Posts Tagged ‘intolerance’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 199: Time and Space, Part Two

September 8, 2019

I spend a lot of time [perhaps too much?] being at least peripherally aware of the current events of the world; and the mess that the American Government has become. Including the madness of [would be] king Donald… I want to state, for the record, that using Nukes for any purpose is truly Madness; especially for the inane purpose of dissipating hurricanes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What angers me most is our nation’s duplicity in believing that America is a godly nation; and our incredible short-term memory when it comes to the decisions that have driven the American Story.
I am a man of Faith. I did not pursue Faith; it ‘hit me upside the head’ in my third year of college. I can’t say that I was raised as an atheist—the concept of ‘god’ was associated with the ‘godandcountry’ patriotism of the American Legion—that which served as ‘church’ for my parents. Forty-six years later, Faith is what defines my life; Faith drives all of my decision-making.

I think that the one thing that the American Church does, that annoys me the most, is to express the idea that belief in [the Christian] God somehow makes a person ‘special’. In the Book of Hebrews [written in Greek] one finds the text, translated literally:

Thou didst make him some little less than messengers, with glory and honour Thou didst crown him, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands and placed everything under his feet. When God subjected all things to him, He left nothing outside of his control. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him…

A lot of the translations use the word, “angels” instead of “messengers”. Hollywood has messed with the concept of “angels”—I’m not sure that 21st Century ‘pilgrims’ [like myself] truly understand the nature of an angel. There are a number of Hebrew words that are translated in English as “angel”. In context, “angels” do the work of communicating with humans.
The text goes on to say that Jesus, Himself, was also a little less than messengers. “A little less than the angels” may not have the same ‘special-ness” attributed to the human race and the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up [aka ‘sin’]. After all, we humans destroy entire cities to make a point.

Truman apparently felt that incinerating hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians—men, women and children—was ‘better’ than letting American soldiers die by attacking the Home Island of Japan. Roosevelt imprisoned Japanese-American citizens here in America based on where their parents were born. There were no Germans imprisoned in Concentration Camps, here in America.

Humans are able to make the distinctions between ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people based on features of humanity that are entirely beyond our control. Soldiers today return home with PTSD, often resulting from the horrible things that they have been ordered to do, in the name of National Honor. What honor exists in destroying a child out of fear that she may be carrying an IED?

My immigrant family members came here from Scandinavia; where the ultraviolet rays of the Sun do not require the human body to create additional Melanin to protect the skin. The ultraviolet rays of the Sun are the most harmful in the Equatorial regions; the Creator enabled the human body to produce Melanin as needed for skin protection. This is why pink-skinned people pay money to turn their skin brown, in order to sunbathe; and yet they treat people with naturally brown skin as being lesser in value. Currently, the Government of the United States treats children that come from places the President has called “shithole countries” as criminals, locking them away in cages. The President now wants these children locked up for an indefinite period of time; causing the United States to truly be a shithole country… the only ‘developed’ country in the world that publicly locks up children for the ‘crime’ of being born. And the American people, with the exception of a few brave souls, does nothing to stop this from happening.

I, too, have my own excuses for not forcing change.

Today we use words that were not part of the vocabulary when dinosaurs ruled the earth before the invention of Social Media; and words that were not used in ‘polite society’. For the President of the United States to use language in his speeches that must be censored on television by FCC regulations was unheard of. The biggest controversy over the ‘Nixon tapes’, in the Watergate era, was not that the President authorized the break-in of the Democratic Party headquarters; the biggest shock to American society was the profanity he regularly used while in the Oval Office. A type of language that offended ‘polite sensibilities’—the language used [in the thinking of the time] by people of low moral character.

What is staggering to me today, is that the Evangelical Church in America is willing to accept with little criticism, a President’s language in campaign rallies that matches the language Nixon only used in private. Having not been raised in a church environment, hearing speeches/sermons on a monthly if not weekly basis, that the ‘moral decay of America’, was evidenced by celebrities who occasionally ‘cussed’ on camera; or by celebrities who ‘cheated’ on their spouses; the Evangelical Church’s acceptance of the ‘Porn Star President’ puts my brain on ‘TILT’. [BTW, one of the leading media outlets in 2018 discovered that Donald J. Trump has a cameo in 3 porn films from the 90s; another first for an American President]. He is also one of the most investigated Presidents of our American history, suspected of criminal activity:

https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/elections/presidential-profiles-2020/donald-trump-maga-orlando-president/

Consequently, I have had to come to new understandings of language, when referring to the Eternal; the Creator of all that exists in the Universe. Most of the language of the Church I find to be inadequate.
Human beings are selfish, hateful people with the possibility of living more in touch with those who are downtrodden; and more in touch with the world we were given stewardship over. I’m not an expert, but I can’t think of many species on Earth that devour each other with such abandon as human beings.

I cannot think of any reason why the Creator of the entire Universe should pay any attention to humans at all; and yet, the Creator of the Universe entered Time and Space in the form of One created cell, implanted in the womb of a teen-aged girl. The boy that was born lived among us—we have very few accounts of His life before His thirties, when He gave up carpentry and became an itinerant preacher and Healer.
Having pissed off the Conservative religious leaders of His day, by teaching and by healing ‘without a permit’, He was arrested and executed as a criminal, by the most offensive method of His day. He died and was buried in a tomb, guarded by professional soldiers. Three days later, He walked out of the tomb, and for the months that followed, entered and left buildings without using the door… He said that Death could not hold us, either.

We are not special. We are the insects that live under rocks, in terms of the entire Universe; somehow, we are Loved with Abandon. The Creator of the Universe came to live with us under our rock; and our ancestors killed Him. Yet, we are still loved.

Jesus never said a word about entering time and space in order to save mankind from our Human Propensity to F*ck things Up [aka ‘sin’]. Jesus taught a new way to live.

 

Enough of that.

Advertising moment:

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World is an electric look at Native American influence in popular music, going deep into the Indigenous foundations of blues, rock, and jazz. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/rumble/

We live in a three-dimensional world [four, if one counts time]; and yet we only have two-dimensional tools for creating ideas [holograms work in movies, but it’s mostly cgi]. In high school, my drafting teacher would have us work on Technical Illustration during Spring term. I fell in love with the concept of emulating three-dimensional objects with two-dimensional media; and expected to be a Technical Illustrator for the rest of my life. Didn’t happen as planned…

For us to imagine new ways of understanding life and Creation, we need a different ‘vocabulary’ with which to describe our observations. This happens continually in the sciences, in the field of Physics. Physicists now accept the concept/fact that light operates as both a particle and a wave—two concepts that were impossible to consider before their mental ‘vocabulary’ was able to rearrange their understanding of their observations. Non-scientists experience the same sort of effect in language.

For centuries, mathematicians have understood how to locate a point in space, using the three axes within a square space [x, y, z coordinates]. Basic geometry.

It wasn’t until the launching of communication satellites around the Earth that we had a Global Positioning System; using three separate satellites to locate any point in space. The GPS project was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973 for use by the United States military and became fully operational in 1995. It was allowed for civilian use in the 1980s.

We can also locate the position of any star [largely nebulae] in the sky. The Constellations with which mankind is familiar were ‘graphic’ representations of pattern recognition. The human ability to find faces in tortillas and pancakes, the grain of wood, and the random patterns in floor coverings.

One of the shortcomings of our ‘advancement’ and ‘invention’ is that we still see the Universe from our own perspective. A tabloid in the UK seems determined to have the Earth colliding with asteroids. Nearly every day I see headlines about new Black Holes and galactic collisions that are occurring as astronomers view these events through space telescopes. The articles almost always forget to mention that these events being witnessed in our time frame actually happened millions of years ago. The light from these events is just now reaching us. Possibly habitable planets tens of light years away from us. Only, we are nowhere near being able to have humans leave our solar system, much last travel at velocity near the speed of light…

Soul Nebula

The center of the Universe is nowhere near us.

We are in a low-rent corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. One of the multitude of Galaxies in the Universe.

  • Illustration Tip #22:

Next year, I think I will simply skip August; and go from July to September.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 198: Time and Space

August 9, 2019

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

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

“Milky Way is warped and twisted…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to Mars…

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

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

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

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

Billionaires will still be planning visits to Mars.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #21: Layers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shit happens.

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

Layers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

July 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

 

  • Illustration Tip #19: Work for Hire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

July 4, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lincoln Leaves the Memorial

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


Isaiah 58

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 194: Dark Days

June 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I became an illustrator because of all of those books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aramaic Bible in Plain English; Matthew 5:42:

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

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

 

Enough of that.

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

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

It starts with geography:

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

The concept of Portland, Oregon:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

June 8, 2019

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of the Creator
View Larger Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and the monstrous creatures of whales_3.1

 

Enough of that.

 

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

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

I followed his example. It works.

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

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

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

Sherlock’s Mind

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

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

It is an act of the will.

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

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

 

 

 

 

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 191: The Wind of our soul…

May 26, 2019

 

The Spirit of the Creator
View Larger Image

Sometimes the images grow past their original boundaries. This image became far more complex than I’d planned, which is somewhat appropriate. Life is far more complex than I’d planned.

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you, hmm? And well you should not, for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. [looks around him] Life creates it. Makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Everywhere. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and the ship.
Luke Skywalker: You want the impossible. [starts to walk away]
[Yoda sighs, then concentrates on the ship. Using the Force, he raises it out of the swamp and places it safely on dry land, then looks back to Luke.]
Luke Skywalker: [astonished] I don’t believe it!
Yoda: That is why you fail.
—————————-
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

George Lucas apparently did not identify with a particular belief system; however, he had studied a number of religions. The Force was intended to represent the notion of faith that exists in most of the world’s religions.

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and I viewed Star Wars for the very first time, I was instantly captivated by the concept of the Force as a representation of what, three-plus years into the journey, I understood about Faith. As I have mentioned many times before, I came to my first hearing about Faith during my third year of college. I’d never darkened the door of a church prior to then. I had not been raised on the stories of the Bible, I’d never attended Sunday School. From my hearing in high school the complete performance of The Man of La Mancha, I came to an understanding that there could be something more in my life beyond the purposeless day-to-day events of my life. Life could have meaning.

There is little in Christianity that is harder to understand than the teachings about the Spirit of the Creator. During the years when I was first exploring this strange thing called Faith, I visited Pentecostal events called Revivals; in my opinion, religious circuses.

Steve Martin made a film called Leap of Faith, in which he plays a con man with a traveling ‘miracle’ tent show, presenting healings and miracles to gullible audiences in Middle America. From his perspective, he was presenting a better show than one could find in New York, with a far cheaper admission cost [donations]. He provided entertainment—until the climax of his tour occurs—a boy is actually healed during the Revival Meeting. Not a shill in the audience; the real deal. The lame walked. Like Job, when the Creator of the Universe appears before him and Job is found speechless [after dozens of chapters of speeches], Steve Martin’s character realizes that he’s ‘been found out’—he has encountered Truth. That night, he hitches a ride on an eastbound truck, leaving his crew to clean up the mess.

In college I met intelligent students from different backgrounds, who appeared to believe that when they ‘talked to the ceiling’ during times of something called ‘prayer,’ they knew that a Presence was listening; a Presence Who sometimes responded. For me, it was the stuff of science fiction or psychology—until it happened to me; and then I knew.

The above image represents the Spirit of the Creator as a rushing wind; the element of Spirituality that appears in many different forms of Faith. I’ll write more about that in Part 2. “The wind blows where it will.”

There have been many times in my life when I have known that I was in the Presence of the Spirit of the Creator. Most recently, when I made three trips to the Gulf Coast, repairing damage done by Hurricane Katrina, the Presence of the Spirit of the Creator was as palpable among us as a room filled with an invisible steam. I was in the Presence of the Spirit of the Creator one night when I represented Medical Teams International in Oaxaca, Mexico. That was in 2008. I can’t think of a time, since then, when I’ve known that I was in the Presence of the Creator; my lack of awareness doesn’t mean that the Spirit hasn’t been Present. I’ve been so focused on my own bodily challenges for the last 11 years—sometimes obsessively so—there is much I haven’t paid attention to. Over the years, I have witnessed events that were difficult to explain in any ‘non-Faith’ way; but those events haven’t been something I could describe as Presence. I call them Grace Gifts. I experience Grace Gifts in spite of my ‘dissolving’ body.

Religious people and the texts of the Church often use the phrase, “Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost” to represent the “Third Person of the Trinity”—a religious concept. For me, these terms imply that there is some sort of distance between myself and the Spirit of the Creator. I have come to a place where I believe the distance between my Soul—a religious concept—and the Spirit of the Creator is very small; if a distance at all. I have come to a place where I believe that the Spirit of the Creator exists within every human being; whether or not we are aware of the Spirit’s Presence. One might ask, “if the Spirit of the Creator is inside you, how can you not be aware of the Spirit’s presence?” Valid question. I can be in the same house as my wife, and not be aware that she is present. When I’m with my entire family and we are all awake, I can’t possibly believe that they are absent. When I am engrossed in a project or engrossed in an unexpected event in the life of my family, I can ignore lots of things. One of the ways that I deal with continual bodily pain is distraction. Last night/early this morning, an hour passed in ten minutes time…

Much of the Created world is not alive—rocks, cars, buildings; much of that part of Creation that is alive, is not sentient—does not appear to realize that it is alive—life just ‘is’ [of course this may also be an invention of our arrogance]. A cluster of cancer cells is alive, while in the body—the unchecked replication of cells obstructs with normal body function. The cancer shares in the life of the host; remove the cancer from its host, and it dies. To be animate is to have life.

http://www.roncobb.net/cartoons.html
a drawing that I copied in the past

There are many creatures in the world who appear to be sentient—to be aware of their lives in some fashion—and we are destroying them every day, to the point that we are causing the extinction of many of the species on earth. Our destruction of the world’s climate, our destruction of forests, our destruction of the oceans goes on, every single day, and most of the world’s population feels powerless to effect change; or simply doesn’t care.

I believe that when we die, we go Home—I have no idea how Home might be described. Biblical descriptions from thousands of years ago are, for me, simply symbolic of a ‘place’ that defies description. I believe [some would say ‘hope’] that when we arrive at Home each of us will see the scope of our lives in their true context. I don’t believe in Judgement—as in appearing before a Judge to await a sentence—I believe the Creator has known the entirety of our lives from the moment of Creation. Judgement is not required.

I FEAR that we have mistaken the ability to communicate with words we can understand with the idea of “Identity,” and we will see our part in the damage to our world. We damage the world with the food we bring home from the store, and its packaging; by the chemicals we use in maintaining the landscape. Online shopping is incredibly convenient and produces a lot of plastic we have no use for.

I believe we will also see the Grace [unmerited favor] we have brought to the world. I think that most of us will feel an extreme shame for the damage we have done. Or we will display an Arrogance that is actually a disease. I believe that the acts that induce shame will be Forgiven; I believe that Arrogance cannot be Forgiven until shame occurs.

Our interaction with the Spirit of the Creator, for the most part, is voluntary. We can be so damaged by our circumstances that we cannot even believe the Spirit exists. We can also be so shaped by our circumstances that we are able to Believe even more than seems possible. I believe that that this is one of the ways the Spirit of the Creator communicates with our Soul—the Creative Imagination. Many do not believe that the Soul even exists, because our Science cannot detect the Soul. ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’—Shakespeare

All I can say for sure, is that in the Fall of 1972, I did not believe in the Soul; by the Spring of 1973, I knew that I have a Soul. Nothing ‘magical’ happened; no ‘magic poof’. I don’t think that my Soul entered me in this period of my life; I believe that the Soul that has been within me for all of my life had been awakened in a new way.

When do we become ‘equipped’ with a Soul? This is the question at the heart of abortion debates. When does a fetus become a ‘human being’—a person? Is an 8-week old fetus that cannot sustain life outside the mother’s womb, considered a person because the fetus has a beating heart? I DO NOT KNOW.

I also believe that what happens inside a woman’s body is not the business of our Government. I believe that people who call themselves ‘pro-life,’ but do not care what happens in the child’s life after it is born, are merely ‘pro-birth’.

I don’t believe I’ll know the answer to these questions until I reach Home. My grandson is about 5 weeks old; looking at the photos taken minutes after birth, and the photos taken yesterday, I see significant changes. He is growing, he is developing, and is loved beyond his ability to understand—most of his life is involved in the ingesting of food, and the elimination of that food from one end or the other. With crying, when he is uncomfortable. It is a good thing that we don’t know about our future discomforts.

Perhaps the positive connection we make with another person is our Soul, connecting with another Soul. Perhaps that connection is a Gift from the Creator; a tangible presence of the Spirit of the Creator.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #15: More on Marketing

Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and the internet did not exist, we needed to use print advertising to get our message out to the world. The rule of thumb at that time was that only 4% of our ads would create a response by a prospective client. To put that in a better perspective, if one sends out 199 fliers, one should not expect to receive more than 4 inquiries. If one sends out 220 fliers, one might hear from 8 prospects. The average number was an average; it wasn’t a guarantee.

According to the Netcraft January 2018 Web Server Survey there are 1,805,260,010 (over 1.8 billion) websites. Yes, the Internet is very big. However, most of those websites get almost no visitors. If I was really into marketing myself, I would tell you that “I have the formula for bringing thousands of customers to your website,” but I would be lying. There is no formula. MY guess is that the 4% number is probably still accurate.

Despite the assurances of people who want to sell you something [you are their prospect] you cannot control who visits your website. Does this mean you should not try to sell your work online? Of course not; unless you have some method of getting your art into the hands of the astute buyer.

I use three online retail outlets for selling my work: Society 6, RedBubble and Artist.com in that order. I have designs on another t-shirt site; the printing on the shirts I bought doesn’t last well in the washing machine. You should always order prints or clothing with your designs, to see the quality of the work, and to track how long it takes for the delivery of the work. Announce your work on Social Media; making sure you have links to the place[s] they can buy your work. It’s also a good idea to go to Kinko’s or FedEx Office or some similar place to print your work on paper—find out if the colors from the copy machines match the colors in your computer. If there is a discrepancy, you need to change the settings on your computer. “Monitor Gamma”

I’ve been doing this for over twenty years, starting when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars over that time, marketing my work. For me, nothing seems to work. Or, if it does work, the people who contact me can’t remember where they saw my work. The amount of dollars does not mean that I earn tens of thousands of dollars from illustration. I’ve managed to create a huge debt load; which is the wrong way to go about this work. I just haven’t had a different choice. I bagged groceries in high school; my body won’t allow me to do it again.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 190: The Plan, Part Two

May 6, 2019

27 April 2019
Another shooting this morning, in a synagogue in Southern California; an apparent vehicular murder a few days ago—the driver thought the group of people were Muslim. The murder of 300 Muslim worshippers on Easter Sunday. A would-be autocratic President who denounces the shooting of Jewish worshippers but has no respect for Muslim worshipers.

30 April 2019
Another school shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus killed 2 and injured 4 on the last day of classes.
The President of the United States remained silent.
The eighth school shooting this year.

How do we move forward?

[I’ve written about this before; sadly, it is still relevant]

For decades, I have heard religious people say that “God has a plan for your life;” and the worst one, especially after some sort of calamity, ‘it happened for a reason; it’s part of God’s plan.’

I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes from The Princess Bride:

Vizzini: He didn’t fall? INCONCEIVABLE!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I think for some people, ‘God’s Plan’ is often used in the same sense as INCONCEIVABLE!

15 June 2018

Some include ‘calamity’ in “God’s Plan”, as if somehow God desires to destroy the innocent. As if it is the Creator’s desire that homes are being destroyed by the eruption of Kilauea, that non-combatants in Syria are being destroyed by American missiles; that the Rohingya people are suffering tortuous persecution; that one of the foulest dictators alive at this point in time has just been given the legitimacy of being an equal to the President of the United States [something no other President has stooped to doing] and the list goes on and on, to the killing of individual students in schools and the murder of people-of-color carrying cell phones, by white policemen who aren’t punished…

There is so much chaos in the world that it has become difficult to remember the disasters of last year.

These calamities are not designed by the Creator.

I have to interject here—I was raised by an authoritarian father. He was a good man; I don’t think I can go so far as to say he was a kind man. I doubt that he was ever taught much about kindness. In many ways, I feel as though my life ‘began’ when I left his house and went off to college. His form of demanding discipline was by yelling. One shrinks from yelling as much as from blows. A few years after his death, I watched the blossoming of my Mom—it was an amazing transformation; she became a woman I had never seen before. She was happy.

Sadly, the early stages of dementia brought the blossoming to a close.

Having been raised this way, I was never inclined to simply accept what some guy on a platform was attempting to teach about “God’s Word”. I struggled with the idea of some guy I knew nothing about, telling me what I was supposed to believe. I rely instead on critical thinking.

Over the years, I have learned to not take a passage of Scripture out of context and rely on that passage to be an explanation or promise from ‘God’s Word’. The concept of the ‘inerrancy of Scripture’ is problematic, in that the meaning of Scripture varies, depending upon which version one uses. English is a limited language when one is discussing Eternal subjects.

“God has a plan for your life.”

Isaiah 14:26
New International Version
This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations…

Young’s Literal Translation
This is the counsel that is counselled for all the earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out for all the nations.

Transliteration from the Hebrew
This [is] the purpose that is purposed against all the earth and this [is] the hand that is stretched out over all the nations

“Plan”
Original Word: עֵצָה  [Hebrew]
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
NASB Translation (instances used): advice (11), consultation (2), counsel (52), counselor* (1), counselors* (1), counsels (1), designs (1), plan (8), plans (2), purpose (6), scheme (1), schemes (1), strategy (1).

52 times in the Bible, the word translated as ‘plan’ in English means counsel; 11 times the word means advice; there are very few instances that imply ‘requirement’. And yet, religious people around the world speak as though the Creator of the entire Universe desires that children should die at the hands of murderers.

I’ve been drawing plans for most of my life—over 50 years. There isn’t even a consistent meaning for the word, plan, when it comes to architecture. A plan can be a general idea on a napkin, or it can be very specific—down to knobs on a cabinet. The plans I reviewed during the last 5 years of my work at the City of Portland were 3ft X 4ft in size and 2 inches thick. I checked for Building Code compliance; the fire rating [or none] on a single door can be calamitous. The width of a single door, or the direction a door swings can cost lives.

And then there is ‘God’s Will’
In Hebrew, that which is translated as ‘God’s Will’ in English, actually means ‘to inquire of God’. A question, not a statement.

When it comes to understanding Scripture, English sucks. Other languages have better meanings. For example, in Greek, there are four distinct words [and meanings] that are translated in English as “love”. Statistically, when we use the word, ‘love’ we get it wrong 75% of the time. A guy may tell a girl that he loves her, when his brain is stuck on his fondness for pizza; or his desire for release of sexual tension. Women: guys give other guys advice on their behavior with the female; we are instructed to talk about ‘love’ when we mean sex.

Some will ask if I believe that the Bible [however they define this word] is the Word of God. I believe that the Hebrew Scriptures, and teachings of the New Testament are entirely true, in their original languages, for the purpose they were intended. The mere fact that one can find a verse in the Bible that justifies their particular understanding of the world does not mean that this was the intent of the verse.

Psalm 137
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

I’ve never heard anyone state that Ps. 137:9 is their ‘life verse’. The Bible has a large number of verses that are difficult to swallow, if one treats the version of the Bible they like best, as being Literally True. The Creator in the closing chapters of the Book of Job, states that 2/3 of the Book is wrong. And yet, the ‘wrong’ verses are still part of the Book.

There is a statement, used when disaster strikes, that the disaster is part of God’s plan; or when a gold cross in a burning cathedral that survives the fire, becomes a miracle. Non-believers ask, how can a Loving God spare a piece of gold when babies are dying because our government has decided to bomb a city? The audacious ones attribute this situation to ‘God’s will’, ignoring the horridness of the statement.

Shit happens to people that are devotedly serving the Creator of the Universe, without regard to the form in which their devotion takes. Grace happens in the same manner. In the same sense that an American can only speak of ‘love’ correctly 25% of the time, I don’t think that human beings have a vocabulary that does justice to the nature of the Creator, and the way life works on Earth.

Horrible things happen on planet Earth, and the Creator of the Universe does not intervene to stop the horror. Is this part of a plan, or somehow designed, or is the horror somehow seen as ‘good’ on the part of the Creator?
No. This is the nature of Free Will given to horrible people. We CHOOSE to be horrible to others. This is hard for our society to swallow. Society’s monsters started as beautiful infants. They were taught to be horrible.

Babies are torn away from their mother’s arms at our southern border and placed in our ‘Child Welfare’ system, without any intention of returning the baby to the parents. Our current Administration considers this a good/useful means of reducing immigration into our country. But is this morally good? Does morality have a set of standards? If there is a set of moral standards, and if the behavior of our government violates this set of standards; and if you and I do nothing to oppose our government’s actions, are we somehow not responsible for the violation?

At this point, a lot of people simply choose to deny the existence of God.

Given the horrible examples of ‘Christian piety’ that I see displayed on my social media pages and the pages of the news, I completely understand those who deny the existence of a Creator. If personal computers and the Internet existed in the 1970s, many of my life choices would have been entirely different; and I don’t think Faith would be part of my life.

Something happened in my life. I experienced Something I cannot ‘un-experience’. I believe this ‘something’ is the Spirit of the Creator. For reasons unknown to me, on rare occasions something happens that I cannot understand in any other way. Since I believe that the Creator has known me from the beginning of Time [Kairos], and since I have asked the Creator to take charge of my life, I know that nothing in my life surprises the Creator. I get surprised on a regular basis.

I clearly haven’t been very effective in communicating the Something that happened in my life; tens of thousands of words later. I cannot fix people; I cannot change people. The only one I can fix is myself; the only one I can change is myself. The most that I can do for others is to create an environment where change is possible, when another person wants to change.

I know that the Creator of the Universe is as different from myself as are the bugs crawling under the rock in our yard; or the seemingly unending hordes of little ants that have discovered there is food in our kitchen. I know that the Creator is angered [a human word] by the millennia of senseless violence over territory, that humans seem to be incapable of growing beyond. I believe that the Creator of the Universe entered time and space in the form of a single cell implanted into the womb of a teenaged girl, so that another way of living could be demonstrated to we frail humans. In the words of Eric Bibb, singing as I type, we’ve got to do better if we want to survive.

this image from Hubble frames a perfect spiral specimen: the stunning NGC 2903

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #14: Contests and Awards.

I’ve won four Awards this year; two of them for reasons that haven’t been made known to me. Two of the awards were a result of entering one of my favorite images in a contest. Having won an award, I submitted the image to the same organization for a magazine cover. I received an Honorable Mention.
A “Best of Portland” Award is an attempt to have me buy a plaque to hang on my wall. The concept of my being ‘best of Portland’ is far more grandiose than I need or deserve. I suppose it looks good on a plaque.

Problem #1: my walls

This is a really old photo, but all of the vertical surfaces in my office look like this. I have no room for a plaque.

Problem #2: I NEVER have clients in my office. I don’t need plaques to raise my self-esteem. All of the images on the vertical surfaces are either images that inspire me; or images that remind me that I have done some things well.

I am my own worst critic [actually, my wife can be worse than myself; she doesn’t often provide input].

Entering contests can be worthwhile, especially if you think that the image you enter is exactly what the contest needs. When it isn’t selected, you have learned something about your opinion. Entering contests often require entry fees. Modest entry fees can imply that the publisher is paying someone for their time while they review entries.

I tend to think that really exorbitant entry fees for some contest half-way around the world, where I’m not likely to actually see the results of my effort, are simply ways for someone to generate income. I’m really not likely to travel to Dubai to see my image on a wall or a screen.

I really like the image I created for the contest; the image that awarded me as Artist of the Year and earned a separate Honorable Mention. I reused a character I created at the beginning of this century, in a new setting. A small homage to Vermeer. The irony is that the company I created the image for, did not like it; and did not pay me for the three images I created. The latter was my choice. I don’t want clients saying that I cheated them in some fashion.

Winning a contest can be good for a dispirited ego; not winning a contest can cause a dispirited ego to feel worse.

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 187: Magical Thinking

April 12, 2019

All of life is beyond our control. “Magical Thinking” [for which I think I am an expert] merely gives us the idea that we have control.
I have long wanted to learn “3-D” graphics [they are really 2-D objects, because our monitors are 2-D; “3-D” graphics does not create holograms—but 3-D enables one to rotate the 2-D image around an axis]. I have long wanted to learn “3-D” graphics but have never ‘found the time’.
‘Finding time’ [as well as raising children] is not like finding an apple on the ground. It’s more like ‘finding an apple’ by planting a seed in a piece of ground that used to be a lawn. Given the right circumstances, an apple seed becomes an apple tree. If the tree is tended well, it will produce apples. The very last thing to grow is the fruit.


We live in a large, ranch-style house on an oversized lot. I started building the house when I graduated from college with the Bachelor of Architecture degree I didn’t really intend to use. By the time I graduated from the Architecture program, I had been drafting, every day, for about 8 years. I knew that any architecture job I was offered would find me drafting every day. I wanted a break. So, I convinced my Dad that I should build him the retirement home he wanted. One of the worst/best decisions I ever made. Worst because I knew nothing about actually building a house. I could design them—not very well, I learned—but was clueless when it came to putting the pieces together. Best, because it was the path that led me to where I am now. Not that I’m particularly happy with the life I now lead; but there have been so many experiences that have taught me so much. I don’t know if I would have learned these lessons on a different path.

You can’t tell from the aerial photos above, but there’s an apple tree in our backyard. I planted it in 1976. When a friend of my parents came up and kept the yard in the condition it was when I finished the landscaping, the tree produced apples. In 1985, we moved in. I have always hated yard work.
When our family cabin in the woods was sold by my aunt, I decided that I would let the Creator handle the landscape maintenance at our house, as the Creator had handled the landscape maintenance along the Sandy River. In retrospect, I became aware that there weren’t many apple trees growing by the Sandy River. Thirty-three years after I planted the apple tree, I think there was one apple last year; not very appetizing at that. The tree doesn’t get much sunlight because of the Douglas Fir that planted itself in our back yard; and the tree has been fertilized by several dead cats. I’m not sure that dead cats are good fertilizer for apple trees.

Scripture uses a lot of agricultural references. Having lived nearly all my life in urban environments, I often don’t understand the references in the way they were originally presented. When I worked as a contractor, we had a client that raised sheep and Great Pyrenees dogs. Everything with four legs was white; except when they were brown, from the mud. We were there because of the dogs—we built a bathing/ grooming/whelping room for the show dogs. In the process of getting to know the people, I learned that sheep are about the dumbest creatures on earth. When Jesus called us ‘sheep,’ I don’t think it was a compliment. I also learned that farming and ranching, even when pursued as a hobby, take a lot of work. Much like raising a child.

On the left side of the 2018 photo above, one can barely make out a drainage ditch that separates us from the road on the other side. I had built a makeshift bridge [in the public Right of Way] across the ditch so that our daughter could cross the ditch to catch the school bus. One day I was out working on the bridge with my two young sons, who wanted to help. When my adjustments had been made, I told the Creator, ‘I could have gotten this job done in half the time, and better, if I hadn’t been working with my sons’. The thought distinctly appeared in my brain “I know exactly how you feel”.

While working on that bridge I thought about the nature of the Creator and the nature of humans. If you pick up a rock from an unpaved surface, you will find a bunch of squiggly critters. The Creator entering time and space as a single cell in the womb of a teenager would be like my deciding that I was going to become one of those squiggly critters, so that I could show them how to live better. I wouldn’t do it.
Believers talk as if the Creator wasn’t that much different from a local deity—the gods of human history. They would never admit this; but that is how they speak. Non-believers often talk as if the Universe is so vast that there can’t possibly be a Creator. My faith in science won’t stretch far enough to accept the idea that all life is the product of evolution. I was just listening to a program about the human brain; and the guy said that, ‘people used to believe that soul was responsible for who we are. We now know that who we are is dependent upon the development of the brain. The plan is…’ What plan? He goes on to talk about how most of the information that seems to be hard-wired into other mammals is not present in humans; it is our lack of pre-programming that causes us to develop…’ etc. Again, what plan? How does ‘plan’ evolve? Plan means ‘design’/’choice’. People evolve over time, and there is evidence that leads us in the direction of having ancestors that were far less evolved than homo sapiens. “Adam and Eve” is a Creation story. Nearly all cultures have Creation stories; they all have similarities.

Rabbinical scholars from millennia ago did not have a problem with the notion that there were creatures present that were very similar to homo sapiens at the time of the Garden of Eden. After all, after Cain slew Abel [the first children of Adam and Eve], Cain left the Garden, married, and started building the first City [there’s a fascinating 20th Century book by Jacque Ellul about The Meaning of the City—the building of Cities is man’s response to the Creator’s treatment of man]. Who did Cain marry? If one takes Scripture literally, there were only four human beings. Scripture talks about these other beings:

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:4.

There really isn’t a good definition of Nephilim, beyond the explanation that they were giants. “Daughters of men” doesn’t really provide an explanation for Cain’s wife, unless ‘men’ means mankind.

There is a BBC-made PBS video about Madagascar, and the unique vegetation and unique creatures that live on that island:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pd2fk

The vegetation on the south end of the island is almost entirely covered in spines/thorns. There is very little water on the south end of the island. Little leaves sometimes grow between the spines, and the reptilian creatures get their necessary water from these tiny leaves. I’m sorry—I cannot stretch my mind to accept the notion that these spiny plants evolved from the plants that grow on the luxuriant north end of the island. Evolution depends on small changes to the genome that prove beneficial over time. Using that concept, black becomes white by way of a whole bunch of grey. I can understand variations in the greyscale; but black becoming white in a small series of large variations stretches my brain too far. I prefer created-black and created-white. And I am not referring to skin coloration. We are all shades of brown, with differing hues, brightness and contrast. We humans are all one family. This has been demonstrated by DNA studies.

In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.

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

Getting back to critters under a rock: ‘imagine, if you will’ a Creator for whom the Universe is in some sense small. ‘Small’ in the sense that the design of an entire skyscraper, down to the nuts and bolts and knobs, can fit inside the mind of an architect. My guess is that the Creator of the entire Universe ‘turns over the rock’ and looks at the history of Humanity and sees cruel and fearsome creatures who spend all of their lives killing each other.
You reply, ‘that doesn’t apply to me.’ Sure it does; it’s only by Grace that you aren’t living in a tribal situation where one tribe is willing to kill another tribe because they don’t think the same as you. The history of homo sapiens is a history of rape and pillaging. With brief exceptions. When preachers talk about our sinfulness, I think there are some who see our relationship to the Creator as something akin to my looking under a rock.

With exceptions.

I am of the opinion that Penal Substitutionary Atonement [you are evil, and god cannot stand your sinful presence, so god killed his only son to pay for your sinfulness] is a result of human guilt feelings. We are guilty; many choose to think that they are fooling the world and our Creator by pretending they aren’t guilty. When politicians become preachers and pronounce their understanding of Scripture that omits everything that Jesus taught, they are using the wrong book.

Jesus did not come into Time and Space in order to be the scapegoat for your sins [the scapegoat concept is part of the Hebrew religion]; Jesus entered Time and Space to show us a new way to live. In another time and place, I could be stoned for making this assertion. Yes, the ‘scapegoat’ analogy also fits; but I have trouble believing that this was the whole point.

Preachers who seem to love the word, “Repent!” are unaware that what the word means is ‘to see the world through new eyes.’ Human beings just like ourselves killed Jesus for His audacity; people like us did what homo sapiens always do. Jesus dared to tell religious leaders that they had made a mockery of that which all of history pointed toward.

Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose from the dead and told His followers that they could do the same. People have a really hard time with this idea. We are locked-in to the idea that what we are is our bodies.  At 66, it’s so much easier to believe that I am more than this crappy body.

I’m reading a book about the Gnostic texts found around the same time as the Dead Sea Scrolls, but with a lot less ceremony and publicity. Possibly because they were written in Copt. They sat in a museum for about 40 years, when they weren’t floating around the Black Market. The theory is that these texts were buried by a monk in around 200AD, because that’s when Bishop Irenaeus wanted all the Gnostic Texts burned. The Gospel of Thomas is one of the most well-known of the 50 or so texts that were not included in the Christian Bible. Bishop Irenaeus was building the institution that eventually became the Holy Roman Empire. A religion built on a set of principles that were readily transmitted across countries; and were dependent upon a religious hierarchy. Those who practiced Gnosticism had a much wider base. Some of the texts seem to have come from Seventies San Francisco; others teach about spirituality that doesn’t come from a book, a spirituality that is based on experience. Something reflective of my own faith journey.

Easter is coming

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #12: Tax Time

This will probably get posted before the 15th of April, so your deadline is drawing near, in spite of the Government Shutdown earlier this year. The IRS does not sleep.

BE ADVISED; I AM NOT PROVIDING YOU WITH ANY INCOME TAX ADVICE.

I will not offer any tax advice beyond the following: Don’t Cheat; you will get caught. Maybe not this time, but somewhere down the road when you’ve forgotten that some practice of yours was actually a cheat, when you first started it.

I have been audited more than once; in addition to having uncomfortable consequences to the digestive system, it can be very expensive; presuming that the reason you were cheating is because you discovered that you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service, and you hadn’t set funds aside for this unexpected contingency. Millionaires and Corporations cheat all the time, but they have expensive lawyers who can somehow call ‘blue’, ‘red’ and no one sees the problem.

One of the advantages of being self-employed is that you can deduct the expenses of running your business from your income. “Deduct” does not mean ‘hide it under the couch cushion.’ There are rules. If you are starting your business, and steadily lose money rather than earn money, the IRS will question whether or not your business is really a hobby. You may be able to deduct some of the expenses of living where you live. Generally, in order to be able to deduct expenses related to living wherever you live, you need to have part of your home set aside for working. Ideally, a room. Trying to convince an Auditor that your dining room table is your office is awkward, if you ever eat at your dining room table. The percentages of your utilities and rent that can be deducted from your income is based on a square foot percentage. If you live in a 200sf apartment, and your dining room table measures 18sf, you can do the math for the percentage attributable to business. But you better not eat at the table when you aren’t working.

Keep records of your spending. The Government likes PayPal, because PayPal is very transparent for bookkeepers. I use an ancient My Money program; it is low-maintenance, it makes for easy categorizing of expenses, and will provide one with reports on annual spending. Being a dinosaur, I don’t bother with far more advanced software. I’ve been using it for more than 20 years [yes, dinosaur-software runs on Windows 10-64; Microsoft would prefer that you don’t know this].

Computers are expenses that generally need to be depreciated. Depreciation means that there is a method by which you can deduct the cost of more expensive office equipment over time. Over time, these pieces of equipment lose their market value. Computers, and other spendy items in an office can often be depreciated over 5 years each.

You are not required to deduct any expenses from your business income. I do all of my income tax returns ‘by hand,’ meaning I do my own calculating. This provides me with the opportunity to make choices. When I’ve used online programs, I’ve discovered that these programs are written by someone who has a perspective on the Tax Code that I don’t have. Do not cheat.

Tax Codes are written by bureaucrats; bureaucrats tend to write with complex words; plan on looking for definitions. I used to write building code provisions; there’s a geeky part of me that likes to figure things out.

Norman Rockwell Daydreaming Bookkeeper

 


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