Posts Tagged ‘Neuropathy’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 157: Immigration Shame

July 2, 2018

IMMIGRATION SHAME 2
Mama!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P-38
P-38

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

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

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

P45_mj

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLK2

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 156: It’s like a disease…

June 27, 2018

P45_mj

Today the anti-Muslim ban created on a third try by the President was upheld by the Supreme Court, thanks to the vote by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump and joined the court in April 2017.

Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion argued that Trump’s order was a violation of the establishment clause, which protects freedom of religion. The majority would have none of it. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that the court is free to “uphold the policy so long as it can reasonably be understood to result from a justification independent of unconstitutional grounds.” In other words, if smart lawyers can concoct some rational excuse for Trump’s irrational acts, then the resulting executive order will pass constitutional scrutiny.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/06/26/the-supreme-court-joins-congressional-republicans-in-refusing-to-see-trump-as-he-is/?utm_term=.5b5858a3e391

A facility that holds abducted youth from Central America lies about a half-mile from my house. Having watched far too many action movies in my past, I want to stage a jailbreak. I lack all facilities for so doing.
Accusations that child detention facilities on the US-Mexican border are similar to Nazi concentration camps were always likely to be rebuked by the White House – but perhaps no one quite expected Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ line of reasoning.

“This is a real exaggeration,” he told Fox News. “Because in Nazi Germany they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”
Attorney General Sessions said: “We’re doing the right thing. We’re taking care of these children,” adding “they are not being abused”.

The concept that children being stolen from their parents aka ‘kidnapping’ doesn’t constitute abuse, because the children are being treated well, is mind-boggling.
Trevor Noah’s take: “Your children were just taken from the schoolyard! They’ve been kidnapped!”
“OMG! Call the police!”
“They were driven off in a Bentley!”
“A Bentley… well, never mind.”
What Attorney General Sessions seems to have missed, in his high school social studies classes [he’s 5 years older than I am] is the simple fact that Hitler instigated the killing of Jews simply because he hated Jews; and because the Jew was the ‘perfect scapegoat for all of the problems of Germany’.

C.S Lewis:
The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become-and so on in a vicious circle forever. Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.

Mere Christianity [1952]

Our world is filled with hate right now. It’s like a disease.
While I’m reluctant to put the blame entirely upon the man sitting behind the Resolute Desk, the nature of “The Presidency” has changed. It seems like the haters have taken P45’s behavior as an excuse to be as nasty as they want to be.

What saddens me is the realization that the ‘political correctness’ of 20-30 years ago apparently did not result in a greater respect for all people, as much as it was a mask people reluctantly put on.
Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and I worked for the Bureau of Buildings, I heard lots of complaints about having to be politically correct–which never was a problem for me, as a follower of Christ–but they changed their behavior. I had hoped that PC was some sort of ‘evolutionary improvement’–apparently, I was wrong.
It seems that the haters have decided they no longer need to be politically correct.

Tonight, on PBS Newshour, Ed Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania, pointed out that one person in this country has the responsibility and the authority to address the growing sense of outrage and hatred spewing between the Right and Left Wings—the man in the Oval Office; and he refuses to take up the challenge. I am of the opinion that the angry environment in America today is exactly that which the President wants to exist. An anger that will bring out the haters; and a defensive position by people who will refuse to vote for either Democrats or Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections, because they can’t stand either party. That’s how we got here. Half the country refused to vote.

I am by nature non-confrontational. I am by nature asocial [my nature is to not require people in my life]. During my years in Portland’s Permit Center, I survived my years there with hyperventilating in the men’s room on my breaks. No one wants to get Building Permits. I calmed down over the years; medication played a large part in that. I finally burned out and went upstairs to primarily interact with large sets of construction plans.

Conceptually, for an INTJ, social media is a great thing. One can interact with people without having to actually interact with people. I find however, that connecting with people becomes more difficult as the kindness in our society erodes with polarity. I’m a follower of Jesus; Scripture is really clear how I am supposed to treat strangers in my life…how to treat immigrants like my forbears. I am the child of Immigrants: First Generation on my mother’s side; third on my father’s side. I find myself getting in digital arguments with people that seem to stem from the idea that only one response is possible in regard to moral questions, and that one idea is usually one that Scripture doesn’t address clearly.

A guy I know read a series of articles I posted about children being stolen from their parents, IN MY NAME [I assure you—when our government steals children from their parents, they are doing this in your name. It is your government]. Some of these abducted children are in a facility a few blocks from my home. The guy asked if I was willing to be as upset in regard to the area that he has committed his energy. I’m not, for a variety of reasons; one of them being that Scripture is silent about that particular issue. It’s an issue that began thousands of years ago and won’t ever be stopped by legislation.

A woman I know ranted about the evils of immigration and apparently watches a particular news channel I avoid; it being one of the sources of the ‘fake news’ its champion complains about. A woman I worship with on Sundays in the same sanctuary…

The entire world seems to be getting meaner. Or is it the same meanness there has always been; and social media and the 24-hour news cycle makes the meanness more available?
I often wonder if the billionaires of this world realize that the millionaires of this world won’t pick the crops. Nor will the upper middle class. There is no shortage of money in the world; there is a lack of will to use the money of this world for public benefit. At present, there is no shortage of food in the world; there is an extreme shortage of generosity.

I pulled this off of Facebook recently. This is the world that my parents taught me to expect…I can’t hope for this, for my children.

liberty cries

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 155: He thinks that morals are paintings on walls

June 18, 2018

P45_mj

From the movie, Sabrina [1995]
Sabrina Fairchild: You know, you are not exactly what people say you are.
Linus Larrabee: Oh yeah? [beat] What do they say I am?
Sabrina Fairchild: Oh, you know.
Linus Larrabee: No.
Sabrina Fairchild: Well. . .that you’re the world’s only living heart donor.
Linus Larrabee: Oh. That.
Sabrina Fairchild: And. . .how does this one go? Um, “He thinks that morals are paintings on walls and scruples are money in Russia.”
Linus Larrabee: Well, that’s droll.
Sabrina Fairchild: And then there’s my favorite. . .
Linus Larrabee: No, no, no. I get the picture.

Many of us in America believe we are witnessing the Presidency of the Amoral Man. Not necessarily immoral—one who behaves in an immoral manner; but one who lacks morals altogether.
Is this a first? No, of course not; I lived through Nixon and all of the immoral Presidents that followed him. Most of our Presidents lived in a time where their every statement was not published by the Press. To a large degree, we have no means of comparison.

We are living in a moment of time where ‘the leader of the Free World’ has called one of the worst dictators in history ‘an honorable man’ and has afforded him the equivalency of the President of the United States of America. A President who justifies Kim Jong Un’s murderous dominance over his people as being ‘tough’. A President who insults our allies and fawns upon dictators.
It is well documented that the President lies all the time.

In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
That’s an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/05/01/president-trump-has-made-3001-false-or-misleading-claims-so-far/?utm_term=.9b1ca6bb375f

And now, the children…

More than 2,300 children were taken from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9, according to statistics released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, with the pace of family separations growing over that period to nearly 70 a day.
The separations were roundly condemned — including by all four living former first ladies — as cruel, inhumane and un-American. Administration officials rejected former first lady Laura Bush’s comparison of the detention centers to Japanese American internment camps during World War II.

The President is lying about this, also.

The situation has become a moral test for President Trump and his administration. The president on Monday voiced defiance and continued to falsely blame congressional Democrats for what he decried as a “horrible and tough” situation. But Trump is empowered to immediately order border agents to stop separating families as a result of his “zero tolerance” enforcement policy.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-defiant-as-crisis-grows-over-family-separation-at-the-border/2018/06/18/210c78ca-730f-11e8-805c-4b67019fcfe4_story.html?utm_term=.e438f94bb60b

Attorney General Jeff Sessions brings the Bible into the argument:

“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime — as it should be,” he said. “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/15/what-jeff-sessions-got-wrong-when-quoting-the-bible/?utm_term=.82c7eabfa8a2

One article talked about how the parents are told that the children will be taken to the showers… and the children are never returned. Parents are told that their children will never be returned to them.
I haven’t read this notion yet; I think it’s probably too volatile to suggest in print:
To my way of thinking, the current way of dealing with immigrants is one, admittedly large, step from ovens—to get rid of the evidence. For all of the Holocaust deniers and all those who believe ‘it could never happen here’—we now see how it can happen.

I keep waiting for a National Guard company to have the guts to disregard their orders and to start defending the children. I’ve probably watched too many movies.

If you’re horrified by news of families being separated at the borders, here’s a bit of news you can use.

First, the policy: It helps to be incredibly clear on what the law is, and what has and has not changed. When Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders say that the policy of separating children from their parents upon entry is a law passed by Democrats that Democrats will not fix, they are lying.

There are two different policies in play, and both are new.

First is the new policy that any migrant family entering the U.S. without a border inspection will be prosecuted for this minor misdemeanor. The parents get incarcerated and that leaves children to be warehoused. The parents then typically plead guilty to the misdemeanor and are given a sentence of the few days they served waiting for trial. But then when the parents try to reunite with their children, they are given the runaround—and possibly even deported, alone. The children are left in HHS custody, often without family.

Second is a new and apparently unwritten policy that even when the family presents themselves at a border-entry location, seeking asylum—that is, even when the family is complying in all respects with immigration law—the government is snatching the children away from their parents. Here, the government’s excuse seems to be that they want to keep the parents in jail-like immigration detention for a long time, while their asylum cases are adjudicated. The long-standing civil rights case known as Flores dictates that they aren’t allowed to keep kids in that kind of detention, so the Trump administration says they have to break up the families. They do not have to break up families—it is the government’s new choice to jail people with credible asylum claims who haven’t violated any laws that is leading to the heartbreaking separations you’ve been reading about.

So that is what is happening. Whether or not that is what the Bible demands is the subject of a different column. Good explainers on what is and is not legal detention of immigrants and asylum-seekers can also be found here and here and here.

The ACLU is litigating this policy in California.

You can find more information here:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/how-you-can-fight-family-separation-at-the-border.html

A man without a sense of morality. Only a sense of winning. His win is our loss.

angel.grief_mj

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 153: Sh_t Happens

June 4, 2018

Die,Primitive
Die! Primitive!

One of the major problems in trying to live a life of Faith is the fact that shit happens. And because it happens, religious people feel compelled to attempt an explanation of ‘how could a loving God could allow this to happen?’ Most of the answers aren’t helpful. Some are just plain wrong.

A life of Faith is almost entirely an ongoing metaphor; and religious people want to make that life literal. Literal doesn’t work very well.

“A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect.[1] It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two ideas… One of the most commonly cited examples of a metaphor in English literature is the “All the world’s a stage” monologue from As You Like It:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…”
William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2/7[3] Wikipedia

The world isn’t a stage, in spite of all the time we in the Developed World spent looking at digital stages on video screens. Technology is such that we illustrators can create images that look so much like reality that one can forget they are watching a story; a play… We can learn from these stages, but we must not allow an imaginary ‘life’ to replace the actual life we have—even though there are many who dive into an imaginary world as a shelter from the world they live in.

All one needs to do is read the news agency headlines [most of it isn’t fake] for an hour or so and read occasional articles; do this in order to realize that humans treat each other horribly all the time. Individuals killing other people for some of the most absurd reasons; governments persecuting their own citizens, because the government doesn’t like what they do, or where their parents came from.
When I take a few steps back, so that I can look at the human race in a larger perspective, I can’t imagine why the Creator allows us to live. We humans are in the process of killing all of the life on this planet; without regard to the warnings being given to us by scientists of all kinds. In the ‘Developed World’, we mostly kill off this planet for our own convenience. When I look at the world my granddaughter is growing up in, I feel ashamed. I feel appalled that so many in this country [America—the only one I know] want to hide their heads in the sand.
This is not the world I grew up in. Were the people in that world more enlightened than we are now? I don’t think so. We knew far less about the world. People acted from cherished beliefs [some of them wrong] rather than media instructions. I mean, does it really matter what Kim and all of the other celebrities with opinions do with their lives? Do have a direct connection to their lives?

In an Emergency Room recently, I was talking with a nurse that grew up in Sandy, Oregon, when Sandy was tiny. Like me, her family had a cabin near Brightwood. She was the nurse that brought in all the Consent forms. She said, “I grew up rural. With rural people you had a handshake, a look in the eye, and that was enough. They knew who they were.”
My comment to her was that maybe the problems today are largely because people don’t know who they are.

The question about ‘why does this happen?’ needs to be re-framed—how could the Creator of the entire Universe possibly love one individual on this ‘little blue dot’ of a planet, located in a bad neighborhood in the Milky Way galaxy? How could the Creator of the entire Universe possibly love one individual in this mass of people so prone to violence and hatred? It’s absolutely absurd. On the order of picking up a large rock in the yard and looking at the squiggly things under the rock; and deciding that one of them is so worthy of Divine Love and Concern that the Creator of the Universe would choose to become one of those squiggly things.
Which is exactly what happened. The Creator of the Universe implanted one cell into the womb of a teenager; that cell fertilized another cell, and nine months later Jesus was born.
Thirty-some years later that same Jesus began a ministry that was almost entirely metaphor. He taught by telling stories; He did not teach by dropping sound bites. The Gospels were written decades after His death; His stories were remembered. There wasn’t a reporter following Him around to capture every word. There were people who dedicated their lives to remembering. There were no pencils and notepads. In order to write something down for posterity, one needed pen, ink, parchment, and something like a table to hold everything.

Literal does not work very well, especially in English; but that doesn’t stop some people. Jesus certainly did not speak King James English. Jesus spoke in First Century Aramaic, a dialect that most likely didn’t exist when the New Testament was compiled in the 2nd or 3rd Century. The dates are always under dispute.

It is generally agreed by historians that Jesus and his disciples primarily spoke Aramaic (Jewish Palestinian Aramaic), the common language of Judea in the first century AD, most likely a Galilean dialect distinguishable from that of Jerusalem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_Jesus

Jesus was tortured, executed and placed into a hole in a hillside. Three days later Jesus returned. He promised that this could happen to everyone. Jesus didn’t die to save you from your sin; Jesus died that you might enter into Eternity with Him.

The story is about Redemption.
The story is always about redemption and nothing more.

“Following the tragic Amish school shooting of 10 young schoolgirls in a one-room Amish school in October 2006, reporters from throughout the world invaded Lancaster County, PA to cover the story. (You can read the full story of the Amish school shooting here.)  However, in the hours and days following the shooting a different, an unexpected story developed.

In the midst of their grief over this shocking loss, the Amish community didn’t cast blame, they didn’t point fingers, they didn’t hold a press conference with attorneys at their sides. Instead, they reached out with grace and compassion toward the killer’s family.

The afternoon of the shooting an Amish grandfather of one of the girls who was killed expressed forgiveness toward the killer, Charles Roberts. That same day Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain.

Later that week the Roberts family was invited to the funeral of one of the Amish girls who had been killed. And Amish mourners outnumbered the non-Amish at Charles Roberts’ funeral.

It’s ironic that the killer was tormented for nine years by the premature death of his young daughter. He never forgave God for her death. Yet, after he cold-bloodedly shot 10 innocent Amish school girls, the Amish almost immediately forgave him and showed compassion toward his family.

In a world at war and in a society that often points fingers and blames others, this reaction was unheard of. Many reporters and interested followers of the story asked, “How could they forgive such a terrible, unprovoked act of violence against innocent lives?”

The Amish culture closely follows the teachings of Jesus, who taught his followers to forgive one another, to place the needs of others before themselves, and to rest in the knowledge that God is still in control and can bring good out of any situation. Love and compassion toward others is to be life’s theme. Vengeance and revenge is to be left to God.          https://lancasterpa.com/amish/amish-forgiveness/

So, what…are we all supposed to become Amish?
No. The answer is to stop hating. Stop hating the totally unlovable.
Give every person a shot at redemption; especially those who deserve it least.

Like me.

The Prophet Isaiah_3

 

 

 

 

 

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

May 17, 2018

Who are you?
Who am I?

watson's brain4

My old friend, Doctor Watson, contemplating the soul

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

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

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

thought_50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stars [1926]sm

Stars [1926] Maxfield Parrish

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 147: Belief

April 23, 2018

P45_mj

I have been given the gift of new followers lately; I’m not sure why, but I appreciate the gift of your time.  However, this one may drive you away again…

Why am I writing this one?

My goal, with my Chronicles, is to help bring some sense, some order, to the nonsensical, seemingly random nature of the country as it has come to be. I use ‘country’ instead of “world” because I am nothing close to a ‘world traveler’ and know little about real life outside the US.

The character above keeps interfering with my thought processes; and I find it difficult to write something meaningful because of my anger and disappointment…

I’m an old hippie. When I was sitting around in college dorms, talking about what the world would be like after we had converted our parents to the concept of Love and Acceptance and an end to War, our current President, and his kind, did not enter our conversations. He is 5+ years older than I; he eventually received a high draft number [coming the long way in his avoidance of military service]. I, too, had a high draft number and did not serve in Vietnam. Nor did we enlist. I don’t think I would have found the nerve to head for Canada. I missed a Draft number in the twenties by about 6 hours—I was a 10-month baby [‘when the apple is ripe, it will fall from the tree’]. When I first understood the concept of Grace, I experienced gratitude for my birthdate.

The other morning, I was reading in CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain [incredible book], and read the following in his chapter on The Fall of Man. He writes of primitive man, as he probably was, when Mankind became cognizant of the concept of “me”:

“…Hence pride and ambition, the desire to be lovely in its own eyes and to depress and humiliate all rivals, envy, and restless search for more, and still more, security, were now the attitudes that came easiest to it. It was not only a weak king over its own nature, but a bad one: it sent down into the psycho-physical organism desires far worse than the organism sent up in to it.”

The above was written in 1940, around 7 years before DJT’s birthday. So, Lewis wasn’t writing about him.
People who are offended by James Comey’s assessment simply weren’t paying attention.
I’ve been hanging around the “evangelical” community for about 45 years; having been introduced to Faith in college.

Disclaimer #1

I am a follower of Jesus.
I was an atheist, into my twenties; only I never used that word, because “faith” or “religion” was not part of my vocabulary. I was, at best, a Not.
I did not come to Christ because of the Bible.
I did not come to Christ because of a church.

I came to Christ because one guy who lived across the hall from me, became my friend. And he introduced me to his roommate, and a handful of other Believers; college students, like myself. Sane, fun-loving, seemingly well-educated, well-spoken college students. These people introduced me to the Creator of the Universe.

I had avoided Christians like the plague, because for the two years at my previous campus, I was told by people on street corners that I wasn’t living a ‘godly life’—these people didn’t even know my name. I was told that if I led a ‘godly life’ I could be ‘saved’. I had no desire to live a ‘godly life’, nor did I desire to be ‘saved’.

I came to Christ, ‘kicking and screaming’—CS Lewis describes his search for God to be like ‘a mouse searching for a cat’.

For 45 years I have heard men on platforms declaring to their congregations about how they should live and what it means to live a moral life. Not one of those men would hold up DJT as an example of a moral man, and a model for a young person’s life. Men like him were used as examples of what not to be.

I get sickened when I see “Leaders” in the Evangelical community standing firmly behind the President, and being willing to excuse him his indiscretions, because after all, he is a ‘baby Christian’ and he stands up for the pro-life agenda.

Hmm…Maybe Psalm 139:9 was written for these “Leaders”…
  Young’s Literal Translation
  O the happiness of him who doth seize, And hath dashed thy sucklings on the rock!
  New International Version
  Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Oh, the problems of being a pro-life Fundamentalist…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 146: An Unfundamental Easter Story

March 25, 2018

I’ve been writing this particular Chronicle for years; and have written versions of it in years past. In part this is inspired by Michael Gerson’s excellent narrative on Evangelicalism in America, featured in the April 2018 The Atlantic magazine:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/the-last-temptation/554066/

Quoting Gerson:
A prominent company of evangelical leaders—including Dobson, Falwell, Graham, Jeffress, Metaxas, Perkins, and Ralph Reed—has embraced this self-conception. Their justification is often bluntly utilitarian: All of Trump’s flaws are worth his conservative judicial appointments and more-favorable treatment of Christians by the government. But they have gone much further than grudging, prudential calculation. They have basked in access to power and provided character references in the midst of scandal…

It is the strangest story: how so many evangelicals lost their interest in decency, and how a religious tradition called by grace became defined by resentment. This is bad for America, because religion, properly viewed and applied, is essential to the country’s public life. The old “one-bloodism” of Christian anthropology—the belief in the intrinsic and equal value of all human lives—has driven centuries of compassionate service and social reform. Religion can be the carrier of conscience. It can motivate sacrifice for the common good. It can reinforce the nobility of the political enterprise. It can combat dehumanization and elevate the goals and ideals of public life…

It is difficult to see something you so deeply value discredited so comprehensively. Evangelical faith has shaped my life, as it has the lives of millions. Evangelical history has provided me with models of conscience. Evangelical institutions have given me gifts of learning and purpose. Evangelical friends have shared my joys and sorrows. And now the very word is brought into needless disrepute.

This is the result when Christians become one interest group among many, scrambling for benefits at the expense of others rather than seeking the welfare of the whole. Christianity is love of neighbor, or it has lost its way. And this sets an urgent task for evangelicals: to rescue their faith from its worst leaders.

Evangelical faith has shaped my life as well. At Forest Home, a Christian camp in California, I stood by a plaque: “I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. Not all my questions were answered, but … I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.” – Billy Graham, Forest Home.

I have been disappointed by religious leaders so many times during my 45 years as a Believer, that Franklin Graham’s fawning in the presence of the President doesn’t surprise me, but it saddens me…

“Holy Week” as many call it.
The week between Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem” marked by the one man/one donkey ‘parade’ where cheering people paved the roadway with palm branches [Palm Sunday]; ending with Jesus’ tortured death, cheered-on by many of the people in the crowd earlier in the week [Good Friday]; and His Resurrection on the following Sunday [Easter].
At least, that is how the Church calendar has it laid out. Scripture can be a little loose, when it comes to dates and times. Dates and time weren’t the priority. The priority was Story. Story can be true; story can tell truth beyond ‘facts’. Would it have mattered if Holy Week actually went from Tuesday to the following Wednesday? Probably not. More difficult to schedule.

Michelangelo's Pieta_Omega Nebula
Michelangelo’s Pieta

When I write stories, it is required that I have an image to illustrate the story. The placement of Michelangelo’s Pieta against the background of a Hubble image is deliberate. Scripture refers to Jesus/The Creator as ‘the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end.’
I believe the story of Jesus’ last week is True; I don’t argue over ‘facts’. From the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome a [Or ‘understood’] it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [emphasis added]

The Greek word for ‘receive’ is λαμβάνω, transliterated as ‘lambanó’. It has many meanings. Generally, the definition applied to this passage is (a) I receive, get, (b) I take, lay hold of. There are a couple dozen different uses of the word, when translated from Aramaic to Greek to English.

I was raised as an atheist, although this wasn’t a word we used, because the subject was never discussed in our household. I knew that my beloved grandmother called us heathens—I did not know what it meant, but it didn’t sound good. It apparently had something to do with our not going to church; the confusing part for me is that she didn’t go to church either. On Sunday morning, she watched ‘hellfire and damnation’ preachers on television; her Norwegian Bible on her lap. She apparently grew up with ‘hellfire and damnation’ in Norway; and we didn’t have that particular Norwegian flavor in Portland.
I came to Christ in my third year of college; I ‘missed out’ on all of the Sunday School classes Christian children are sent to [including my own]. I was never confirmed. I was baptized as an infant; when I told my parents about this ‘new’ belief I’d never heard of, they told me they weren’t interested. I eventually was baptized as an adult. My church ‘upbringing’ was largely by way of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I think the ‘pilgrimage’ to Forest Home happened during the summer of my 4th year of college.

And here’s where I move into ‘heresy’.
I’ve been studying theology for 45 years. As happens so often in the Church in America, I think we missed the whole point of Faith. The Darkness that is now becoming Triumphant has not Understood.

nevernding

In the film, The Neverending Story, the Great Warrior [teenaged] Atreyu, attempts to defeat the Darkness and its minion, G’mork; the Darkness that is destroying the world of Fantasia.

But why is Fantasia dying then!?
Because people began to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So, The Nothing grows stronger.
What is The Nothing!?
It’s the emptiness that´s left…it is like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
But WHY!?
Because people who have no hopes are easy to control… And whoever has the control…has the POWER…!!!
Who are you really?
I am the servant of the power behind The Nothing. I was sent to kill the only one who could have stopped The Nothing. I lost him in the Swamps of Sadness. His name was Atreyu.
If we’re about to die anyway, I’d rather die fighting. Come for me G’mork! I am Atreyuuuuu!!!

Consistently through these 45 years, I have been hearing a message that the story of Easter is about Personal Salvation—that [only] those who are Christians will be saved from Hell. The odd thing is that Jesus never really says this; the idea is an interpretation of Scripture, from the whole of Scripture as it is read and interpreted.
From the Gospel of Mark:

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So, he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

The ’faith’ mentioned here is on the part of the four guys who dug through the roof; and the passage does not spell out why the people were coming to see Jesus. Stories of miracles, perhaps; free food; always good entertainment. Jesus forgives the paralyzed man [He doesn’t mention the four], and basically says, ‘oh, by the way, you are healed.’ Then Jesus tells the guy to go home. No altar call. No Baptism. No promise to attend synagogue. No Four Spiritual Laws.
Most of the Evangelical preachers I’ve listened to and read, are consistent in their belief that the Creator of the Universe has known each of us from the moment of Creation. The real miracle of Easter is the Incarnation—the Creator of the Universe entered Time and Space in the form of a single sperm cell in the womb of a teenaged girl. Why do people have trouble believing that the Creator of the entire Universe created one cell? Yes, Stephen Hawking said that gravity is all that was needed for Creation to occur; a Creator is not needed. Stephen Hawking would be the first to admit that some of his theories had been incorrect, or incomplete. Gravity could mean that The Creator doesn’t need to constantly crank the starter…

Commentaries on the passage, Romans 5:6, are perplexed by the awkward language used by the Apostle Paul.

“For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Young’s Literal Translation
For in our being still ailing, Christ in due time did die for the impious;
GOD’S WORD® Translation
Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But surely because of our weakness, at this time The Messiah has died for the sake of the wicked.

Why it was the ‘right time’ has always puzzled me.
Substitutionary Atonement [dying for the ungodly] and personal salvation are simply added benefits for us, in the Creator’s decision to enter Time and Space. From the beginning of Creation, the Creator was aware that in creating Man, the time [Greek: kairos] would come when Jesus would be born, and the time would come when the Creator would experience the pain that comes from the loss of a child before that child’s time. In today’s world, parents experience the loss of a child every single day. The feeling of being shattered; the feeling of the world no longer making any sense. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. It’s an unwritten Law of the Universe. Tens of thousands of children and adults marched today, across the world. The March For Our Lives. Children are not supposed to be killed for simply being children. Without Regard to Skin Color.
We are ‘powerless’ because of Free Will—we all have the choice to pick up a weapon of mass destruction and destroy, as fast as possible, the people standing next to us. Banning assault weapons will not stop school shootings; Free Will will always be in our makeup.
Banning assault weapons will reduce the carnage. Someone will still be able to pick up a rifle that shoots five or more bullets without reloading; or a hand gun that can shoot 32 bullets. Fewer people will be killed and the Second Amendment will still be in the Constitution. People will have the right to bear arms; they will not have the right to use rocket launchers for target practice, simply because they were invented.

The Creator volunteered to be shattered, when it could have been avoided by simply filling the world with ‘the lesser creatures’ as we call them. The ‘lesser creatures’ who kill for meat. Or to stop disease. ‘Lesser creatures’ do not kill for the hell of it. Only Man does that. The purpose of the Incarnation [enfleshment] appears to have been in order for the Creator to truly understand the nature of the Creator’s creation described as ‘a little lower than the angels—Mankind.

Why would the Creator do this? I really have no idea. Would I want the characters in one of my favorite illustrations to come to life? Probably not. Aspen and Grady [the two in the middle] are two of my favorite characters:

wonder

I dearly love my children. I am grateful that they are adults, with their own lives.

The Creator of the Universe, from the first moment of Creation, has known your entire life. Since the Creator is outside of time as we know it, the Creator can see today as it happens, while at the same time sees today as it already happened, ‘in the past’.
You always have a choice as to what you do, what you think and what you say. At the same time, you can NEVER surprise the Creator. ‘Never surprising’ is NOT the same as ‘having a plan’. The Creator does not plan destruction. We live on one of many stone plates, floating on a sea of molten rock, spinning at 1,000mph, orbiting the Sun at 67,000mph. Stability is an illusion. Here in Oregon, we’re about 100 years overdue in a ‘major geologic disturbance’ that happens about every 300 years. If the epicenter is in the ‘proper’ location, downtown Portland will slide into the Willamette River.
I live on the side of a volcano.
Stability is an illusion.

The Creator also knows everything about the great-grandchild of the baby sleeping in the other room. Think about that for a while.

At the right time, Christ died for those without God.
Your sins are forgiven; be healed.

 

 

 

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

February 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tolstoy

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

Last Christmas [2015]

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

wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 140: The Strangest Year

January 19, 2018

portland spring

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

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

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

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

John Denver – Peace Poem Lyrics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 139: On a New Year

December 31, 2017

milky way

Our Western New Year is an artificial construct.
In the Hebrew calendar, December 31, 2017 is the 13th of Tevet, 5778
The Chinese New Year for 2018 is Friday, February 16
“The Chinese calendar has over 100 variants, whose characteristics reflect the calendar’s evolutionary path. As with Chinese characters, different variants are used in different parts of the Chinese cultural sphere.” Wikipedia

In the Maya calendar, “…transformative events would occur on or around 21 December 2012. This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar…” WikipediaIn Iran, the Solar Hijri year 1396 goes from 21 March 2017 – 20 March 2018

For a long list of world calendars, go here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_calendars

Even though I know that our calendar date is an artificial construct, I’m glad that 2017 is nearly over. The last few months have been difficult.

We like beginnings and endings; we are people of story…
The reality is that tomorrow may be exactly like today, dependent upon hangovers, etc.

All the same, tomorrow can be the beginning of something new. The beginning of new growth, the beginning of change. For Portland, Oregon—not relying on the Weather Channel for accuracy—our sunny weather today could well be ice in a few weeks, as it was last week at this time. My wife and I live on the side of a volcano; when our driveway ices over, we generally stay inside, watching DVDs. Appreciation to my son, Rob, for removing limbs that threaten our electrical connection to the larger world.

greentree3

I’m reminded today that growth requires time. Like most of the Western World, I lack patience, and I want my goals to be accomplished tomorrow, or maybe the next day. I have a head full of ideas; if I knew all of those ideas might take years to complete, I might quit. One of my recent disappointments is a Grant that I applied for, but did not compete adequately. There were 200 applicants for a fixed amount of Grants, and my project didn’t compete well with the other applicants.

One of my illustration acquaintances, someone I wish I knew a lot better, has invested two years of drawing and painting, on a contract, for a book project that recently died. I hope that the contract included some sort of payment for that amount of time, but money doesn’t necessarily address the loss one can feel when a project that has taken time to create, suddenly won’t be created.

How we deal with difficult loss can be a measure of strength. Sometimes our strength fails; and the ‘strength’ then, is getting back up.

There’s a passage in the Newer Testament that talks about putting on the ‘armor of God’—in order to stand. That’s it; stand. Any good motivational speaker would go on about ‘getting back on track,’ ‘setting new goals,’ ‘wiping off the dust;’ or like in the Rocky saga, getting back up in order to be pummeled again.

Getting back up, fully-armored, in order to stand. Much of the Apostle Paul’s ‘armor’ is mental; feeding the brain with the stuff that strengthens. Even if all we ever do is stand, we’ll find the world coming to trample us, without much effort on our part. If we keep standing, keep doing the stuff we know we need to do, for our own mental health, we will find that the difficulties we FEARed* will eventually be behind us.

* False Evidence Appearing Real

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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