Posts Tagged ‘Occupy’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 118: Making the Truth Great Again

February 26, 2017

making-the-truth-great-againFebruary 26, 1973.

The date my life changed. At least, it’s the date I wrote in the Bible given to me by the man who led me to Christ. I was raised an atheist; my parents had been active in church until their early twenties[?]; legend has it that my Dad even preached a sermon in a church once [can’t imagine it]. Something happened; I don’t know what. My dearly beloved Grandmother called us heathens; I didn’t really know what it meant. It didn’t seem to be something positive. My guess is that my parents’ leaving the church was somehow related to this kind lady that was raised in Norway in a ‘hellfire and damnation’ Lutheran church [I can’t really imagine this either—I’ve visited ‘hellfire and damnation’ churches—they weren’t Lutheran]. Maybe if my grandparents had emigrated to the Deep South…

When I told my parents, the summer after my third year of college, about my new experience of Faith and Grace, I thought they’d at least be interested. They let me know that they never wanted to hear about it again. I honored their request; until my Dad was in a coma on his deathbed. I told him about my relationship with the Creator of the Universe, even though I wasn’t sure he heard anything. My Mom started attending a small Presbyterian Church in the last phase of her life; we joined that church when we realized she was starting to slip away from the “Mom” I knew. She heard about Faith and Grace; I don’t know that she ever really understood. I believe they both understand, now.

In the Apostles’ letters to the churches, in the New Testament, instructions are laid out for Believers, instructions for living a new life—it’s really clear that this behavior is totally voluntary, it isn’t a condition for Salvation—those who have messed up their life at some point in time realize that this drastic change of life makes sense. Those who have messed up their life have discovered that the ‘instructions’ given to us by the world so often lead to despair. I’ve found the greatest examples of Faith in Recovery groups of various types. People who have been broken, and know they are powerless to help themselves.

Christians are the only fishermen in the world who try to clean their catch before it’s in the boat. In spite of the fact that it never works.

Perhaps it’s because there are so many Christians that don’t want their children to follow dangerous paths, that so many Christians grow up with a list of behaviors that are ‘bad’; and their children will be judged to be Bad, if they follow these behaviors. I’m ashamed that there are Believers whose children were raised in the church, baptized in the church; and those Believers say that their children are going to Hell because they don’t follow their parents’ beliefs. My faith in the Creator is larger than that small idea. I’m an example of one who was baptized as an infant in a church, NOT raised in the church, but became a follower of Jesus. As a dear saint in a Lutheran Brethren church once told our pastor, “his parents may not lived up to their part of the bargain; God lived up to His part of the bargain. Marty is here among us.” I came to Faith by acceptance and friendship.

These parents don’t seem to check back with their children as they grow up, to see if they really understand why following Paul’s instructions makes sense. They grow up in a ‘subculture’ that has a really hard time accepting the notion that Christianity isn’t supposed to be a set of rules that are to be followed—this is the problem that the Pharisees [the Religious Right in Israel, First Century] had; overcoming this attitude is what Jesus struggled with; and eventually that attitude got Him killed [His death was His own choice, despite teaching to the contrary].

The Jews didn’t kill Jesus. He was Jewish. For the first decades of that which was called The Way, the followers of Jesus practiced Judaism. It was only when Gentiles began following Jesus in larger numbers that the Jewish leaders of the early church had to decide how ‘Jewish’ one needed to be, in order to follow Jesus [incredible irony]. Jews had strict Codes of behavior to follow, and those Codes were covered over by additional codes that acted as a ‘fence’ around the Laws of Moses—if you learned not to break the ‘fence’ you wouldn’t break the Law. At least, that was the idea. What happened is a huge religious mess. The leaders of the Way had very few Jewish rules for the Gentiles to follow—“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” End of instruction.

 

“I felt a deep disturbance in the Force” in November of last year; and I feared something terrible had happened. Only it wasn’t in a science fiction movie, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Through some means that I really don’t understand at all, church-going people who deeply desire to follow Christianity elected a President who seems to have made it his life goal to break every one of the rules these friends of mine have taught to their children—thanks to the digital world we live in, there is audio and video evidence to support this accusation—interviews, news reports, magazine articles. All there for anyone to read who will make the time to read. And these people seem oblivious to the evidence; they don’t even want to read the evidence, because P45 has convinced them that it’s all lies and ‘fake news’. P45 has been ‘anointed’ by the son of the Evangelist; other famous evangelists apparently preach to thousands of people each Sunday that P45 is ‘anointed’ by God to lead this country ‘out of sin, and into the light’. Fortunately there are students in seminaries across the country that are willing to stand up to the hypocrisy of their leaders.

P45’s Political Strategist, a man who now sits on the National Security Council, is a White Nationalist who stands with the KKK and White Supremacists throughout the country—again, allegations that are supported by documentation for those who are willing to take the time to read.

This isn’t about Political Parties, it isn’t about Hilary; I was a lifelong Republican until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied to Congress and invaded Iraq for a reason they knew didn’t exist. I registered as a Democrat in order to vote for Barack Obama in the Oregon Primary. I learned one evening at my church that the illustration/poster I was creating to commemorate the election of an African-American as the leader of this very racist country, would not be appreciated by my congregation. I found this out in person, when I took my son on a Mission Trip to Mexico. I brought him along so that he could see the Spirit of the Creator at work, in person, among fellow Believers. He’ll never come back to our church again, due to the judgmental attitudes he encountered on that trip.

It’s about Character, and following Jesus. It isn’t about a list of rules.

My life changed forever in 1976 and the years that follow; irrefutable evidence occurred in my life; experiences that happened to me alone. Stuff that I know was True, but can’t use to prove the Truth to anyone else. This is the nature of Truth—it only becomes evidentiary when it is grasped by another person.

I was fortunate in high school—I was taught the concept of Critical Thinking by ‘Captain Bob,’ my Senior English teacher. Today it would probably be called AP English. We wrote papers every week, studying philosophical concepts; their strengths, their weaknesses. I was one of those students who enjoyed the History of Western Civilization in college—the texts, not the boring lectures. Today I study theology; at present I’m reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, a work cut short by his death in one of Hitler’s death camps. It seems appropriate reading today, when our country is being led by an authoritarian government, at war with the Media. The Founding Fathers valued the media of the day, and called it the Fourth Estate. “In 1841, Thomas Carlyle used the term to describe the reporters’ gallery in the English Parliament as a “Fourth Estate more important” than the other three estates represented there. The importance of the press in a representative democracy is twofold: it informs the citizenry and also serves as a feedback loop between the government and voters.” https://www.reference.com/world-view/press-called-fourth-estate-d9eee0cb98632d05

Not so much today. P45 calls the Media the “Enemy of the People”—google the phrase; it’s instructive.

As I begin this 44th year of my new life, I find myself among The Resistance, among Activists. I don’t ‘march,’ due to my neurological condition; I don’t spend a lot of time on my feet, and my ego hasn’t yet accepted the idea of a wheelchair. I type. I schlep video equipment. I publish information on the internet. I support those who march.

And I pray for our government.

history_and_grief_congress

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 117: Do not be a bystander

February 23, 2017


newsroom
http://mjarts.com/samples/Newsroom%20excerpt2.mp4

I’ve seen a series of articles in the last four weeks which are profoundly disturbing to me:

Bannon vows a daily fight for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state’

The reclusive mastermind behind President Trump’s nationalist ideology and combative tactics made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist and intellectual force behind Trump’s agenda, used his first speaking appearance since Trump took office to vow that the president would honor all of the hard-line pledges of his campaign.
Appearing at a gathering of conservative activists alongside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon dismissed the idea that Trump might moderate his positions or seek consensus with political opponents. Rather, he said, the White House is digging in for a long period of conflict to transform Washington and upend the world order…
Priebus celebrated Trump’s administration as “the best Cabinet in the history of Cabinets,” and Bannon said that many nominees “were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/top-wh-strategist-vows-a-daily-fight-for-deconstruction-of-the-administrative-state/2017/02/23/03f6b8da-f9ea-11e6-bf01-d47f8cf9b643_story.html?utm_term=.127792e35359

Prince Charles issues veiled warning over Donald Trump and return to ‘dark days of 1930s’

Prince Charles has issued a warning over the “rise of populism” in a veiled apparent reference to the election of Donald Trump and increasingly hostile attitudes towards refugees in Europe.
The Prince of Wales said there were “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s”, adding that “evil” religious persecution was taking place across the globe.
“We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s,” he said.
“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”
Citing UN statistics, he added that a “staggering” 65.3 million people abandoned their homes in 2015 — 5.8 million more than the year before.
“The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land,” he said. “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/prince-charles-donald-trump-warning-right-populism-dark-days-thought-for-the-day-a7489876.html

Reuters orders reporters to cover Trump like an authoritarian regime: Expect ‘physical threats’

David Edwards
01 Feb 2017 at 10:10 ET
The Reuters news agency this week recognized the challenges of covering Donald Trump’s presidency by comparing it to authoritarian regimes like Egypt, Yemen and China.
“It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists ‘among the most dishonest human beings on earth’ or that his chief strategist dubs the media ‘the opposition party’,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler wrote in a message to staff on Tuesday. “It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration.”
He cited the organization’s work in “Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia” as an example of how to report on the Trump administration.
Adler said that reporters could use experience learned in “nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists.”
http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/reuters-orders-reporters-to-cover-trump-like-an-authoritarian-regime-expect-physical-threats/

Iran’s supreme leader ‘thanks’ Trump for revealing the ‘real face of the United States

“We actually thank this new president! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to a transcript posted on his official website.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/07/irans-ayatollah-thanks-trump-for-revealing-the-real-face-of-the-united-states/?utm_term=.99ba9ff6825d

Steve Bannon: ‘We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt’

Only months ago Donald Trump’s chief strategist predicted military involvement in east Asia and the Middle East in Breitbart radio shows.
The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.
Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/02/steve-bannon-donald-trump-war-south-china-sea-no-doubt

Washington Post By Dana Milbank Opinion writer January 27, 2016
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-age-of-trump-grim-warnings-from-holocaust-survivors/2016/01/27/c65ea38c-c549-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html?utm_term=.2bc13a13ec85

“International Holocaust Remembrance Day is always a somber time for Auschwitz survivor Irene Weiss. But this year’s observance had an additional layer of grief: For the first time, Weiss is worried about her adopted homeland.”
“I am exceptionally concerned about demagogues,” the 85-year-old Weiss told me at Wednesday’s commemoration at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “They touch me in a place that I remember. I know their influence and, unfortunately, I know how receptive audiences are to demagogues and what it leads to.”

At this time of open hostility to Muslims in America, museum staff arranged for Johanna Gerechter Neumann, who fled with her family to Albania after Kristallnacht, to talk about how Muslims protected them from Hitler. Her father, a patriotic German and World War I veteran, “certainly thought that it could never happen in Germany,” she said. “It did happen. Slowly, but it did happen.”
And now the aging survivors worry it is beginning, slowly, to happen again. “It is repeating itself, and it is again the inattention that people pay to real cues that one should understand,” said Margit Meissner, almost 94, who fled on foot through the Pyrenees from occupied France.
“It’s not Weimar,” she said, “but it could become Weimar Germany if you have Mr. Trump here and people keep believing what he says. .
.. I think one has to speak up. And thats the one lesson from the Holocaust: Do not be a bystander.

When Holocaust survivors start getting alarmed, I start listening. If one reads the entire article the alarm becomes more chilling.

tr-characterI see a lot of articles saying that I should simply “embrace our new President”. I can’t embrace a man who is stealing much of what I hold dear about this country.

For years I have listened to Conservative Christians tell me that the United States is a country ‘blessed by God.’ Having read a lot of US history in conjunction with my work as an illustrator, I have assumed that the people making such comments have somehow remained oblivious to American history, and our shameful treatment of people not of Northern European ancestry.

With the advent of Facebook and other Social Media, I’ve changed my ideas. The only explanation I can come up with is that our country has a large population of racist bigots who haven’t had the courage to admit it; until they saw the ‘Leader of the Free World’ spouting fear of ‘the other’. This country, ‘blessed by God,’ is filled with people who live in fear of people who are not like they are—people with brown skins; people who worship the Creator in a different manner than they; people who love other people in a manner they do not understand.

Based on Stephen Bannon’s comments above, P45’s Cabinet selections become more understandable. He wasn’t making the absolute worst selections possible—people who have been committed to the opposition of those agencies they were selected to head—they are individuals selected to destroy the agencies they rule over.

I worked in a governmental regulatory agency for 14 years; the City of Portland’s Bureau of Buildings [now, Bureau of Development Services] was tasked with the job of requiring compliance with the Building Code, and its companion Codes. Codes designed to promote building safety. Hard as it may be to believe, there really are contractors out there who don’t care about building safety; all they are concerned about is how much money they can charge to do work using the cheapest methods they can find. Developers who don’t mind lying about their buildings, if it’s profitable.

Raise this exponentially: companies that don’t want to comply with environmental regulations because those regulations raise the costs on their development. Companies that don’t care what kind of impact their construction may have on the environment. Coal companies that can dump their excavated waste into local streams, because it’s so much cheaper than hauling the waste by truck; and they don’t care that the watersheds are damaged.

A Secretary of Energy whose only energy interests are in fossil fuels—the most damaging and inefficient form of energy production there is.

A Secretary of Education who has no interest in improving the quality of the American school system; instead she wants to eliminate public schools altogether; without regard to inner city schools who won’t be able to afford to the private education model she desires.

“Draining the swamp” of Wall Street advocates in the Presidential Cabinet; now refilled by Managers of Goldman Sachs, the architects of the Economic Collapse of 2008.

We now have an Executive Branch that is so insensitive to security—National Security briefings in the middle of a crowded country club restaurant—that the Intelligence Community is withholding information from the President. They are concerned that top secret information will end up in a midnight ‘tweet’.

I was raised to believe that we were a country of laws to protect the downtrodden; a country that welcomed the refugee; a country that believed in justice for all; not merely justice for those with wealth.

Raised as an atheist, I decided to become a follower of Jesus; the teacher who said,
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

I am ashamed of what my country has become.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 112: For what did they die?

November 23, 2016

Tonight I watched an episode of Star Trek Next Generation; “Dormak” for those who were/are fans. I wasn’t that much of a fan, mostly due the ‘chemistry’ between myself and the characters. The short version of “Dormak” is that an alien Commander places himself and Captain Picard in a place of danger in hopes that the element of danger would bring the two cultures to a place of cooperation and communication. The alien culture uses metaphor to communicate—the words, “Juliet on the balcony” to explain the concept of ‘romance’—however, their metaphors came from their own storytelling; Picard wasn’t able to understand the metaphors. The Commander of the alien vessel gave his life in hopes that communication could begin.

Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Earth’s future—a vision where people of all faiths and pigmentation could live together in harmony. A future where war is considered a last resort; a future where people could live out their highest good.

On December 4, hundreds of veterans plan to “deploy” to Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to join in protest against the planned Dakota Access Pipeline. The event, Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, is a call for veterans to “assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia” to “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security.” CNN

Tonight, in a hospital in North Dakota, a 22-year old college student faces the possibility of an amputated arm, due to a concussion grenade that went off as it hit her arm. People in hospitals deal with hypothermia caused by the militarized police using water cannons to repel unarmed protesters in 27-degree weather.

Tonight the President-Elect, who has selected a White Supremacist as his chief advisor, sleeps in one of his many hotels; a man who believes that since Presidents cannot engage in a Conflict of Interest in business, his own conflicts of interest will not be able to be considered as such. The Emperor Trump. A man who speaks of creating a Registry of all Muslims in the country; a man who will ban the acceptance of Syrian refugees, even though our bombs are devastating their country; a man who is talking about deporting millions of undocumented aliens, potentially forcing hundreds of thousands of American citizens—children born in this country—into an already overburdened Foster Care system; with no apparent thought to how this will work. A man who, throughout his campaign has denigrated women, the disabled, a war hero, who has promised a return to war crimes in his pursuit of aggression against terrorists. I think that even Nixon would be ashamed.

 

Tonight I also listened to President Obama awarding 21 Medals of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor to scientists, advocates, athletes, entertainers—all of whom have contributed not only the Arts but to cause of freedom and unity in our country and across the world.

Some of those who may be reading this hate President Obama; and I wonder if those readers have ever listened—actually listened—to any of his speeches; or have simply digested the opinions of pundits. I can understand not liking his politics—I hate his drone policy—and yet every speech he has given has reflected the principles this country was built upon. For 8 years, he has been metaphorically spat upon, every day, by both Houses of Congress, as well as a large portion of the population. And yet he responds with Grace and dignity; never with the displays of anger that the President-Elect has used over an insult on Saturday Night Live, or booing the Vice President-Elect at a theater production.

What are we coming to as a nation?

What did the Greatest Generation fight a war for?

Abraham, Martin, John and Bobby… Yesterday was the 53rd anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. For what did they die? For the rise of Neo-Fascism in America?

The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures tell the story of how the people wanted a King; they no longer wanted to be ruled by the Creator. They wanted to have a King, just like all of the other people had. The Creator’s Prophet warns them of all the hardship they would face under the rule of a King; the people didn’t care, they wanted a King. And the Creator said, ‘give them what they want.’

angel.grief_mj

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 111: What will we do with the time that is given to us?

November 18, 2016

night-watcherThe Night Watcher

As my legs continue to decline in their mobility, I have more challenges with my balance; particularly if I don’t have a solid surface to stand on. Inside the house I wear down boots with wool insoles; and tonight I was leaning over the couch to look for a movie to watch. Part of me said that I was going to hold off on Lord of the Rings until it had dimmed some more from my memory—but the cases were in front of other DVDs, and I proceeded in what could have been a scene from a silent movie. Boxes falling out of my hands [spasms, also], discs falling out of cases…etc.

I had made the choice to scan Fb before looking for the DVD—I’ve been visiting Fb less, because there’s so much crap going on in our political environment. Some good stuff, but a lot of other stuff. When I returned to the living room, I was looking for a mood changer before going to bed.

Given the comedy above, Fellowship of the Ring, Part One, was my choice—the choice that fell out of the box. I don’t have any Lord of the Rings images; the one above is the closest available.

The other day I found the following quotation from later in the movie:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

What are we going to do with the time that is given to us?

As the new ‘Transition Team” grows, and grows more menacing to the “Other” in our society [speaking as an old white guy], it becomes clearer to me that what is needed is as much obstruction against dehumanizing people as possible. Whether that obstruction takes the form of Sanctuary Cities, or the building of a new Political Party or the encouragement of Senators and Representatives that are determined to make this country a haven for the oppressed, we need to continue.

I value Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Assembly, and I value young people doing the only thing they can, to protest; there has been injury caused by the some of the forms of protest that have been taken. Forcing a driver on a highway to stop, when they really need to be moving, or stopping ambulances on the road does not help the Cause of Justice.

The votes from the Election are still being counted; Hillary leads Trump by nearly 1.5 million votes, and her lead is expected to continue to grow. It is no longer a ‘narrow margin’. My Magical Thinking is looking for rescue from the Electoral College. I’ve never had much faith in magic wands. I may be one of the very few people in the world who have avoided Harry Potter [I’ve seen a couple movies]; I spent so much of my life looking for a magic wand to solve my problems that the concept no longer has any appeal.

More than anything else in my life, I am a man of Faith. Civilization survived Nero and Caligula. Caligula used “Christians on a stick” as a method of yard lighting for his outdoor barbecues. I won’t elaborate. Rome fell from the weight of its shameful behavior; so heavy a weight that they stopped considering it a problem. At present, this doesn’t seem too different from naming White Supremacists to Cabinet positions in a country where the White population is no more in the majority. Welcome to South Africa, North…

The first African-American President is handing his office over to the man endorsed by the KKK. The KKK had parades after Trump’s election. Hate crimes are on the rise. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 892 active hate groups in the United States in 2015. More than 400 Hate Crimes have occurred in the last week. People can say that this isn’t the fault of the President-Elect; but when the Future Commander-in-Chief demonstrates bullying, racism, misogyny and xenophobia every day for the last 9 months, why do people have trouble understanding that bullies and haters feel they have been validated in their behavior?

There are people who apparently been pretending to be ‘nice’ for the last 8 years; now they can go back to their regularly-scheduled behavior. When the American Church approves indecency by their votes [or lack of voting], what does that say about the Church? They may have gained the Supreme Court, but was it at the cost of their souls’ health? We will all have to stand before the Creator and account for our behavior. We may have to stand in the same lines as the German population in 1938…

we-dont-talk-about-2016

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 11: they didn’t stop to think if they should

February 6, 2012

From the movie, “Jurassic Park”-
“I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power you’re using here: it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done, and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you, you’ve patented it, and packaged it, you’ve slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it. Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. ”

I wonder if the Western World would be as excited to buy a new phone or a new computer device if they realized that a woman was raped in order for the device to be created; or that a child was enslaved; or a parent murdered in order for that electronic gadget to be created?

That’s what’s happening. Our modern electronic devices are made from minerals mined in places like Congo; and the mines are controlled by warlords who enslave their workers. You can view a video by Robin Wright [Princess Bride]:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4o2lElFzM0&sns=fb

Am I against progress, am I against computers and cell phones? No. I rely on computers to make my life [as I’ve currently defined it] work. I grew up before the personal computer did; I lived most of my life without them.

Do these electronic devices that serve us have to be built by the products of slavery? No.  Economic pressure can be exerted against the slaveholders to change the way they live.

William Wilberforce dedicated his life to the abolition of slavery in Britain. After decades of effort by Wilberforce and countless others, slavery was abolished. In the movie, “Amazing Grace,” the slavery being addressed was in the sugar trade–the life blood of British economy. Even if the wealthy businessmen of Britain were bothered by the abuse of human life [many did not consider Africans as human], they weren’t bothered enough to sacrifice their businesses. I haven’t studied the historical record to know whether the movie is accurate; what is accurate is that determined people can change society.

I hear the word “revolution” brought up more often when I discuss politics with people [something I rarely do]. I immediately think of arming bears [“the right to …”–think about it]; and of all of the unstable people I’ve met, holding AK-47s. A horrible thought.

“Revolution” does not have to come by way of weapons. Thanks to the internet, we live in a time of ‘instant communication’ and ‘social networking.’ Those who are alert have already seen how the ‘viral video’ can change policy. The “Occupy” movement has many detractors, but the movement has demonstrated that public policy can be modified, if those in power fear a danger to their pocketbook. Jesus said that our hearts will be where our treasure is found [Mt. 6:21]. We can change the hearts of tyrants by threatening their treasure.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 9: Occupying Our Hearts

November 13, 2011

This illustration was created for Ken Gunther, for an upcoming book to be published by Gaiadigm Books.

Somewhere in the eighties I started drawing Native American portraits, some of which were compiled in the image below [John_10-16]. The process of searching for new images became a study of our government’s treatment of the indigenous peoples who lived here before the Europeans came; and the slaughter of those Nations.

Nations. Our government recognized these peoples as Sovereign Nations, and prepared Treaties with these Nations; and then systematically broke all of the Treaties.

In the image below, the words in the oval on the left state that the purpose of most of the early colonies was evangelism; over time the presence of the Native Americans became an obstacle…

“Our manifest destiny is to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying masses.”
John Louis Sullivan, 1845

“In treachery, broken pledges upon the part of high officials, lies, thievery, slaughter of defenseless women and children, and every crime in the catalogue of man’s inhumanity to man, the Indian was a mere amateur compared to “the noble white man.” His crimes were retail, ours wholesale.”
Lt. Britton Davis, 1884

In the image below, the oval on the right offers quotations from half a dozen “Indians” who spoke words that should have come out of the mouths of Christians of that time. Words that echo what Jesus taught.

The Lakota used a metaphor to describe the Europeans who arrived on their lands.
“It was Wasi’chu, which means “takes the fat,” or “greedy person.” Within the modern Indian movement, Wasi’chu has come to mean those corporations and individuals, with their governmental accomplices, which continue to covet Indian lives, land, and resources for private profit.
Wasi’chu does not describe a race; it describes a state of mind.
Wasi’chu is also a human condition based on inhumanity, racism, and exploitation. It is a sickness, a seemingly incurable and contagious disease which begot the ever advancing society of the West. If we do not control it, this disease will surely be the basis for what may be the last of the continuing wars against the Native American people.”
…excerpt from Wasi’chu, The Continuing Indian Wars,
Bruce Johansen and Robert Maestas
with an introduction by John Redhouse
[ http://www.dickshovel.com ]

Evangelical Christians in the US seem to have a short memory. We talk about being a nation ‘blessed by God’ and overlook the slaughter of the Nations that were here at the beginning. We overlook Hiroshima and Nagasaki as crimes against humanity. And somehow we call our nation “blessed”. How can we justify these actions of the past as Christian actions?

The “Occupy…” movements of today, I believe, are a reflection of the some people’s recognition of the spirit of Wasi’chu among us. We live in a country of vast inequalities. I do not believe the answer is simply “redistribution of wealth”. When the wealthy refuse to be taxed at the same rate as the non-wealthy, at the expense of “social services,” I think we have a problem of Wasi’chu.

What Would Jesus Do?
I don’t know; the Gospels do not include any instances of “Occupy Jerusalem”. Jesus lived under the foot of an Emperor; and such movements would have probably ended with death and maiming.

In an interview with Gary W. Moon written in “Conversations
Journal” [ http://www.philipyancey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/WhatGoodIsGod-Yancey-and-Moon.pdf ], Philip Yancey writes:
For one thing, Jesus didn’t live in a democracy; he lived under an occupying power, the most powerful empire of its time. In such circumstances, you can either accommodate the ruling power, as the Sadducees did, or violently oppose it, as did the Zealots. Jesus mostly ignored it. He said nothing about the brutality of the Romans or some of their nefarious practices, such as gladiator games, pederasty, and the abandonment of infants. His guiding principle, “[Give] unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s,” is wonderfully ambiguous (Luke 20:25, ASV).

GWM: So, if you could write a one or two-sentence prescription for the
church in the US and you were sure it would be followed, what would you prescribe?
PY: Spend less time and energy trying to clean up the culture around you—a task Jesus and Paul did not seem concerned about—and more time and energy creating a counter-culture that presents a compelling alternative while exposing the shallowness of its surroundings.

I don’t think I can say it any better.


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