like ‘finding an apple’ by planting a seed in a piece of ground that used to be a lawn. Given the right circumstances, an apple seed becomes an apple tree. If the tree is tended well, it will produce apples. The very last thing to grow is the fruit.


We live in a large, ranch-style house on an oversized lot. I started building the house when I graduated from college with the Bachelor of Architecture degree I didn’t really intend to use. By the time I graduated from the Architecture program, I had been drafting, every day, for about 8 years. I knew that any architecture job I was offered would find me drafting every day. I wanted a break. So, I convinced my Dad that I should build him the retirement home he wanted. One of the worst/best decisions I ever made. Worst because I knew nothing about actually building a house. I could design them—not very well, I learned—but was clueless when it came to putting the pieces together. Best, because it was the path that led me to where I am now. Not that I’m particularly happy with the life I now lead; but there have been so many experiences that have taught me so much. I don’t know if I would have learned these lessons on a different path.

You can’t tell from the aerial photos above, but there’s an apple tree in our backyard. I planted it in 1976. When a friend of my parents came up and kept the yard in the condition it was when I finished the landscaping, the tree produced apples. In 1985, we moved in. I have always hated yard work.
When our family cabin in the woods was sold by my aunt, I decided that I would let the Creator handle the landscape maintenance at our house, as the Creator had handled the landscape maintenance along the Sandy River. In retrospect, I became aware that there weren’t many apple trees growing by the Sandy River. Thirty-three years after I planted the apple tree, I think there was one apple last year; not very appetizing at that. The tree doesn’t get much sunlight because of the Douglas Fir that planted itself in our back yard; and the tree has been fertilized by several dead cats. I’m not sure that dead cats are good fertilizer for apple trees.

Scripture uses a lot of agricultural references. Having lived nearly all my life in urban environments, I often don’t understand the references in the way they were originally presented. When I worked as a contractor, we had a client that raised sheep and Great Pyrenees dogs. Everything with four legs was white; except when they were brown, from the mud. We were there because of the dogs—we built a bathing/ grooming/whelping room for the show dogs. In the process of getting to know the people, I learned that sheep are about the dumbest creatures on earth. When Jesus called us ‘sheep,’ I don’t think it was a compliment. I also learned that farming and ranching, even when pursued as a hobby, take a lot of work. Much like raising a child.

On the left side of the 2018 photo above, one can barely make out a drainage ditch that separates us from the road on the other side. I had built a makeshift bridge [in the public Right of Way] across the ditch so that our daughter could cross the ditch to catch the school bus. One day I was out working on the bridge with my two young sons, who wanted to help. When my adjustments had been made, I told the Creator, ‘I could have gotten this job done in half the time, and better, if I hadn’t been working with my sons’. The thought distinctly appeared in my brain “I know exactly how you feel”.

While working on that bridge I thought about the nature of the Creator and the nature of humans. If you pick up a rock from an unpaved surface, you will find a bunch of squiggly critters. The Creator entering time and space as a single cell in the womb of a teenager would be like my deciding that I was going to become one of those squiggly critters, so that I could show them how to live better. I wouldn’t do it.
Believers talk as if the Creator wasn’t that much different from a local deity—the gods of human history. They would never admit this; but that is how they speak. Non-believers often talk as if the Universe is so vast that there can’t possibly be a Creator. My faith in science won’t stretch far enough to accept the idea that all life is the product of evolution. I was just listening to a program about the human brain; and the guy said that, ‘people used to believe that soul was responsible for who we are. We now know that who we are is dependent upon the development of the brain. The plan is…’ What plan? He goes on to talk about how most of the information that seems to be hard-wired into other mammals is not present in humans; it is our lack of pre-programming that causes us to develop…’ etc. Again, what plan? How does ‘plan’ evolve? Plan means ‘design’/’choice’. People evolve over time, and there is evidence that leads us in the direction of having ancestors that were far less evolved than homo sapiens. “Adam and Eve” is a Creation story. Nearly all cultures have Creation stories; they all have similarities.

Rabbinical scholars from millennia ago did not have a problem with the notion that there were creatures present that were very similar to homo sapiens at the time of the Garden of Eden. After all, after Cain slew Abel [the first children of Adam and Eve], Cain left the Garden, married, and started building the first City [there’s a fascinating 20th Century book by Jacque Ellul about The Meaning of the City—the building of Cities is man’s response to the Creator’s treatment of man]. Who did Cain marry? If one takes Scripture literally, there were only four human beings. Scripture talks about these other beings:

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:4.

There really isn’t a good definition of Nephilim, beyond the explanation that they were giants. “Daughters of men” doesn’t really provide an explanation for Cain’s wife, unless ‘men’ means mankind.

There is a BBC-made PBS video about Madagascar, and the unique vegetation and unique creatures that live on that island:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pd2fk

The vegetation on the south end of the island is almost entirely covered in spines/thorns. There is very little water on the south end of the island. Little leaves sometimes grow between the spines, and the reptilian creatures get their necessary water from these tiny leaves. I’m sorry—I cannot stretch my mind to accept the notion that these spiny plants evolved from the plants that grow on the luxuriant north end of the island. Evolution depends on small changes to the genome that prove beneficial over time. Using that concept, black becomes white by way of a whole bunch of grey. I can understand variations in the greyscale; but black becoming white in a small series of large variations stretches my brain too far. I prefer created-black and created-white. And I am not referring to skin coloration. We are all shades of brown, with differing hues, brightness and contrast. We humans are all one family. This has been demonstrated by DNA studies.

In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

Getting back to critters under a rock: ‘imagine, if you will’ a Creator for whom the Universe is in some sense small. ‘Small’ in the sense that the design of an entire skyscraper, down to the nuts and bolts and knobs, can fit inside the mind of an architect. My guess is that the Creator of the entire Universe ‘turns over the rock’ and looks at the history of Humanity and sees cruel and fearsome creatures who spend all of their lives killing each other.
You reply, ‘that doesn’t apply to me.’ Sure it does; it’s only by Grace that you aren’t living in a tribal situation where one tribe is willing to kill another tribe because they don’t think the same as you. The history of homo sapiens is a history of rape and pillaging. With brief exceptions. When preachers talk about our sinfulness, I think there are some who see our relationship to the Creator as something akin to my looking under a rock.

With exceptions.

I am of the opinion that Penal Substitutionary Atonement [you are evil, and god cannot stand your sinful presence, so god killed his only son to pay for your sinfulness] is a result of human guilt feelings. We are guilty; many choose to think that they are fooling the world and our Creator by pretending they aren’t guilty. When politicians become preachers and pronounce their understanding of Scripture that omits everything that Jesus taught, they are using the wrong book.

Jesus did not come into Time and Space in order to be the scapegoat for your sins [the scapegoat concept is part of the Hebrew religion]; Jesus entered Time and Space to show us a new way to live. In another time and place, I could be stoned for making this assertion. Yes, the ‘scapegoat’ analogy also fits; but I have trouble believing that this was the whole point.

Preachers who seem to love the word, “Repent!” are unaware that what the word means is ‘to see the world through new eyes.’ Human beings just like ourselves killed Jesus for His audacity; people like us did what homo sapiens always do. Jesus dared to tell religious leaders that they had made a mockery of that which all of history pointed toward.

Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose from the dead and told His followers that they could do the same. People have a really hard time with this idea. We are locked-in to the idea that what we are is our bodies.  At 66, it’s so much easier to believe that I am more than this crappy body.

I’m reading a book about the Gnostic texts found around the same time as the Dead Sea Scrolls, but with a lot less ceremony and publicity. Possibly because they were written in Copt. They sat in a museum for about 40 years, when they weren’t floating around the Black Market. The theory is that these texts were buried by a monk in around 200AD, because that’s when Bishop Irenaeus wanted all the Gnostic Texts burned. The Gospel of Thomas is one of the most well-known of the 50 or so texts that were not included in the Christian Bible. Bishop Irenaeus was building the institution that eventually became the Holy Roman Empire. A religion built on a set of principles that were readily transmitted across countries; and were dependent upon a religious hierarchy. Those who practiced Gnosticism had a much wider base. Some of the texts seem to have come from Seventies San Francisco; others teach about spirituality that doesn’t come from a book, a spirituality that is based on experience. Something reflective of my own faith journey.

Easter is coming

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #12: Tax Time

This will probably get posted before the 15th of April, so your deadline is drawing near, in spite of the Government Shutdown earlier this year. The IRS does not sleep.

BE ADVISED; I AM NOT PROVIDING YOU WITH ANY INCOME TAX ADVICE.

I will not offer any tax advice beyond the following: Don’t Cheat; you will get caught. Maybe not this time, but somewhere down the road when you’ve forgotten that some practice of yours was actually a cheat, when you first started it.

I have been audited more than once; in addition to having uncomfortable consequences to the digestive system, it can be very expensive; presuming that the reason you were cheating is because you discovered that you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service, and you hadn’t set funds aside for this unexpected contingency. Millionaires and Corporations cheat all the time, but they have expensive lawyers who can somehow call ‘blue’, ‘red’ and no one sees the problem.

One of the advantages of being self-employed is that you can deduct the expenses of running your business from your income. “Deduct” does not mean ‘hide it under the couch cushion.’ There are rules. If you are starting your business, and steadily lose money rather than earn money, the IRS will question whether or not your business is really a hobby. You may be able to deduct some of the expenses of living where you live. Generally, in order to be able to deduct expenses related to living wherever you live, you need to have part of your home set aside for working. Ideally, a room. Trying to convince an Auditor that your dining room table is your office is awkward, if you ever eat at your dining room table. The percentages of your utilities and rent that can be deducted from your income is based on a square foot percentage. If you live in a 200sf apartment, and your dining room table measures 18sf, you can do the math for the percentage attributable to business. But you better not eat at the table when you aren’t working.

Keep records of your spending. The Government likes PayPal, because PayPal is very transparent for bookkeepers. I use an ancient My Money program; it is low-maintenance, it makes for easy categorizing of expenses, and will provide one with reports on annual spending. Being a dinosaur, I don’t bother with far more advanced software. I’ve been using it for more than 20 years [yes, dinosaur-software runs on Windows 10-64; Microsoft would prefer that you don’t know this].

Computers are expenses that generally need to be depreciated. Depreciation means that there is a method by which you can deduct the cost of more expensive office equipment over time. Over time, these pieces of equipment lose their market value. Computers, and other spendy items in an office can often be depreciated over 5 years each.

You are not required to deduct any expenses from your business income. I do all of my income tax returns ‘by hand,’ meaning I do my own calculating. This provides me with the opportunity to make choices. When I’ve used online programs, I’ve discovered that these programs are written by someone who has a perspective on the Tax Code that I don’t have. Do not cheat.

Tax Codes are written by bureaucrats; bureaucrats tend to write with complex words; plan on looking for definitions. I used to write building code provisions; there’s a geeky part of me that likes to figure things out.

Norman Rockwell Daydreaming Bookkeeper

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 186: When does an Idea become a Fact?

March 25, 2019


An Idea. The most powerful force in the Universe.
When does an Idea become a Fact; and when does a Fact become an Idea?

In this context, I have to explain what I mean: I believe that Ideas drive us further than simple Facts. “Naia” above, is a fact; her DNA consists of combined Asian and Siberian strains in a pattern that is not found west of the Alaskan longitude. Her DNA is consistent with all the Indigenous peoples that populate the Americas [some of this information comes from the study of a younger skeleton, a male child found in Montana, which did not have a representation of his face constructed]. The face above is not what most of us would call, ‘an American Indian’. Naia’s face is not our Idea of an American Indian. But “Naia” is a fact. It requires an Idea for us white folk to understand that all the Indigenous people, throughout the Americas, are Naia’s forebears’ descendants. One family. This Idea is shown, scientifically, to e a much earlier time.

In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

Does science therefore prove that the Bible is correct? The Older Testament contains a Hebrew story about how the world began. Many civilizations have similar stories. The Book of Genesis also talks about the Creation of the sun, moon and stars. Stars that were light years away from Earth. Starlight from stars that take years to reach Earth.

The two [nearest] stars [to our solar system] are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, which form a binary pair. They are an average of 4.3 light-years from Earth.
https://www.space.com/18090-alpha-centauri-nearest-star-system.html

How many stars are there within 1,000 light years from our Solar System? The space within 1000 light years is (1000/50)³ = 8000 times as large. Assuming a homogenous distribution you can expect 7 to 8 million stars in this range.
https://www.quora.com/How-many-stars-are-there-within-1-000-light-years-from-our-Solar-System

Scripture does say that to the Creator, one day is like a thousand years; and a thousand years is as a day…

People throughout history have overcome the Facts of their lives by focusing on an Idea that carries them beyond the Facts. An Idea that becomes the driving force of their lives.

For generations, there has been an Idea that all mankind are members of one family, our brothers and sisters. A Fact.
For generations there has been Idea that only those people within our generation of people are our family—often the people who our grandparents sired, or the people sired by our great-grandparents. Another Fact.
Research into our ancestry can enlarge our view of how we came to be. An Idea.

You are an Idea.

You are more than an Idea; however, when someone asks for information about yourself, you probably describe yourself by your job, or your role in life. You possibly identify yourself by your passions—sports, gaming, mountain climbing; the person you are married to, your children, your famous relative…these roles are facts about you. Or facts that you wish were about you. What you choose to do with these facts can become your guiding Idea.

People with a mental illness struggle with finding their identity—a post-medicated identity that doesn’t match the person they were before the medication. Being unable to reach a personality they no longer have. The struggle to understand who they are now. They need to find a new Idea of who they are going to be.

People with physical illness struggle in the same fashion—they can no longer participate in a life they enjoyed before. The athlete who is missing limbs, the singer who can no longer sing, the musician who can no longer play their music. The ‘ordinary’ [I believe we are all extraordinary—but we have been taught not to be] person who can’t walk anymore, or can’t climb trees, or walk along a mountain path. They need to find a new Idea of who they are going to be.

When one is a high-achiever by nature or learning and can no longer achieve to the level they consider necessary, they struggle with finding value in lesser achievements. The person with large dreams for the future who finds that the dreamed-of future will never happen.

I currently deal with an unexplained fatigue, on top of my Polyneuropathy of Unknown Cause. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. To a degree, I can’t do what I could do last year, and this is only March. The wrist that won’t support my weight without collapsing. The pain involved in getting out of bed. The morning walk that drains more energy than it did months ago. I won’t go through the details.

However, I refuse to describe myself by the things that I cannot do. This refusal is an Idea. The Idea that I have a choice about the way I see myself; succeeding or failing. On many days, I don’t succeed; I still refuse to accept the Idea of failure, as my self-definition. I am uniquely able, rather than using the dis- word. Life was simpler when I thought life was about facts.

Each of us is an Idea. We all make the decision as to what that Idea is.

The reality is that a large portion of the world’s population has no Idea at all. There are those who never seem to make it past adolescence, no matter how many years they have been around. There are many who are never permitted to have an Idea of who they could be. There are those who have lived in Privilege [however that is defined], whose world collapses underneath them; and now that have no privileges at all. The ones who have the weight of the world on top of them, when they were on top of the world last week. Then there are people who are uncontrollably damaged through no fault of their own. Shit Happens.

Who we become next is an Idea.
Where do we find the Ideas?

This is going to upset some people:
The Creator [aka God] is an Idea. I happen to believe that the Creator is also a Fact; perhaps The Fact of human existence. But I can’t prove this to be true. Countless wars have been fought, are being fought, because opposing peoples can’t reconcile their Idea with someone else’s Idea. Frequently wars are started because opposing peoples cannot agree on how a Book should be read. I’m a heretic. My most substantial evidence for the existence of the Creator does not come from a Book or Books; my evidence comes from my experiences. The Books back up what I’ve learned by way of the Spirit of the Creator.

I think one starts with ‘painting a mental picture’ of who you want to be; imagining what characteristics the who you want to become would have. How that person would act instead of how you react without being that person.
In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. He created a ‘score card’ with thirteen character traits he wanted to have. He kept this list with him at all times and marked his chart whenever he demonstrated that characteristic. Over time, more of the characteristics were marked. Over time, he changed who he was. It works; I’ve done it myself.

http://www.thirteenvirtues.com/

There are two men in my life who are very important to me. Fifty years apart in age, they struggle in similar ways with the question of who they are going to be. Both of them explore the concept of ending their existence. I know that I can’t ‘fix’ either of them—we can never ‘fix’ another human being; the most we can do is provide an environment where change can occur, when the person decides that change is necessary—and yet I know that they can change. They don’t yet have a new Idea for their lives. I can’t download an Idea from my brain to theirs; and I know this wouldn’t work either, because it would be my Idea, not theirs.

Where do we find the Ideas? For me, the Ideas come from a search for new truths. I have a soundtrack that plays through my head for most of my waking hours. Perhaps during my sleeping hours as well, since the music plays 24/7. Maybe my ears pick up sounds while I’m asleep, better than when I’m awake. A soundtrack for the person I want to be, even if I’m not there yet. Last night I was listening to an artist I admire; however, his music is mostly from the ‘pop charts.’ I find songs from pop charts to be fairly vapid; and yes, I’m a music snob.

I continually read. Each morning I read something specifically related to my Idea; during the day I read about what’s happening in the world. I read novels a few times a week; I’m a fan of hero stories. Before going to bed each night, I watch hero stories on the black rectangle in the living room.

I believe the Ideas we accept for our lives begin with our upbringing; whether positive or not. I’ve come to the realization that what parents assume is being taught to their children isn’t what their children are learning. I realize that I didn’t spend enough time engaging my children as they were growing. Partially because I never talked with my parents; but that is simply an excuse. The reality is that I placed a higher priority on my own struggles than engaging with my children and their struggles. We can’t go back and correct our mistakes. I’m a fan of time travel stories; however, I also realize that time travel is science fiction.

Find an Idea. Make it yours.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #11: More Marketing

Being self-employed, I need to be marketing my work all the time. I hate marketing myself; the guy that mutes commercials on the black rectangle; the one that hides all the ads on Facebook. I usually quit reading Fb when I’m tired of deleting spam. I mark all the spam as Irrelevant; my magical thinking expects that someday, I will reprogram the Fb algorithm.

So, this guy who hates commercials needs to create ‘commercials’ for myself, in order to make my presence known. I’m this guy:

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and the internet did not exist, we needed to use print advertising to get our message out to the world. The rule of thumb at that time was that only 4% of our ads would create a response by a prospective client. To put that in a better perspective, if one sends out 199 fliers, one should not expect to receive more than 4 inquiries. If one sends out 220 fliers, one might hear from 8 prospects. The average number was an average; it wasn’t a guarantee.

According to the Netcraft January 2018 Web Server Survey there are 1,805,260,010 (over 1.8 billion) websites. Yes, the Internet is very big. However, most of those websites get almost no visitors. If I was really into marketing myself, I would tell you that “I have the formula for bringing thousands of customers to your website,” but I would be lying. There is no formula. MY guess is that the 4% number is probably still accurate.

Among the things I do, I make videos:

You may, or you may not, realize that most, if not all of the ads on Social Media now feature videos. The concept being that movement attracts attention. Movement does attract attention. For me, movement signals that I probably need to delete the ad…

I struggle with the Idea of what my business is. Creating videos is fun; it’s also tedious. If you follow the image link above to my mjarts.com home page, you’ll see a video that I enjoy, conceptually, but there is movement in the titles [vertical words] that shouldn’t be there. Correcting the movement is tedious. I think the plan was to do something different, rather than making the correction; my life being what it is, I forget what the plan was.

Even more than making videos is ‘photo manipulation’. When dinosaurs ruled the earth, and digital images did not exist, one sometimes ended up with a paper photograph that did not do the subject justice. Or one ended up with old photographs whose image degraded due to sunlight or other forms of abuse. Back then, it was called ‘photo restoration’. The need still exists, because people have old photographs they want to be proud of, and the photo is no longer cooperating:

I have just illustrated for you one Idea about marketing your business. Did it work? You tell me: marty@mjarts.com

[OMG: I posted my email address on a webpage. Yeah, that’s pretty much the point…yes, I get a lot of spam]

 

 

 

The Witch Hunt

March 24, 2019

For those who want to keep track…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 185: The Audience of One

March 15, 2019
“…mushrooms, 30-40 feet high” from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth

Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants.
C.S. Lewis, ‘On Stories’, Of Other Worlds

Clive Staples Lewis is in my opinion, one of the most brilliant theologians of our time; perhaps of all time. Of course, my opinion and $5.00 might enable you to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Lewis died on the same day as John F. Kennedy; my guess, since I was only eleven years old on that day, is that Lewis’ passing did not warrant much media attention. He probably would have liked it that way. Lewis was a scholar, and he was a professor of English Literature, which also made him a scholar of history. He disliked the ‘celebrity’ which hounded him. He wanted to be able to quietly read.

Raised without a concept of personal faith, although a student of many forms of religion, Lewis came to faith at University; much like myself. An academic who found himself thrust into the limelight in England during World War II, presenting concepts of faith to ‘the common man’; and then across the world, through the publication of his theological works, his science fiction and his Chronicles of Narnia.

C.S. Lewis on The Modern View:

The whole modern estimate of primitive man is based upon that idolatry of artefacts which is a great corporate sin of our own civilisation. We forget that our prehistoric ancestors made all the most useful discoveries, except that of chloroform, which have ever been made. To them we owe language, the family, clothing, the use of fire, the domestication of animals, the wheel, the ship, poetry and agriculture.

The Problem of Pain, ch. 5

Between Jane Austen and us comes the birth of the machines…This is parallel to the great changes by which we divide epochs of pre-history. This is on a level with the change from stone to bronze, or from a pastoral to an agricultural economy. It alters Man’s place in nature…

I conclude that it really is the greatest change in the history of Western Man.

De Descriptione Temporum’, Selected Literary Essays

‘It is the same with all their machines. Their labour-saving devices multiply drudgery; their aphrodisiacs make them impotent; their amusements bore them; their rapid production of food leaves half of them starving, and their devices for saving time have banished leisure from their country.’

The Pilgrim’s Regress, bk 10, ch. 6

It took me as long to acquire inhibitions as others (they say) have taken to get rid of them. That is why I often find myself at such cross-purposes with the modern world: I have been a converted Pagan living among apostate Puritans.

Surprised by Joy, ch. 4

In the early years of this century, I illustrated a Korean children’s book based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia. The story of a King who is being blackmailed for his dalliance with an American opera star, Irene Adler. She who was later described by Holmes as The Woman; the only person to outwit the Great Detective. I was chosen as the illustrator because the Korean publisher wanted the book to have a ‘western’ design, rather than an Asian design. I have no idea where they found me; typical for my projects. People inquire about my availability, and they rarely seem to remember how they found me.

The book was published; the publishing house was purchased by another company; and that company went ‘bust’. However, I own all the art that went into the making of the book. In the years since I illustrated the Korean children’s version of Doyle’s story, A Scandal in Bohemia has entered the Public Domain. A couple years ago, I decided to publish a digital version of the book, illustrated the way I would have liked to illustrate the book, all those years ago; using Doyle’s manuscript. Being a project for myself, it always takes second- or third place in my time priorities. So, most weeknights find me working on A Scandal in Bohemia while I listen to MSNBC’s coverage of the Scandal in Washington DC…

Os Guinness [yes, that Guinness] wrote a book entitled The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life; one of his stories comes from his own family history. His great-great-grandmother found herself widowed at a young age; her foolish husband having been killed in a duel in Scotland. Destitute, she had taken her children to a bridge, from which she intended to jump, along with her children. While gathering her courage at the bridge railing, she became entranced by watching a farm hand plowing a field. The farm hand was plowing his rows as carefully as a painter would have painted the scene. She realized that if a farm hand could take that amount of care in his plowing, perhaps she could make something of herself. She left the bridge railing; eventually found Faith and eventually married one of the Guinness sons; and is known to have prayed for the generations that would follow her, for the rest of her life.

She learned to live for an Audience of One.

Also from The Call:

Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned maestro and violinist, has held audiences all over the world spellbound with his conducting and virtuoso playing. Like many great musicians, his gifts were precocious. He made his violin debut in San Francisco at the age of seven and launched his worldwide career at the age of twelve with a historic concert at Carnegie Hall. In his memoirs, Unfinished Journey, Menuhin tells the story of how he began his long love affair with the violin.

From the time he was three years old, Menuhin’s parents frequently took him to concerts in New York where he heard the concertmaster and first violinist Louis Persinger. When Persinger broke into solo passages, little Yehudi, sitting with his parents up in the gallery, was enchanted.

“During one such performance,” Menuhin wrote, “I asked my parents if I might have a violin for my fourth birthday and Louis Persinger to teach me to play it.”

Apparently, his wish was granted. A family friend gave the little boy a violin, but it was a toy one, made of metal with metal strings. Yehudi Menuhin was only four. He could hardly have had the arms and fingers to do justice to a full-sized violin, but he was furious.

“I burst into sobs, threw it on the ground and would have nothing to do with it.” Reflecting years later, Menuhin said he realized he wanted nothing less than the real thing because “I did know instinctively that to play was to be.”

Stories like that are common lives of creative artists. Artie Shaw, a famous clarinetist in the old Big Band days, shared his heart with an interviewer. “Maybe twice in my life I reached what I wanted to. Once we were playing ‘These Foolish Things’ and at the end the band stops, and I play a little cadenza. That cadenza—no one can do it better. Let’s say it’s five bars. That’s a very good thing to have done in a lifetime. An artist should be judged by his best, just as an athlete. Pick out my one or two best things and say, ‘That’s what we did: all the rest was rehearsal.'”

I get up each morning and create illustrations for an Audience of One—the One to whom I gave my life 46 years ago. I opened my heart to my Creator and said, ‘here, take my life. I’ll only screw it up on my own.’ And my hope is that today I will create something beyond ‘rehearsal’; knowing that one can’t create ‘best’ without rehearsal.

This is not to say that I create religious illustrations or illustrate religious books. I mostly don’t. I’m not fond of religion. At the same time, I want all of my work to be a work of Grace—“unmerited favor”—humans do not merit the Creator’s favor—we are a cruel and monstrous lot. If you don’t believe that you should be counted in this cruel and monstrous lot, you haven’t read enough history; you haven’t read the news today. There is only one race; it is called “human” and every day, our government is in the process, directly or indirectly, of killing our brothers and sisters. I did not do anything noteworthy today to stop the murders. I signed some petitions; I’ve donated some money. I put the needs of my family above the needs of others. This isn’t ‘wrong’, per se; while I have been focused on the needs that I value, my fellow humans have been harmed. I bear that guilt, even if I don’t want to. I did nothing to stop the killing.

When the future Mrs. Guinness stepped away from the railing on that bridge, it was because she had decided to live for the future, rather than dying because of the past. She decided to live for an Idea.

I live for an Idea. I can’t prove that there is a Creator who guides my steps, although I believe this is true. I get out of bed each day for an Idea. It has become painful to get out of bed each day; I take a lot of medication—not nearly as much as some people—enough that my body now has a different smell than it had years ago—and my sense of smell is rubbish. There was a time, long ago, when my doc had to say, ‘take the damn pill, Marty,’ because I didn’t want to live medicated. Pain can be an addiction. It doesn’t seem that different from the barbiturate addiction I used to have.

I get out of bed for an Idea; that Idea is my Audience of One.

Who we individually are is Idea; nothing more, nothing less. As I keep writing, over and over, our bodies are collections of atoms that are largely composed of space, and electromagnetic forces; consequently, even though we seem to be solid, we are mostly space, and the electromagnetic forces that create an illusion of solidity. We are energy; when the shells of our body die, we remain energy in the form of Identity. How this all works is something we really can’t understand on this side of Life.

I believe that the Idea that is us, exists in a spiritual dimension; which is also an Idea. I believe that this Idea is also called the Soul. Ideas can build magnificent futures; Ideas can rob us of the future we might have had, were we willing to trust the Idea of us.

One of my mentors once said: ‘If you have to move 12 inches in order to be happy, you will never be happy’. People who live in chronic physical or emotional pain have a difficult time finding ‘happy’—happiness is largely circumstantial. Joy is a more achievable emotion, one that is less dependent upon circumstance. Living in Joy can happen even when happiness doesn’t occur. Joy is a decision. Joy is an idea.

How do we find our Audience of One? I think that we must first decide that we cannot do this life on our own, without screwing it up. For many of us, we have been proving this to be true for decades.

There have been alcoholics in my family; I have grown fond of the Twelve Steps. Steps 2 & 3 are:

[I] Came to believe that a Power greater than [myself] could restore [me] to sanity.
[I] Made a decision to turn [my] will and [my] life over to the care of God as [I] understand Him.

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/12-step-programs

Overcoming the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up.

I realize that there are a lot of people who just can’t believe in the concept of a Creator [an Idea]—the sciences explain ‘everything’ without the need for a Creator. The sciences don’t explain everything, any more than religion explaining everything. I believe that the sciences are a language of the Creator. My understanding is that before he died, Stephen Hawking proved that the creation of the entire Universe could be explained by Gravity. I don’t know that he explained the existence of Gravity.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #10:

Marketing. I hate marketing myself. People who spend weeks at a time, alone in a room, creating something, aren’t particularly social. To market oneself, one must learn to be more sociable. For me, Social Media and the internet are ideal ways to be sociable. I am anonymous; my interaction with people is structured; a fairly effective way to avoid saying things I don’t want to say [it’s called proofreading]; and I can deliver images.

ONLINE PORTFOLIOS

Websites that currently have my images [if you find a bad link, please let me know] are below. The websites marked in bold have brought verifiable sales or customer inquiries. Something more than “likes”.
The $ means that I pay a fee for the service. These fees are far less than I’ve paid for print advertising. Of course, at this point in time, my business income is less, which makes the fees a larger part of my income.

mjarts.com                       Society 6 Retail Store
MJ Arts website
              https://society6.com/mjartscom
http://mjarts.com/portfolio.html

Artist.com Retail Store
https://artist.com/name-lt-marty-jones/arts-list

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/mjartscom

about.me                                    The Creative Finder        $
https://about.me/martyjones       http://thecreativefinder.com

childrensillustrators.com     $
http://www.childrensillustrators.com/illustrator-details/martyjones/id=62

Dripbook:
http://www.dripbook.com/mjartscom

picture-book                 $
http://picture-book.com/mj-arts-illustration-2

hireanillustrator.com             $
http://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/portfolio/marty-jones

behance.net                                    deviantart.com
https://www.behance.net/mjarts    http://mjarts.deviantart.com

Pond5 Stock Media
http://www.pond5.com/artist/mjarts

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators          $
https://www.scbwi.org

localsolo.com
https://localsolo.com/portland-or/profile/18258

Chronicles in Ordinary Time         Facebook
https://mjarts.blog       https://www.facebook.com/mjartscom

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mjarts

Twitter
https://twitter.com/mjarts_com

youtube: mjartscom’s channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgJQUsjr0nmHieNcNpa8oeg

pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/mjartscom

Artists Info          $
https://www.artistsinfo.co.uk/artist/marty-jones

Amazon Author pages:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B016GG2LPS
UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B016GG2LPS

IMDB
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur68910572

Redbubble
http://www.redbubble.com/people/mjartscom

Dribbble
https://dribbble.com/mjartscom

The collection above represents a huge amount of my time for uploading information. Every portfolio page has different sizing requirements. Nearly all of them require the use of keywords. I generally don’t create images that are designed only for the purpose of selling images. In the process of creating larger/more complex images, I create small images which, in theory, can be used as stock art. Apparently, I’m not good at selecting images that sell well.

Is it worth it? To be honest, I don’t know. I want to do illustration/graphic arts work; searching job boards takes a lot of time.


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