Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 204: Guardians

December 13, 2019

On the left side of the page are four career foreign service employees of the State Department. Four of the people who exposed the U.S. involvement with the government of the Ukraine, and the 45th President of the United States, who has become the fourth President to be Impeached by the House of Representatives. Three of these people are immigrants.

On the right side of the pages is Greta Thunberg, the teenaged Climate Change Activist who has sailed the Atlantic Ocean, by herself, twice. She has become an icon for people across the world, who are under the age of 40. A symbol that is being ignored by our present Administration, who has a bizarre investment in the complete ignorance of factual evidence regarding Climate Change. Ms. Thunberg has been declared by Time Magazine as Person of the Year. She was also expected to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The award would have capped an already extraordinary year, in which Thunberg evolved from a student sitting outside the Swedish parliament, all by herself, to become the leader of a global youth movement, inspiring millions of schoolchildren around the world to join her in calling for greater action on climate change.
“How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she told world leaders in a blistering speech at the United Nations last September.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/why-didnt-greta-thunberg-win-the-nobel-peace-prize/2019/10/11/e84e6efc-eba4-11e9-9306-47cb0324fd44_story.html

Apparently jealous of this 16-year-old girl’s placement on the cover of Time Magazine, the 45th President of the United States has been insulting her by way of his overworked Twitter account. This is the nature of the man currently sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

The most powerful man in the world, insulting a teenager, because of jealousy.

The middle section in the image above contains the last paragraph in the President’s Articles of Impeachment.

I’ve been apolitical for most of my life. Meaning, I’ve voted in most of the elections over the last fifty years; voting for candidates based on the information I’ve heard from friends and those I came to respect. I’ve read the voter’s pamphlets. Having worked for the City of Portland, I’ve become fluent in ‘bureaucrat’ as a form of language. Generally, I was always ‘busy’, when it came to the subject of politics.

My life has changed; somewhat unexpectedly. At present, ‘busy’ isn’t a word I can use to define my life. While working on my latest book for the last two years, an illustrated version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, I’ve been listening to commentary on the Scandal in Washington DC.

I’m currently volunteering with a Citizenship/English as a Learned Language program for Green Card holders seeking Naturalization as US Citizens. People who have prepared for Naturalization appear to be far more knowledgeable regarding US history and Civics than most high school students [Who wrote the Federalist Papers? The Federalist Papers were the foundation of the US Constitution]. Every week I am reminded of my own family history. My mother and her sisters were born in Norway. Early in the 1920s, my grandfather and his brother emigrated from Norway to the US. There was no work for them in their part of the world, partially due to a famine; they came to the US because they had an uncle who had emigrated to Oregon years earlier and had built a construction business. My grandfather and his brother did not know English; but they new how to work with wood. After a few years [?], they had the money to send to my grandmother and her daughters, so they could come to the United States.

Immigrant Eyes

Guy Clark/Willie Nelson

Oh, Ellis Island was swarming, Like a scene from a costume ball
Decked out in the colors of Europe, And on fire with the hope of it all
There my father’s own father stood huddled, With the tired and hungry and scared
Turn of the century pilgrims. Bound by the dream that they shared
They were standing in line just like cattle, Poked and sorted and shoved
Some were one desk away from sweet freedom, Some were torn from someone they love
Through this sprawling Tower of Babel, Came a young man, confused and alone
Determined and bound for America, And carrying all that he owned

Sometimes when I looked in my grandfather’s immigrant eyes
I saw that day reflected and I couldn’t hold my feelings inside
I saw ‘started with nothing and working hard all of his life
“So don’t take it for granted,” said grandfather’s immigrant eyes

He would rock and stare out the window, But his eyes are still just as clear
As the day he sailed through the Harbor, And come ashore on that island of tears
My grandfather’s days were numbered, But I won’t let his memory die
Cause he gave me the gift of this country, And the look in his immigrant eyes

Sometimes when I looked in my grandfather’s immigrant eyes
I saw that day reflected and couldn’t hold my feelings inside
I saw started with nothing and working hard all of his life’
“So don’t take it for granted,” said grandfather’s immigrant eyes
“Don’t take it for granted,” said grandfather’s immigrant eyes’

By the time I was a teenager, I occasionally helped my Great Uncle, with construction projects; I remember helping him hang sheetrock. Probably the only time I enjoyed working with sheetrock. At the time, it never would have occurred to me that this man had come to this country ‘with nothing’ more than a couple of suitcases. He probably had worked hard all of his life, and became the Provider for his brother’s family, when his brother was severely injured in a construction accident. My grandfather lived most of his life in a State Hospital.

My ‘Grandfather’ went Home a over 30 years ago. I still miss him. I will see him again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 203: Advent

December 8, 2019

An Elder at our church this morning wished everyone, “Merry Christmas!”

I’m not Catholic, but for a number of years I hung around with the Sisters of the Holy Names at Marylhurst… The title of my blog comes from the Liturgical Calendar. After Pentecost, and before Advent, the calendar is in Ordinary Time. I feel as if most of my life has been lived in Ordinary Time.

Christmas is on December 25th. It’s probably appropriate to use the greeting above on Christmas Eve. Christmas ends on January 6th, with the Feast of the Epiphany. That’s when the guys above arrived in Bethlehem. Followed by, but not celebrated, is The Massacre of the Innocents; see Chronicles in Ordinary Time 201: Massacre of the Innocents

I dislike this time of year.

The Creator of the entire Universe did not create a single cell, implanted into the womb of a teenaged girl, so that we could all shop. The Creator did not enter time and space in the form of Jesus in order that we might have another excuse to spend money. Granted, we live in a Market Economy; Black Friday is traditionally the time when retail stores finally make a profit—going from ‘in the red’ to ‘in the black’.

My wife and I don’t ‘do Christmas’. The Christmas decorations we have, are present all the time. We stopped ‘doing Christmas’ when my Mom died. She came to live with us on Christmas Eve for the last year of her life; she went to her eternal Home, one year later. After the morticians left, we went to the Christmas Eve service at the church we belonged to back then. People were surprised; for us, being with our Church family was the most natural thing to do, at such a time.

We ‘did Christmas’ when our children lived with us. There is a ‘magical’ element when one mixes children and Christmas. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra has been attached to children and Christmas for the last Millennium.

As humans eventually do, we mess up the meaning of the Story.

The Creator entered time and space in the form of Jesus in order that we might learn how to live. I saw the image below, posted today.

This is not how we are supposed to live.

Modern holy family by Eric Fitzpatrick

There will be children in cages, at our Southern Border, this Christmas. They probably will not see any gifts, nor Christmas trees. They may see another young person beside them, dying in the ‘care’ of ICE.

[Last] month, new government data shows…an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

https://apnews.com/015702afdb4d4fbf85cf5070cd2c6824

I know people who simply do not care. They have told me that these people don’t belong here anyway. Our President, in this last year, has announced that ‘we are full’. Food rots in fields because there are no pickers to harvest the crops. And our President has hired undocumented workers at his golf facilities for years.

We should be ashamed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 201: Massacre of the Innocents

November 2, 2019

Rubens – Massacre of the Innocents

As the story is told in the Gospel of Matthew, in the time of King Herod, Magi from the East came to Palestine looking for a new King who had been born. “We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  Matthew 2:2

Magi were priests in Zoroastrianism and the earlier religions of the western Iranians. The earliest known use of the word magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription. Old Persian texts, predating the Hellenistic period, refer to a magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest.

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

The Magi had come to Palestine, following a new star in the sky—a star whose light from millions of miles away had just arrived in the Solar system.

They came before King Herod, asking about the new King. Herod had not heard of this King, but asked the Magi, on their return home, to tell him the whereabouts of this new King, so that Herod could go honor him. In time, Herod realized that the Magi were not returning by way of Jerusalem and ordered the deaths of all boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, according to the time frame he had learned from the Magi. Joseph, the husband of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was warned of this slaughter in a dream, and took his family to Egypt.

History calls this time the “Massacre of the Innocents”. This was the world into which Jesus was born.

This is our time, also. The American President, who after a telephone call, removed American troops from Syria; so that the Turkish military could slaughter Kurdish infants, children, women, the elderly and the Kurdish soldiers who defended their homeland. This portion of Syria is now being claimed by the Turkish and Russian governments. The American President’s first Secretary of Defense is now awaiting his sentencing for being an undeclared agent of the Turkish Government, employed by the Turkish government…

Lives ruined for generations because of a stupid telephone call and an undisclosed discussion. The results of that discussion will be on the head of the American President.

In another chapter of “Massacre of the Innocents”, new information has been released regarding children kidnapped by the American government, as they seek asylum in a country that officially does not want them to come here.

“In all, the administration has taken at least 5,460 children from their parents. That is a stain on Mr. Trump, on the government he leads and on America.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/only-now-do-we-understand-the-true-cruelty-of-trumps-family-separation/2019/10/29/8294ef9e-f9cf-11e9-ac8c-8eced29ca6ef_story.html

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I remember listening to President Ronald Reagan describe America as a ‘city shining on a hill’ as he ended his tenure as President. His ‘trickle down’ economic policy has turned out to be a total disaster; and he spoke of a country that does not appear to exist today:

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c32G868tor0

Those doors are closed today.

 

President Clinton was impeached for his actions on two Articles of Impeachment: Lying Under Oath and Obstruction of Justice. No one died as a result of his violation of his Oath of Office.

It’s doubtful that the President’s actions toward Syria and his cruelty to those seeking asylum will be included in the upcoming Articles of Impeachment, and the Impeachment Hearing that may start later this month. These crimes are merely immoral, not illegal.

Lives ruined for generations that, in reality, are not only the responsibility of the President, but are the responsibility of every American adult living at this moment. We allowed it to happen. There are people at the church I attend that do not even consider these immoralities to be wrong…

I again wonder, why do I stay?

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 200: Time and Space, Part Three

September 23, 2019
Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you… constantly.The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (2018)

For centuries, scientists/physicists have been trying to understand the nature of Gravity. The reality is that there are theories about Gravity which we believe apply throughout our Solar System; analysis of the telemetry for far-distant stars seem to conform with this thinking. However, until humans can leave our Solar System, these ideas will remain theoretical.

Gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity (proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915) which describes gravity not as a force, but as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime caused by the uneven distribution of mass. The most extreme example of this curvature of spacetime is a black hole, from which nothing—not even light—can escape once past the black hole’s event horizon. However, for most applications, gravity is well approximated by Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which describes gravity as a force which causes any two bodies to be attracted to each other, with the force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

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

NASA’s Gravity Probe B (GP-B) mission has confirmed two key predictions derived from Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which the spacecraft was designed to test. GP-B determined both effects with unprecedented precision by pointing at a single star, IM Pegasi, while in a polar orbit around Earth.

To a degree, the concept of the Soul is largely a theory.

The soul, in many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche (Ancient Greek: ψυχή psykhḗ, of ψύχειν psýkhein, “to breathe”) comprises the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be mortal or immortal. In Judeo-Christianity, only human beings have immortal souls (although immortality is disputed within Judaism and the concept of immortality may have been influenced by Plato).
The current consensus of modern science is that there is no evidence to support the existence of the soul when traditionally defined as the spiritual breath of the body. In metaphysics, the concept of “Soul” may be equated with that of “Mind” in order to refer to the consciousness and intellect of the individual.

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

While there is ‘evidence’ in my own life that points to the existence of my Soul, I have no way of transferring my ‘evidence’ to your brain. The first Believer I ever met, one who wasn’t attempting to convince me to believe what he believed, was a guy named Brad. He introduced me to a Way of Life that I had never imagined; he invited me to join him on his journey, but there was no coercion. He introduced me to friends of his that were traveling the same path; but again, no one tried to change the way that I thought. In time, I realized that these people saw the world from a perspective I’d never had; they believed there is a Creator who is active in the lives of humans.
I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ Country Music; I’m not fond of twangy singing, however, I enjoy well-played fiddles and guitars. While the genre began in America with the Blues and the Old-Time music of the South, it was the phonograph record and radio stations that spread the music across the country. The music evolved with the preferences and circumstances of the nation. To a degree [as with rock & roll], the genre began with the music of the Church—the gospel songs and rhythms sung by congregations.
A comment was made about “the primitive Baptist Church” and how it influenced the music of Hank Williams…

Primitive Baptists are firmly in the mold of a traditional Calvinist denomination. According to Old School Baptist, they adhere to the five points of historical Calvinism: Total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and preservation and perseverance. The adjective “primitive” in the name is used in the sense of “original”.

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

The Wanderer
Song by U2 starring Johnny Cash

I went out walking through streets paved with gold
Lifted some stones, saw the skin and bones
Of a city without a soul
I went out walking under an atomic sky
Where the ground won’t turn and the rain it burns
Like the tears when I said goodbye.
Yeah, I went with nothing, nothing but the thought of you.
I went wandering.
I went drifting through the capitals of tin
Where men can’t walk or freely talk
And sons turn their fathers in.
I stopped outside a church house
Where the citizens like to sit.
They say they want the kingdom
But they don’t want God in it.

My experience has been that there are Christians who will extract one or two sentences from a chapter of Scripture, paying no attention to context, and find meaning for their lives because “the Bible is the Word of God.” While there are Believers who speak of ‘Biblical Inerrancy’ and talk about the ‘Word of God,’ most Believers know very little about the making of the ‘Word of God’. For example, they do not know about the texts that were used in the translation of the manuscripts that go into the book we know as the Bible.

The Codex Sinaiticus, or Sinai Book, is an ancient fourth century C.E. Bible handwritten in the Greek language. The manuscript contains the Septuagint, a version of the Old Testament that was adopted by early Greek-speaking Christians, as well as the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The book’s importance to biblical scholars is immeasurable. The pages are made of vellum parchment, or calfskin. The work is written in scriptio continua—without spaces between words. In the ancient Greek world, reading continuous text on a page was more like reading a musical score today. The reader would memorize the text and use the pages as a guide while reading aloud to an audience. Not until the 10th century C.E. would spaces between words become the norm [emphasis added].

The text was written by three or four different scribes and annotated through the centuries by no less than nine correctors. [the original text we have was not without error]
A Newsweek article from 2014 provides some additional context:

…a sentence like weshouldgoeatmom could be interpreted as “We should go eat, Mom,” or “We should go eat Mom.” Sentences can have different meaning depending on where the spaces are placed. For example, godisnowhere could be “God is now here” or “God is nowhere.”

https://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.html

Does this mean I do not accept the Truth of Scripture? No. I believe that the Bible is True; but not necessarily factual. I’m inclined to believe that Scripture is mostly metaphor. A metaphor can be just as truth-filled as the events we witness with our eyes.
The ‘youngest’ book of the Hebrew Scriptures, Malachi, takes place in 430 BCE; the ‘youngest’ book of the New Testament is the Book of the Revelation of John, written in 95 AD; however, the earliest copy of ‘the Bible’ available to us was compiled in 330-360 AD.
There were 430 years of Silence; no Prophetic revelations between the Old and New Testaments. To put this in contemporary American terms, the time of Silence of the Creator would go back to thirty years before the Pilgrims landed in 1620.
Except for the Prophet Mohammed, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), there have been no Prophetic utterances for the Christian or the Jew, for 2,000 years.
I think the Creator gave up on His attempt to train humans, by words, to become Decent Human Beings.

The Creator of the Universe created One Cell and implanted the Cell into the womb of a teenaged girl. The boy who was conceived lived in a small village, grew up to be a carpenter, and became an itinerant preacher for three years in Galilee and Judea. He is said to have healed many, performed miracles, and was killed by Roman soldiers to placate the ‘religious right’ of His day. Three days after his being entombed in a cave, He left the cave and wandered among the living, walking through walls, for a period of weeks. He said that we could do this, also.

Jesus is the Center of Scripture.
He still heals, and still works miracles; but not ‘on command’.

After 46 years of this life called Faith, I have come to the conclusion that because the Creator entered time and space as the man Jesus, that Believers conclude that the Creator is like mankind. A cosmic misunderstanding.

I’m inclined to believe that mankind is something akin to a ‘pet’ of the Creator. A ‘pet’ with a streak of viciousness that will destroy a quarter of a million people with the push of a few buttons—simply to prove a point. The ‘point’ being that our soldiers are more valuable than foreign civilians [see my previous post].
A ‘pet’ who refuses to become housebroken and destroys the ‘house’ in which he lives, just for the hell of it. A pet whose excrement gets dumped into his drinking water.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/12/trump-expected-to-roll-back-obama-era-water-regulations.html

An adult ‘pet’ who isn’t nearly as smart as the children of the world, who by the millions, stage protests so that these adult ‘pets’ without empathy, might become as intelligent as children, and take responsibility for our actions in destroying this world we were supposed to nurture.
People ask, ‘if there is a God who loves us, why doesn’t He stop the wars and the pain?’

He doesn’t stop the wars because He NEVER starts them. It is OUR responsibility.

Lord, in Your Mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #23: Layering

I consider the psd file to be an indispensable tool for digital image creation; the psd file allows for the creation of multiple transparent layers. There are a number of programs that work with the psd file; while I use some Adobe Photoshop filters, I do very little work with Photoshop. I use two pieces of software from when dinosaurs ruled the earth, that continue to work with Windows 10 [I’m not sure they want that known]. Same program, different versions, and different memory requirements. Since my drafting work frequently uses a 24in X 36in, 200dpi work surface, I use the older version, which requires a lesser amount of RAM. GIMP [ https://docs.gimp.org/2.10/en ] is a modern version of my dinosaur software. GIMP can operate with psd files.

The Doctor Who image above and below, has 12 layers, shown above.

The components above are shown in back-to-front order; and are the layers of the resultant image. The final psd file has layers that are invisible/unused [two sets of fonts I decided not to use]. The original psd file had several additional layers that were merged-down to the layer below. The rocks of Layer 2 were composed from 3-5 merged layers. The TARDIS [Layer 4] and the Dalek [Layer 3] are sandwiched between Layer 2 and Layer 5.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 198: Time and Space

August 9, 2019

1] No, Star Fleet has not left its mark on Mars; it probably is just a sand dune.
2] Yes, The Doctor and the Martian Warriors are fictional.
3] Yes, this is actually Mars; viewed by the Rovers sent to Mars. The scale is inaccurate.
4] Yes, it is ‘photoshopped’ without assistance from Adobe…

When I was young, reading John Carter of Mars, Tom Corbett and the Space Cadets; Robert A. Heinlein, and dozens of others, I never imagined that I would actually have photographs of Mars available to me. Sending tourists to Mars? Well, I guess that’s what Billionaires do…I’d rather they supported the battle against Climate Change, cleaning up the oceans, etc. Mars is not our Planet B.

“Milky Way is warped and twisted…”

I know that Earth is warped and twisted. I see this every day.

Imagine, if you will, that the Universe had a Beginning.
I realize that there are physicists who have theorized that we are in a Universe that expands/contracts/repeats. This is a theory that may, or may not, ever be proven. Now there is a dispute about the age of the Universe. Gravity exists, no one can prove how or why—physicists continue to come up with possible explanations; however, gravity appears to be one of the Laws of Science/Laws of the Universe. Gravity affects space, gravity affects light and gravity affects time.

Imagine a Creator who is so vast in Existence, that the Universe is, in some respects, small. To an architect—the designer of a huge skyscraper—that skyscraper is in some sense, small; every element of the skyscraper’s construction is contained within the architect’s mind. It isn’t a question of distance, it is a question of volume and content. The Creator of the Universe is constantly aware of all that happens within the Universe, because the Creator is outside our ideas of Time and Space. A Creator with an Infinite Mind.

I think humanity has an innate belief in the existence of “the Other”. There is so much in life that is inexplicable—life sometimes makes no sense when we think it should. What one does with this sense of the “Other” is based on society, culture, sub-culture, family, education. It is common in America today, to find people who been ‘educated-out’ of this sense of ‘the Other’—the idea is viewed as superstition, or “things people believe that no one believes anymore,’ to paraphrase someone I don’t recall.

I had a brief online discussion recently, where I received the following comment,

“I’m a firm believer in a God or supreme being or whatever you choose to call it. The evidence is all around us. Quantum Physics proves there is something more powerful than anything we can imagine out there controlling everything.
“My problem with religions is that they all preach peace, but they all kill people if they don’t believe the way they each want you to believe.”

There are many in the Church whose idea of God is much like the concept of a local god whose image rests on an end table shrine. Scripture’s overt lack of information about the nature of the Universe leads these people to only a grudging acceptance of current scientific views of the Universe. This, in spite of the fact that in the thirteenth century, the Jewish scholar Nahmanides quoted a commentary on Genesis written 600 years before him, noting that prior to the existence of the universe, time did not exist; he goes on to describe the Big Bang and the Expanding Universe. Of course, I did not learn this information in the Church. I learned this from the writings of a physicist who understands that there IS a Creator; and that the Creator wants to communicate with the creatures that have been made.

As Jesus contended with the Religious Right of His day, today we have a Religious Right that focuses attention on the behavior of those in, and out of, the Church. Much of one’s acceptance is based on compliance with a set of behaviors.

There are far too many evangelical preachers who preach a concept they call ‘Holiness’ as a basis for salvation [one is ‘saved’ by Jesus’ death on the Cross; however, behavior determines the validity of the claim of salvation]. This term is derived from Scripture but goes far beyond what Scripture teaches. These same preachers demand from their congregations, and demand from their hormonal teenagers, a level of scrupulous personal behavior that somehow can be totally ignored when it comes to the President of the United States; a man whose behavior is the polar opposite of the concept of Holiness.

To paraphrase Jesus: it profits the Church nothing to give its soul for the whole world…but for Conservative Judges?

The Creator of the Universe did not enter Time and Space in the form of a single cell, implanted in the womb of teenager; so that He could, by dying on a Cross, save you from your sins [that which I call, the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up]. The Creator entered Time and Space so that you could learn how to live.

Preachers paint a picture of our entrance into Eternity as something like being presented to a Judge. The three spikes that affixed Jesus to the Cross outweigh, on the Divine Scale of Justice, all of our sin. The problem with the analogy is that each of us have been known by our Creator since our birth [possibly earlier]; all of our behavior is already Known. At the end of our life on Earth, I believe we will appear before the Creator of the Universe; and will have to honestly answer to ourselves:

How Did I Really Live?
What was in my heart/my Soul?
The Creator already knows the answer to these questions.

The Conservative Evangelical Church believes that Jesus died for our sins, because our sin is so egregious that we cannot stand before the God who demands Holiness, Righteousness and Truth; and that only a righteous blood sacrifice of God’s Only Son can redeem us. This idea comes with a question that I’ve never heard in a large variety of churches:

The Eternal saying, “Oh MY SELF! How could he possibly make such a stupid decision?!!”

This question can only be asked by a local god who is not Omniscient—all knowing; one of the character qualities ascribed by the Church, to God. The Omni [All]-words: Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent.
An Omniscient Creator already knows the answer, because the Creator is outside of Time. The answer is known before we even perform the answer.

Back to Mars…

If there are Martian Warriors, if there is, or ever is a Star Fleet, if The Doctor is more than a fictional character; if there is a Creator who entered Time and Space two millennia ago, to teach us how to live; then, the Truths that apply on Earth apply throughout the Universe. Because those Truths are not the ideas of religion; but are ‘laws of the entire Universe’. The sentient beings on other worlds, in other galaxies as well as our own, will all have their own “Jesus” story; or they will not need a “Jesus” story because they are not infected with the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up.

“If only.” Two words, taken together, form one of humanity’s most significant thoughts.
“If only I’d done that instead of this.”
“If only I had turned left instead of right.”
“If only I had said, No! instead of yes.”
“If only I had voted in the 2016 Presidential election.”
The list is almost endless [I voted for Bernie].

Once again, I am living with consequences of my actions. Once I was general contractor, the CEO of a corporation [a really small corporation]. I never expected, at that point, to be something other than a contractor. When the economy tanked, I started working for local government. When my bodily damage caught up with me, and I left my job at the City, I did construction again, briefly, on several occasions. My neuropathy eventually showed me the foolishness of continuing to work with sharp things—I can injure myself without knowing it. I’ve yet to really make the decision to stop being a contractor. I have a shop full of stuff I’m unlikely to use again. I struggle with the thought of parting with the stuff. I do far better with beginnings than endings.

If only Exxon had shared their report on climate change, in 1977…would we have done any more with the knowledge than we [collective] are doing today? Greed and self-interest [the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up] have been with us as long as humans have roamed the world.

Billionaires will still be planning visits to Mars.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #21: Layers

On Wednesday, August 7th, a number of brown-skinned parents in Mississippi sent their children to school, while P45 was in Air Force One, soon to land in El Paso, Texas. P45 was supposedly making a ‘condolence call’ in El Paso, because of the Mass Shooting the previous weekend; where 22 were killed, and dozens injured. P45 was actually making a ‘rally stop’ that will be used in an upcoming campaign video. While P45 was doing his thing in El Paso, ICE officers in Mississippi rounded up 600+ brown-skinned workers at chicken plants; providing the children of those parents with no provision for being picked up from school or day care. Thankfully, Grace-filled people in Mississippi made sure the children were safe and cared for.

These children may never go to bed, feeling safe in their parents’ care, again.

No owners or pink-skinned employees of the chicken plants were arrested.

I am First Generation; my mother and her sisters were born in Norway, they and their mother emigrated here in the mid-1920’s. In these times, my heritage has become very much a part of my thinking. Norwegians do not require much melanin in their skin…

The 600+ people in Mississippi were processing chicken that we pink-skinned people have probably eaten. The owners were asking ICE ‘who is going to prepare the chicken??!!”
Many of the 600+ people in Mississippi were people of faith. They came to America in hopes of being free from the abuses that are outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

I believe they were asking their Creator why this was happening. I believe that these people were never out of their Creator’s care; I do not believe that we are protected from the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up.

Shit happens.

Brown skin protects the body from sunburn. Pink-skinned people who abuse the rights of brown-skinned people, line up at shops and gymnasiums to get brown-skin. Lord Have Mercy.

Layers

While it is not necessary for you to think in terms of transparent layers for digital illustration, it makes digital illustration much easier to design and create. The key to transparent layers is the .psd file. The ones and zeroes in this file format allow for the creation of transparent layers. While a .psd file is commonly called a ‘photoshop file’ its use is not limited to Adobe products. GIMP [https://www.gimp.org] will allow you to use psd files. I use very old versions of PaintShopPro [very similar to GIMP], from back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. It’s the file format; not the computer or the program the computer uses as an interface.

I’ve been sitting on the first part of this essay for several days, maybe a week, trying to figure out what sort of “Illustrator Tip” to write. These essays aren’t planned; they happen largely by circumstance. Much of my work is by circumstance.

She is called Virgin of Mercy, or Madonna with Protective Cloak:

The Virgin of Mercy is a subject in Christian art, showing a group of people sheltering for protection under the outspread cloak, or pallium, of the Virgin Mary. It was especially popular in Italy from the 13th to 16th centuries, often as a specialised form of votive portrait, and is also found in other countries and later art, especially Catalonia and Latin America.

The image is made up of 15 final layers. There were five or ten more layers that I merged to a specific category of image, for my own ease of use.

The Madonna comes with the black background and the grey floor. I copied and pasted the background behind the Statue of Liberty. The reflections are two separate layers—copies of the statues—at 34% transparency.

I have copied part of the Madonna’s cloak, and turned it coppery green for the Lady in the Harbor. There are additional cloak-parts underneath the girl in pink. The people under the Lady’s cloak are copied from both sides of the Madonna’s cloak.

The bottom layer is black; the grey floor is next.

I have not found a fixed limit for layers; the reality is that each layer enlarges the size of the total image. This image, with its layers is about 387,000Kb [377Mb] in size; reduced in size for online use.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 197: Waiting for the world to change

July 22, 2019

At this moment, Waiting on the World to Change is playing on my computer. A version of the song was attached to the Presidential Election Campaign of 2008; containing quotations from Dr. King. The quotation seems to have originated with Theodore Parker (1810-1860) who used more words than Dr. King.
“The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice.”

I have trouble seeing that Arc bending toward Justice in these times.

The Squad

For the next year, the President of the United States will blame all of America’s problems on these four women. Women who are Members of Congress, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution the President probably has never read. Three of these women were born in the United States; Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a Naturalized American Citizen, born in the country of Somalia, brought to America as a refugee. For the next year, at every rally he attends, the President will encourage a chant of “Send Them Home” because the mostly-white audiences who attend his rallies want to Make America White Again.

In 1995, Aaron Sorkin created a film called, “The American President”. Twenty-four years ago, Sorkin wrote about today’s political issues. In this clip, Bob Rumson, is running for President, opposed to the sitting President, Andrew Shepherd…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zemrWBIc_hE

“I’ve known Bob Rumson for years, and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. And wave an old photo of the President’s girlfriend and you scream about patriotism and you tell them, she’s to blame for their lot in life, and you go on television and you call her a whore…”

The question is whether or not you, as an American voter, will allow him to continue with his speeches of racial hatred.

This week, Robert Mueller will appear before Congress and will clarify the results of his two-year investigation into the means by which the Russian government interfered with the 2016 Election; and how the President made significant efforts to obstruct justice. The information is clearly spelled out in the Mueller Report; Americans are unwilling to read 400+ page reports. The Attorney General lied in his summary of the Mueller Report. President Trump was not at all exonerated by the investigation. When Donald J. Trump is replaced by the winner of the 2020 Election, he will go to jail.

 

Enough of that.

 

NGC 972 resides in the constellation Aries, approximately 50 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy is about 70,000 light-years across. Bright, colorful pockets of star formation can be seen in the new Hubble image amid dark, tangled streams of cosmic dust.
The orange-pink glow is created as hydrogen reacts to the intense light streaming outwards from nearby proto-stars. The presence of huge star-forming regions in NGC 972, and the asymmetry of its spiral arms are probably the result of a merger with a gas-rich companion galaxy.

http://www.sci-news.com/astronomy/hubble-dusty-star-forming-galaxy-ngc-972-07339.html

Spiral Galaxy NGC 972

The light that comprises this Hubble image left that galaxy 50 million years ago. The light is ‘only’ reaching the Hubble Space Telescope at this time.

The Eocene Epoch, lasting from 56 to 33.9 million years ago, is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era.

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

Mesopotamia was the first civilization to emerge in human history. The area was set between Tigris and Euphrates rivers and lies between Asian Minor and the Persian Gulf. The region is known for its fertile agricultural land. The civilization dates back to 10,000 BC when people around the area found the concept of agriculture and began domesticating animals.

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-of-the-world-s-oldest-civilizations.html

50 million years ago, the Earth was not all that far past the ‘formless and void’ state described in the Book of Genesis. Since Astronomical time is very large, the previous sentence might be very inaccurate. Scripture really isn’t written with Astronomical time in mind.
Forests existed during the Eocene Epoch; as well as bushes, small mammals and lots of fish. Continental Drift was occurring; Australia and a forested Antarctica were connected together; the northern super-continent of Laurasia began to fragment, as Europe, Greenland and North America drifted apart.
Currently, the earliest fossils of Neanderthals in Europe are dated between 450,000 and 430,000 years ago. Approximately 49,550,000 years after the light from NGC972 left the Aries constellation, there would have been a proto-human of some sort who could look up in the night sky…and still not see NGC972, because Newton wouldn’t invent his refracting telescope for another 419,000 years.

The Earth is VERY old; and we are VERY new.

Recently I’ve written about chronos time, the time that our clocks are made for; and Kairos time, which is the time that the Creator’s wristwatch is set for [a silly metaphor]. Somewhere between these two forms of Time, there is Astronomical Time. One of the Human Propensities to F*ck things Up is our desire to see our life as ‘right now’; and to overlook the fact that we are ‘a pebble in the ocean’ of time.

This leads me again to one of my favorite books: And Now I See by Robert Barron.

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

The Creator created all that exists [an idea that cannot be proven by the Scientific Method]; the Creator is not a god who is associated only with our planet or our solar system. All life in the Universe that studies the stars has a Creation narrative. Part of me hopes that these other views of the Universe will someday become part of our human narrative. A larger part of me believes that there are, or will be beacons surrounding our Solar System, warning travelers to avoid this place—we carry a plague: the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up.

Americans are trained by a Western worldview—a way of thinking that evolves from the ancient Greeks and Romans; and has been affected by the Church—the manner in which information is considered acceptable for common teaching. A worldview that contradicts those who refuse to listen to what the Church teaches about ‘Science’. Thus, we get a very convoluted and confusing view of how Life operates.

“CHANGE YOUR LENSES, please. Okay, maybe you can’t simply change lenses right now, but would you at least notice the lenses you are currently wearing? If you are like, say, 99.9 percent of us in the U.S., you have been influenced by a very particular set of perspectives that interpret life from an Enlightenment-bound Western worldview. This particular influence [separates] the realm of the abstract (spirit, soul, mind) [from] the concrete realm (earth, body, material)…
“In dualistic thinking, we are no longer an existing whole…
“* Most of the rest of the world does not understand life through a Western worldview. We in the West are the anomaly.
* Jesus was not an Enlightenment-bound Western thinker. He thought more like today’s pre-modern Indigenous people.
* Not one writer of the scriptures saw life through a Western lens.
“Indigenous Peoples of the world have an advantage over Western thinkers in that there is still enough pre-modern worldview intact among North American and other Indigenous people to relate to the pre-modern Jesus and the pre-modern scriptures. They can bring new kinds of hope to today’s earth climate crisis, if we allow it.
“Jesus understood humanity’s relationship with the earth differently than we do. He spoke to the wind, to the water, and to trees; closely observed the habits of birds, flowers, and animals; and called his disciples to model their lives after what they saw in nature.
“The predominant themes and subject matter of Jesus’ stories were natural, such as fish, flowers, birds, sheep, oxen, foxes, earth, trees, seeds, harvests, and water. There were many mechanical inventions during Jesus’ time, but the record reflects he paid little attention to them. His was a world of keen observation, where God was wondrously alive and at work in creation.
“In Jesus’ worldview, He laid to waste the fallacies of Platonic dualism that exist in our modern era and that presume the earth or the body or anything earthly is less spiritual than the mind, the spirit, or things more abstract. To Jesus, as it should be to us, the earth is wholly spiritual, as are our bodies.
“If we remove the influence of Platonic dualism from our worldviews, we will find it difficult to view human beings as being over all other parts of creation. Instead of a relationship where nature is below us, we should be stewarding with, or co-sustaining, all creation…”

The Fullness Thereof by Randy Woodley Sojourners, May 2019

If you can only see Jesus through a First Century lens, you may not understand your faith. In my experience, large portions of the Church can only understand Jesus through a First Century lens.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #20: changing the way you think

I spent many of my ‘years of my thirties’ listening to training on tapes, and reading books on how I could improve my life by changing the way I think. The American educational system focuses a student’s attention on the passing of a test; rather than understanding how the question on the test applies to a larger life situation. The memorizing of dates, but not focusing attention on how an event in a particular year applies to a larger historical theme.

The way that you think is the most important factor in your success as an illustrator.

“May I impress upon every reader that illustration is life as you perceive and interpret it. That is your heritage as an artist and is the quality that will be most sought for in your work. Try never to lose it or subordinate it to the personality of another. As far as you and your work are concerned, life is line, tone, color and design–plus your feelings about it.”

Andrew Loomis, Creative Illustration

To be candid, I have acquired far more business debt, as an illustrator, than I have, income. Most of my income comes from sources other than illustration. At the same time, I am more pleased with the quality of my work now than at any other time in my career. However, the work does not seem to sell. Visual imagery, and the expectations regarding imagery change with every new video game; every new movie. My illustration is self-expression; that concept found in the quotation above.

Sales of illustrations should never be the means by which you decide what you will do as an illustrator. If you get continual feedback that your illustrations suck, and they don’t sell, you might want to find an editor or agent who will give you an honest appraisal.

I patterned my illustrations after the work of Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, and Maxfield Parrish, to name a few. Also, the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This does not mean that I compare myself with their expertise; their paintings inspire my illustrations. I’ve been doing this work for something like thirty years; I don’t see a reason to change what I do. I also realize that there are fewer chapters ahead that there have been behind.

Every day I deal with my progressively degenerative neurological condition. Every day, creating an illustration is painful, in a progressive degree. Giving up on my illustration feels as though it would shut off part of my soul. So, I continue. I refuse to be conquered by neurological sensations.

Francis Parkman Jr. (September 16, 1823 – November 8, 1893) was the patriarch of the Flores-Parkman family, and an American historian, best known as author of The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky-Mountain Life and his monumental seven-volume France and England in North America. These works are still valued as historical sources and as literature.
Parkman’s accomplishments are all the more impressive in light of the fact that he suffered from a debilitating neurological illness, which plagued him his entire life, and which was never properly diagnosed. He had long periods where he was unable to walk. He suffered debilitating headaches. He was often unable to walk, and for long periods he was effectively blind, being unable to see but the slightest amount of light. Much of his research involved having people read documents to him, and much of his writing was written in the dark or dictated to others.

Much of life happens in spite of circumstances, rather than because of circumstances. Accomplished people accomplish because they start their days incredibly early and practice their art instead of doing the things others do. These behaviors do not make people better at life; the discipline moves people toward goals others do not aim for. Most of the world’s accomplishments do not happen because of luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 196: “But let us begin…”

July 9, 2019

“On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” he said in his farewell address. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.“”

https://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132942244/ikes-warning-of-military-expansion-50-years-later

Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:
Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)  aka Endless War.

Fifteen official years without war, since the official end to the Korean Conflict; unofficially, soldiers during the years of the Korean Conflict were volunteering for duty in Vietnam. When our national budget includes a large amount of barely audited funding for the military, the machine must be fed. The monster that is War must have its food.

For those keeping score, that is nearly 700 million dollars in 22 hours.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/?redirect=cow

We declared war on Poverty; poverty won.
We declared war on Drugs; drugs won.
We declared war on Terrorism; terrorism is winning.
Perhaps we should declare war on Peace and Prosperity. We don’t do war well. We haven’t won in a long time; but Government doesn’t seem to understand this.

John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president at noon on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address, he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” He added:
“All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” In closing, he expanded on his desire for greater internationalism: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy#1960_presidential_election

They killed him.
In the span of five years, they killed 5 champions of liberty, 5 champions of Civil Rights.
I don’t know who ‘they’ were; one can find conspiracy theorists all over the internet; grassy knolls, CIA, Mafia, segregationists. The Military Industrial Complex.
What strikes me now was the lack of outrage. Five assassinations of public figures in five years; no protests that I can recall. I’m sure there were protests in other parts of the country; just not in Portland.

I was eleven in 1963 when JFK was killed; I remember where I was standing when I heard. I was in high school in 1968, pondering why the murder of Bobby Kennedy could affect so many students in my school.
I grew up in a white Conservative society. My parents never, to my memory, made racist comments. Other family members made racist comments. I knew racism existed, I think; but it did not really exist in my intentionally small world. I knew some Asian kids in school, acquaintances with whom I spoke. The Black students in my high school were mostly involved in sports, which has never had interest for me; and they were in different classes.
I did not have a conversation with an African American student until my 4th year of college. One has to understand that I had joined Sherlock in his self-description of “high-functioning sociopath”—early in my life; I didn’t like very many people. I was surrounded by people but being surrounded did not imply that I needed to go out of my way to meet them.

Faith entered my life in my third year of college; I began following an itinerant rabbi who claimed to be the Creator of the Universe. He was murdered; He came back; and said that we can, too. That rabbi broke many of the Traditions that the right-wing, conservative arm of Judaism considered to be more important than the people they were supposed to serve.
They killed Him, too.

“The temperature in Anchorage, Alaska, soared to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday [7/4], shattering the city’s all-time record-high temperature by 5 degrees. The previous record of 85 degrees Fahrenheit was set in 1969. It also shattered the daily record of 77 degrees for the Fourth of July, which had stood since 1999. Records in Anchorage date back to 1952.
The average temperatures in Anchorage in July are in the 60s.”

This small person has entered our lives. What do I tell him about the world he is entering? Do I tell him about all of the people in government that are more concerned about keeping their jobs than they are about addressing climate change?

He has pink skin; and he is the most recent descendant of the immigrants in my family that arrived in this country when the 20th Century was young. They came from northern latitudes, rather than southern latitudes. People who uprooted their lives to make a new start in a country across the ocean. My northern ancestors were no different from the southern immigrants trying to make a new start in our northern country. My ancestors did not speak English when they arrived; they probably learned from their children, who learned all sorts of English in schools. My grandparents had never seen a brown-skinned person in their lives, prior to coming to America.

Would my grandmother cross the ocean with her three daughters, to join her husband and brother-in-law, if she knew that her daughters would be housed in cages, to be fed on bologna sandwiches and sleeping on a concrete floor? To have no clothing changes; to the 8- and 6-year old sisters possibly being enlisted to take care of infants separated from their mothers, living in their own excrement?
I honestly don’t know. I never talked with my grandparents about the early days of their life here, and the life they left. However, the country seems to have had a larger number of compassionate people, who weren’t that far from the boat themselves. No self-respecting adult would allow the conditions currently existing at our Southern border. The President and his staff lie about the conditions there; all one needs to do is read the report published by the Inspector General of Homeland Security. The child abuse is documented; IT IS NOT FAKE NEWS. It simply is news the President does not like to hear.

“Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.”

In these times of shameless public behavior and wanton selfishness, I have to remind myself that we still live in a world of Unexplored Possibilities. Every human on this planet has within their power the ability to become someone new, simply [but not easily] by changing the way we think. Each of us carries Unexplored Possibilities in our DNA. This is a gift from our Creator.

In the years ahead, we may have to re-examine the way we look at national boundaries. There are still vast parts of our planet that are largely uninhabitable, because of extreme temperatures that may diminish as the earth warms, and the waters rise; these areas may become habitable. People may have to learn to tolerate differences, rather than deny the existence of differences. America is a land of Immigrants; Immigrants who slaughtered the Indigenous population. America has a nasty history, when it comes to brown-skinned people. Nationalism may not work when the world is losing the war against Climate Change.

Here in Oregon there are a large amount of businesses that depend upon fossil fuels for their existence. Their profit margins are too small to buy new equipment. The reality is that reducing the individual carbon footprints of the developed world will come at great cost. The alternative is death.

We will all need to change the way we think, in order to live at peace with each other…

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

 

  • Illustration Tip #19: Work for Hire

A reminder, once again, that I am not sharing ideas that will make you a successful illustrator; I do not consider myself to be a successful illustrator, but I have drawings in a museum and have won several awards—three this year. I am not able to support myself by my illustration work. In the past, I supported myself by my work as an architectural consultant. When I turned 65 and began collecting Social Security, I thought I could finally give up my marketing of myself in that fashion—I’m really tired of dealing with bureaucrats. This was not one of my better ideas. Consulting pays far more than illustrating/graphic design.

For years I trolled Craigslist daily, across the country, looking for projects I could theoretically do well. It is pointless to offer to do work that you think you might be able to do well. If you do not succeed, you’ve lost the opportunity to work for the client again.

Performing well for a client does not guarantee that you will get hired by that client in the future. When I started this gig, I assumed that it would work like construction works—if you find a subcontractor who works well, and performs well, they are at the top of the list for a future project. I haven’t experienced this happening in graphic design and illustrating.

Work for Hire. It sucks. However, it pays at least as well as bagging groceries at your local store. I find the creation of images to be far more interesting than bagging groceries. All work is worthwhile work, if you treat it this way. The client is almost always right, even if it costs you time and effort. I’ve never had a dissatisfied client, to my knowledge; the way I insured this record is that I did not charge people for completed work, if they were not satisfied with the deliverables. I do not put that statement in writing; I don’t usually inform the client of this intention at the beginning. I don’t want to get ripped off. I also do not want a bad reputation as an illustrator.

In my experience, it is necessary to have a ‘day job’—something that can pay the bills. When I was in college and had to choose a major that was different than my intention, because I picked the wrong school, I could not see the point in majoring in ‘starving artist’—so I picked Architecture. Never planned to be one.

Work for Hire projects usually don’t have the potential to be ‘the next big thing’. People hire vendors [as a graphic designer/illustrator, you are a vendor] from a classified ad because they aren’t willing to pay for work at industry-standard rates. Based on my experience, you’ll never have enough time to do the work you want to do. Lose sleep.

I created a folder in my computers called, Service Provider Samples. Everything that I’ve produced, that I like, goes into that file. I have the folder subdivided into Graphic, Logos, Technical and Videos. I created ‘standard’ email templates to use for responding to client searches. Sometimes the email includes images, sometimes they simply direct the potential client to my website, or to a ‘samples’ file on my web server.

I frequently modified existing images so that they would be more like the description of the image the client was searching for.

The reality is that I create a specific style of image. A style that used to be popular, when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I created images that were self-expression. I don’t do whimsy, I don’t do surrealism, I don’t do abstract. I do realism. That is how my brain works. I admire people who do other styles. I can copy the image that isn’t me; but I can’t create it. Twenty years ago, I may have been more flexible. Early in my career I painted, using acrylics. I learned to make digital images that are similar to the acrylic paintings I painted. Now the only tool I have confidence in is my mouse. I probably can still draw; the reality is that I haven’t gotten up the nerve. My degenerative polyneuropathy has flare-ups every two years, and I lose some more neurons.

Clients often do not really know what they want. They may say that they know what they want, but when I provide them with what they told me they wanted, it turns out that they weren’t nearly as sure about the end result as they thought.

Having talent isn’t enough. You also need patience and tenacity. As with many character traits, you only gain experience in a certain quality by learning your shortcomings, often painfully.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 195: How did we come to this point…

July 4, 2019

To the mother who has walked her children a thousand miles to reach the American border, being told, by the Border Patrol agent who considers these people to be the excrement in the sole of his shoe; that she must drink water from the toilet…

This is better than the future she sees for her children in their country.

You would not treat your dog [as far as I can tell from Facebook] in the manner asylum seekers are being caged by American Border Patrol agents. All Americans should be ashamed at the way immigrants who will continue to help our country grow, are being treated.

As egregious as the President’s current policy toward asylum seekers is, he is planning on making it worse; including removing interpreters from migrant facilities… The President wants to deport the families of actively-serving military troops—those people making his 4th of July dreams come true.

https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/trump-admin-rolls-out-latest-cruel-tactic-against-immigrants-63284805626

A couple from my church responded to my Facebook post: ‘who cares?”

________________________________________________________________________________

Facebook won’t let me post this is the manner it was planned. It was a little too subtle anyway…

Lincoln Leaves the Memorial

My thanks to Chris Hayes, of MSNBC for the idea.


Isaiah 58

1 “Cry aloud, do not hold back! Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek Me and delight to know My ways, like a nation that does what is right and does not forsake the justice of their God.

They ask Me for righteous judgments; they delight in the nearness of God.” 3 “Why have we fasted, and You have not seen? Why have we humbled ourselves, and You have not noticed?”

“Behold, on the day of your fast, you do as you please, and you oppress all your workers. 4 You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today and have your voice be heard on high. 5 Is this the fast I have chosen, a day for a man to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?

Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 Is not the fast I have chosen to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and tear off every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your home, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 194: Dark Days

June 29, 2019

I posted the image above on Facebook, with a similar caption:

The Trump administration went to court this week to argue that migrant children detained at the United States-Mexico border do not require basic hygiene products like soap and toothbrushes in order to be in held in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Trump’s team also argued that requiring minors to sleep on cold concrete floors in crowded cells with low temperatures similarly fulfilled that requirement.

Social Media—that incredible gift to humanity that allows us to have near-instant communication with ‘nearly everyone’ on the planet [we will probably see ‘everyone’ happen]—only to find out there are a whole bunch of people that we really don’t want to communicate with at all.
I received one comment from the above post, from a person that attends the same church as my wife and I attend:

The real question is what conditions are they used to in the country they came from and do we care about the laws that are in place to take care of illegals? Are we going to just make something that is wrong, right??? or should they come the right way and get the total support and respect of a invited guest, that is the question?? This is not our job to take care of the world and break our laws in the process!

To be honest, I expected that this person would make some sort of similar comment at some point in the near future; I’ve been posting a lot of news articles about how P45 is going ‘above and beyond’ in order to misdirect attention from his upcoming legal consequences.

To remind the viewing public: Donald J. Trump would be in prison right now, alongside his indicted co-conspirator, Michael Cohen, Trump’s “fixer,” if he was not the President of these barely-United States. The crimes presented in Cohen’s charging documents are for money laundering, bank fraud, insurance fraud and obstruction of justice charges. Michael’s unindicted co-conspirator, one Donald J. Trump, identified in Cohen’s charging documents, will have many additional State and Federal charges to answer for once the investigations are completed. When he leaves office, he goes to jail. Consequently, he wants to remain President for far more than four more years.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/house-investigations-trump-his-administration-full-list-n1010131

While it is highly unlikely that the person who made the comment above will ever read this, I will submit that the images below of human beings seeking the protection of our Constitution have not lived like this in the homes they came from:

Mothers bring their children here to protect them from rape and death; parents bring their children here because food won’t grow where they come from. The person who wrote the comments is near to me in age; and must be aware of the results of our ‘War on Drugs’. The United States government bears some responsibility for life in Central America. As with all of our ‘War on…’ events, drugs are winning. Our country is responsible for the creation of the drug cartels in Mexico and Central America. We thought we could trade drug money for arms sales that were supposed to be ‘off the books’…

Perhaps our government needs to declare a War on Civility, so that Civility has a chance of winning. We have become pretty lousy at war.

The President isn’t responsible for all the chaos going on in this country. The American people allowed an amoral, white nationalist, con man and criminal to become President. Twenty-five women have accused him of sexual assault. As President Carter stated in the last few days, the man behind the Resolute Desk is an illegitimate President. We allowed this to happen. Half of eligible voters in this country, during the 2016 election, chose not to vote at all.

When a brown-skinned man became President, I hoped that the country had finally turned a corner and had made a significant step toward Dr. King’s Dream; apparently the haters just decided to go into the closets. I had a relative, with very different views on Social Justice than myself, told me that nothing had changed. I didn’t believe him.

We can never change another human being, try as we might; the most we can ever do is to provide an environment where change can occur, when change is desired.

Somehow, two dozen candidates will need to turn into two; over twenty people will need to step down and support those two candidates. If change in our country is going to occur, we need to focus on the places where we agree. In today’s world, it’s hard to imagine how this can happen.

Enough of that.
_________________________________________________________________________

We have a new child in our family, a little over two months old.

Hugo’s Mom manages one of the last independent children’s bookstores in Portland, A Children’s Place Bookstore. From the week Hugo was born, he’s been read to every day by his parents and grandparents; he often visits the bookstore, where other people read to him. His life is surrounded with children’s books. I’ve been wondering about the life he will live, the adventures he will have, imaginary or otherwise, based on continual exposure to children’s books. The image above is ‘Hugo the Adventurer’.

I honestly can’t remember ever having had a book read to me as a child. I remember weekly visits to the bookmobile and then the library and having a library of my own. When I wasn’t watching Superman, Zorro, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and Robin Hood on television, I was reading. As a teenager, I annoyed a friend of my Dad, who was willing to hire me for a summer, to work on his wheat ranch. He would give me a task, when the task was finished, I’d pull a science fiction novel out of my pocket and sit down to read. My boss had this ‘odd’ notion that I should go find him, and get another task… I lasted a month.

I became an illustrator because of all of those books.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and during the Golden Age of Illustration, one could go to the library and check out not-age-specified novels that were illustrated by America’s finest illustrators—N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Norman Rockwell, Frank E. Schoonover, and many others.

When I decided to make Illustration my career, I expected to be illustrating books like I read in my childhood: Classics Illustrated, Mysterious Island, Sherlock Holmes, etc. To my surprise, when I finally stuck my head above my drafting table, I discovered that the children’s book industry had changed drastically. The world had changed. The books I grew up with are mostly gone. While it is totally unrealistic, my goal is to bring that world back…

Nearly every night, I spend a few hours recreating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia using Sir Arthur’s original story, now in the Public Domain. I created a Korean-language children’s version of the story early in this century. I was thrilled to be working on a story of one of my heroes; sadly, I had a very short timeline, and the book wasn’t what I wanted it to be. At this point in time, my ability to draw sucks; because my fingers no longer do what I want them to do—a byproduct of a degenerative neurological disorder of unknown cause. However, I can still hold a mouse. I’ve repurposed some software to do what it wasn’t really designed for—it creates digital characters for me. The book is taking far longer to finish than I imagined; my original art has basically become the storyboard for the new book.

Original [left] and Revised [right] illustrations for A Scandal in Bohemia by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Scandal in Bohemia is that the fictitious King of Bohemia is about to be married to a ‘peer of the realm’ and is being blackmailed by an Opera Star with whom the King had a dalliance—and there is a photograph to prove it… [sound vaguely familiar to today’s news?]

Each night while I work, I’ve been listening to MSNBC, learning about the Scandal in Washington DC. The Man Who Would Be King has been accused again, and this time there may be DNA evidence on the outfit in her photograph…

One of my many questions is how the person at the beginning of this story attends the same church as my wife and me. It was in this church that I learned how to reach out to the victims of our broken world, by helping in specific ways to assist flood/hurricane victims in various parts of our country; and assisting Medical Teams International in Mexico.

Jesus teaches clearly what our responsibility to the homeless and downtrodden is supposed to be:

Aramaic Bible in Plain English; Matthew 5:42:

Whoever asks you, give to him, and whoever wants to borrow from you, do not refuse him…

Not a single word about skin color, or place of origin.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #18: Everything digital can become an image

I’ve recently sponsored a 6-year old boy who lives in Bangladesh through Compassion International. There was a presentation at our church; as sometimes happens in my life, I felt an intangible ‘tap on my shoulder’ which usually seems to mean, ‘pay attention’. The concept of being attentive is spread throughout many belief systems. The child I picked has the same birthday as mine; around 60 years apart. CI has a means for writing the children; templates to use, etc. I hardly ever follow such instructions. So I wrote my own letter.

It starts with geography:

…keeping in mind that I’m writing a six-year old. I pasted two map images together, since Bangladesh is barely on the map. Working with .psd files [one does not need to use Photoshop to work with .psd files], you can create transparent layers to form a new thing. The primary map is semi-transparent; if you look closely, you can see the word, MONGOLIA from the lower map layer. Transparent layers are useful when scaling two separate images so that they are the same size [presuming some accuracy in scale].

The concept of Portland, Oregon:

An image from my first colored children’s book, and an image for a client. Portland in the 1800s and Portland today.

Reading the letter on file drawn by my sponsored child, I saw his answers in English as well as Bengali. Complicated as I tend to be, I decided to translate my written English portions into Bengali, to save someone’s effort. Google has a language translation program that seems fairly accurate: Google Translate. One way to check for accuracy is to copy the translated text into the ‘before’ box, and see what shows up in the ‘after’ box, in English. Language is fluid; they idea is to approximate the same meanings.

Bengali appears to be a beautiful language; I have no idea how it is derived. Word apparently has a Bengali language download; I was too impatient to wait. The above image is a screen print from the Google Translate page. Anything you see on a computer is a digital image. It’s all ones and zeroes. Software simply organizes the ones and zeroes into a particular form. Most keyboards have a ‘print screen’ function.

Word uses text boxes—the black rectangles above. Text boxes also work for pasting images. The text box is simply an output from the copy function.

Having finished my letter [much more time than I anticipated], I ‘printed’ the Word document as a pdf file [smaller file size]; only to find that I can only upload image files. If you have the full version of Acrobat, you can save pdf files as images. The website was happy to have me upload png versions of the pdf file which was printed from a doc file. It’s all ones and zeroes, interpreted by computer interfaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

June 8, 2019

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of the Creator
View Larger Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and the monstrous creatures of whales_3.1

 

Enough of that.

 

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

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

I followed his example. It works.

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

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

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

Sherlock’s Mind

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

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

It is an act of the will.

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

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

 

 

 

 


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