Posts Tagged ‘Indigenous Rights’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 202: busy making other plans

December 1, 2019

It’s been a month since I wrote one of these chapters of my Chronicles; I don’t really expect that anyone has noticed. Phrases like ‘heart-sick’ come to mind, as reasons for not writing.

I was vaguely aware of Watergate [1974] while in my fourth of my five years of working on a degree in Architecture. I’d voted for Nixon, twice—I was a Republican by ‘birth’—I’d grown up in my parents’ “church,” the American Legion. I was vaguely aware of the Clinton impeachment [1998]—I was 36 and dealing with my health, my dependence on barbiturates and a demand from my doc that I leave a very well-paying job with City government—to go I knew not where… “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”[John Lennon].

Now, I’m self-employed, theoretically retired [but grossly in debt] in a becalmed ‘sailboat’ of business where the wind has stopped blowing. I have no excuse for not paying attention to the current chaos in Washington DC.

One of the Chronicles I postponed announced the publication of my Sherlock Holmes story, A Scandal in Bohemia [more below] by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the grand scheme of things, it did not seem that important—even though I’ve spent the last 2-3 years working on Scandal at night, while listening to the Scandal in Washington DC, on MSNBC.

At Thanksgiving with my in-laws [fortunately we are pretty much the same in political opinions] I heard the comment, ‘until money gets out of politics, I don’t care.’ We really weren’t having a discussion on politics, so I didn’t ask for more information. The reality is that until we do care, money won’t get out of politics. Until we do care about the environment, and the damage the First World is doing to the Created Order, we in the First World will be creating an uninhabitable Earth; and my infant grandson won’t have a world that is desirable to live in. We, here in Western Oregon, aren’t really feeling the effects of Climate Change; the temperatures are different; it still rains; we may get snow this year. There are rivers that flood, but we aren’t flooded; there weren’t any massive fires this last year; one can still drink water from the tap.

Of course, we also live in the Cascadia Subduction Zone:
The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a 600-mile fault that runs from northern California up to British Columbia and is about 70-100 miles off the Pacific coast shoreline. There have been 41 earthquakes in the last 10,000 years within this fault that have occurred as few as 190 years or as much as 1200 years apart. The last earthquake that occurred in this fault was on January 26, 1700, with an estimated 9.0 magnitude. This earthquake caused the coastline to drop several feet and a tsunami to form and crash into the land. What is most surprising is that evidence for this great earthquake also came from Japan. Japanese historic records indicate that a destructive distantly-produced tsunami struck their coast on January 26, 1700. By studying the geological records and the flow of the Pacific Ocean, scientists have been able to link the tsunami in Japan with the great earthquake from the Pacific Northwest. Native American legends also support to the timing of this last event.

Oregon has the potential for a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake caused by the Cascadia Subduction Zone and a resulting tsunami of up to 100 feet in height that will impact the coastal area. There is an estimated 2-4 minutes of shaking or rolling that will be felt along the coastline with the strength and intensity decreasing the further inland you are.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone has not produced an earthquake since 1700 and is building up pressure where the Juan de Fuca Plate is subsiding underneath the North American plate. Currently, scientists are predicting that there is about a 37 percent chance that a megathrust earthquake of 7.1+ magnitude in this fault zone will occur in the next 50 years. This event will be felt throughout the Pacific Northwest.

https://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/Pages/Cascadia-Subduction-Zone.aspx

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

These men were drawn in conjunction with several others, for a gallery piece I call “John_10:16” [“But I have other sheep which were not from this fold; I must also bring them. They also will hear my voice, and the entire fold shall be one, and One Shepherd.” Aramaic Bible in Plain English]

Thanksgiving has been bastardized by White American history. The ‘Pilgrims’ actually called themselves Separatists and came to establish a Theocracy in the New World. There isn’t one correct interpretation of that story of Thanksgiving that I heard all through my childhood; there isn’t one Thanksgiving and the date of Thanksgiving at first has moved throughout the fall season.  An interesting article on the Thanksgiving Controversies can be found here [no reporters taking notes; no cameras, no audio tracks]—sort of like today, and calls to Ukraine:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/us/thanksgiving-myths-fact-check.html

“Medicine Bottle,” above, was photographed by Edward S. Curtis while awaiting his hanging for the crime of being a Sioux Indian. While primarily known for their peaceful accomplishments, the other three were hated by many for simply existing; and for existing here before the Separatists arrived.

When I first started, in my third year of college, to follow the Jesus Way, as it is sometimes known among the Indigenous Populations of America, I knew that I was involved in a life-changing undertaking; I did not realize the manner in which the Jesus Way would become the center of my life. When I was the ages of my adult children, I was mostly about work, and attempting to comprehend how small children were supposed to be part of my life. Spending time with my infant grandson [my granddaughter is 17], I find myself in that same mystery. It takes so long, before one can actually discuss things with a child… My grandchild is being very well programmed by loving parents and grandparents. Brand new computer brain without ports; our programming comes through the senses.

The heart-sickness I feel comes from the fact that a significant portion of the Evangelical Church believes that the man who sits behind the Resolute Desk, in the Oval Office, was “chosen by God to be President of the United States”. A man who is a criminal, a man whose behavior contradicts everything White Evangelicals teach their children. The unindicted Co-Conspirator of his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who is in jail for money laundering, bank fraud and tax fraud; plus, other indictments. The only reason the man behind the Resolute Desk is not in jail is a memo from the Justice Department that says a sitting President cannot be indicted. Once he leaves office he WILL be going to jail.

Nixon was not impeached; because Republican Senators brought the evidence of Nixon’s crimes to him, and he chose to resign from office. He was pardoned by Gerald Ford, his successor, for the ‘good of the nation’. Nixon had not confessed to anything; and yet, was pardoned. Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew, resigned from office because he was indicted for heading up an extortion scheme. This resignation was prompted by the Department of Justice, because they didn’t want an extortionist [his bagman delivered bags of cash to the Vice President’s office each week] to become President. Gerald Ford was selected to replace Agnew, because Ford was so easily confirmed.

President William Clinton was impeached for Obstruction of Justice and lying to Congress. That’s it. He wasn’t impeached for his affair with a staffer, because adultery isn’t a Federal crime.

Trump’s list of crimes is too long to be summarized.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/trump-has-committed-a-laundry-list-of-impeachable-offenses/

For the Evangelical Church to ignore these crimes, or to attribute Trump’s character to that of Old Testament pagan Kings who allowed Jews to practice their religious rites is hard for me to swallow. They trade conservative judges and anti-abortion legislation for humanitarian crises; the kidnapping of thousands of children, while their parents were deported. I was trained in direct sales [work I did not enjoy]—I don’t see how the Evangelical Church can ‘save face’ when Trump goes to prison. Creating an environment where a customer has the ability to ‘save face’ when their ‘facts’ are displayed as false, is an important factor in sales.

The Evangelical Church is creating a plank that will become very difficult to walk upon, once DJT goes to prison.

 

Enough of that.

 

A Scandal in Bohemia was first published on 25 June 1891 in the July issue of The Strand Magazine. This is the first short story, and the third story featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion, Doctor Watson. “A Scandal in Bohemia,” is the first of the 56 Holmes short stories written by Doyle for the Strand Magazine; and the first of the 38 Sherlock Holmes works illustrated by Sidney Paget.

After the short story was published, the circulation of the Strand Magazine increased immediately. Sir Arthur had already published two full-length Holmes books, “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Sign of Four,” however these books were not as successful as the Strand’s stories. Within the span of two years, the combination of Sherlock Holmes and the Strand had made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle one of the most popular authors of the age.

  • Illustration Tip #25: Chronicles in Ordinary Time 202: Still More Marketing

So you’ve finished writing and illustrating your book; you have battled the Amazon KDP computer’s programming to create the book they want; now you need to get the fact that your book has been published, to people who want to buy a book.

Editorial Note: I probably spent 10 hours attempting to get Scandal formatted the way I wanted; and I did not succeed with the print-on-demand version. I bought two copies of the book, and discovered the pagination was wrong. The KDP computer has its own ideas as to how books should be presented. I want the book to start on the right-hand page; as well as the Title Page, and the Forward. This requires the insertion of ‘blank’ pages. When Amazon used CreateSpace for print-on-demand, their computer had different rules. In order for a page to not be ‘blank’, it had to have ink on the page. So, I simply put “mjarts.com” at the bottom of the ‘blank’ pages. The KDP computer apparently is programmed differently, so a larger area of the page needs ink.

In theory, one can submit new manuscripts to correct the ‘errors’ the computer discerns. At least, in theory. I submitted new manuscripts with the errors corrected; and I received the exact same report regarding errors. The computer apparently remembered who I was, and what computer I used; and assumed that I was unable to correct the manuscript. I then started submitting the corrected manuscript with progressively shorter names. I eventually submitted manuscripts called John, Paul, George and Ringo; as well as the Beatles. All of them resulted in the same no-longer-existing ‘errors’—even when I used a different computer. I finally gave up. I may try again. The story might be different if I really desired/expected the book to become a best seller…

The reality is that I created the book for me.

My first colored children’s book was published by a major educational publisher, and this book about the Oregon Trail had a clearly ‘Oregon’ title. I later learned that the only way the book would be purchased was through the purchase of a Fifth-Grade curriculum. If the curriculum wasn’t purchased, the book would not be distributed. To me, it seemed irrational to print a book about the Oregon Trail, and to not market the book to the States the Oregon Trail passed through. My guess is that the copies I ordered for myself may have been the only copies to see the light of day.

My understanding is that it’s now harder yet to get a book published for placement in bookstores. Unless it’s a book by Paul or Ringo…

 

 

 

 

 

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

July 22, 2019

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

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

The Squad

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Enough of that.

 

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

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

Spiral Galaxy NGC 972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fullness Thereof by Randy Woodley Sojourners, May 2019

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

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #20: changing the way you think

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

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

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

Andrew Loomis, Creative Illustration

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

July 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

 

  • Illustration Tip #19: Work for Hire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 194: Dark Days

June 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough of that.
_________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

I became an illustrator because of all of those books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aramaic Bible in Plain English; Matthew 5:42:

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

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

 

Enough of that.

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

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

It starts with geography:

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

The concept of Portland, Oregon:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

June 2, 2019


The Spirit of the Creator
View Larger Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Prophet Isaiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #16: Self-Image

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

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

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

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

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

$0.04

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

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

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

I have an improbable goal of bringing it back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 158: Do not abandon the work

July 8, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2_bw
Mama! [2]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C.S. Lewis

Freedom of Worship-dwg

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 157: Immigration Shame

July 2, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2
Mama!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P-38
P-38

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

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

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

P45_mj

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLK2

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 132: Katrina again.

September 28, 2017

P45_mj

Football.
Millionaires who play games for a living, funding an industry that derives hundreds of millions of dollars selling everything that can be sold under the guise of professional sports.

3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most devastating hurricane in history, and American news is full of stories about professional football players, many of whom are incredibly wealthy, living in Privileged comfort.

Of course, the real story isn’t about football and flags; the story is about America’s shameful history of Race.

Let me repeat: 3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most damaging hurricane in history. They are without food, they are without water, they are without power. FEMA has sent aid; and the aid is sitting on the docks.

President Donald Trump has made it clear his administration isn’t planning to allow any additional outside aid to get into Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon [9/27], the president cited business interests as the reason for refusing calls from lawmakers and activists to allow international organizations and governments to ship aid to the island.         Newsweek

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says food, water, and other supplies have reached Puerto Rico a week after Hurricane Maria plowed through the island, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and shipping firms concur. Most of the 3.4 million Americans on Puerto Rico haven’t gotten that aid, so CBS News correspondent David Begnaud went to find out what’s happening. He found some 3,000 shipping containers sitting at the docks in San Juan, the capital, he said on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News; most of them are filled with relief supplies, and some of them have been there since before Hurricane Irma hit, three weeks ago.
The problems, according to Rossellé and the shipping companies, are many and frustrating. Roads are still blocked or flooded around the island, truck drivers are tending to their damaged homes, their trucks were destroyed, they don’t have fuel, or they’re incommunicado because electricity and cellphone service are out across the U.S. territory, and the bus drivers Rosselló is trying to recruit to drive trucks in their stead have the same problems. In the meantime, nearly half the island doesn’t have potable water, food and water are scare, “gasoline has become like liquid gold,” Begnaud says, and there are lines for everything. You can watch his report below. Peter Weber

Katrina again.

The victims tend to have brown skin, rather than pink skin. Only the dead have white skin. And many are dead.

Instead of demanding that our Government solve the problems of distribution [we can], people are arguing all over the Internet about whether or not someone is disrespecting the flag by not standing; when the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that Americans are protected by the Constitution when they decide not to stand during the National Anthem; and when they refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag:

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Court’s 6–3 decision, delivered by Justice Robert H. Jackson, is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed “beyond the reach of majorities and officials.”

I quit pledging my allegiance to the flag when I realized that America was built on the graves of the indigenous people who were killed so that the white population could practice their Manifest Destiny. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot in good conscious support a government that refuses to acknowledge the crimes that were committed to getting to this place in history.
This place in history where our President refuses to do everything in his power to rescue citizens of his country. Instead, he shames African Americans who protest the murders of African Americans by white police officers who receive no punishment.

Lynching, again.

The President uses language on global television that would have landed me in great trouble by my father, growing up. He uses language that should be an affront to every Believer in Scripture, regardless of the Scripture being read.
The depravity continues to make me ashamed of our government; and mocks every person who has died defending this country.

Liberty_mj

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 131: An Open Letter to the US Senate

September 21, 2017

Lincoln_mj_

I get it.
You believe that adequate Health Care in America is not a right, it is a privilege. A privilege belonging to US Senators, members of the US Congress; a privilege granted to millionaires and above. Your bosses, the 565 billionaires in this country1 and your other bosses, the pharmaceutical companies and those that run health insurance companies, are threatening your jobs, if you don’t cut their taxes. I realize that the only way to cut taxes, given the current Senatorial budget rules, is to cut expenses. The easiest expenses to cut are those that affect the ‘least important’ people in this country: seniors, the disabled, the underemployed, Veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country, and the poor. Women. Because in America, women only earn 80% of that earned by men; except in the US Senate and the US Congress. Those ‘least important people’ whose only crime, the most important crime of all, is that they haven’t been born rich.

I get it.
You work hard for your money.

The average member will pocket $174,000 while showing up to the office just 145 out of 261 work days in 2017, according to the updated calendar released by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
For reference, the median American income in 2015 was $56,516, according to Census data, while the average employee reported working 47 hours a week ― nearly six days ― and taking just 14 days off per year. 2

I understand that you believe you deserve the best healthcare that money can buy.
One of the problems is that you aren’t actually paid by your bosses—specified above—you are paid by the poor shmucks who actually cast votes for you; and THE POOR SCHMUCKS WHO PAY YOUR EARNINGS THROUGH THEIR TAXES. Those taxes that your bosses want cut, so they won’t have to pay so much of your wages. They will still fund the campaigns that get you elected; they will continue to pay you under the table for the good service you provide, like any other server in this country. Except that most of the servers in this country serve lousy tippers.
UNLESS YOU PASS LEGISLATION THAT CRIPPLES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

Some of your billionaire bosses are talking about not funding your jobs, next election cycle, if you don’t manage to get this one thing done. All that’s necessary is to remove from the health care roles, all those people who ‘didn’t deserve’ health care in the first place—those who’s crime was not being born rich. Those people who actually used the health care system in this country. Those people who will die, because they can’t get the health care they need, and they won’t be a problem anymore. That’s all you need to do; correct the mistake by killing off millions of people. Simple.
It doesn’t matter that insurance companies, who started receiving monies from millions of the newly-insured and those who don’t currently need health care, started jacking up the prices of private health insurance and the cost of pharmaceuticals—simply because they could. And the bottom line made your bosses even wealthier. Kill off the weak, before the strong need to use the system. Preserve profits.

You’ve been hard at work during this year. You have financially crippled the Environment Protection Agency; you have financially crippled nearly all the human service organizations; you have financially crippled nearly every Agency that endeavors to make life in America work better for those who weren’t born rich. Because that President you don’t want to talk about endeavored to improve the quality of life in America; and enabled millions of people to be able to Afford Health Care.

And you have fed America’s Eternal War Machine so that our military budget dwarfs that of every other country on the planet, and still they want more.

US military budgets

When our current President gets the nuclear war with North Korea that he so ardently wants to have happen, to prove how Big he is, our spending on the Military-Industrial Complex will skyrocket, and all of your bosses will have a field day. Meanwhile 25.37 million North Koreans will die, because the leader of their country is just as juvenile as our own.

You were elected to serve the needs of the American people.
When are you going to grow up, and act like responsible adults?

 

1https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2017/03/20/forbes-2017-billionaires-list-meet-the-richest-people-on-the-planet/#3e05fd4562ff
2https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwimhZ-Z4rXWAhVBHmMKHTkWAXgQFggoMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2Fentry%2Fhouse-representatives-calendar-2017_us_583ef06ae4b0c33c8e133590&usg=AFQjCNGIQZeK3EKty32BVZbEREJU6bkzFw

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 127: Brokenness Can Be the Beginning

July 2, 2017

Independence Day Holiday, 2017

It is when we are broken that we realize we cannot be what we want to be; we cannot accomplish the things we want to accomplish in our own strength. We see our faults for what they are, and we stop hiding from them. These broken places can become places of strength. The broken places are where the Light shines through.

America once had a standing in the world as the ‘home of democracy’; the place of freedom for anyone to be who we can become. Where every citizen can become President. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:
My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

“Once again”—presumably a reference to the Civil War. Hopefully applicable to the less-than-civil ‘war’ that is happening in America today.

My maternal Grandparents and their family, at different times, came from Norway to America in the early 1920’s. I don’t know why, exactly. I realize now that I really didn’t care, all that much. One of my less-positive attributes, a problem of being ‘asocial’; perhaps a consequence of being an ‘Only’ raised by working parents. I’ve recently learned that there was a famine in Norway in the early 1920’s; my assumption is that this was a contributing factor to their emigration.
My conclusions, based on growing up in my family, is that when my Grandparents left Norway [which was referred to as ‘the Old country’], they decided to become Americans; rather than Norwegian-Americans. I’ve never bothered to find out much about their lives… I know that my Grandmother traveled by train with her three young daughters, across the US from New York. My Grandmother’s first experience of seeing people of Color. She was surprised by the dark brown skin, but found the porters on the train to be very nice. My Grandmother spoke no English at the time; my guess is that she learned a lot from her three daughters, as they learned to speak English. We had Norwegian cookies at Christmas; a small Norwegian flag sat on the mantle. Occasionally Norwegian relatives visited Portland. My Grandparent made at least one trip back to their Norwegian home.

I don’t know how they would feel about today…

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…”
It doesn’t take long, if one reads stories from the International Press, that we aren’t there anymore. America is failing the world, in terms of our example. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is rightly being called the “Leader of the Free World.”

The Bible uses a word called, “repent” to symbolize this understanding of our own brokenness, our weakness, and our determination to move beyond our failures through the strength of a Higher Power. The Greek word, usually translated as “repent” actually means, ‘to see the world through new eyes’. Over the centuries, the word “repent” has taken on a moralistic tone regarding one’s behavior. This understanding is incorrect.

Four Presidents, I believe, found the strength to be dynamic leaders of our country, through having discovered their brokenness. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. The moment some people finish reading that sentence their minds race in rebellion. Do I believe that these are America’s Greatest Presidents? Probably not; I’m not a Presidential historian. There were a lot of Presidents before Lincoln; there have been a lot of Presidents after JFK, who, I believe, never had the opportunity to fully prove his Greatness.

All of these Presidents were flawed; which is part of my point.
Abraham Lincoln, clinically depressed, married to a bipolar wife, lost three children to death by illness; two before the Civil War.
Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day, early in his political life. He chose to suffer hardship in the Dakotas, leaving his newborn daughter with his sister; possibly in some strange act of penance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stricken with polio eleven years before he became President. He taught himself to ‘walk’ using iron leg braces and the assistance of a son.
John F. Kennedy severely injured his back in the Pacific, during World War II, and was in continual pain for the rest of his life, and addicted to pain killers while in office.

Four men, labeled by history as a “Leader of the Free World,” who inwardly realized they could not accomplish anything in their own strength and power, regardless of how the world might view them. Men who became broken by circumstances, and found the strength to overcome their brokenness. I am of the opinion that all these men came to rely on a Higher Power to enable them to do what they could not do on their own. Men who decided that they dare not fail.

Today our President is failing all over the world, and he seems to be oblivious to it. Some critics say that rather than ‘Making America Great Again’, he is making China great. Rather than encouraging the country to become more than it currently is, leading by example, he gets in ‘twitter wars’ with journalists and celebrities…To me, it seems he still thinks he’s on a ‘reality TV show’; rather than attempting to be the ‘Leader of the Free World’. A President who seems to mainly be interested in his own popularity rather than caring for the least of us. A President who supports a Tax Cut for the wealthy at the cost of health care for the poor.

From my reading of Facebook, some will think that I’m whining about the result of the 2016 Presidential Election; this isn’t true. I’m a ‘progressive centrist’. I voted for the Jewish Socialist who spoke the words of Jesus, the words of Torah, whether or not he realized it. I’m writing about character. ‘Leading by Example’; something any Senior Patrol Leader in the Boy Scouts will affirm; but something our President seems never to have learned…

 


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