Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 172: Apparent failure does not have to be final

November 5, 2018

Feeling a tremendous sense of despair last week, as I tried to find something hopeful in the media, without much success; I turned to a film I ‘happened’ to bring home from the library [I don’t believe in coincidence]. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, is the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a poorly educated, Indian, mathematical savant; who, in the years before 1920 constructed completely original mathematical formulae that are being used today to study Black Holes. Sadly, he died at the age of 32, as a result of what was probably amoebic dysentery.

A deeply religious Hindu, Ramanujan credited his substantial mathematical capacities to divinity, and stated that the mathematical knowledge he displayed was revealed to him by his family goddess. “An equation for me has no meaning,” he once said, “unless it expresses a thought of God.”

His mentor, R.G. Hardy, was a self-avowed atheist:
G.H. Hardy:  You see, I am what you call an atheist.
Ramanujan: No, sir. You believe in God. You just don’t think He likes you.

I often find ‘the footprints’ of the Creator in science.
The Cambridge scholars, for the most part, did not believe that Ramanujan’s calculations were flawed—only a few could even understand them—they did not believe anything worthy of being at Cambridge could spring from an uneducated Indian.
When I read the Facebook posts from people who claim to have a knowledge of God, I can fully understand why people who have been trained in Critical Thinking would never consider ‘God’ as something worth thinking about.

Been there. Done that. Here’s what I found [if you are an Evangelical Christian, you probably won’t agree with most of what comes next. Save yourself some grief]:
I prefer science to the American Civil Religion; commonly called “Evangelical” in the media, but that term is so far away from what the Christian term actually stands for, it really shouldn’t be used.
From Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005KB0V62/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Nahmanides’s account of the first seconds of the universe [written in about 1200 AD, 200 years before Galileo] 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.”

Back to Schroeder:
“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…”

We know this description as the Big Bang. The expanding Universe. About 200 years before Galileo, Nahmanides described the Expanding Universe. Nahmanides learned this description by his extensive study of the Jewish Scriptures, where the shape of every character in Hebrew can add to the meaning of a word. The Church in America rarely studies the Hebrew Scriptures in Hebrew.

Imagine, if you will, the hydrogen atom:
hydrogen-atom

The hydrogen atom consists of a single proton, and a single electron which continually orbits around the proton. Atomic hydrogen constitutes about 75% of the baryonic mass of the universe.
If the proton/nucleus in the diagram above was the size of a basketball, the diameter of the electron’s orbit would be about two miles. To put the idea in a more understandable context, imagine a water molecule—two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom:

stadium

If the nucleus of the molecule was the size of a baseball, the orbits of the electrons would create a ‘boundary’ something on the size of a baseball stadium. A space the size of a baseball stadium with a nucleus at the pitcher’s mound and nothing inside the stadium space, beyond a few electrons bouncing around. Each hydrogen atom, each oxygen atom, being comprised of atomically large, empty, spaces filled only with electromagnetic energy.
The ‘atomic model’ is the basis of nearly everything that exists; electrons almost endlessly orbiting protons and neutrons and subatomic particles that are still being discovered. Duplicated at enormous scale by the orbit of planets around a sun. The Universe is comprised mostly of empty space.

Like the Universe, at the atomic level, we are comprised mostly of empty space, filled with electromagnetic forces. It is this electromagnetic force that creates the illusion of our solidity.
Hence, my preference to thinking of the Creator and the movement of the Creator’s Spirit within us as being something like The Force in Star Wars.

the-force-1

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you, hmm? And well you should not, for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. [looks around him] Life creates it. Makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Everywhere. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and the ship.

the-little-known-nebula-iras-054372502-an-enigmatic-cloud1
The little-known nebula IRAS 05437+2502 billows out among the bright stars and dark dust clouds that surround it in this striking image from the Hubble Space Telescope. It is located in the constellation of Taurus (the Bull), close to the central plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Unlike many of Hubble’s targets, this object has not been studied in detail and its exact nature is unclear… This image was taken with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys on Hubble. It was part of a “snapshot” survey. These are observations that are fitted into Hubble’s busy schedule when possible, without any guarantee that the observation will take place — so it was fortunate that the observation was made at all.
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2018/hubbles-lucky-observation-of-an-enigmatic-cloud

My understanding of the Creator is that of a ‘being’ comprised mostly/entirely of Energy; a ‘being’ so unlike human beings that we cannot begin to understand the Creator’s nature. Everything that ‘religious people’ [those that believe in Creation] say about ‘God’ is an abstraction [there are so many, sometimes-strange beliefs about ‘God’ that I prefer Creator]. A large percentage of these people do not even understand the concept of ‘abstraction’.
My greatest understanding of the Creator, and the subject of Faith, takes place in a Christian environment. I believe that ‘serious devotion’ [more abstraction] to the Creator, in whatever form this devotion takes place, is equivalent to ‘serious devotion’ to the Creator in any religious form [Evangelical Christians are aghast]. This equivalency occurs, because there is only one Creator; the name by which one ‘speaks’ to the Creator is irrelevant—because devotion is about the Creator; not about us. If one is devoted, in a spiritual way, to Nature, one is devoted to the Creator, who created all of Nature.

The Abrahamic Faiths [Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in chronological order] refer to the ‘Children of Abraham’ as the Chosen People. In terms of world history, my view of having been ‘Chosen’ is mostly bad news. The portions of the Hebrew Scriptures that Christians largely ignore, are about the Creator, through Prophets, telling the Chosen people that they act like ungrateful whores. HPtFtU—the Human Tendency to F*ck things Up.
Because the Creator already knew, when the Creator created human beings, that we would have Free Will and the resulting HPtFtU; we were given a Grace Gift. The Creator of the entire Universe entered time and space in the form of one cell, implanted into the womb of a teenaged girl. From there you have the Jesus story. The story that ends with Jesus walking through walls and eating fish [think about it. How does that work? Jesus apparently was able to turn His solidity off and on].

Every sports broadcast shown has someone in the bleachers holding up a sign with the most famous Bible verse in history: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The verse has a context; and according to some translations, John 3:16 and following are written by the writer of John but aren’t necessarily Jesus’ words [designated by not using the traditional red font for Jesus’ words]. The writer of the Book of John apparently was present when Jesus had His conversation with Nicodemus. However, it’s the next verse that explains the most famous verse:
John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

This is how you know that Apparent Failure does not have to be final: you win in the end. You already are ‘saved’ if you want to be—it has nothing to do with you. This is what Luther understood as ‘salvation by Grace’. However, even the Creator will not force one to spend eternity in the presence of the Creator if it isn’t desired.

Because of HPtFtU there are Christians all over the planet that have all sorts of explanations as to why this promise does, or does not, apply to you. Their opinion does not matter, because the Creator of the entire Universe entered time and space on Earth, to compensate for our HPtFtU.

If we ever encounter a sentient species from another world [I’m of the opinion that the are “WARNING: PLAGUE” signs floating in the space around our Solar System], I believe we will find that they, too, will have a totally improbable story about how the Creator of the Universe entered their time and space in the form of a single cell…

 

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

October 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

River pilot
Norman Rockwell’s River Pilot

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

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

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

I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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

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

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

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

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

Jenny Flint

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

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

The 13th Doctor and the Paternoster Detective Agency

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

Failure is only final when you allow it to be.

More about that next time.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 169: HPtFtU [part 6]

September 30, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fearless Girl

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

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

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

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 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 162: Hero Stories

July 29, 2018

People who read these writings on a regular basis know how angry I have become that one man could inspire so much damage to our country. It isn’t all on him; there are hundreds of Senators and Congressional Members who share the responsibility for the loss of American stature across the world. And all of the haters that support these people.

For decades, accurately or not, America was seen as the hope for the free world. No longer. We have become one of the “sh*thole countries”—a label that would have never applied before this description became part of our Presidential lexicon.

To deal with my anger, I turn to ‘hero stories’. When I don’t have client work to invest my time into, I work on heroes. Lately, The Doctor, Sherlock Holmes, and now Wonder Woman. She is the about only ‘superhero’ I value these days; Captain America has lost some of his gleam because of the Marvel/Disney epics of collateral damage that is given very little thought.

I watched Star Trek: First Contact (1996) last night as my ‘hero fix’; in the Star Trek universe,
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The economics of the future are somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.
Lily Sloane: No money? You mean, you don’t get paid?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.

This incredible change of perspective from our world today, developed by Gene Roddenberry and his successors, was that when we first make contact with intelligent life forms from other worlds—

It unites humanity in a way no one ever thought possible. When they realize they’re not alone in the universe, poverty, disease, war – they’ll all be gone within the next fifty years…

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117731/?ref_=nv_sr_1

There is a desperate lack of intelligent life in our solar system.

WonWom_valley of the shadow2_mer
Wonder Woman—Valley of the Shadow

Three women have inspired the image above. The “Valley of the Shadow” image is one I created a few years ago, inspired by the health issues dealt with by a couple of guys I know well. One of these women is a ‘c-word survivor’; two are still dealing with the process—the chemicals and radiation that are almost worse than the disease itself.

I deal with my own stuff; I would not trade.

I believe in Guardian Angels. When I think about angels, it’s in the context of ‘Fear Not and Behold’—the words spoken to Mary, when she learned what the next 9 months of her life, and all of the rest of it, would hold. Angels that watch over us; and sometimes intervene. After 40+ years of studying the nature of the Creator, there is still much I do not understand.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 161: WHY DID THEY DIE?

July 21, 2018

Liberty Cries for the Dead

“July 18, 2018
WASHINGTON — Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.
The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.
Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.”

Take a minute to absorb this. TRUMP KNEW.

The entire time he’s been in office, he has KNOWN that his election was due to Russian interference. He knew. It’s likely that Pence knew. How likely is it that McConnell and Ryan knew as well?

Fool that I am, I just assumed that the President’s ego was so large that he, in some dim corner of his mind, actually believed all of the BS that he spouted. I’ve been around overinflated salesmen speaking from platforms before; I thought P45 was another con-man who had fooled 24% of the people all of the time; and that the distaste for the two major candidates in the 2016 election was such that 50% of the population chose not to vote.

HE HAS BEEN LYING THE ENTIRE TIME HE’S BEEN IN OFFICE.
THE ONLY ‘FAKE NEWS’ IS HIS OWN.

When Barack Obama spoke in South Africa, this last week, he said,
“People just make stuff up. They just make stuff up. We see it in the growth of state-sponsored propaganda. We see it in internet fabrications. We see it in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment. We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more. It used to be that if you caught them lying, they’d be like, ‘oh man…’ — now they just keep on lying…”

I thought it was a general comment on our current President’s habit of creating his own truth. Until today, when I realized…
President Obama knew it was a lie, also. The intelligence people that briefed P45 had also briefed President Obama.

100,000 soldiers died in Korea and Vietnam ‘to prevent the spread of Communism’—now Communism is being welcomed to the White House.

WHY DID THEY DIE?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 157: Immigration Shame

July 2, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2
Mama!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P-38
P-38

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

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

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

P45_mj

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLK2

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 152: The Question that Doesn’t Go Away

May 17, 2018

Who are you?
Who am I?

watson's brain4

My old friend, Doctor Watson, contemplating the soul

An old guy that I know keeps asking the question, where is my soul? Someone once told him that the soul is “the breath of God”. His response is that it has to be more than a breath.

I can’t prove anything that I’m about to write; consequently, I won’t argue with you if you disagree.

In Chronicles in Ordinary Time 149, I wrote about Thought, and how the image below is a visual representation of a single thought, somewhere in the brain. The funny plant-root like things are the neurons in your brain, which are basically microscopic; they vary in size from 4 microns to 100 microns in diameter. Their length varies from a fraction of an inch to several feet.

thought_50

Every interaction you have with the world happens through your brain. You aren’t a body with a brain, you are a brain with a body. The sole purpose of your body, from a physiological perspective, is to enable your brain to function, and to tell you about your world.

I’m restoring an old picture frame for a client. Tonight, I was working on the creation of some of the decorative plaster ‘carvings’ that are attached to the frame. An experiment in how I can replicate the curlicue on the corners of the frame. I went out into the ‘debris pile’ that once was my workshop. To be honest, it hasn’t changed all that much—I have never been tidy with my work space. However, items are placed in certain places in the chaos, and I know where those places are.

One of the thoughts that crossed my mind is that I should really get rid of lots of the stuff that’s out there—ideally, given away to someone who needs it—and I asked myself the question why it’s been sitting there for 9 years. 2009 was the year that I realized it was no longer safe for me to work with sharp things.

The neurons above run throughout our bodies and provide the brain with information about our environment; my sensory neurons are deteriorating for no known reason. My sense of touch has been significantly reduced; and I can damage myself without knowing it—I first called it ‘leprosy’. Hansen’s Disease is a deterioration of sensory neurons. People can’t feel pain when injured, and can just continue working, while creating significant damage to the body. Left untreated, the injury becomes infected, and can cause parts of the body to fall off.

That workshop, and all of its tools and clutter are part of my life. Probably 20 years of my life, if I was to add it all up. I used to build things out of wood. Houses and furniture, mostly.

An amazing thing occurred in Oaxaca, Mexico, one night in 2008, when I was working with Medical Teams International. My fifth trip out of Portland to help build and repair things. My ‘high-functioning sociopathic’ personality had come to the realization that in spite of the noise and chaos of the Oaxacan night life below my balcony, in spite of the fact that I only knew a few words of Spanish and very few people in Oaxaca spoke English, I was willing to keep going on these trips. For a few days, I had a ‘vision’ of the life I could have in the years to come—traveling around the Americas fixing what man and nature had damaged.

Then came the Sensory Polyneuropathy [description, not diagnosis], about nine months later. It took a year for me to give up that carpenter ‘identity’  I had acquired; although I realized tonight that it’s not really gone…It’s just buried in memories. Memories scattered around my brain in connections between neurons, like data on a hard drive. I can clearly recall the buildings I worked on and the furniture I built; even though I haven’t seen them for decades.

To a large degree, what you are is the sum of your memories.

The other evening, I was talking to some friends about memories from my life. Memories, and absence of memories that have shaped my life and my faith. Faith is a huge part of my life at this time; although it doesn’t take the form that many Americans-of-faith share. Some things that people of faith consider crucial to faith don’t exist in my life; or they come with an entirely different package. My faith didn’t even come into being until I was in my twenties; it may not have come into ‘maturity’ until my fifties. I’m not sure what ‘maturity’ means when it comes to the subject of faith, because I don’t believe faith is a static thing.

To a large degree, your memories are patterns of electrons traveling through your brain. A connection between neurons. A pathway across which the electrons in your brain travel. Your memories don’t have a ‘structure’ in your brain. They are ‘recorded’ in connections between microscopic pieces of your brain.

‘Surely, our memories must be more than that.’ We think this because of our linear nature; at best we think in 3 dimensions, or possibly 4 [time]–what if the Universe is made up  with 5, or 10 dimensions? We talk about Infinity as if it means ‘really, really, long’; and we speak of Eternity as if it means, ‘a really, really long time.’ What if Eternity is an absence of time; and Infinity is an absence of distance, or an inclusion of all distance? I believe the world beyond this one defies our imaginations.

I believe that we communicate with the Creator of the Universe by way of a non-physical connection between our brains and the Spirit of the Creator. This is how a ‘high-functioning sociopath’ would ever conceive of the idea of spending time around people with unfamiliar customs and unknown methods of communicating. Working among the poorest of the poor, living in deplorable conditions. Being uncomfortable for days at a time; longing to return to my safe ‘cave’… Why would I ever consider this as something I would choose to do?

There have been a lot of these experiences in my life. Choosing to do things I would have never expected myself to participate in. I believe these experiences are the urging of the Creator’s Spirit. I suppose some will think that it’s indigestion.

This is my answer to the question, do I have a soul, and where is it.

My soul is in my mind; my soul can’t be weighed on a scale, because my soul consists of the connections between electrons. The day I die is the day when my soul is released from this very difficult body.

I believe I am a soul, with a brain. And a deteriorating body. The latter is the part that is temporary. The rest of my life is endless.

Stars [1926]sm

Stars [1926] Maxfield Parrish

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 151: I Saw Jesus Tonight

May 9, 2018

Voices of Our City Choir
Voices of Our City Choir, San Diego, California

Jesus is in the photograph. He doesn’t look like that picture that hangs on the wall in lots of churches. He never did. Jesus, on Earth, was a Jewish woodworker; probably with curling black hair, probably with brown eyes; skinned darkened by the sun, if not by melanin.

Jesus is in the face of nearly every person above; the homeless who have found a family amidst people broken like themselves; singing in a City Choir. The Veteran who sleeps on a bus bench, and does his homework for his Master’s degree in Neuropsychology. The guy who had a solid business when the economy got to him, and he ventured into drugs to keep himself working; and then couldn’t get out. The people who have lost their homes, their prized possessions and their entire way of life. Most of them are in the 40s and 50s, some in their 60s; they had ‘normal’ lives until life dumped on them. “If they don’t have PTSD when the get to the streets, they’ll have PTSD after a week.”

Their singing is showing them Grace; their singing is showing them Jesus in themselves. They mostly aren’t religious. They may not even understand the phrase, ‘showing Jesus in themselves’… I saw Jesus.

https://www.voicesofourcity.org/

http://ironzealfilms.org/homeless/

I saw Jesus in the lives of two women who would not want to be singled out.

My adult life has mostly been about seeing Jesus; I often do a crap job of it. It’s difficult to see Jesus in people when you don’t want to be around people. It’s taken 40 years, and I’m not done yet; but I’m better.

I honestly don’t expect to find Jesus in churches; I’ve missed very few Sundays in the last 45 years. Today, now more than ever in the last 45 years, it seems hard to find Jesus in a church. Our whole political culture, so NOT about Jesus, is so invasive that Jesus isn’t very welcome. One of my best friends left the professional ministry because people weren’t looking there to find Jesus. He will continue to find Jesus, just in different places.

After watching the PBS documentary, “Homeless Chorus Speaks”, I realized that Jesus is out in the streets of our cities. He left with the promise that the Spirit of the Creator would be with us; and the Spirit can be in many places at the same time.

21st Century humans are so anal… We don’t understand metaphor, and life is mostly metaphor. We protest violence in the schools and we watch violence at night when we get off work, in movies or in video games; we create violence in the latter—‘but it isn’t real’. I used to use that line with my children, when they were getting scared in movies—it isn’t real. My wife told me that our brains can’t tell the difference, and I didn’t understand. Movies and video games, 2D and 3D attempts to duplicate ‘real’—my whole illustration career has been about duplicating real—there is no screen in our brain. Light waves travel into our eyes; our retina converts the light into electro-chemical signals which travel into our brains via the optic nerves, and imagin-ary images—‘appear’ in our minds. Not through a screen, but through our brain; and its network of neurons.

Our bodies react to graphic images.
Any guy KNOWS this, whether or not they admit it. I presume there’s a similar response in women, but I’ve never know what goes on in any woman’s brain. Including my wife of 42 years, in June. I’m told that some of the connections between the two halves of the male brain are dissolved by testosterone, early in a boy’s life. I’ve never made the time to research the premise. Seems plausible.

We see the homeless every day in a metropolitan city like Portland. Neighbors in my ‘Neighborhood Social Media Bulletin Board’ complain about the homeless who live by a nearby creek, until the police chase them out. We who are far more fortunate and have roofs over our head—and only by hard work every day—earn enough money to pay rent, pay utilities, and find something to eat. Hard work isn’t always enough.

State of Oregon Facts
Minimum Wage         $10.25
Average Renter Wage $14.84
2-Bedroom Housing Wage   $19.78
Number of Renter Households      593,793
Percent Renters         39%

Affordable Rent for Low-Income Households
Minimum Wage Worker       $533/mo
Household at 30% of Area Median Income       $491/mo
Worker Earning Average Renter Wage    $771/mo

Fair Market Rent
1-Bedroom Fair Market Rent        $839/mo
2-Bedroom Fair Market Rent        $1,028/mo
http://nlihc.org/oor/oregon

People are out on the streets because working 50 hours a week at two minimum wage [extremely few minimum wage jobs pay overtime] jobs won’t pay rent, utilities and food. Do the math.

It appears to be very difficult to see Jesus roaming the marble and oak walls of Congress and the White House.

 

And then there’s this:
There are at least three world leaders tonight, probably more, who think that this can somehow be considered a win…

Ashes of Hiroshima
The Ashes of Hiroshima

 


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