Posts Tagged ‘freelance illustration’

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 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 163: That’s just Fiction, isn’t it?

August 12, 2018
Lagoon Nebula_Smiling Galaxy Cluster
A Galactic View of my Wife and I When I Start My Day

Leaving Presidential politics for a moment and returning to one of my favorite topics: the make-up of the Universe. On the left is the HST-Smiling-GalaxyCluster SDSS-J1038+4849-20150210 with an Einstein–Chwolson ring; on the right, the Lagoon Nebula [my wife could not see the frowny face—hence the sketch]. An Einstein–Chwolson ring…

“predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Instead of light from a source traveling in a straight line (in three dimensions), it is bent by the presence of a massive body, which distorts spacetime. An Einstein Ring is a special case of gravitational lensing, caused by the exact alignment of the source, lens, and observer. This results in a symmetry around the lens, causing a ring-like structure.”

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

Einstein never expected that we would see this effect; the optics of telescopes being what they were in the early 1900s. The Hubble enables such marvels.
My usual statement about things astronomical—I’m a follower of Jesus, and not very religious. I believe the Universe has a Creator. Stephen Hawking determined that the only thing necessary for the Universe to exist is gravity [which no one really understands]; therefore, a Creator is not necessary.
—Or, an example of good engineering design. Creating a system that is self-sustaining.

However, this isn’t something I’m dogmatic about. I don’t believe that humans are fully-capable of understanding the nature of the Creator of the Universe; we don’t have the brain power, nor the imagination to understand.
The Big Bang theory is believed to have been first proposed in the 20th century, but was actually proposed much earlier by biblical scholars, taken from information in the Old Testament/Torah/The Tanakh.
The earliest existing reference is in a commentary on the book of Genesis written by Nahmanides (1194-1270):
From Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005KB0V62/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

“In the thirteenth century, Nahmanides quoted a commentary on Genesis written 600 years before him, noting that prior to the existence of the universe, time did not exist. This was learned from the wording of Genesis 1:5, “. . . and there was evening and there was morning, day one.” It is not stated “the first day.” For the use of first would have implied an already existing series of days or a continuum of time when in fact on this “day one” there had been no prior time to this one day. Not a before and not an after. There was nothing to which one could relate this day. It stood alone as “day one.” For all the remaining days in that week of Genesis, the ordinal terms, second, third, etc., are used and. logically so. By day number two, and thereafter, a series of days had been established. Although it is difficult to comprehend, the creation of the physical universe brought with it a concurrent creation of time…

Nahmanides’s account of the first seconds of the universe reads like this:
At the briefest instant following creation, all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. The matter at this time was so thin, so intangible, that it did not have real substance. It did have, however, a potential to gain substance and form and to become tangible matter. From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This initially thin noncorporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of matter as we know it. From this initial act of creation, from this ethereally thin pseudo-substance, everything that has existed, or will ever exist, was, is, and will be formed.

 “Nahmanides’s reference to a grain of mustard is the traditional way of saying, “in the language of man,” the tiniest imaginable speck of space. Nahmanides taught that at the beginning, all that is on and within the Earth and all the heavens, in fact all the universe, was somehow packed, compressed, squeezed into this speck of space, the size of a mustard grain.”…

…and became, the Big Bang/the Expanding Universe.
And the Beginning of Time.
Okay, you don’t believe that Time could have a Beginning. Why not? The nature of Time is a progression.

Assume for a moment, that Time began at the moment the Universe began Expanding. All things being relatively equivalent, this would imply that Life began at about the same Time throughout the Universe. Consequently, those processes that eventually created Life and Evolution happened at about the same Time throughout the Universe. I don’t know; how long does it take for a Universe to expand? It appears to be expanding still, away from us.
At this point in Time…

The earliest fossils of anatomically modern humans are from the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago such as the Omo remains of Ethiopia and the fossils of Herto sometimes classified as Homo sapiens idaltu.

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

…we are unable to travel space at faster-than-light speeds. We really aren’t able to travel within our own Solar System with any human efficiency.
So, these aliens we keep hoping to see—they either need to travel in not-as-fast-as-light craft comparable to cruise ships—travel to our Solar System is going to take decades or centuries. Or, they have managed to accomplish something with much greater facility than we have and have cracked the Code to faster-than-light travel with Warp engines or Einstein-Rosen Bridges [wormholes] or some technology that Earth’s scientists and science fiction writers haven’t figured out.
Maybe the Expansion of the Universe involved some great amount of Time, and we are on the tail end of the Expansion; enabling some lifeforms from galaxies far, far away to be heading to our neighborhood.

Solar System_mj

One of my favorite theories is that somewhere beyond the Kuiper Belt, perhaps around the relative location of that galaxy sitting above the Sun, there are space beacons warning all incoming visitors to avoid this Solar System, because we carry an infectious plague of violence and hatred not found in other star systems.

Look at our country after a year-plus [I did say earlier, only for a moment]:
1 year, 204 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes and 15 seconds from when I typed this.

http://howlonghasdonaldtrumpbeenpresident.com/

Yes, someone is keeping track.
The infection runs deep; it was not caused by the man that sits behind the Resolute Desk, but it has been enabled by him. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has become the country that kidnaps children from their parents and does not have the courage to stand up against our enemies, both foreign and domestic. Many of those enemies have well-padded lives in the Senate and in Congress.

Aliens: stay away, lest you become infected.
There’s a reason it’s called Science Fiction.
Science fiction is written by humans that are limited to their knowledge at the time; and there is no book of rules that determines what information is included, and what information is omitted. Science Fiction is ideas. Ideas about how life could be; both could be good and could be bad. We always hope for the former. People in this country with skin colors other than pink have always found the latter and are a long way from finding the former. Northern European Stock is greatly outnumbered by people of color; birth rates among office-oriented job types are much lower than those whose occupations are more agricultural; it’s simple economics. Children within a family make for free labor [if you’ve ever had children, you know it’s not all that free…]

Klaatu Gort_First Contact
Gort and Klaatu from the 1951 movie    | Zefram Cochrane and unnamed Vulcans, Star Trek First Contact

If you watched the original Star Trek series, Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the Warp [faster-than-the-speed-of-light] engine, was portrayed by Glen Corbett, and presented more-or-less like NASA’s version of the Right Stuff. First Contact’s version of Cochrane is more like the not-so-right stuff. He did it for the money he’d make.
In 1951, Klaatu the astronaut, and his space-cop companion Gort [he does not give out traffic tickets—you disappear] arrived on Earth after we had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and therefore posed a threat to the Universe, which apparently had some sort of Federation of planets…
In the Star Trek universe, explorers from the planet Vulcan arrived in the Solar System shortly after Zefram Cochrane made his first faster-than-light trip across the Solar System. The Vulcans came to usher us into the Universe that eventually contained the United Federation of Planets. But, without Gort’s limited interventions, the Vulcans were basically space-cops. The Vulcans were aware of our Infection. We had been broadcasting our Infection by television broadcasts for centuries, by the time the Vulcans showed up. Star Trek First Contact takes place after Earth’s Third World War, which wiped out hundreds of millions of inhabitants.

But, that’s just Fiction, isn’t it…

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 160: Call It Treason

July 17, 2018

Call It Treason

Korea.
Vietnam.

Few who know me would ever accuse me of being patriotic.
Nearly 100,000 soldiers lost their lives fighting ‘to make the world safe from Communism’. The Commander in Chief dishonors every soldier who has ever fought. He calls the European Union ‘our greatest foe’ and sides with the Russian government over his own Intelligence services; and the Department of Justice.

I am ashamed of what our government has become.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 150_Complicity

April 30, 2018

Twin ISIL suicide blasts kill 29 in Afghanistan’s Kabul
At least nine journalists among the dead as ISIL suicide bombers launch double bombing attack in Afghan capital.”
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/twin-explosions-kill-20-afghanistan-kabul-180430051432828.html

I just watched a horrible movie, In The Land of Blood and Honey https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1714209/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

–horrible in that it really happened; and mankind can be abominably cruel. The sort of film that I understand that ‘good Christians’ are not supposed to watch because it goes against Pauline wisdom about mental purity… The Bosnian ‘civil war’ in the early 90’s—the genocide of the Muslim Bosnians. I checked it out because Angelina Jolie wrote and directed the film, and I admire her.

I wonder if I am complicit. I know that can’t be, in that it happened half a world away from me; and it was something that I never would have participated in. But it happened in my lifetime, and I did nothing to stop it. No one did anything to stop it…

My reaction is the question: “Am I complicit?” I was in my 40’s when it happened, and I only have a vague recollection. I see the barbarity and can only ask, how can the Creator love us when we are this cruel, and so much worse? Knowing that the Creator does love us; in spite of our lack of deserving love. When I stand before Jesus, having arrived Home, will He ask me why I stood by, doing nothing? He already knows how and why—the question, if it comes, will be for me; and for me to see myself.

One of my best friends commented, “the greatest surprise is that God hasn’t judged the whole lot of us by now. This isn’t unique to America or our time in history. We are all complicit. We are all felt offered grace. Even those who raped and murdered or sent others to do so. You are feeling the feelings of God. Feel the anger and heartbreak, but feel the mercy and forgiveness and coming victory too.”

This barbarity is going on today, somewhere. Women getting raped and brutalized, people being tortured; people being ordered to do abominable things. The history of the entire human race. It IS happening today, somewhere.

We Americans sit on our fat asses [speaking of myself] as if it doesn’t matter. And I’m sitting here writing about asking myself the question, instead of heading to the airport to get on a plane—where I can do little. We live retirement checks to retirement checks—can’t even write checks with lots of zeroes.

I’m ashamed of my complacency; I’m ashamed of my country’s complacency and complicity. Americans are complicit in that our government takes the money we earn, and use to pay taxes, to murder the innocent—by other names of course, we don’t murder…we supply governments with money to keep them from doing the horrible. And they do the horrible to someone else. We sell them weapons so that they won’t use them against us. We invade countries without their permission, without their even suggesting; we invade countries without Advice and Consent. We spend the largest amount of money in the world on “Defense”—the same Department of Defense that in 2017 started the first-ever financial audit of in history, “despite receiving hundreds of billions of dollars annually and having more than $2.2 trillion in assets.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/08/569394885/pentagon-announces-first-ever-audit-of-the-department-of-defense

Note the two highlighted boxes in the upper right corner, above. The one that uses the same terms I find on my W-2s—those monies so ridiculously called ‘entitlements’ in Congress are actually taxes that we pay, every pay period. And the box that shows $1.8 Trillion of tax revenue from individuals; compared to $342 Billion [17.1% of Individual] from corporations.

Is it trickling down yet?

When do we say No!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 147: Holy Saturday

March 31, 2018

My favorite frame in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ:

jesus leaves the tomb
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIS0IjLIjDc   [the last minute of the video]

Being the snarky person that I can be, the thought occurs to me—was Jesus naked when Mary thought He was the gardener; and then, why would Mary think that a naked man was a gardener?…
The American Church, of course, shudders at my suggestion that Jesus might have been naked when He left His tomb; American traditions don’t do well with nakedness. Motion picture history aside, indications are that those who were crucified were naked—compounding the shame.

Jesus, the ‘second Adam’ was naked, the new creation; and he was not ashamed…

Holy Saturday– “He Descended into Hell”
Somewhat to my surprise, these words in the Apostle’s Creed aren’t supported that well by Scripture [google: “He Descended into Hell”]. As with nearly all of Scripture, it can be used to prove or disprove almost everything. The concept of Jesus descending into Hell on Saturday appears to have been part of ‘popular culture’ in the centuries following Jesus’ death on the Cross; but there are a lot scholars who will say that this is a misinterpretation of Scripture. Nonetheless, the Apostle’s Creed is foundational to most Christian confessions.

I personally like the concept that Jesus preached release to those captured in Hell, on the day between His crucifixion and His resurrection; and in my thinking, Hell would have then been emptied—unlike politicians on earth who will preach freedom and allow captives to remain in bondage.

The reality is that ‘after death’ is something beyond our capability to understand. It is hard for modern humans to believe that anything can be beyond our capability to understand; it only takes a few steps backward from the drama to see that we aren’t nearly as sophisticated or accomplished as we imagine.

The concept that governments are considering the possibility of ‘winning’ a nuclear war is totally absurd.

Nuclear winter is the severe and prolonged global climatic cooling effect hypothesized[1][2] to occur after widespread firestorms following a nuclear war.[3] The hypothesis is based on the fact that such fires can inject soot into the stratosphere, where it can block some direct sunlight from reaching the surface of the Earth. It is predicted that the resulting cooling would lead to widespread crop failure and famine.[4] In developing computer models of nuclear-winter scenarios, researchers use Hamburg, Tokyo, and the Hiroshima firestorms in World War II as example cases where soot might have been injected into the stratosphere,[5] as well as modern observations of natural, large-area wildfires.[3][6][7] wikipedia

The ‘winning’ of a nuclear war is being discussed nearly every day in the news; and there are at least two world ‘leaders’ who believe that it needs to be considered.

Medical researchers realize that humans have the capacity to kill millions invisibly:

Disease X is the code name for an unknown pathogen which may cause disease and potentially an epidemic in future. It was added to the list of Blueprint priority diseases as a “known unknown” by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018.[1] The purpose of this addition is to acknowledge the fact that a new epidemic might be caused by an unknown pathogen and to seek R&D preparedness.[2][3] Wikipedia

Genocide and ethnic cleansing exist today in a spectrum of assaults on nations or religio-ethnic groups. Humans apparently have a need to destroy ourselves.
The mere reading of news headlines on any day prove that humans in political groups cannot imagine living in peace in the world. For some, the need for power and control can outweigh all other considerations.

Easter proposes that the Creator of the Universe entered time and space in the form of a single cell, implanted in the womb of a teenager. From that womb a man grew, became a woodworker; and then began a three-year career as a teacher, a healer, and an outcast from the rulers of society. These rulers had this healer tortured and hung on a cross on the outskirts of town, with a sign calling Him “King of the Jews” nailed on His cross.
Easter proclaims that this broken body walked out of a sealed tomb, in the presence of Roman guards. Easter proclaims that He met with His disciples, ate with them, walked along the road with them; was present to hundreds of witnesses; and told the story about how death is not the end.

Forty-five years ago, He entered the life of a cynical, arrogant, atheist; and showed him that the world is more than we can see and understand. Thankfully, having seen, I cannot unsee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 144: Yet, still I persist…

February 27, 2018

valley of the shadow_crop

Today [Monday, when I started writing this] is my birthday; at least the one that really counts—the day I realized that I had been born again. Not in some crazy religious way; not the kind of being born again that makes for really bad headlines and bizarre comments from the ‘religious right’. Instead, the kind of being born again that Jesus talked to Nicodemus about [third chapter of John’s Gospel—BTW, verses 16 and following are not usually printed in red ink, for those who understand the jargon]. Seeing the world in a new way—the real meaning of that poorly-used word, “repent”—not some word to use for beating others; a word that simply means, ‘change the way you see’.
I find it difficult to write without images. At present, my life is largely about struggle—not only my own, but also the struggles of the people who are part of my life at this time. One died recently. People struggling with that awful C-word; and the even more awful treatment for that word. People who hate their life; people who fear the results of the life they’ve made for themselves. I created the image above for someone I’m close to, and also for myself. I feel as though I’m picking myself up, all of the time; lately I’m even more aware of the ‘wolves’ that are hounding me; and the ‘Fear Not and Behold’ angels that follow me. I know that they are the reason the wolves stay out of reach. Metaphor.

I never expected to be living in this world. This world is very different from the world we lived in a year or so ago, when we actually had a President, rather than some guy who only knows how to run a business [bankrupt six times, called, “smart business decisions” [http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/21/hillary-clinton/yep-donald-trumps-companies-have-declared-bankrupt/]; and giving enormous tax breaks to billionaires while cutting off the ‘safety nets’ for the poor. A guy who only understands ‘zero-sum’ business decisions. A guy who has shredded most of the protections that his predecessor managed to put in place, so that the country could be closer to that which we’ve advertised in movies for decades…

A Civilization that Spends More Money on Warhttps://me.me/i/a-civilization-that-spends-more-money-on-war-than-education-13669421
Must be some sort of ‘sh**hole kind of country’…

Image2

However, these aren’t the images I like to be known for [I did not create the above two images; part of me wishes I had].

This is the kind of image I want to be known for:

greentree3

One of my favorites—a tribute to Vermeer; and the client didn’t like it. Too often, the story of my professional life as an illustrator. I found it amusing that I was contacted a few days ago about being part of a listing of “Top Artists To Watch in 2018” or something like that… I told them that while I appreciated the compliment of their interest, I didn’t consider 40 years as a ‘starving artist’ as qualifying me for their list. Fortunately, in 1984 [the other 1984], I was led into a job that I didn’t really want; one that has provided me with an income for the last 34 years. Life is full of surprises.

My intention was to become a full-time Children’s Book illustrator. I grew up with Classics Illustrated, and magazines illustrated by such artists as N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Frank E. Schoonover, and my hero, Norman Rockwell. They were ‘merely’ illustrators at the time they created their images.  [http://www.artcyclopedia.com/history/golden-age.html]  Life is full of surprises. Rockwell never considered himself as an Artist. Commercial art was always the bane of Fine Art.

When I decided to ‘get serious’ about becoming a Children’s Book Illustrator, I started collecting images [pre-digital] that I wanted my work to be like. I metaphorically put my head down and focused on my illustrations for about 10 years, when my health caused me to make a new career choice. I had been involved with SCBWI for most of that time, and considered the ‘rejections’ at Conferences to be the particular tastes of the editors who were looking at my work. Eventually I looked up from my work and discovered the illustration world had changed— Children’s Book illustrators were becoming cartoonists, and photographers were becoming illustrators like those found in ‘the Golden Age’. I have a pile of rejections that basically say, ‘we really like your work, but it’s not what we’re looking for’. Somewhat soothing to the ego, but hard on the checkbook. Sometimes I feel like I’ve specialized in illustrating Edsels…

Another image that I’d like to be known for:

tattoo

Due to my particular personality [INTJ for those who understand the jargon], ‘whimsy’ is something I lack in my work. I can copy ‘whimsy’ but I don’t find myself creating it. This is about as close to whimsy that I create—the tattoo above is on her back:

woman_with_the_dragon_tattoo

I consider my Doctor Who obsession to be a form of whimsy…

Doctor images

A friend of mine described science fiction as helping him to believe that the impossible is really possible.

However, Children’s Book editors have a different understanding of whimsy…

Yet, still I persist.

Different context from Elizabeth Warren’s.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 143: The World of Tomorrow, Redux

February 22, 2018

Watched Tomorrowland again tonight…
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1964418/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

In the Light of the students in Parkland, and across the country:

From the film:
Nix: “Let’s imagine… if you glimpsed the future, you were frightened by what you saw, what would you do with that information? You would go to… the politicians, captains of industry? And how would you convince them? Data? Facts? Good luck! The only facts they won’t challenge are the ones that keep the wheels greased and the dollars rolling in.

“But what if… what if there was a way of skipping the middle man and putting the critical news directly into everyone’s head? The probability of wide-spread annihilation kept going up. The only way to stop it was to show it. To scare people straight. Because, what reasonable human being wouldn’t be galvanized by the potential destruction of everything they’ve ever known or loved? To save civilization, I would show its collapse.

“But, how do you think this vision was received? How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate eclair! They didn’t fear their demise, they re-packaged it. It could be enjoyed as video-games, as TV shows, books, movies, the entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse and sprinted towards it with gleeful abandon. Meanwhile, your Earth was crumbling all around you.

“You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! Bees and butterflies start to disappear, the glaciers melt, algae blooms. All around you the coal mine canaries are dropping dead and you won’t take the hint! In every moment there’s the possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it.

“And because you won’t believe it you won’t do what is necessary to make it a reality. So, you dwell on this terrible future. You resign yourselves to it for one reason, because *that* future does not ask anything of you today. So yes, we saw the iceberg and warned the Titanic. But you all just steered for it anyway, full steam ahead. Why? Because you want to sink! You gave up! That’s not the monitor’s fault. That’s yours…”

Everyone thinks of changing the world; no one thinks of changing themselves.

Tolstoy

Doctor Who: “It’s not just work, it’s your life. And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible. Or, what’s impossible? What’s a fantasy?”

Last Christmas [2015]

Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. At age 33, he was one of the youngest delegates to the Second Continental Congress beginning in 1775 at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, where a formal declaration of independence from Britain was overwhelmingly favored.33

wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 142: all of those who take up swords will die by swords

February 21, 2018

angel.grief_mj

Dear Kat-

In the world that I grew up in, largely guided by television shows that showed families who ate meals together; and kids that could go to their grandparents when they had big problems, and the grandparents always had an answer. Now I’m the grandfather, and you live in a world that no kid should ever half to live in, and I don’t have the answer.

Based on one Facebook page I visited yesterday, the problem with our society is a lack of Jesus. That same Fb page says that the other problem in our society is the lack of assault rifles… a video with a 10-year-old, like I was, who stops his bicycle; jumps off, and pulls a pistol out of his holster. He takes a shot or two—I didn’t see a muzzle flash—and then pulls an assault rifle out of his backpack and begins ‘firing’ again. The video was filmed from far enough away that I couldn’t see if the weapons were real, or artfully crafted toys. Another video with a girl around 10 or 12, almost hysterically joyous that she’d been given the gift of a rifle…

So, apparently, the solution is Jesus and assault rifles. Everyone should be allowed to carry a weapon, including the children in schools…and we can all shoot each other to death; where we will go and meet Jesus… right?

A little Bible teaching: Matthew 26:52, from the “Aramaic Bible in Plain English”
Then Yeshua said to him, “Return the sword to its place, for all of those who take up swords will die by swords.”
Today, the verse probably needs to be updated: ‘…all of those who take up assault rifles will die by assault rifles.’

I was in my early twenties when I first heard of Jesus. He didn’t come with assault rifles, back in the 1970s. A good thing: there was a girl murdered in the dorm I lived in, by an immature, angry teen who wanted to have sex with her. The whole campus was on alert for what seemed like weeks. There was a ‘security’ team who prowled our hallways at night—stoners who wandered the hallways armed with .22s from home. I didn’t have a God to thank, that they weren’t carrying assault rifles.

The world is broken. It’s always been broken—this is the inheritance of being human beings who have the power to choose. People choose to do evil. Fortunately, not all people; not all of the time. Some days I think America is more broken than many other societies.

gun homicides in Americahttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/15/so-america-this-is-how-you-do-gun-control

Although a lot of people refuse to see it, according to the graph above, guns are the answer to the mass-killing problem. The countries listed make it very difficult for someone to acquire a weapon designed to kill people. Fb friends of mine are having debates on whether or not people should have guns. Our Constitutional Right; of course, healthcare isn’t included in the US Constitution…

I’m not ‘Grandpa Walton’ [the analogy probably has no meaning for you—it might have meaning for your Mom]; and I don’t have a team of scriptwriters deciding what kind of answers to give you. My 45th re-birthday—the day that, as Jesus called it, I was ‘born again’—is on Friday. Forty-five years of studying the nature of the Creator; and I still don’t have answers. People do stupid things; especially in large groups. You don’t have to be like them.

Treat people in the same way that you want to be treated.
Be kind to everyone. Even to the stupid, abusive ones.
Don’t return harm for harm.
Be grateful for everything you are given.
Most importantly, search for the signs of the Creator in your life.

By nature, I’m a recluse; I don’t like to talk with strangers. I have a ‘persona’ that I can ‘strap on’ and talk to groups of strangers. There are techniques that one can learn; but that guy isn’t the real me. I avoid people, which makes it easier to follow the above suggestions. You are a more outgoing person. Listen to your Mom.

Jenn_Katelina 1-1002

I believe that we are born with the Spirit of the Creator in our soul; and that our soul is ‘standard equipment’ in human beings.  You have the Spirit of your Creator within you.

It’s entirely possible for someone to spend their entire life ignoring the Spirit of the Creator. The Spirit never forces herself upon us. It is also possible to ‘open a door’ in your mind; create a new neural pathway in your brain—to be more scientific; and to realize that your understanding of the world is so small; and the world of the Creator is so large.

There were lots of people, during my first 2.5 years of college who wanted to ‘save’ me. I didn’t want to be ‘saved’. I wanted to be loved and appreciated—which is an entirely different skillset and requires effort on the part of another. Forty-five years ago, I was ‘saved’—it’s taken much of my adult life to realize that I was saved all along; I was simply unaware of it.

I know a guy who fears that he is going to Hell because he swears. Some people taught him that God doesn’t allow swearing in Heaven. I continue to tell him that what happens after he dies has nothing to do with the words he uses when he’s angry [he’s angry a lot of the time and refuses to admit it].

The Creator of Time and Space entered life on Earth in the form of a carpenter in a backwater town. He became a ‘street preacher’ for three years, afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted. The religious leaders of His day had Him tortured and killed, so that He’d shut up. Three days after He died, He came back. He talked with hundreds of people; and then disappeared, an unspecified time later. Those hundreds changed the entire world.
A lot of their descendants made life horrible for lots of people—they became like the religious who had Jesus killed.

Treat people in the same way that you want to be treated.
Be kind to everyone. Even to the stupid, abusive ones.
Don’t return harm for harm.
Be grateful for everything you are given.
Most importantly, search for the signs of the Creator in your life.

I would love to tell you that this advice will protect you from all of the people who wish to do you harm. I would be lying to you if I did. Shit happens; even to those who devote their lives to following the Creator. If you read ‘the news’ on any given day of the week [and I’m glad you don’t], you’d find that shit happens to people of every faith, nearly every day. The Creator doesn’t shelter us from pain and grief; if that was so, people would think that the Creator is magical. The Creator isn’t magical.

Whatever happens in your life, good days and bad days, you are never alone.

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 140: The Strangest Year

January 19, 2018

portland spring

The problem with being busy at work is that I don’t have time to write about the things I think about during the day. Doing work with my hands leaves an opening for my brain to fill ‘thinking time’ with stories I want to tell.

The above image doesn’t have much to do with how I feel the moment; except that I’m listening to a concert by John Denver, in London, back in the October of 1982

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bg7pfxxMAk ]

If you aren’t familiar with John Denver, you might consider learning about him. A prophet of peace, one might say. He entered the music scene during the Seventies when the US was going to hell. And here we are again…

John Denver – Peace Poem Lyrics

There’s a name for war and killing
There’s a name for giving in
When you know another answer
For me the name is sin

But there’s still time to turn around
And make all hatred cease
And give another name to living
And we could call it peace

And peace would be the road we walk
Each step along the way
And peace would be the way we work
And peace the way we play

And in all we see that’s different
And in all the things we know
Peace would be the way we look
And peace the way we grow

There’s a name for separation
There’s a name for first and last
When it’s all for us or nothing
For me the name is past

But there’s still time to turn around
And make all hatred cease
And give a name to all the future
And we could call it peace

And if peace is what we pray for
And peace is what we give
Then peace will be the way we are
And peace the way we live

Yes, there still is the time to turn around
And make all hatred cease
And give another name to living
And we can call it peace

John Denver was on a commission one time, looking at the problems of hunger in the world. Hunger in the world could be completely eliminated. The problem isn’t a lack of food being produced; the problem is the lack of political will to make it happen.

Our government does not need to add one dime to its Defense/War budget—we outspent every country on earth, when it comes to ammunition of War. The President wants to increase the Defense Budget to create more nuclear weapons—‘low-yield’ weapons that can be used on individual cities… Like the ones used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  1. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO NEED, WE BEING THE ENTIRE WORLD, TO EVER USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS AGAIN.
  2. THE U.S. ALREADY HAS A HUGE SURPLUS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN STORAGE.

The President is said to have asked a General, before the man became President, ‘why do we have nuclear weapons, if we aren’t going to use them?’

America used to be a model of democracy for the world. Imperfect, but slowly improving. We have taken such a downward turn that even George W. is concerned about where we will end up.

 

 


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