Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 170: What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?

October 9, 2018

My wife mentioned to a friend of ours that ‘even after 45 years together, I still can’t read Marty’s mind’. Our friend’s response was, ‘read his blog’. Thanks, Eunice; it’s true.
I write because my digital self is far more sociable than my physical self. I think this means that part of me wants to be a different person than I am. The hope is to mix my ideas about the Universe with my life as a commercial artist.
This particular chapter was ‘inspired’ by a general request for a column; this will no doubt be far too long…

unfinished sketch River PilotIncomplete sketch, Norman Rockwell’s River Pilot

Mine isn’t a story about how to succeed as a commercial artist. At this point in history, I’m not even sure what ‘succeed’ even means. As a country, ‘we’ [the American Republic] have just confirmed to the Supreme Court the least popular jurist in the history of the Court, by the closest margin in history:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/06/senators-representing-less-than-half-us-are-about-confirm-nominee-opposed-by-most-americans/?utm_term=.d5c4393fa61e&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

This confirmation process made the Clarence Thomas confirmation seem like a ‘cakewalk’ and displayed one of the most partisan processes ever witnessed; and the possible coverup of criminal actions. Ironically, last Friday morning when the Senate had their first vote of Confirmation of the new Justice, the Nobel Committee issued the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to two figures who have worked to bring attention to ending sexual violence in armed conflicts: Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.
I am reminded of the quotation by Thomas Jefferson:

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

Our President has managed to twist reality by comments made at campaign rallies that have caused the Victim in these last uncivil weeks to become a punch line; and the Accused to become some kind of hero. Trevor Noah has some very astute comments that probably derive from his living in South Africa during Apartheid:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LZ3P1sv9jE

The political trials of this week were simply a backdrop and a distraction from my office trials. I have been my own Tech Support for most of this century; mostly because I’m unwilling to pay for services I can learn. Up until last week, I’ve had 5 computers: two desktops and 3 laptops. I recently upgraded one of my desktops; it had become annoyingly slow. It now hibernates in a closet. Last weekend, my oldest laptop, a Sony VAIO, died peacefully of old age. One of the laptops was inherited, and as a backup, it went into service. In various ways unknown to me, I managed to kill the Operating Systems in 3 of my computers. I have spent the entire week doing 18-hour days, wrestling with Operating Systems and reloading computers. I owe a debt of gratitude to a Dell Tech Support person in The Philippines. One week later, I’m back up and running, and am trying to remember what I was doing a week ago. ‘Fortunately’, this has been one of those ‘0 billable hours’ weeks—no client work needed. Due to overlapping backups, I didn’t lose any data beyond a few days’ worth of email. Just lost a lot of sleep; and there is a residue of snarkiness.

I have worked as a full-time commercial artist [a term that only dinosaurs remember] and Building Code consultant since 1998. Something like twenty years.
Disclaimer #1: ‘full-time’, to an independent contractor working in the image-creating world does not mean the same thing it means in the normal business world; and the meaning is centered in the term ‘billable hours’. When I use the term ‘full-time’, it means I don’t have another job. ‘Billable hours’ per week vary from 0 to 30-something, most of the time. Time in my office? Basically, from 2p to 3a, six days a week, with breaks for eating, and for spending time with my wife before she goes to bed. She works permanent part-time for a local School District and lives on ‘day shift’. My circadian rhythm has been off-kilter for decades. I don’t do mornings. Working for the Bureau of Buildings was a pain. I kept moving my arrival time as far back as I could, preferring to work after the office had officially closed.
Disclaimer #2: I am a dinosaur. I began my commercial art career in the 1970s while in college, when computers did not exist, and the only means of communication beyond the telephone [attached by a wire to a wall] were pieces of paper upon which one wrote words, or possibly typed words. These pieces of paper were tucked into something called an envelope; and a small sticky rectangle was applied to the outside, before dropping the envelopes into a blue box. The world was very large and distant, back then.

I nearly died in 1988 at age 36, from a ruptured appendix. It changed my life.
For a number of years prior, I was continually confronted by mentors with a question:
What would you do with your life, if you knew you could not fail?
The reality is that I fail, all the time—I don’t meet my expectations, which, by my nature, tend to be unreasonably high. I’ve learned that apparent failure does not have to be final.

I’ve been a freelance commercial artist and designer for over 40 years; primarily working on commission for individuals as sort of a “professional hobby” while working at college and construction jobs, until 1998, when I took a Medical Layoff from my fourteen-year career with the Bureau of Buildings in Portland. There I worked as a Commercial Building Plans Examiner. During my college years, I exhibited my artwork in non-juried shows but found little time for “serious” illustration until my brush with death caused me to re-evaluate my goals and priorities. I realized that my future wasn’t as predictable as it appeared; and that the Creator has given me a talent intended to be used for the benefit of others. In 1990 I decided it was time to get “serious” about my career as an illustrator. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators [SCBWI] and began learning about the career of Illustration.

River pilot
Norman Rockwell’s River Pilot

My goal was to emulate the illustration style of the Golden Age of Illustration; Norman Rockwell’s paintings became my mentors, as well as the work of Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I spent about eight years focusing on my illustration skills; when I left my work with the City, I discovered that the world of Illustration had changed. Children’s Book illustrators had become cartoonists and photographers had become illustrators. There’s nothing wrong with cartoonists; I just don’t have the talent to be one. I’d spent something like twenty years studying drafting and Technical Illustration.

I’ve illustrated five children’s books that few have read; illustrated books for adult audiences that few have read, created book jackets, illustrations for cable television; worked as a web designer; created videos; have my own website [mjarts.com], and have portfolios on a bunch of retail sales sites [Society 6, Redbubble, for example]. I’ve designed houses across America and one in England. I’ve designed schools. I am a digital publisher, with books on Amazon US and UK.

From the perspective of fame and income—the primary measurements of ‘success’ in America today—my experiment with self-employment has largely been a ‘failure’. I’ve had one-man art shows that few remember; I have illustrations in a museum in Dallas, Texas I’ve never visited [I don’t even know if they are on display]; I’ve created thousands of images as a commercial artist. I’ve spent so much on advertising over the years—money I borrowed from creditors—that I can’t afford to ‘retire’, now that I am at that age. My dependence on pain medication to enable me to meet my own overly-high expectations may have caused permanent damage to my body. I thought I would become famous, in spite of the fact that I am ‘asocial’ to the point of being antisocial. I have a hard time imagining how I would respond to actually being famous. I’m not comfortable around strangers; unless I am able to put my ‘public’ mask on…the mask I learned to wear while working for the City of Portland. I’ve often said that writers and illustrators are people who are comfortable in, and accustomed to, working alone in a room for days at a time. This isn’t a career for those who thrive on social interaction.

I can’t imagine doing anything else.

My wife and I survive because I worked for the City of Portland. My Medical Layoff was ‘supposed’ to become a partial disability retirement. Six months after I was ‘kicked out’ [I did not fully understand the nature of setting a ‘retirement’ date], during which time I could not work [it’s hard to justify a disability retirement while working], I finally learned that my partial retirement, and its Appeals, were denied. I had, upon my doctor’s orders, given up a very-well-paying job, at age 46, with no other job options at hand. Once again. Never leave a job without knowing where you are going.
In 1999 became a consultant. Architects who called me every day at the City, for [free] Building Code advice, weren’t interested in paying for my advice. Over the years, it worked.

I sold my first book jacket that year. My first b/w children’s book was published in 2000; my first color children’s book was in 2002 for a major publishing house; the book was sold only as part of an elementary school curriculum. I was the third choice for the book, because the first choice had to back out. I don’t know what happened to #2; I learned about the existence of #1 & #2 because an agent tactlessly sent the ‘score sheet’ along with the manuscript. Two names crossed off ahead of mine, and the list wasn’t in alphabetical order. My favorite project was the illustration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia for a Korean publisher. The book had a Korean manuscript, but the publisher wanted a Western illustrator. The Korean book design was better than I imagined…and the company went out of business. My contract gave me ownership of the original art; I am in the process of remaking the book, now in Public Domain. My plan is to republish the book on Kindle by next summer, using Doyle’s original manuscript.

When I turned 62, I finally started collecting that ‘partial disability retirement’. When I turned 65, I started collecting Social Security, and experimented with not doing Code work. Another failed experiment. I have a collection of failed experiments. Now, at 66, I have more time for illustration.
I have a degenerative neurological condition that is affecting my ability to draw. I can still hold onto a computer mouse. More of my work has become digital. I draw faces; I rely heavily on a collection of hands, eyes and faces created over the decades.

I enjoy creating illustrations with female heroes. I grow tired of old white men running the world. They suck at it. I am an old, white man; an immigrant son. Second Generation on my Mom’s side of the family; Third Generation on my Dad’s side. My family emigrated here from Norway and Sweden.
I recently created a Wonder Woman illustration protecting a woman from Cancer, a tall ugly looking creature. A gift for a very brave woman, I know; one of many in this world and in my family.

My fascination with BBC’s Doctor Who is part of the reason I’ve been so engrossed in creating “The Unwritten Adventures of the 13th Doctor”—illustrations I began creating during the summer of last year. One of my latest illustrations has become a favorite of mine—Jenny Flint of the Paternoster Detective Agency, located in Victorian London:

Jenny Flint

In this unwritten story [you can find illustrations from other Unwritten Stories at my Redbubble store [https://www.redbubble.com/people/mjartscom/collections/971115-the-13th-doctor]. The Doctor returns again to Victorian London, shortly after regenerating; as The Doctor did once before. Having overcome their confusion, The Doctor begins an adventure with The Great Detective and her Paternoster Detective Agency: Madame Vastra, the lizard lady from Earth’s ancient past; her companion Jenny Flint, martial arts expert and swordswoman; and their Sontaran servant, Strax. He looks rather like a baked potato in a suit. Sontarans are cloned; Strax has difficulty understanding genders. Once again, The Doctor has managed to bring prehistoric creatures forward in time.

I’m not often pleased with my work. I managed to get this one right. The original is something like 2ft wide.

The 13th Doctor and the Paternoster Detective Agency

The reality is that I fail, all the time—I don’t meet my expectations, which, by my nature, tend to be unreasonably high. I’ve learned that apparent failure does not have to be final.

Failure is only final when you allow it to be.

More about that next time.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 169: HPtFtU [part 6]

September 30, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC in the last week.
The Confirmation Hearing appeared to be about politics; the composition of the Supreme Court is intended to be above politics. The Human Propensity of F**k things Up.

Ford Kavanaugh GrahamWe once again know that one person can change the world.

I don’t know which one is telling the truth— Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or Judge Brett Kavanaugh; one is, one isn’t. Hopefully an unbiased FBI investigation will provide the answer. It’s already rumored that an unbiased investigation won’t occur. Rumors say that the President is limiting the scope of the FBI investigation. Sadly, the rumors seem credible, based on the President’s past behavior.
Lindsey Graham is a mystery to me. The impassioned Congressman who waxed eloquent about ‘restoring the honor of the Office of Presidency’ during President Clinton’s impeachment hearing, does not seem to see the Office of the Presidency in the same light, now that he is a Senator. But he was right in his pre-election opinion of above; the Republican party won’t be the same again.

The selection of a new Justice to fill the 9th seat in the the Supreme Court does not appear to be about bringing impartiality to the Court; perhaps it hasn’t been about impartiality for a long time. If I ever had to appear before the Supreme Court—and I can’t think how that might happen—I won’t care about conservative vs. liberal; I will want impartiality.
To confirm as a Supreme Court Justice, a sexual predator with an anger and alcohol problem would be a crime, in my opinion. If the Judge proves to be innocent of all the allegations made against him, he will be owed a large apology by the American people. The American people may never be able to forget the allegations, true or not. Based upon his most recent appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I would never want to appear before him on a bad day.

It is possible that the Judge has grown beyond past failings but fears the exposure of the man he used to be. People can change, people can receive Forgiveness; but real Forgiveness is a Gift from the Creator. Humans are generally rubbish at offering Forgiveness without some form of retribution—especially when it comes to politics—Forgiveness doesn’t often happen in public life. The true nature of Forgiveness is not about retribution. Retribution is a human failing; one of the prime examples of HPtFtU. The Creator provides Redemption.
If the allegations are true, the family of the Judge may not know about the man he used to be. A ‘panic mode’ reaction may have been the cause of his angry display last week; he may not believe he can be forgiven for his past. In human terms, and in the terms of those who have been damaged, forgiveness might not be given. The important part of Forgiveness is not its effect on a job opportunity. Forgiveness is a pathway toward wholeness.

If the allegations are true, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s life will never be the same again. I imagine that this last week has been a second assault on her psyche—another memory lodged in her hippocampus, one that will also not be forgotten. If the allegations are true, her attacker cannot remove the fear, the guilt, the shame of that incident. Only the Creator can help her to make new connections in her neural pathways.

However, nothing can happen without Confession. Not necessarily Confession to a public audience; the important Confession is that between person and their Creator. The other Confessions are window dressing.

We tell our children that in America, one can be whatever one wants to be, if they put enough effort into making that goal happen. A large part of the ‘doing’ is Character. There is a myth that says people of bad character will always be found out. It’s a myth.
History shows that one person can change the course of ‘the world’—be it a nation, or a people or a time—by their actions in the world. Despots, tyrants, heroes of both genders, leaders of nations…or one woman who faced death threats against herself and her family, in order to fight for justice. One woman in many parts of the world facing unforgiving male dominance, young girls who have been assaulted and blamed for their being attacked. My hope, especially for my daughter and granddaughter, and for all women, is that finally the world will realize that the time for Equality has come. Treating all people in the same manner without regard to race, religion, political affiliation, or wealth. A time when the Tribalism will end. The planet Earth needs for Tribalism to end. We need to work together to effect global change.

We all share the same Earth; and it is severely damaged. There is no Planet B.

Earth Scientists warn that natural disasters will increase, as the planet warms, as greenhouse gases become trapped in our atmosphere. Polar ice caps are losing their volume far faster than predicted. The level of the sea is rising, and coastal communities are losing ground.

Religious people of the Christian persuasion have a tendency to consider the state of the Earth as being somewhat unimportant; because Scripture says that when the End of Days comes, the Earth will be remade. If we ruin the Earth we have, we will simply make the End come sooner…
Scripture teaches that we were created to be Stewards of this world that the Creator gave to us. If the Creator remakes the world, that’s the Creator’s decision; remaking does not give permission for destruction.

We now know again that one person can change the world.

We know that a President can, by strokes of a pen, destroy all of the progress made in the previous eight years toward slowing the damage to the Earth. Protection for the environment granted by Presidential Executive Order can just as easily be torn up by his successor.
Somehow, the super-rich don’t seem to realize that all their wealth won’t buy them environmental security. The United States is the only country in the world that has rejected the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and has promised to withdraw from it. That withdrawal, unless it is stopped by Presidential order, will occur next year.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/syria-is-joining-the-paris-agreement-now-what/545261/

In the last few days I’ve spent several hours reading and responding to the concerns of victims of sexual assault; women who are reliving their assault because one woman has the ‘audacity’/bravery to stand up to a room-full of old white men determined to confirm a new Supreme Court justice, whatever it takes. The bravery to relive an attack that happened thirty-ish years ago. When I write comments to other people on Facebook, I always hope that my comments will be ‘messages in a bottle’—messages I send out with hopes that no one will comment back. I don’t enjoy conversations with strangers. At the same time, I have decided, in my personal life, to reach out to those who are damaged in order to help them to heal.

Fearless Girl

The only way that I know to help is prayer.
Not ‘magical thinking’, not waiting for some supernatural genie to grant my wish.
Prayer helps us align our thinking with the Creator of the Universe. We do not ask the Creator of the Universe to align with us.
People ask the question, ‘how could a loving God allow the awful things in this world to happen?’
I think the better question is, ‘how could a loving Creator even bother with human beings? As a mass, we are cruel, we are divisive. We are tribal. But, as individual human beings, I believe, with Dr. King, that we can do better…

“I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice… With this faith we will be able to hue out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood…”

The Creator of the Universe entered time and space in the form of a single cell embedded into the womb of a teenaged girl. The Creator of the Universe experienced the life of woodworker, an itinerant preacher and His undeserved death in the Roman Empire’s harshest form of execution. Just to show us that death isn’t final. We can be renewed.

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 169: HPtFtU [part 5]

September 24, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC.

There, but for the Grace of God, go I…

I knew a guy in college, I was a Freshman, he was a Sophomore [it means ‘wise idiot’]. His brain, which was very well-functioning—he was a Pre-Med student—his brain was located slightly behind his bladder. His plan was to become a gynecologist; so that he could grope women all day long. I never saw him again after that term. I don’t know if his brain ever made its ascent to where it belonged…

A man in his eighties, a venerated man in Federal government; who has spent nearly his entire adult life wandering the halls of Congress, the halls of the Senate. A man who can’t remember the last time he ever broke a sweat, other than being horizontal or on some sort of recreational activity. Living most of his life being deferred to. A man who stands in judgement of his fellow human beings, nearly every day of his life. Or not. He may just live for the giving of opinions, based on his credibility of having wandered the halls of Federal government every day, being called by his title… And he judges his fellow human beings, who actually have to work for a living.

When old white men talk about not ruining a career of another man, because of what happened in college, decades ago, they seem to ignore the damaged life of the woman; the damage that was created by ‘boys will be boys’… And these are the men who are determining the course of our National honor. Do we still have National honor?

Angel of Grief 3

The image above, for me, is a metaphor. Scripture tells me Angels exist; Scripture also tells me that they probably have little in common with the angels found on television and movies… Humans have a need to view theological matters as if they are human in scale.

Perhaps it is true that we are living in an era of anger. An article I read says that most people dislike the anger of today’s America; but don’t really want to stop being angry… Anger is a choice.

A life of Faith did not come easily to me. The study of Architecture and Illustration actually leave the mind with a great deal of time to think about larger issues—so much of drawing is hand/eye coordination—it either looks like it’s supposed to, or it doesn’t; if it doesn’t, you erase. A lot of mental time during my 5 years of college was involved in the ‘meditation’ over things I had been reading. Being a total stranger to the concept of Faith, I read a lot. I still read theology every day.

I am a follower of Yeshua [Latinized as Jesus]; for me, the life of following Yeshua leads me to a life of progressive, democratic socialism [no caps]. The capitalist society our government affirms is diametrically opposed to the life of Yeshua. I believe that Government has the responsibility to deal with the societal ills that society—usually in the form of local government—refuses to deal with: affordable health care, affordable housing, affordable education, the mending of damaged Veterans, homelessness. Areas of responsibility that most of the developed world manages to deal with, because these things are considered ‘human rights.’ In America, “the Land of the Free,” ‘human rights’ need to be the result of legislation; and the argument always arises that we don’t have enough money to care for those who need help from others. In spite of the fact that other developed nations seem to operate well, taking care of their nation’s population. Of course, most of the developed world has military expenditures far less than ours. The United States spends more on its military than the next seven highest spenders combined:

US military budgets

In America, failure is often ‘final’. If you screw up, ‘you’re done for.’ If your own personal HPtFtU is bad enough, you wear an orange jumpsuit for much of your life [under Florida law, Grand Theft is “any intentional and unlawful taking of property valued at $300.00 or more. Grand theft is a felony offense, with penalties that may include prison, probation, fines, restitution, and a permanent criminal record” [ www.husseinandwebber.com/crimes/theft-fraud/grand-theft ]. In this day and age, how easy is it for something to cost $300? Theft is wrong; but is stealing an Xbox or a laptop or a smartphone something that deserves a prison term and a lifetime criminal record? Especially when stealing innocence—something that occurs every day in this country; on a huge scale—the stealing of innocence is considered as ‘boys will be boys.’

Our current President was allegedly told by his attorney “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/fear-trump-in-the-white-house-bob-woodward-sessions-mattis-assad-cohn-kelly-us-president-a8523396.html

This is something new in our country. A clueless President, when it comes to matters of Fact and Truth. ‘Fact’ and Truth’ become flexible terms that mean what one wants them to. Nixon knew that sanctioning the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters was wrong; he simply felt he was above the law. I don’t get the sense that anything our current President says or does is seen by him as being wrong.
The President, in a recent campaign speech, told the people in the hall that if he gets impeached, it will be their fault—for not voting. He seems to overlook the part where his behavior is involved. Only two other Presidents have been impeached; neither of them was an unnamed co-conspirator in multiple felony investigations. In the weeks ahead, it will worsen. The President’s financial secrets are becoming far less secret; lifelong allies are making plea bargains. They didn’t sign-on for life in an orange jumpsuit.
https://mic.com/articles/191163/trump-impeachment-will-be-midterm-election-issue#.PdG115fzr

My recollection of the Watergate scandal [I was around 18 at the time] was that what bothered my parents’ friends the most wasn’t the break-in; what truly bothered the average citizen when the Nixon tapes were released, was the extreme amount of profanity used by President Nixon, in the White House [the ‘sanctuary’ of our Civil Religion]. Nixon’s language, offensive at the time, was less offensive than the dialog of many R-rated movies today.
It was a matter of National honor. Do we still have National honor?

Do you ever wonder why your own HPtFtU happens?

Most of my errors are from not adequately thinking about alternatives; a feeling that my impulse is correct. Then there’s always the issue of hiding shame when my choice turns out to be wrong. One of the problems of a life of Faith is that it seems as though one who seeks to follow a life of honoring the Creator encounters something like Divine Intervention. My own experiences of ‘Divine Intervention’ have been something that affected me alone, and that I could never show or prove Divine Intervention to someone else. As if some event in my life, that really had no impact on anyone else, was a result of something that has no explanation. As a follower of Yeshua, I don’t believe in ‘accidents’ or coincidence. Everything that happens in my life is known by the Creator. Miracles continue to happen.

I have often made a choice that seemed like a good one, one that in some way could honor the Creator even if it stretched conventional wisdom; and it blows up in my face. A bad choice that often leaves me with long-lasting consequences. Money I never should have spent on ‘good ideas.’ For all I know, my debilitating neurological disorder could be a result of my overuse of chemicals—mostly pain medications. In recent years I have again learned how willing I am to depend upon chemicals to enable me to overcome pain and consequently sacrifice my health in order to meet commitments I never should have made in the first place. I have a tendency to be an enabler and a rescuer.
My foolishness does not reflect on the Creator.

‘How can a loving God allow bad things to happen to good people?’

To begin with, I’ve never met a good person. I’ve met lots of people; they have all had the HPtFtU. A lot of them haven’t had to deal with the consequences of their HPtFtU; or they didn’t bother to tell me about it.

For decades, scientists have been warning us about global warming and the problem of too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. We’ve ignored them. It was better to build some new industrial facility—one that would bring jobs to some part of the country. I have a hard time believing that framers of the Constitution envisioned school- and other shootings as a positive consequence of the ‘right to bear arms;’ or a necessary reality of American life. The Constitution grants the right for Americans to be stupid; it does not mean that we can’t have a Constitutional alternative that is wiser. But people would then need to sacrifice their own concerns for the benefit of others.

I have a friend who was a child during World War II; one of his frequent complaints is that when people talk about ‘the greatest generation’ they are usually talking about the soldiers who fought in the War. In his opinion, ‘the greatest generation’ refers to the citizens who sacrificed their own pleasures in order to make sure that the soldiers had the tools they needed to do the fighting. Rationing at a level that most of us would find offensive. We Americans today are not in the practice of sacrificing our wants for the needs of others...

blue dot

Carl Sagan labeled the Earth as a ‘pale blue dot’ in an image taken in 1990 by Voyager I, as it was leaving the Solar System. The planet Earth is the barely visible dot within the circle above. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, orders of magnitude larger than the Earth, is also shown. The Sun dwarfs them both.

Lagoon Nebula (Infrared-light View)

The Lagoon Nebula is a giant interstellar cloud within the constellation Sagittarius, about 4100 light years from Earth. A ‘cloud’ within one constellation in the night sky.

Our Sun is the size of one of the orange dots above. Earth is invisible. Does this make you feel small and insignificant? Good. We are small and insignificant. However, the Creator of the Universe is Infinite; the concepts of ‘large’ and ‘small’ are virtually non-existent.

The Creator of the entire Universe entered time and space [where size is significant] in the form of Yeshua—a single cell implanted in the womb of a teenage girl. He grew to become a carpenter in a tiny town in a tiny country ruled by the Roman government. Yeshua did not come to save us from Hell; in spite of all the words spoken by preachers across the world. Yeshua came to make us whole. Whole, in spite of our HPtFtU. Yeshua came to save us from ourselves. Yeshua lacked the HPtFtU; but was treated as if He had it. He was killed because He made the ‘religious right’ uncomfortable. But He didn’t stay dead. You don’t need to, either.

What would you do with your life, if you knew you could not fail?

There is a wonderful legal term most often used by coroners: ‘misadventure: an accidental mishap or misfortune.’ Apparent failure does not have to be final.

What would you do with your life, if you knew you could not fail?

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 168: HPtFtU [part 4]

September 17, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC.

Picture to yourself a man who has risen to wealth

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

Elsewhere, Lewis suggests that the ‘gates of Hell’ are locked from the inside—to keep the Creator out.
Quoting again from Unapologetic:

I’m a very this-worldly Christian. I am averagely afraid of dying, but I don’t believe because I expect, or want, to have an unlimited future, tweedling about with a harp while the stars of the Western Spiral Arm burn out one by one. I believe because I know I’ve got a past and a present in which the HPtFtU did and does its usual work, and I want a way of living which opens out more widely and honestly and lovingly than I can manage for myself, which widens rather than narrowing with each destructive decision. Like the Christian Aid slogan says, I believe in life before death. For me and for everyone else. I don’t care about heaven. I want, I need, the promise of mending.

Mended is not the same thing as never broken. We are not being promised that it will be as if the bad stuff never happened. It’s amnesty that’s being offered, not amnesia; hope, not pretense. The story of your life will still be the story of your life, permanently. It will still have the kinks and twists and corners you gave it. The consequences of your actions, for you and for other people, will roll inexorably on. God can’t take these away, or your life would not be your life, you would not be you, the world would not be the world. He can only take from us—take over for us—the guilt and the fear, so that we can start again free, in hope. So that we are freed to try again and fail again, better. He can only overwhelm the HPtFtU with Grace.

Which we can now define. Grace is forgiveness we can’t earn. Grace is the weeping father on the road. Grace is tragedy accepted with open arms, and somehow turned to good. Grace is what the wasteful death on Skull Hill did.

When I want to explain the concept of Faith to someone who does not believe in such things, I understand completely. I remember my days of adulthood without Faith—mostly clinical depression that I never would have thought of having diagnosed—granted, this was 45 years ago. The recollection isn’t as clear as I’d like—but I don’t want to forget the nights of lying on my bed, under a red ‘night light’ listening to the folk music of the late 60s and the early 70s—trying to understand how the world in the Vietnam era was ever going to improve; how could we recover from the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King? I saw no hope of improvement; many of my generation felt the same way.
This current era of Feckless Politicians, Unending War and Climate Change feels much the same. Post-apocalyptic movies and gaming—the concept of War being a game that children play is beyond my understanding—a sense of hopelessness in the media. Evangelistic Preachers who for decades preach to their congregations about the Moral Code they should instill in the children; only to find out that these Preachers are racist, misogynistic and supportive of politicians that break every aspect of the Moral Code they’ve been preaching about—simply because they want conservative judges on the Supreme Court. I keep coming to this quotation from Thomas Jefferson:
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

I am a heretic.
I’m a Presbyterian Elder serving in a Lutheran Church with a large number of politically-conservative people in its membership. The words of the Magnificent Nadia Bolz-Weber come to mind:

There’s a refrain I hear from the lips of many Christians these days, whenever the subject turns to the growing dumpster fire in DC and the resulting unrest in our nation:
“Relax, God is in control.”
The words are designed as a conversation stopper; an iron-clad, sanctified mic drop, exempting them from further discussion on the matters at hand and supposedly assuaging all my fears in four simple words.
The only problem is—it’s not true, at least not in the way they might like it to be right now.
In these days, with so much that is untenable and threatening and worrisome, tossing off a quick “God’s got it” is a subtle bit of heresy:
It imagines that God engineers election outcomes the same way as football scores.
It exonerates people from any culpability for a vote they perhaps now feel was regrettable.
It nullifies any concept of personal free will, by giving God ultimate veto power over us.
It excuses inaction in the face of other people’s present suffering.
In matters of injustice and suffering and evil—it essentially passes the buck to God.
But the story of the Scriptures is one of this same God, granting Humanity the power over their choices; giving them the ability to be co-creators in this world by the decisions they make. Though God is all-powerful, God does not exercise that power to coerce us. We are not mindless robots simply performing the tasks we are pre-programmed to—we are fully responsible for the stuff we do and say and think.
What this means, is that saying God is in control, while doing little or nothing to alter the planet in any meaningful way is spiritual rebellion. It is a willing abdication of our calling to be makers of peace here. It expects that God will clean up whatever horrible mess we make—and that our prayers alone will serve as the sole request form.
I don’t believe this is true and it isn’t Biblical. I don’t believe Jesus spent three years imploring people to love their neighbors as themselves, to feed the poor, to protect the vulnerable, to love our enemies, and to bind up wounds of strangers—if God had already written the script and we’re all just playing the whole thing out in flesh and blood without getting to improvise and change lines.

The image below is not a picture of God; this is a portion of a painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted from the imagination of Michelangelo; and altered by me.

God-Sistine

There are many who apparently can only imagine ‘things of God’ in the context of our human lives. Because they can’t find some guy who looks the image above, floating somewhere in Space, ‘God cannot exist’. The problem is that this view of the Creator is far too small.
The Creator has taught me many valuable lessons during the *interesting* journey of raising children into adulthood; the Creator uses my children to teach me many things I could never learn in a church. One day, when my two small sons were ‘helping me’ repair the short ‘bridge’ my children used to cross the drainage ditch alongside the road in front of our house, I told the Spirit of the Creator that I could have made the repairs much faster, and possibly ‘better’ without my sons’ help. I distinctly heard the still, small voice of the Creator’s Spirit in reply: “I know exactly how you feel.”
One of the boys picked up a rock from somewhere in the yard and was looking at all of the wiggly critters running for cover. I realized, at that moment, that the Creator’s entry into time and space in the form of Jesus would be like me choosing to become one of those multipedes in order to show them how to live…
We imagine, somehow, that being created ‘in the image of God’ implies some sort of equal footing between us and the Creator of the entire Universe.

This is possibly a more accurate image of the Creator; since the Creator was here about 12 billion years ago, creating galaxies:

COSMOS-AzTEC-1 12 bilLightYears
The galaxy designated COSMOS-AzTEC-1

The image below is a graphic representation of Human Understanding about the nature of the Universe. You have to look carefully to see the tiny, tiny dots representing Earth, Mercury and Pluto [it’s now a planet again].

Solar System_mj_2

The church has been playing ‘catch-up’ with science since Copernicus, in the 16th Century, or thereabouts. Copernicus upset the Church by theorizing that the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than the other way around…he was considered a heretic. An uncomfortable place to be, at that point in time.
Metaphorically, in the image above, the Church’s understanding of the Universe, compared to the diameter of the Earth, puts the Church around the size of Mars; always a little behind. Science on the other hand, has been more like the diameter of Uranus [pun intended] compared to Earth. However, the Sun is ENORMOUS compared to the almost invisible Earth, labeled as “the blue dot” in a famous photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe, as it was leaving the Solar System. We simply aren’t even in the same order of magnitude as the Creator.

‘If the Creator of the Universe is that ENORMOUS, how could we possibly be of any significance?’ The problem is that our concept of time and space is sequential. If Time [Kairos] isn’t merely sequential, and the Creator is Infinite, then size is irrelevant. What could possibly be large to an Infinite Creator?
People get hung up on the concept of ‘being created in the image of God’ as having something to do with physical appearance. When society opens its eyes to see, we find that our physical appearance is about the least important part of our being. People spend millions of dollars attempting to stop the advancement of time; the fact is that Time batters the heck out of all of us—often at a ‘too early’ age. I can pretty well guarantee that given an ordinary human that has gainful employment and other activities in life to use up Time, that human will fare poorly when the sixties and seventies roll around. If you haven’t been able to devote large amounts of your energy holding back time, you will look old. Even Jackie Chan, a professional athlete if there ever was one, is visibly bearing the ravages of time, and the abusing of his body [Jackie is two years younger than I].

I believe that ‘being created in the image of the Creator’ refers to our ability to create; our ability to make choices about our behavior. Our decisions about how we will live. One of my never-met mentors, Tim Hansel, once wrote:

I’m still convinced that if you have to move even ten inches from where you are now in order to be happy, you never will be.

Tim was a mountaineering instructor who fell one day from an ice bridge. He dropped 30 feet vertically, landing heavily on his upper back and neck. Although he got up and hiked the 20 miles to the car, the damage was done. Cracked vertebrae. Crushed discs. Fragments of bone lodged in his neck. The result was chronic, debilitating pain that would be with him for the next 35 years. His vertebrae having fused arthritically, he was advised by a neurosurgeon to quit worrying about hurting himself, and do whatever the pain would allow him to do—all the damage that could happen had already happened—and to ‘live to be a hundred’. He died at the age of 68, probably a fulfilled human being.
To a large degree, happiness is a decision.
This ability to decide is a gift from the Creator.

What would you do with your life, if you knew you could not fail?

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 165: HPtFtU [part 2]

September 6, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC.
I’m going to quote, frequently, from Spufford in the coming weeks…but not quite yet.

A Facebook page I’m a member of had the question, “how can God and evolution both be true?’ I was tempted to write an answer, but I get tired of people commenting on my comment, who really haven’t given it much thought. So, I’ll do it here.
How can God and evolution both be true? Because a large portion of Scripture is metaphor:

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect. It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two ideas. One of the most commonly cited examples of a metaphor in English literature is the “All the world’s a stage” monologue from As You Like It:
    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances …
    —William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2/7
This quotation expresses a metaphor because the world is not literally a stage. By asserting that the world is a stage, Shakespeare uses points of comparison between the world and a stage to convey an understanding about the mechanics of the world and the behavior of the people within it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor

Yeshua [Latinized as Jesus] said that He was the living water, and those who drink from this water will never thirst. This is a metaphor. Water is not alive, unless one considers microbes—and the people of Yeshua’s time did not know about microbes. Followers of Yeshua get thirsty, particularly in the summer. The operative concept is “thirst.” Yeshua was addressing the ‘hunger’ and ‘thirst’ we feel when we try to understand ourselves; when we try to fill the emptiness we sometimes feel.

Creatio_of_Adam2
Creation of Adam [modified] by Michelangelo; stained glass by Michael Greer

This painting is a metaphor; Michelangelo did not travel back in time, to the “sixth day of Creation” and snap a photo. However, many Christians seem to accept the concept that God is somehow like us [more, next time]. Many/most Christians’ theology is a mixture of Bible verses, songs they like, sermons they’ve heard and Bible Study texts they’ve read.
Some Christians apparently have very thin Bibles—those who manage to completely ignore Isaiah 58, and all of the similar passages which clearly spell out the Creator’s expectations for ‘the followers of God’—the way we are supposed to treat people who are not like us. At present, America is rubbish at meeting this expectation. There are other readers of Scripture who manage to not comprehend the nature of the if/then, Conditional nature of Scripture—“if you do this, then you will be blessed’. They prefer to quote the ‘then’ portions of texts while ignoring the if. “If you do your homework, then you get dessert.”
Getting back to Michelangelo, he was not intending to teach for centuries, from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, that God looks like a buff older man with a beard; surrounded by naked beings. If one looks at this portrayal of the Creator for too long, one can get all sorts of ideas about the Creator that are probably wrong. Michelangelo’s painting is a metaphor for Genesis 1:27; and Genesis 1:27 is a metaphor for the creation of human beings. One of the reasons that Genesis 2:7 differs from 1:27 [both are descriptions of the creation of humans on the sixth day of Creation] is that this is all metaphor: figures of speech, “providing clarity or identifying hidden similarities between two ideas”.

Does this mean that the words of Genesis aren’t true? No. It does mean that the words of Genesis should not be taken literally, as if it was a science text; nor as a history text. Scripture is the story of the Creator’s actions with human beings; and it tells the story of the beginning of the nation of Israel, and its downfall; and most importantly, Scripture tells how the Creator of the entire Universe entered human time and space in the form of a single cell implanted in the womb of a teenaged girl—basically the first “In vitro fertilization” (IVF).  

Scripture [meaning the Scripture of the Jewish, Christian and Islam faiths] does not teach about the Creator’s interactions with the human beings of the Western Hemisphere/ the Americas. These people ‘did not exist’ to those in the Mediterranean world. Scripture also leaves out Asia and most of Africa [except by inference]. Why? Because Scripture isn’t a World History text. There are ~400 years between the end of the Book of Micah and Yeshua’s entry into the world, where the Creator sent no prophets to guide Israel. The Creator was silent. Four centuries–most of American history, as a reference. The Temple, the seat of the Jewish faith, was destroyed in about 70 A.D. Consequently, the Hebrew Scriptures have very little to say about the modern state of Israel, and its creation after World War II. There are prophecies: again, metaphors. People who want Israel to be considered an act of the Creator, read the prophecies in the manner they want to read them.

It’s our HPtFtU that causes war, and violent death, and poverty, and shame. These four words create a circle of death.
It is my HPtFtU that causes me sleepless nights, and my FEARs [False Evidence Appearing Real—I am not omniscient]; it is very possibly the cause of the constant pain I deal with. None of my Neurologists have come up with better answers.
It is our HPtFtU that causes us to have broken relationships with other people who have their own version of HPtFtU; we are all broken, we are all in need of mending.

Finally, the quotation from Francis Spufford, from his wonderful book, Unapologetic. I could have written these words, but I lack the talent:

I’m a very this-worldly Christian. I am averagely afraid of dying, but I don’t believe because I expect, or want, to have an unlimited future, tweedling about with a harp while the stars of the Western Spiral Arm burn out one by one. I believe because I know I’ve got a past and a present in which the HPtFtU did and does its usual work, and I want a way of living which opens out more widely and honestly and lovingly than I can manage for myself, which widens rather than narrowing with each destructive decision. Like the Christian Aid slogan says, I believe in life before death. For me and for everyone else. I don’t care about heaven. I want, I need, the promise of mending.
Mended is not the same thing as never broken. We are not being promised that it will be as if the bad stuff never happened. It’s amnesty that’s being offered, not amnesia; hope, not pretense. The story of your life will still be the story of your life, permanently. It will still have the kinks and twists and corners you gave it. The consequences of your actions, for you and for other people, will roll inexorably on. God can’t take these away, or your life would not be your life, you would not be you, the world would not be the world. He can only take from us—take over for us—the guilt and the fear, so that we can start again free, in hope. So that we are freed to try again and fail again, better. He can only overwhelm the HPtFtU with Grace.
Which we can now define. Grace is forgiveness we can’t earn. Grace is the weeping father on the road. Grace is tragedy accepted with open arms, and somehow turned to good. Grace is what the wasteful death on Skull Hill did.

The one thing that I would add is that my encounters with the Spirit of the Creator, over 40+ years simply can’t be considered anything else. I’ve tried. Do I mistake ‘chance’ [something I don’t believe in] for the Spirit of the Creator? Probably; sometimes. I too have to address my own HPtFtU. I can’t convince you of what I’ve experienced; it’s something that one needs to experience themselves.

garden gethsemane rev2
Peter’s HPtFtU in The Garden of Gethsemane

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 165: The Human Propensity to Foul things Up

September 3, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his absolutely wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses a different four-letter F-word than I’ve used above; I have readers that remember, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, that this word [historically accurate or not] stands for For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge; aka rape. I remain amazed that such a vicious word has become common grammar in the 21st Century; particularly in the light of the #MeToo situation in our world. It raises the question as to whether the way we speak can change the world…

I’m going to quote, frequently, from Spufford in the coming weeks:

    “Christianity parts company with the other two monotheisms. Unlike the oldest (Judaism) and the youngest (Islam) of the one-god religions, the middle sibling isn’t interested in coming up with a set of sustainable rules for living by. Jewish laws of behavior and Muslim laws of behavior may be demanding to keep at times, but they can be kept. That’s the point of them, that’s what they’re for…
    “The idea is to have a set of laws like a wearable coat, a coat that everyone can put on if they are willing to make the effort. In Judaism and Islam, you don’t have to be a saint to know that you are managing to be an adequately good woman, an adequately good man. Islam and Judaism accomplish this livability, this wearability, this sustainability, by paying more attention to what people do than to what they feel about it. They’re religions of orthopraxy, right doing, not orthodoxy, right thinking or teaching. Do the right actions, and you can be hissing and spitting inside, or bored senseless, or going through the motions to please your family, and it still counts. Virtue has still been achieved. The result is in some ways a lot more moderate, a lot more stable than Christianity; and it can be very humane too, with plentiful opportunities for the unvirtuous or ex-virtuous to rejoin virtue’s ranks. But it does, indeed, produce a judged picture of the world. It produces a moralized landscape in which the good people can be told from the bad people; in which all human actions can be split into two categories, pure or impure, clean or dirty, permitted or forbidden, kosher or trayf, halal or haram.
     “Christianity does something different. It makes frankly impossible demands. Instead of asking for specific actions, it offers general but lunatic principles. It thinks you should give your possessions away, refuse to defend yourself, love strangers as much as your family, behave as if there’s no tomorrow. These principles do not amount to a sustainable program. They deliberately ignore the question of how they could possibly be maintained. They ask you to manifest in your ordinary life a drastically uncalculating, unprotected generosity. And that’s not all. Christianity also makes what you mean by your behavior all-important. You could pauperize yourself, get slapped silly without fighting back, care for lepers and laugh all day long in the face of futures markets, and it still wouldn’t count, if you did it for the wrong reasons. Not only is Christianity insanely perfectionist in its few positive recommendations, it’s also insanely perfectionist about motive. It won’t accept generosity performed for the sake of self-interest as generosity. It says that unless altruism is altruism all the way down, it doesn’t count as altruism at all.
    “So far, so thrillingly impractical. But now notice the consequence of having an ideal of behavior not sized for human lives: everyone fails. Really everyone. No one only means well, no one means well all the time. Looked at from this perspective, human beings all exhibit different varieties of fuck-up. And suddenly in its utter lack of realism Christianity becomes very realistic indeed, intelligently resigned to our vast array of imperfections, and much more interested in what we can do to live with them than in laws designed to keep them segregated. Christianity maintains no register of clean and unclean. It doesn’t believe in the possibility of clean, just as it doesn’t believe that laws can ever be fully adequate, or that goodness can reliably be achieved by following an instruction book.”

Many Christians do not understand the teachings of Yeshua; they remain stuck in a rule book, one I’ve heard described as the “Owner’s Manual” more times than I can count.
Human beings, in spite of our best intentions, have a Propensity to F**k things Up [HPtFtU]. Not always, not because we intend to do so, but because we are fallible human beings. If someone tells you they never exhibit their HPtFtU, they’ll lie about other things as well.

Religion states that you can follow rules that will ensure that your HPtFtU does not occur. Since we all fail at some points in our lives, this notion is a lie. When Yeshua [Latinized as Jesus] began teaching, he angered all of the religious leaders in the vicinity. When they became angry enough, they persuaded the local Roman government to execute Yeshua as a heretic and an inciter-to-violence. More lies.

kids in cages
Case in point: the Human Propensity to F**k things Up

The United States has become a country that kidnaps children and does not believe it’s a crime because those children have brown skin. We are back in the first half of the 20th Century. We don’t lynch the children; we steal children from their parents and put them into the overworked Foster Care system; often to private corporations whose sole business is the incarceration of human beings. Pundits talk about how their lives are so much better than in the cardboard shack where they lived; ignoring completely the fact that Home is first of all, the family. The mother who carried these children in her body for 9 months; the siblings who teach each other about love. The father that guides.
Depending upon the news service you choose, the number of stolen children our Administration is ignoring is 500, ± 20. The government is making no effort to reunite these children with their parents. Many of the parents were deported without their children; having signed documents they did not understand, which stated that they were giving up their children as a condition of their deportation.
The major problem that too many seem oblivious to: you and I are complicit in this crime. We, the citizens of the United States, without our consent, have become kidnappers. We have possibly ruined the lives of at least 500 children, who were ripped from their mother’s arms with no explanation; and having committed no crime beyond the crime of being born.

Let this settle in for a few minutes.

This crime was committed on purpose, one more crime among many:

There are currently five separate investigations into Trump and his associates from four different investigative bodies. An additional lawsuit brought by two state attorneys general challenges whether Trump is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. There are further reports about probes into the financial dealings of the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his second eldest son, Eric Trump.
The worst may be yet to come for Trump. Zephyr Teachout, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to be the next New York attorney general, has made a promise to fully investigate Trump’s business the central thrust of her candidacy. “Donald Trump’s businesses are here,” Teachout told The Atlantic in August. “What the New York attorney general can do, and as attorney general I’ll make a priority, is investigating those businesses. That power extends to, in the case of extreme illegality, dissolving businesses.”

Democrats also have compiled a massive list of subpoenas targeting the Trump administration and the Trump Organization they hope to file if they win control of the House of Representatives in November.
The number of investigations and lawsuits targeting the president could easily ― and quickly ― metastasize to more than six.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-investigations_us_5b85861de4b0511db3d229d7

Is the President a bad man? Probably; as are we all. It isn’t my job to make these determinations about other people. In my opinion, he’s an incompetent man, who had no idea what was needed to lead a country. He seems to have not made the intellectual leap of realizing that a country is not a business. Given that he’s bankrupted five businesses in the past, is acumen as a businessman is in doubt.
Not only has our country kidnapped a large number of children, we have also turned our backs on the brown-skinned American citizens who live in Puerto Rico:

The latest attempt to get an accurate death toll in Puerto Rico following last year’s Hurricane Maria paints a grim picture: 2,975 “excess” deaths could be attributed to the storm, according to George Washington University researchers. That’s 46 times more than the 64 deaths first reported last fall.
But the counting is far from over, and nobody should be surprised if the death toll in Puerto Rico reaches or exceeds 4,000 by the end of the year.
Here’s why: Many of the conditions responsible for continued excess deaths remain and are unlikely to be appreciably ameliorated anytime soon…
Hurricane Maria has been one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history, killing roughly the same number of people who perished on 9/11 and about 40 percent more than the number who died as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. If Congress doesn’t help the more than 3 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico recover from this catastrophic disaster, who will be held accountable?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-puerto-rico-death-toll-will-only-get-higher/2018/09/02/7b5d2eec-ad51-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?utm_term=.9a5ad91d0647

I worked on the Gulf Coast for a brief period of time, after Katrina; the devastation can’t be adequately described.

Spufford again:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me . . .
There! Did you hear that? He just called himself a wretch. He’s beating himself up in public. Sorry, mate: lovely tune, loony sentiment. Except that “wretch” is actually a very polite word for what John Newton, the eighteenth-century author of “Amazing Grace,” was. John Newton was a slave trader. He made his living transporting cargoes of kidnapped human beings, in conditions of great squalor and suffering, to places where they and their children and their children’s children would be treated all their lives as objects to be bought and sold and brutalized. Some of John Newton’s contemporaries (the ones who weren’t chained below decks in their own shit) may have thought that his profession was only a bit unrespectable; we, on the other hand, recognize that he was participating in one of the world’s great crimes, comparable to the Holocaust. Wretch? John Newton was a horror.
But at least he came to know it. At least he made the journey from comfortable acquiescence in horror to an accurate, and therefore horrified, sense of himself. At least he learned that something was wrong. And “Amazing Grace” is a description of the process by which he began to awaken. The wrinkle is that he wrote it before he gave up slaving. He wrote it under the impression that he had already seen the stuff he should be worrying about—booze and licentiousness, presumably, and playing tiddly-winks on the Sabbath, and not running his slave ship with a swear-box screwed to the mast. In the Holocaust analogy, it’s rather as if a death- camp guard had had a moral crisis, but over cheating his colleagues at poker, and then continued to come to work stoking the ovens, while vowing shakily to be a better person. Yet Newton’s guilt, once found, wouldn’t leave him alone. It went on gradually showing him dark, accurate visions of himself; it went on changing him, until eventually he could not bear the darkness of what he did daily, and gave up the trade, and ended his life as a penitent campaigner against it.

John Newton found Grace.
I found Grace.
Hopefully our President will find Grace.

Donald on the Road to Damascus By Claire Palmer
Donald on the Road to Damascus By Claire Palmer

In June of last year, I was working on an image based on the story of Saul, who was blinded and thrown off his horse, on the way to hunting down the hated members of The Way—followers of Yeshua, who were becoming greater in numbers, and more bothersome for the Religious leaders of Israel. I was pondering the notion of what it would have ‘looked like’ to be there in Damascus at the time Saul was knocked off his horse; or even the more currently applicable incident found in Daniel 4, where:

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar [who was king of Babylon c. 605 BE – c. 562 BCE, the longest reign of any king of the Neo-Babylonian empire]. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird…

King Nebuchadnezzar ended up living in a pasture, eating grass like a donkey, for a very long time, until he finally was ready to admit his arrogance, his wretchedness.

 And the King found Grace…

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 158: Do not abandon the work

July 8, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2_bw
Mama! [2]

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Friday that Trump administration officials have told him and his staff that they view placing separated migrant children in foster care as an equivalent to reuniting them with their families.
“The secretary told us on a conference call they do not have an intention to reunify these children with their parents,” Inslee said on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes,” appearing to refer to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“They’re going to call it good if they can find anybody else who can serve as a foster parent or anybody else who can serve as familial relationship, and these kids don’t even know these strangers,” he continued.
Inslee claimed that the Trump administration doesn’t plan on complying with a court order requiring that officials reunify all of the immigrant children separated from their families at the border under a since-ended Trump policy.
“It’s clear they do not intend to be humane and it’s clear they will continue on this course until he is removed from office,” the governor said, referring to Trump.
http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/395912-washington-governor-trump-admin-views-placing-immigrant-kids-in

What isn’t being said is that the children cannot be reunited with their parents because when the children were being removed from their parents, no one was keeping track of parents and children. There is no record. No one bothered to take notes. This has been pointed out in the Immigration process, to the outrage of Federal Immigration Judges.
I think we now know why the Nazis tattooed their prisoners. Better record-keeping.

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

To be honest, I am daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. I feel that my role, at this point in my life, is to be a Creative. To Create. I find it incredibly difficult to create something worthwhile when horror is being done in my name.

Do not be fooled; do not take this lightly: this work is being done in your name.

If you are one of my Norwegian relatives, reading this at home on your island, the inhumane efforts of the present American Administration to ‘protect our borders’ isn’t being done in your name. But it is being done in the name of your relatives who left Norway in the 1920s to find a new life in America. I know almost nothing about my Norwegian heritage—”the Old Country”. I never heard much about my family’s life in Norway [it’s possible that I didn’t listen]. There was a small Norwegian flag on my grandparents’ mantle; we had Norwegian cookies and lefse at Christmas. I heard Norwegian being spoken between Martinus and Esther; I watched Martinus shuffle around the floor of our family cabin, hands behind his back, listening to Norwegian folk songs. There were photographs of Norway on the walls of the cabin. There’s been a photo of the family house on our wall for a very long time.
Is it possible that when they arrived in America, my Mom and her sisters would have been locked in a cage, while my grandmother was locked in a different cage, somewhere else in the country? Is this only happening to people with skin that is brown, instead of skin that is pink?
How can this be happening at all?
The Greatest Generation fought a world war to ensure that this kind of behavior could not happen again.
The President, on his campaign tours is lying to the thousands of supporters who show up, telling them about all of the rapists, drug mules, thieves and murderers that are showing up at our Southern border; and that he is defending the country from this infestation… And the thousands cheer…

Medicine Bottle
Medicine Bottle, scheduled to be hanged
for the crime of being non-white [1800s]

I always start these thoughts-on-digital-paper with an illustration. I search through my files to find something that matches my thoughts. The most appropriate illustration tonight was the one below, a pencil copy of a Norman Rockwell painting. But I could not start there. Not tonight.

I am a democrat [i.e. a believer in democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. Whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. Nor do most people — all the people who believe advertisements and think in catchwords and spread rumors. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.

C.S. Lewis

Freedom of Worship-dwg

I believe in prayer.
Do I believe that prayers will enable all of the locked cages become unlocked; and that that those who are imprisoned simply because they, and/or their parents were looking for a better life, will be able to escape? It happened in the Book of Acts.

No, I don’t believe prayer will open the locks.

“It’s clear they do not intend to be humane and it’s clear they will continue on this course until he is removed from office,” the governor [of the State of Washington] said, referring to Trump.

Prayer can rouse a people from their slumber and cause them to speak up on the behalf of those who simply want their children to live in a land where they won’t be shot for the simple act of opening their door. Parents travel thousands of miles with their children and little else, because they believe they will be welcomed in America. Immigrants have been welcomed in America for generations.

Not any more, not in America today. America is closed.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 157: Immigration Shame

July 2, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2
Mama!

Marching is something my body will no longer let me do…
I can still make illustrations; drawing is complicated by my degenerative Neuropathy.
Children, stolen from their parents, live in Portland, in a number of government-funded facilities; one of which is a few blocks from my home.

I skipped church today. Hardly ever happens unless I’m ill. A different kind of illness today. Today will be the ‘Fourth of July’ commemoration. At a minimum, it will include flag-waving and the ‘hymns’ of our Civil Religion at the end of the service. I admire the woman who will be playing the organ; and I am not willing to walk out on her performance. We have a new guy doing the preaching. I have no idea what the sermon will be. Probably something from the Gospel of Mark; there’s a possibility that he will extol the blessings of living in this country…I can’t stomach that sort of sermon.
I stopped Pledging My Allegiance when my sons were in Boy Scouts. I was working on an illustration project that eventually was named “John 10:16” [look it up], and consisted of several portraits of Native Americans, based on photos by Edward S. Curtis; and quotations from people from the time. It forever changed my viewpoint on this country; researching history can do that to you.
http://www.mjarts.com/portraits.html

A suggestion, for all those who tend to respond to the ‘Fake News’ syndrome: nearly all of the world’s knowledge is at your fingertips. Research doesn’t take more than a few minutes. Stop playing video games and learn something.

This ‘great Christian country’ carries about it, the stink of death. Our country was founded on religious hypocrisy and white supremacism masquerading as ‘spreading the gospel’. When the Pilgrims landed [having been kicked out of England], and discovered that the indigenous people who lived on the Eastern Shore had died of disease and murder, they thanked their god for clearing the way for the Gospel… Only rarely did they reach out to the ‘savages’ and did not care to discover that the Indigenous People already had similar beliefs regarding the Creator of all.

In the last year we have been brought to a new low. The only thing I can say for the current President is that he makes no pretensions about our being ‘a great city, shining on the hill’. Our country has existed for 242 years; since we can fight several wars simultaneously, it may surprise you to know that we have been at war for 520 years. I didn’t know about half of the wars we’ve been involved in:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States

Given that our National Anthem is an anthem to war [I don’t know how people miss this], it shouldn’t surprise me that we’ve squeezed 500+ years of warfare into 242 years.

Senator Elizabeth Warren posted a report of her visit to one of the Internment Camps in Texas; she’s apparently ballsy enough to get passed the armed guards keeping people out. What she describes is an environment that is little better than prison camps. I’ve uploaded a pdf of the report to my website.

http://mjarts.com/samples/Elizabeth_Warren_26-0618.pdf

I was told by an acquaintance on Facebook that my concerns for the treatment of the prisoners at the Southern Border was, ‘a load of crap’—information probably gained from the greatest promulgator of Fake News in this country, the news channel championed by the man in the Oval Office. He won’t attend his own National Security briefings, but he makes time for Fake News each day.

I watched “12 O’clock High” this afternoon, a film about the American airmen who entered the war in Britain before American troops arrived in France…

P-38
P-38

The Base Commander has the job of turning a ‘hard luck’ base into a formidable weapon, because that was the only choice available at that point in World War II; troops and materiel were months away from arriving.
“You’ve got to help them, Frank, or they will walk out on you. That’ll be a worse failure than mine was. Give them something to lean on? Call it anything you like.”
“Well, Keith…I don’t believe it. Here’s where we part company.
They’re not boys. They’re men. Too bad to have to find out so young. How old is Bishop?”
“Twenty-one, maybe.”
“It’s tough to have to grow all the way up at 21. But that’s the only way we’re gonna get it done. And I think they can do it. Lean on somebody? I think they’re better than that. If that’s not true, then we’re a dead duck. We’d better find out about it right now. Once and for all.”

I’ve never fought in a war. And I have always had mentors to lean on. I don’t think I would have made it through adulthood without those mentors. My first instance of Adulthood happened while I was building the house I’m sitting in; the house I built for my parents. One day in the middle of winter, cold, tired, wet and relying on heat from a palm-sized fire in the newly-built fireplace, I wanted to quit. My Creator has always been my most-reliable mentor; after a time, I realized that if I quit, my parents would go bankrupt—they didn’t have the money to have a real contractor build the house. They were stuck with me and my modest pay [Minimum wage in 1975 was $2.10/hour; I was paid less]. I had to accept responsibility for my actions. Building the house was my idea—I didn’t want to spend the next 40 years at a drafting board. I knew nothing about building a house. Fortunately, a classmate I hired had a retired father who had built a lot of stuff.

Accepting responsibility for my actions seems to be a lifelong activity for me; sometimes achieving a goal can bring disappointment as well as joy. I ‘expected’ to be somewhat famous by now; this seems like a goal that slides away from me like a bar of soap in the bathtub.

P45_mj

If you research the life of our President, I think you’ll realize that he’s never had to ‘grow up’—meaning that I don’t think he’s ever had to take responsibility for his actions. I think he’s always been able to buy or negotiate himself out of admitting his own failures. A hormonal teenager who only got older; never more mature. He’s lied his way through life; using ‘credit’ to pay his way out of difficulty—or simply letting a business go bankrupt; what he calls a “sound business decision”. Not paying attention to the lives he’s disrupted by his irresponsibility. He simply doesn’t care.
The man has built buildings in this country using Undocumented Aliens to perform the work—the Undocumented don’t complain about their wages—and yet, publicly, in his Presidential Pronouncements, he considers the Undocumented to be a pestilence.

Now he wants the Undocumented imprisoned; or better yet, turned away from our borders. The President has a Constitutional Responsibility to accept asylum seekers. This President and the Vice President, by their spoken and tweeted words, apparently do not accept their Constitutional Responsibilities:

Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.
As a signatory to the 1967 Protocol, and through U.S. immigration law, the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees. The Refugee Act established two paths to obtain refugee status—either from abroad as a resettled refugee or in the United States as an asylum seeker.

https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/asylum-united-states

So, what do we do? We vote. Help to bend the arc of Justice.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK2

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 156: It’s like a disease…

June 27, 2018

P45_mj

Today the anti-Muslim ban created on a third try by the President was upheld by the Supreme Court, thanks to the vote by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump and joined the court in April 2017.

Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion argued that Trump’s order was a violation of the establishment clause, which protects freedom of religion. The majority would have none of it. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that the court is free to “uphold the policy so long as it can reasonably be understood to result from a justification independent of unconstitutional grounds.” In other words, if smart lawyers can concoct some rational excuse for Trump’s irrational acts, then the resulting executive order will pass constitutional scrutiny.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/06/26/the-supreme-court-joins-congressional-republicans-in-refusing-to-see-trump-as-he-is/?utm_term=.5b5858a3e391

A facility that holds abducted youth from Central America lies about a half-mile from my house. Having watched far too many action movies in my past, I want to stage a jailbreak. I lack all facilities for so doing.
Accusations that child detention facilities on the US-Mexican border are similar to Nazi concentration camps were always likely to be rebuked by the White House – but perhaps no one quite expected Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ line of reasoning.

“This is a real exaggeration,” he told Fox News. “Because in Nazi Germany they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”
Attorney General Sessions said: “We’re doing the right thing. We’re taking care of these children,” adding “they are not being abused”.

The concept that children being stolen from their parents aka ‘kidnapping’ doesn’t constitute abuse, because the children are being treated well, is mind-boggling.
Trevor Noah’s take: “Your children were just taken from the schoolyard! They’ve been kidnapped!”
“OMG! Call the police!”
“They were driven off in a Bentley!”
“A Bentley… well, never mind.”
What Attorney General Sessions seems to have missed, in his high school social studies classes [he’s 5 years older than I am] is the simple fact that Hitler instigated the killing of Jews simply because he hated Jews; and because the Jew was the ‘perfect scapegoat for all of the problems of Germany’.

C.S Lewis:
The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become-and so on in a vicious circle forever. Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.

Mere Christianity [1952]

Our world is filled with hate right now. It’s like a disease.
While I’m reluctant to put the blame entirely upon the man sitting behind the Resolute Desk, the nature of “The Presidency” has changed. It seems like the haters have taken P45’s behavior as an excuse to be as nasty as they want to be.

What saddens me is the realization that the ‘political correctness’ of 20-30 years ago apparently did not result in a greater respect for all people, as much as it was a mask people reluctantly put on.
Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and I worked for the Bureau of Buildings, I heard lots of complaints about having to be politically correct–which never was a problem for me, as a follower of Christ–but they changed their behavior. I had hoped that PC was some sort of ‘evolutionary improvement’–apparently, I was wrong.
It seems that the haters have decided they no longer need to be politically correct.

Tonight, on PBS Newshour, Ed Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania, pointed out that one person in this country has the responsibility and the authority to address the growing sense of outrage and hatred spewing between the Right and Left Wings—the man in the Oval Office; and he refuses to take up the challenge. I am of the opinion that the angry environment in America today is exactly that which the President wants to exist. An anger that will bring out the haters; and a defensive position by people who will refuse to vote for either Democrats or Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections, because they can’t stand either party. That’s how we got here. Half the country refused to vote.

I am by nature non-confrontational. I am by nature asocial [my nature is to not require people in my life]. During my years in Portland’s Permit Center, I survived my years there with hyperventilating in the men’s room on my breaks. No one wants to get Building Permits. I calmed down over the years; medication played a large part in that. I finally burned out and went upstairs to primarily interact with large sets of construction plans.

Conceptually, for an INTJ, social media is a great thing. One can interact with people without having to actually interact with people. I find however, that connecting with people becomes more difficult as the kindness in our society erodes with polarity. I’m a follower of Jesus; Scripture is really clear how I am supposed to treat strangers in my life…how to treat immigrants like my forbears. I am the child of Immigrants: First Generation on my mother’s side; third on my father’s side. I find myself getting in digital arguments with people that seem to stem from the idea that only one response is possible in regard to moral questions, and that one idea is usually one that Scripture doesn’t address clearly.

A guy I know read a series of articles I posted about children being stolen from their parents, IN MY NAME [I assure you—when our government steals children from their parents, they are doing this in your name. It is your government]. Some of these abducted children are in a facility a few blocks from my home. The guy asked if I was willing to be as upset in regard to the area that he has committed his energy. I’m not, for a variety of reasons; one of them being that Scripture is silent about that particular issue. It’s an issue that began thousands of years ago and won’t ever be stopped by legislation.

A woman I know ranted about the evils of immigration and apparently watches a particular news channel I avoid; it being one of the sources of the ‘fake news’ its champion complains about. A woman I worship with on Sundays in the same sanctuary…

The entire world seems to be getting meaner. Or is it the same meanness there has always been; and social media and the 24-hour news cycle makes the meanness more available?
I often wonder if the billionaires of this world realize that the millionaires of this world won’t pick the crops. Nor will the upper middle class. There is no shortage of money in the world; there is a lack of will to use the money of this world for public benefit. At present, there is no shortage of food in the world; there is an extreme shortage of generosity.

I pulled this off of Facebook recently. This is the world that my parents taught me to expect…I can’t hope for this, for my children.

liberty cries

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 155: He thinks that morals are paintings on walls

June 18, 2018

P45_mj

From the movie, Sabrina [1995]
Sabrina Fairchild: You know, you are not exactly what people say you are.
Linus Larrabee: Oh yeah? [beat] What do they say I am?
Sabrina Fairchild: Oh, you know.
Linus Larrabee: No.
Sabrina Fairchild: Well. . .that you’re the world’s only living heart donor.
Linus Larrabee: Oh. That.
Sabrina Fairchild: And. . .how does this one go? Um, “He thinks that morals are paintings on walls and scruples are money in Russia.”
Linus Larrabee: Well, that’s droll.
Sabrina Fairchild: And then there’s my favorite. . .
Linus Larrabee: No, no, no. I get the picture.

Many of us in America believe we are witnessing the Presidency of the Amoral Man. Not necessarily immoral—one who behaves in an immoral manner; but one who lacks morals altogether.
Is this a first? No, of course not; I lived through Nixon and all of the immoral Presidents that followed him. Most of our Presidents lived in a time where their every statement was not published by the Press. To a large degree, we have no means of comparison.

We are living in a moment of time where ‘the leader of the Free World’ has called one of the worst dictators in history ‘an honorable man’ and has afforded him the equivalency of the President of the United States of America. A President who justifies Kim Jong Un’s murderous dominance over his people as being ‘tough’. A President who insults our allies and fawns upon dictators.
It is well documented that the President lies all the time.

In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
That’s an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/05/01/president-trump-has-made-3001-false-or-misleading-claims-so-far/?utm_term=.9b1ca6bb375f

And now, the children…

More than 2,300 children were taken from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9, according to statistics released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, with the pace of family separations growing over that period to nearly 70 a day.
The separations were roundly condemned — including by all four living former first ladies — as cruel, inhumane and un-American. Administration officials rejected former first lady Laura Bush’s comparison of the detention centers to Japanese American internment camps during World War II.

The President is lying about this, also.

The situation has become a moral test for President Trump and his administration. The president on Monday voiced defiance and continued to falsely blame congressional Democrats for what he decried as a “horrible and tough” situation. But Trump is empowered to immediately order border agents to stop separating families as a result of his “zero tolerance” enforcement policy.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-defiant-as-crisis-grows-over-family-separation-at-the-border/2018/06/18/210c78ca-730f-11e8-805c-4b67019fcfe4_story.html?utm_term=.e438f94bb60b

Attorney General Jeff Sessions brings the Bible into the argument:

“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime — as it should be,” he said. “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/15/what-jeff-sessions-got-wrong-when-quoting-the-bible/?utm_term=.82c7eabfa8a2

One article talked about how the parents are told that the children will be taken to the showers… and the children are never returned. Parents are told that their children will never be returned to them.
I haven’t read this notion yet; I think it’s probably too volatile to suggest in print:
To my way of thinking, the current way of dealing with immigrants is one, admittedly large, step from ovens—to get rid of the evidence. For all of the Holocaust deniers and all those who believe ‘it could never happen here’—we now see how it can happen.

I keep waiting for a National Guard company to have the guts to disregard their orders and to start defending the children. I’ve probably watched too many movies.

If you’re horrified by news of families being separated at the borders, here’s a bit of news you can use.

First, the policy: It helps to be incredibly clear on what the law is, and what has and has not changed. When Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders say that the policy of separating children from their parents upon entry is a law passed by Democrats that Democrats will not fix, they are lying.

There are two different policies in play, and both are new.

First is the new policy that any migrant family entering the U.S. without a border inspection will be prosecuted for this minor misdemeanor. The parents get incarcerated and that leaves children to be warehoused. The parents then typically plead guilty to the misdemeanor and are given a sentence of the few days they served waiting for trial. But then when the parents try to reunite with their children, they are given the runaround—and possibly even deported, alone. The children are left in HHS custody, often without family.

Second is a new and apparently unwritten policy that even when the family presents themselves at a border-entry location, seeking asylum—that is, even when the family is complying in all respects with immigration law—the government is snatching the children away from their parents. Here, the government’s excuse seems to be that they want to keep the parents in jail-like immigration detention for a long time, while their asylum cases are adjudicated. The long-standing civil rights case known as Flores dictates that they aren’t allowed to keep kids in that kind of detention, so the Trump administration says they have to break up the families. They do not have to break up families—it is the government’s new choice to jail people with credible asylum claims who haven’t violated any laws that is leading to the heartbreaking separations you’ve been reading about.

So that is what is happening. Whether or not that is what the Bible demands is the subject of a different column. Good explainers on what is and is not legal detention of immigrants and asylum-seekers can also be found here and here and here.

The ACLU is litigating this policy in California.

You can find more information here:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/how-you-can-fight-family-separation-at-the-border.html

A man without a sense of morality. Only a sense of winning. His win is our loss.

angel.grief_mj

 


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