Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wanderer
Song by U2 starring Johnny Cash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord, in Your Mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Enough of that.

 

  • Illustration Tip #23: Layering

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

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

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

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 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?”

________________________________________________________________________________

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

Lincoln Leaves the Memorial

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


Isaiah 58

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 194: Dark Days

June 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough of that.
_________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

I became an illustrator because of all of those books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aramaic Bible in Plain English; Matthew 5:42:

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

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

 

Enough of that.

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

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

It starts with geography:

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

The concept of Portland, Oregon:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 188: Easter

April 18, 2019

My father had many faults; as far as I am aware, he was never cruel.
His brother could be cruel. I had another uncle that could be cruel. My assumption is that they learned cruelty at the hands, and belts, of others.

Every evening, while working on re-creating my Korean-language version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, using the original text, I listen to news coverage of The Scandal in Washington D.C.

Recently I realized that the man who sits in the Oval Office is not only lacking in moral integrity, he is also cruel. Anyone who tries to weaponize women, children and infants seeking shelter from cruelty is cruel himself. The people who defend and justify the cruelty for the sake of power, are also guilty of the same cruelty.

I don’t know how we return.

We, as a nation, must desire to return to ‘liberty and justice for ALL.’ I know that when Jefferson wrote, ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’, his definition of ‘all men’ was far different than many of us seek today. Such is the pitfall of law and language; language changes, with time and society. If Jefferson really meant, ‘all white males who own property,’ he should have written that. Instead, he used inclusive language. We have a national mythology that we seek to defend liberty; sadly, our actual history does not reflect the mythology.

Thomas Jefferson Writes from The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

Maundy Thursday
“Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment.” After the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem early in the week, and encounters with various people and the Jewish elders, Jesus and his disciples share a meal towards the end of the week. After the meal, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, and then crucified”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Supper

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

If only this commandment was followed more often.

Each of our lives is a story that we create; a story that others create through us; a story that others create with us, sometimes, without our knowing about it. I have a rather large prayer list; my weekday walks are my prayer time, as well as while I drive. The Creator does not need my instructions or suggestions as to how the world should work; in reality, there are a large number of people on my list that I’ve never met. I believe that my prayers, inadequate as they are, connect me with the Universe that is being created each day…

There is nothing in Scripture that suggests that Creation is complete. We live in Chronostime that is dependent upon Earth’s rotation and our sun [there are billions of other suns in our Milky Way galaxy, much less the entire Universe—billions of time zones]. The Creator lives in Kairos—the Eternity that exists outside our understanding of time. It is entirely possible that we are in the midst of Creation right now. The Book of Genesis, which isn’t a science text—light exists before the sun, moon and stars exist—Genesis talks about the stars in the sky, which are thousands and millions of light years away. The Days of Genesis would have to last for thousands of years, in order for the starlight to reach Earth.

Our life is a story.

From a Facebook Friend, Jacob M. Wright:
Life is beautiful. You didn’t have to be here in the first place. But here you are. Why? It’s a mystery and a miracle. Why you…why me… instead of some other person. Decades ago, as far as we know, we didn’t exist. But then we did. A unique conscious self-awareness contained within matter began blossoming in the universe. And here you are…
Ineffable wonders fill this world. And with every surprise our hearts become new. We’re always growing younger, as long as we awaken, as long as we hope, as long as we know the divine life that pulses at the center of our being. The longer that we are here, the younger we get, as long as we feed and thrive on that insatiable curiosity for beauty and truth. Keep your gorgeous curiosity alive. It will lead you to life. What is “aging” except our experience growing deeper and discovery growing wider and awakening birthing awakening birthing awakening forever.
Your heart is free, and you were endowed with a wonder and longing and unquenchable curiosity from the day you arrived into this reality; screaming and bloody from your mother’s womb. It can be a terrifying journey, this world, but no matter what, it’s love. It begins and ends in love. You awoke into love. You will never ever be detached from love. It’s what fuels everything, guides your destiny.

‘Awaking into love’—an audacious statement.
The reality is that we aren’t all born into love. According to statistics there are 360,000 births in the world, each day; many of these births come into a world of starvation, disease, fear and hatred. However, sometimes there is a moment, when the pain has subsided, and a young mother looks at the child she has carried for nine months; sometimes there is a moment, when a father connects with his child.

Generations
My daughter holding her brother,
My son holding his son,                 My daughter holding her daughter,
minutes after his birth                                  minutes after her birth

All sorts of people are ‘weighing in’ on social media regarding the partial destruction of Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris; the portions that suffered minimal damage; the portions that were destroyed. As usual, people attribute ‘miracles’ of Grace in relation to those things that weren’t destroyed to acts of the Creator. There are, accurately, the naysayers: why would the Creator spare a gold cross, but allow the innocents of the world to die?
I don’t know the answer.
I believe that the Creator has intervened in my life on numerous occasions; events I can’t explain in any other fashion. One of Jesus’ promises was that the Spirit of the Creator would live in us. In my opinion, this means that there are no coincidences in my life; no accidents. Even when shit happens. It becomes a surprise for me, but the stuff I don’t want to happen isn’t a surprise to the Creator.
Meaning? Maybe. I’m inclined to believe that intervention for me was on the order of ‘fringe benefit’. The gift a parent picks up for a child on the ‘spur of the moment’. However, the Creator has no ‘spurs of the moment’ in Kairos.

I like this answer:

“I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive—nor will we deserve to.”
Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance

Before one talks about Divine Intervention, as a participant in the Christian Church, I think some perspective is in order. Perspective that I have never heard from a pulpit or platform.
Matthew 5:18
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Amen, I say to you that until Heaven and earth will pass away, one Yodh or one Taag [strokes of the pen, which add meaning to the text] will not pass away from The Written Law until everything will happen.

Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. When He taught, He taught from Torah. When Jesus refers to the Written Law, Jesus refers to Torah. The Apostles and disciples that followed Jesus probably [the New Testament isn’t clear] gathered on Saturdays at the synagogue to learn from Torah.

The Apostle Paul considered himself to be ‘a Pharisee of the Pharisees’—
If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to righteousness under the law, faultless. [from Philippians 3]

I never hear this mentioned from a pulpit: if I was able to tell the Apostle Paul that the letters he and the other Apostles wrote to individual churches, would one day supplant Torah, I think he would probably ‘rend his clothing’ and scream.
And yet, that’s what has happened within the Evangelical Christian Church—Torah [the Old Testament] is mostly used for ‘proof texting’; and the Newer Testament is the considered the part of the Bible that Christians should focus their attention upon.

Christians seem to readily assume that we are somehow the focus of the Creator’s special attention; that our being created ‘a little lower than the angels’ gives us Privilege. This sort of thinking comes from mostly reading the New Testament. If one reads Torah, one finds that the Creator set one family on earth aside, and that from that family the Creator would create a people that would be considered the Bride of the Creator. The majority of the prophecies spoken by Prophets state the fact that the Creator’s ‘chosen people’ act like a whore, rather than a Bride.

There are four centuries of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Creator had nothing more to say, for generations. The ending of the Creator’s speaking through prophets really wasn’t a ‘happy ending’. And there was no announcement that there would be a break in communication.

After those four centuries, John the Baptist announced to the Jewish people and whoever else was around, that he was a Prophet of the Creator; and that One would appear who was greater than John: One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

I am of the opinion that when the Creator does attend to us humans [this is Chronos language], it’s more like picking up a rock in the yard and looking what is underneath that rock, than anything else. The Human Propensity to Foul things Up covers the millennia of warring upon each other that we do. The savage warring that is occurring right this minute; the abuse of children, the abuse of women, the abuse of those who do not have the power to overcome their adversaries. You and I are doing nothing to stop this savagery. We feel powerless. Our government leaders fail us.

In spite of countless sermons to the contrary, the Creator did not enter time and space to save us from our sins. This salvation is a ‘fringe benefit’.

The Creator entered time and space in the form of a single cell implanted into the womb of a teenager; the woman who gave birth to Jesus; the Man who came to us to show us a new way to live. Jesus promised that through the Spirit of the Creator, we could change. Jesus said that we could learn to become decent people who don’t murder each other.

The religious elite, who had power over the Jewish people, had Jesus murdered in the most shocking way the Roman invaders had: Crucifixion.
Jesus did not stay dead.
You will not stay dead, either.

From Jim Wallis, of Sojourners:
I believe in the resurrection — the actual historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Both my faith and my hope absolutely depend on the resurrection of Jesus. I remember a conversation I had, many years ago, with some of the Jesus Seminar New Testament theologians. One of them asked me, “Do you actually believe in the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ?” I felt the eyes looking at me. “Yes, I do,” I replied. “Well, the resurrection is more metaphorical for us,” they said. I silently pondered their statement, and whether to start up again the endless theological debates about the reality and meaning of the resurrection in the Christian apologetics. It has all been said before. Instead, another question came to mind, so I asked them, “Do you think a merely metaphorical resurrection would have been adequate for Desmond Tutu in South Africa?”
The question brought silence to the table and ended the conversation.”

Easter

 

I have no idea how this guy fits in.

For my sister: The Return of the Chocolate Bunny

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

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 181: The Blind Spot, Part Two

February 10, 2019

The majority of people with something like ‘normal’ vision have two blind spots’—one in each eye—where the Optic Nerve connects with the Retina. There are no light-sensitive cells in these locations. The reason that most of us are unaware that we have these blind spots is due in part to the fact that each eye views that which is in front of us from a slightly different angle. Consequently, there is an overlap between the two sets of images. The other part of the reason is that our brains ‘cheat’—they fill-in the missing signals with related, nearby information. Essentially, the brain essentially uses a ‘higher-resolution’ image than is necessary for vision [a concept, not a definition].

The concept can be demonstrated in ‘Pixilation’—Raster-based images use square ‘pixels’ of color to create images on a computer. The higher the resolution of the image, the easier it is to represent curves with square pixels. In the right-hand image above, there is a ‘sawblade’ demarcation between the darker brown color and the lighter brown color—the closest representation to a curved line the computer can make with squares. In this detail image, the ‘camera’ is zoomed-in to 1000% of the facial close-up. The computerized image fills in the space around the square pixel with square pixels of similar colors, camouflaging the ‘sawblade’ curved line by ‘shading’.

The absence of blind spots in our vision is aided by the brain’s filling-in of the missing ‘pixels’ of color by using similar colors to create a consistent image.

The mind-numbing part of this is that the brain does not have a flat-screen embedded inside the grey matter. What you see is an ‘illusion’—light transmitted to the brain by means of electro-chemical signals from light-receptive ‘rods’ and ‘cones’ connected to specific nerve cells, and ‘sent’ by the Optic Nerve to specific portions of the brain that translate those electro-chemical signals to something we perceive as sight. The ‘projection’ as it were, exists within our brains—signals between nerve cells. Depth perception is also an illusion, based on the degrees of difference in signals between the light hitting the retina on the inside of either eyeball. Our heads are less than a foot in depth, and yet we can perceive ‘depth’ over a large distance. We can also perceive ‘depth’ in a piece of plastic that has been designed for an illusion of depth.

How does our brain know how to do this? A very interesting question which many don’t want to answer. This illusionary process of ‘seeing’ really can’t be construed by the simple word, ‘evolution’ or the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’. Start with a ‘pinhole’ camera—the simplest camera that can be made. Then look at the camera in your cell phone. The finest camera made cannot duplicate the human eye—the camera cannot be connected to our brains.

Non-human animals can perceive light that is outside of the human range of visible light. Light visible by humans is a relatively small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Heat is ‘visible’ in the infrared spectrum; ultra-violet light makes for fun parties…

The ‘swath’ of religious perception seems to be nearly as wide as the electromagnetic spectrum, and of similar variety. Having been following Jesus for four of my six-plus decades, I’ve discovered that there are far more than two Blind Spots in most people of ‘religious persuasion’. There are huge blind spots when it comes to the subject of Faith.

We live two lives—the one you and I are reading this in; and the world of Eternity. The Creator lives in Eternity, without the hindrance of Time. The English language is deficient, in that there is only one word for ‘time’—in Greek, there are two words for time—chronos—clock time; and Kairos—Eternal time. ‘Eternal’ does not mean, ‘a really long time.’ Eternal means existence outside of Time. In the time-controlled-to-an-incredible-degree 21st Century, the concept of ‘life outside of time’ falls into the realm of science fiction.

The Creator exists in Kairos—our past, our present, our futures have been known since the moment of Creation. Our souls have been made for Eternity; not for a handful of decades. I believe that nothing we do can ever surprise the Creator. We have Free Will; at the same Kairos, the consequences of our choices are already known. ‘Known’, not ‘controlled’. The Creator ‘observes’ what humans do; the Creator does not ordain or control what we do. Religious people will balk at this—their Bibles say ‘God ordains’. The problem being that the Greek word translated ‘ordains’ has a different meaning:

Original Word: ὁρίζω [horizó]: refers to the Lord (literally) “horizoning” all the physical scenes of life before creation. From this Greek word, comes the English word, horizon.

Lutheran doctrine [about which I am not a scholar], says that we are saved by Christ alone and not by our works. Yet the Church, historically, places a great emphasis on Works—how we behave. Many people in the Church, today, seem to believe that behavior determines whether or not one is ‘saved’ or ‘condemned’. We believe our eyes and emotions; and apparently forget the Love of Christ. Myself included.

I believe that there are ‘lost’ people in this life. Thousands new each day. They make choices and those choices head toward ruin; they need to learn how they can find themselves again. I am not convinced that these people are truly Lost, in the sense of being condemned to Eternal Separation. People grow up in excremental situations. People begin their lives in ‘negative numbers’ through no fault of their own. Some never find their way to ‘positive numbers’. The Creator understands all of this. People in the Church condemn our fellow brothers and sisters every day, people who carry the face of Christ in their own; and have a story completely different from many who condemn.

I simply have trouble understanding how a Creator who Created each and every individual on Earth could condemn to Hell 3/4 of all the human beings that have ever lived. This is what many are saying, although they probably don’t think about it. Arrogant ones don’t care.

The Faith Jesus called people to was Judaism. Jesus was not a Christian. However, Judaism got messed up in 60AD with the destruction of the Temple and the obliteration of a place to make atonement for our brokenness. It is believed that all of the Gospels were written after the destruction of the Temple, about 30 years after Jesus’ Crucifixion. The chronology isn’t spelled out in the New Testament. Everything in the New Testament happened after Jesus’ resurrection. There were no journalists; there were no pencils, there was no paper. Paul dictated his letters to a scribe, who wrote at a desk, of sorts, in ink on parchment. If we told Paul and the Apostles that their writings would overshadow Torah, I think they would be offended. And yet, that is what has happened for most of the history of the Church.

I come from a background that does not include Church. I was reading Existentialists before I heard the Gospel. I originally ‘got in’ for Fire Insurance. For the first time in my twenty-plus years, I had friends. They were all these Christian people that I had avoided for 2.5 years in college. They told me Jesus was coming next month, and they were all going away, and I’d be Left Behind. So, I ‘signed up.’ And studied and tried to make sense of the very confusing world of the Church, the Bible and denominations. At the end of my 4th year of college, I went to a Retreat Center in the LA Hills [after the fires, I don’t know if it still exists]. There I encountered the Holy Spirit. Encounters I could not explain by any other means. These occurrences continued in my 5th year, and in the years that followed graduation. I would have to be a dolt to not accept the reality of the Spirit of the Creator in my life, without regard to what is written in books.

If one travels widely enough among the denominations, one finds that people believe all sorts of weird stuff; and they can usually find Biblical verses to back them up; apparently without any understanding of hermeneutics. [Hermeneutics was initially applied to the interpretation, or exegesis, of scripture, and has been later broadened to questions of general interpretation. Hermeneutics is a wider discipline which includes written, verbal, and non-verbal communication. Exegesis focuses primarily upon the word and grammar of texts. wikipedia]

There are people of all faiths, and none, who worship the Creator; using different words and different methodology. I choose to believe that worship of the Creator is worship of the Creator, without regard to practice. I know pagans [not a lot, but some—however, I avoid people who are strange to me] who are more devoted to the Creator than I am; they just don’t think of it in the same terms. And they certainly don’t want to be compared with members of the Church…

In the words of the late, great Rich Mullins—”bear in mind children, that they listen to you because you are kids; not because you are right. This is how the Father listens to us.”

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #8: “Work Product” vs. Original Art

Who owns an illustration; who owns the painting? The person who creates the art, or the purchaser?

The language below was reviewed and agreed-to by the attorneys for the Yellowstone Park Foundation. I use it in all my contracts/ Services Agreements. You are welcome to use this language in your own Services Agreement as desired. I have yet to create the next Pixar image icon [especially because I don’t work for Pixar], so I’m not worried about loss of royalties that may exist in the unforeseen future. I always consider my work as designed for a specific client.

If you are certain that you are going to create a new ‘cultural icon’ in illustration, you might not want to use this language, because it causes you to give up your copyright to the Work Product; in return you keep all of your original images and sketches; and get a guarantee that you can use the work you created for your own self-promotion. They own the Work Product; you own what goes into the making of the Work Product.

I have never been taken to court over Work Products that I have created. I consider the concept of ‘going to court’ as having already lost. I may have clients who did not like the quality of Work Product they received; however, they have never paid for the disliked Work Product. If they don’t pay, they don’t own anything; and I have merely a disgruntled client. I do not have a client who has any monetary claim over work they were never billed for. That’s simply the way I do business.

Grant of Rights.  Upon payment, the Illustrator relinquishes all rights of copyright and hereby assigns to Client all rights of copyright to all artistic work delivered under the terms of this Agreement (“Work Product”), including all rights to reproduction, modification, distribution, public performance, and/or public display of the Work Product, and agrees that all Work Product shall be the sole property of the Client.  The Illustrator agrees that all such Work Product shall be considered “works made for hire” and shall be the exclusive property of the Client, and the Illustrator hereby expressly waives any right or interest it may have therein. The Illustrator agrees to provide such assistance as may reasonably be required by the Client in obtaining copyrights for such Work Product and in enforcing any rights and interests relating to such Work Product or to any copyrights resulting therefrom.  The Client will provide the Illustrator with credit on the Client’s credit page.

The Illustrator will provide to Client digital files in an appropriate format corresponding to Client’s permanent use, and the Illustrator will be entitled to retain all original artwork, including sketches and any other materials created in the process of making the Work Product. Client hereby grants to the Illustrator a perpetual, royalty free license to use and publicly display the Work Product only for the Illustrator’s own promotional use. The Illustrator shall not resell the Work Product to any one at any time.

Work for Hire sucks. The pay is poor. On the other hand, it is a way to get published, and to demonstrate that one can create a series of illustrations. Creating one great illustration is good; creating another one like it is usually a requirement. One can begin to create a reputation for a style of work and demonstrate responsibility.

I’m sure there are better ways to break into the publishing business; but I don’t know anything about those other ways. I’ve been doing Work for Hire for twenty years. I was able to create illustrations; I got paid. Work for Hire comes with a minimum of artistic direction—one of the factors that distinguishes Work for Hire as opposed to ‘being an employee.’ The down side is that there isn’t anyone around to provide editorial direction—’perhaps you could view the scene from a different direction’. You get paid for a project, and as long as you meet the deadline with work that matches the description, the client doesn’t have a lot of room for argument. It’s best to get input along the way, before you invest a lot of time into an unsatisfactory project for yourself and the client.

“mushrooms, 30-40 feet high” an entry for a Jules Verne Exhibition; Journey to the Center of the Earth

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 179: Unexplainable Happenings

January 20, 2019

Okay… I changed my relationship with WordPress, and things have not come out, yet, as I had hoped. I hope to return to https://mjarts.blog

CPO John Seidman was my wife’s nephew; he died in a failed Coast Guard rescue in October of 2009…a tragic accident.
http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2009/11/photo-essay-memorial-service-for-rescue-1705/
Members of the US Coast Guard have a special place in my heart.
Today, the spouses of members of the US Coast Guard are figuring out where they will get their family’s next meal because members of the Coast Guard are working without pay, due to heartless politicians who have forced the country into a Shutdown. Legislation in Congress to stop the Shutdown has already been passed, Legislation that will allow the Shutdown to end; but these approvals are not being passed on to the President for his signature, or his veto of the Legislation; a veto which can be overridden by the two Houses of the Legislative Branch. The Shutdown can end today, if certain people will swallow their pride and do their duty to Serve. As do those Federal workers you and I employ to serve us.
You can support Furloughed Federal Government workers by donating to your local Food Bank:  
https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank

First Heroes For Freedom, Silver Moon Press, Spring 2000

Physical Pain.
It started in a PE class in high school. I was on a trampoline, with the goal of jumping upwards and landing on the lower part of my chest; what actually happened is that I landed on the upper part of my chest, causing my legs to fly over and behind my head: Э I heard my spine pop like my desk chair rolling over the bubble wrap on my office floor [I am by nature untidy]; for the next few weeks, when I turned to face someone, I rotated my body like a door on hinges. My parents probably did not have health insurance, and it seemed like, if you could get to a doctor, you didn’t really need one. From that point onward, I lived with continual pain in my low back, and recurring sciatica—burning pain in the outer part of my thighs from damage to the Sciatic nerve.

There was a significant amount of time when the pain stopped. My fiancée and I went to a crusade here in Portland; some evangelist whose name I forgot. The first evening contained some profound teaching on the subject of Faith; the second or third evening, he was ‘giving out the Gift of Tongues’—glossolalia. Glossolalia is found in a variety of religious experiences—speaking in unknown languages. The Apostle Paul, in the New Testament, refers to ‘speaking in the tongues of angels’—and most importantly, if there is no one around to interpret this language, when spoken in public, it has no value. Glossolalia runs counter to my personality; but I felt compelled to go down to that stage…where I found myself lying on the floor, with babbling people rubbing their hands over me. After a few minutes, I asked the Creator if I could go back to my seat; the experience was getting embarrassing. On my way back to my seat, some gal with a clipboard asked me if I had ‘received the Gift of Tongues’ and looked confused when I said that I hadn’t. A day or two later, I realized that my back didn’t hurt—first time in years—when one deals with chronic pain, it tends to have a habitual aspect—I expected to be in pain, ‘so I was’. My awareness of ‘no-pain’ wasn’t immediate.

One more experience of Unexplainable Happenings in my life. Things for which I cannot find a logical explanation; things that seem to be a result of an act of faith. I cannot articulate ‘why’ the Creator would intervene in my life; nor can I predict when such things might occur. I know a guy who has heard voices that directed him out of events that would have cost his life. I’ve never heard voices; but I have ‘sensed’ that I was supposed to do things. These events add some weight to the results of my inner mental wanderings.

Three totaled cars, years working as a carpenter—the back pain came back. The reality is that I now have two stenoses in my spinal column. Damaged vertebrae and a narrowing of the hole through which the spinal nerve pass. I don’t know if the damage occurred in high school or is caused by some other deterioration. There are no past records I can check.
Some ‘good’ news is that I don’t feel Sciatic pain any more—those nerves are damaged by my ‘idiopathic polyneuropathy’—doctorspeak for ‘your nerves are messed up, and we don’t know why’. The reality is that Neurology is still in its ‘childhood’—Neurologists don’t know nearly as much as they pretend to. My understanding is that most neurological conditions have no label because the nervous system isn’t very well understood.
What appears to be occurring is that my nerves’ outer sheathing/protection is deteriorating. I liken it to wiring with its insulation damaged. If you connect the exposed wiring to something that conducts electricity, you get a short circuit. At the same time I have this growing superpower of being impervious to external pain/sensation, I also have my own Kryptonite; my damaged nerves provide a burning pain of their own, which never stops. Diminished by medication.
We each have the option of choosing our own self-identification; while I deal with constant pain, I work at not letting it become my self-definition. I believe in possibilities; my Faith tells me that Pain won’t be my self-definition when I end my journey here on this world.

Enough of that.

Promotional image for the Man of Steel

I decided, when I started this blog, that I wasn’t going to write anything, in terms of working as an illustrator, that wasn’t accurate. Consequently, I haven’t written a lot about being a freelance commercial artist. I know a lot of things that don’t seem to work very well. As a freelance commercial artist, I’ve wasted a lot of money on print advertising, I’ve wasted a lot of money on digital advertising and a lot of time trolling Craigslist. Most of my income, for the last twenty years, has come from my other business—Building Code consulting. The enjoyable part of that business is that I always need illustrations to explain Building Code concepts; and I have this in-house illustrator who makes my technical writing more understandable. I bill him out at an hourly rate

I cannot tell you how to become successful as a freelance commercial artist

I create images that people admire, but don’t particularly want to buy. When I started this gig—having been told by my doctor that I needed to change careers in order to keep my health—I collected a folder full of images that I admired. I mostly focused on ‘the Golden Age of Illustration’ plus other examples of realism that border on fine art. I invested something like ten years into being able to create the kind of image I want to produce, consistently. In those ten years the world of illustration changed. Illustrations for children’s books became cartoony and photographers became illustrators.
A reality that I do not like to admit is that as in the rest of my life, I am a dinosaur; and I have no desire to change what I do. Refer to my last post, with Illustration Tip #1.

  • Illustration Tip #2:

Portfolios, digital and otherwise: back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth, all advertising was done on paper. Color made of ink-on-paper can be very different from color-made-from-light. Not only is it important to set the ‘gamma’ of a monitor [yes, even today], it is important to know what sort of color setting [Printer Profile] the printer is using. Print images use CMYK [Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, black] inks and monitor images and photocopiers use RGB [Red, Green, Blue] toners and diodes.

First Postcard | Second Postcard | Third Postcard

Hire an Illustrator is a company in the UK who hosts one of my portfolios and sends out postcards to art buyers. The first time I sent them a card design, I neglected to find out what Printer Profile they use. The second card was better [too much green] and the third was tolerable [the other side is too dark, but tolerable].
Does this sort of advertising work? My usual measurement for ‘working’ is whether or not I’ve gotten an inquiry or work as a result of the advertising. I’ve gotten work through this vendor, so I keep using them [beside which, I like the people]

  • Illustration Tip #3:

If you are going to use online advertising via digital portfolios, you will need to provide the vendor with a title, a description of the work, and Keywords to locate your work on their website:

Third Postcard, above:
Doctor Who at Rainbow Canyon
fan art; promotional image, Digitally-colored graphite drawing, digital
Keywords: Fantasy, Children, People, Realistic, Children’s Book, Comic Book Art, the Doctor, TARDIS, Dr-Who, whovian, doctorwho manipulation

I keep a Keywords.txt file in my Windows-based office network, for every image I post online. In time, you will find that you do this A LOT.
Setting up illustrations for a new-to-me vendor is very tedious. I assume that Apple has some sort of equivalent to a text file.

  • Illustration Tip #4:

As an editorial note regarding Windows:

That grey rectangle after the colon: is not simply a blank space. In that space are all sorts of instructions for Windows in terms of font, spacing, and a bunch of other stuff. When you transfer the words in that box to some other format, such as WordPress in their new iteration, the phrase is messed up. The same thing happens from transferring Word to html and other machine languages. It’s best to do your copy and paste from a text file, which has no hidden attributes.
This can become a problem when creating a digital book through Amazon or some other vendor. If you attempt to create a digital book using a Word manuscript, you will encounter strange things within the text—that information in the grey rectangle. When I create digital books, I use Adobe InDesign- there are no grey rectangles. More tedious; better results.

Coast Guard Rescue













%d bloggers like this: