Posts Tagged ‘pain’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 188: Easter

April 18, 2019

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

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

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

I don’t know how we return.

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

Thomas Jefferson Writes from The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

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

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

If only this commandment was followed more often.

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

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

Our life is a story.

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

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

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

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

I like this answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter

 

I have no idea how this guy fits in.

For my sister: The Return of the Chocolate Bunny

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 186: When does an Idea become a Fact?

March 25, 2019


An Idea. The most powerful force in the Universe.
When does an Idea become a Fact; and when does a Fact become an Idea?

In this context, I have to explain what I mean: I believe that Ideas drive us further than simple Facts. “Naia” above, is a fact; her DNA consists of combined Asian and Siberian strains in a pattern that is not found west of the Alaskan longitude. Her DNA is consistent with all the Indigenous peoples that populate the Americas [some of this information comes from the study of a younger skeleton, a male child found in Montana, which did not have a representation of his face constructed]. The face above is not what most of us would call, ‘an American Indian’. Naia’s face is not our Idea of an American Indian. But “Naia” is a fact. It requires an Idea for us white folk to understand that all the Indigenous people, throughout the Americas, are Naia’s forebears’ descendants. One family. This Idea is shown, scientifically, to e a much earlier time.

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

Does science therefore prove that the Bible is correct? The Older Testament contains a Hebrew story about how the world began. Many civilizations have similar stories. The Book of Genesis also talks about the Creation of the sun, moon and stars. Stars that were light years away from Earth. Starlight from stars that take years to reach Earth.

The two [nearest] stars [to our solar system] are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, which form a binary pair. They are an average of 4.3 light-years from Earth.
https://www.space.com/18090-alpha-centauri-nearest-star-system.html

How many stars are there within 1,000 light years from our Solar System? The space within 1000 light years is (1000/50)³ = 8000 times as large. Assuming a homogenous distribution you can expect 7 to 8 million stars in this range.
https://www.quora.com/How-many-stars-are-there-within-1-000-light-years-from-our-Solar-System

Scripture does say that to the Creator, one day is like a thousand years; and a thousand years is as a day…

People throughout history have overcome the Facts of their lives by focusing on an Idea that carries them beyond the Facts. An Idea that becomes the driving force of their lives.

For generations, there has been an Idea that all mankind are members of one family, our brothers and sisters. A Fact.
For generations there has been Idea that only those people within our generation of people are our family—often the people who our grandparents sired, or the people sired by our great-grandparents. Another Fact.
Research into our ancestry can enlarge our view of how we came to be. An Idea.

You are an Idea.

You are more than an Idea; however, when someone asks for information about yourself, you probably describe yourself by your job, or your role in life. You possibly identify yourself by your passions—sports, gaming, mountain climbing; the person you are married to, your children, your famous relative…these roles are facts about you. Or facts that you wish were about you. What you choose to do with these facts can become your guiding Idea.

People with a mental illness struggle with finding their identity—a post-medicated identity that doesn’t match the person they were before the medication. Being unable to reach a personality they no longer have. The struggle to understand who they are now. They need to find a new Idea of who they are going to be.

People with physical illness struggle in the same fashion—they can no longer participate in a life they enjoyed before. The athlete who is missing limbs, the singer who can no longer sing, the musician who can no longer play their music. The ‘ordinary’ [I believe we are all extraordinary—but we have been taught not to be] person who can’t walk anymore, or can’t climb trees, or walk along a mountain path. They need to find a new Idea of who they are going to be.

When one is a high-achiever by nature or learning and can no longer achieve to the level they consider necessary, they struggle with finding value in lesser achievements. The person with large dreams for the future who finds that the dreamed-of future will never happen.

I currently deal with an unexplained fatigue, on top of my Polyneuropathy of Unknown Cause. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. To a degree, I can’t do what I could do last year, and this is only March. The wrist that won’t support my weight without collapsing. The pain involved in getting out of bed. The morning walk that drains more energy than it did months ago. I won’t go through the details.

However, I refuse to describe myself by the things that I cannot do. This refusal is an Idea. The Idea that I have a choice about the way I see myself; succeeding or failing. On many days, I don’t succeed; I still refuse to accept the Idea of failure, as my self-definition. I am uniquely able, rather than using the dis- word. Life was simpler when I thought life was about facts.

Each of us is an Idea. We all make the decision as to what that Idea is.

The reality is that a large portion of the world’s population has no Idea at all. There are those who never seem to make it past adolescence, no matter how many years they have been around. There are many who are never permitted to have an Idea of who they could be. There are those who have lived in Privilege [however that is defined], whose world collapses underneath them; and now that have no privileges at all. The ones who have the weight of the world on top of them, when they were on top of the world last week. Then there are people who are uncontrollably damaged through no fault of their own. Shit Happens.

Who we become next is an Idea.
Where do we find the Ideas?

This is going to upset some people:
The Creator [aka God] is an Idea. I happen to believe that the Creator is also a Fact; perhaps The Fact of human existence. But I can’t prove this to be true. Countless wars have been fought, are being fought, because opposing peoples can’t reconcile their Idea with someone else’s Idea. Frequently wars are started because opposing peoples cannot agree on how a Book should be read. I’m a heretic. My most substantial evidence for the existence of the Creator does not come from a Book or Books; my evidence comes from my experiences. The Books back up what I’ve learned by way of the Spirit of the Creator.

I think one starts with ‘painting a mental picture’ of who you want to be; imagining what characteristics the who you want to become would have. How that person would act instead of how you react without being that person.
In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. He created a ‘score card’ with thirteen character traits he wanted to have. He kept this list with him at all times and marked his chart whenever he demonstrated that characteristic. Over time, more of the characteristics were marked. Over time, he changed who he was. It works; I’ve done it myself.

http://www.thirteenvirtues.com/

There are two men in my life who are very important to me. Fifty years apart in age, they struggle in similar ways with the question of who they are going to be. Both of them explore the concept of ending their existence. I know that I can’t ‘fix’ either of them—we can never ‘fix’ another human being; the most we can do is provide an environment where change can occur, when the person decides that change is necessary—and yet I know that they can change. They don’t yet have a new Idea for their lives. I can’t download an Idea from my brain to theirs; and I know this wouldn’t work either, because it would be my Idea, not theirs.

Where do we find the Ideas? For me, the Ideas come from a search for new truths. I have a soundtrack that plays through my head for most of my waking hours. Perhaps during my sleeping hours as well, since the music plays 24/7. Maybe my ears pick up sounds while I’m asleep, better than when I’m awake. A soundtrack for the person I want to be, even if I’m not there yet. Last night I was listening to an artist I admire; however, his music is mostly from the ‘pop charts.’ I find songs from pop charts to be fairly vapid; and yes, I’m a music snob.

I continually read. Each morning I read something specifically related to my Idea; during the day I read about what’s happening in the world. I read novels a few times a week; I’m a fan of hero stories. Before going to bed each night, I watch hero stories on the black rectangle in the living room.

I believe the Ideas we accept for our lives begin with our upbringing; whether positive or not. I’ve come to the realization that what parents assume is being taught to their children isn’t what their children are learning. I realize that I didn’t spend enough time engaging my children as they were growing. Partially because I never talked with my parents; but that is simply an excuse. The reality is that I placed a higher priority on my own struggles than engaging with my children and their struggles. We can’t go back and correct our mistakes. I’m a fan of time travel stories; however, I also realize that time travel is science fiction.

Find an Idea. Make it yours.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #11: More Marketing

Being self-employed, I need to be marketing my work all the time. I hate marketing myself; the guy that mutes commercials on the black rectangle; the one that hides all the ads on Facebook. I usually quit reading Fb when I’m tired of deleting spam. I mark all the spam as Irrelevant; my magical thinking expects that someday, I will reprogram the Fb algorithm.

So, this guy who hates commercials needs to create ‘commercials’ for myself, in order to make my presence known. I’m this guy:

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

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

Among the things I do, I make videos:

You may, or you may not, realize that most, if not all of the ads on Social Media now feature videos. The concept being that movement attracts attention. Movement does attract attention. For me, movement signals that I probably need to delete the ad…

I struggle with the Idea of what my business is. Creating videos is fun; it’s also tedious. If you follow the image link above to my mjarts.com home page, you’ll see a video that I enjoy, conceptually, but there is movement in the titles [vertical words] that shouldn’t be there. Correcting the movement is tedious. I think the plan was to do something different, rather than making the correction; my life being what it is, I forget what the plan was.

Even more than making videos is ‘photo manipulation’. When dinosaurs ruled the earth, and digital images did not exist, one sometimes ended up with a paper photograph that did not do the subject justice. Or one ended up with old photographs whose image degraded due to sunlight or other forms of abuse. Back then, it was called ‘photo restoration’. The need still exists, because people have old photographs they want to be proud of, and the photo is no longer cooperating:

I have just illustrated for you one Idea about marketing your business. Did it work? You tell me: marty@mjarts.com

[OMG: I posted my email address on a webpage. Yeah, that’s pretty much the point…yes, I get a lot of spam]

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 185: The Audience of One

March 15, 2019
“…mushrooms, 30-40 feet high” from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth

Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants.
C.S. Lewis, ‘On Stories’, Of Other Worlds

Clive Staples Lewis is in my opinion, one of the most brilliant theologians of our time; perhaps of all time. Of course, my opinion and $5.00 might enable you to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Lewis died on the same day as John F. Kennedy; my guess, since I was only eleven years old on that day, is that Lewis’ passing did not warrant much media attention. He probably would have liked it that way. Lewis was a scholar, and he was a professor of English Literature, which also made him a scholar of history. He disliked the ‘celebrity’ which hounded him. He wanted to be able to quietly read.

Raised without a concept of personal faith, although a student of many forms of religion, Lewis came to faith at University; much like myself. An academic who found himself thrust into the limelight in England during World War II, presenting concepts of faith to ‘the common man’; and then across the world, through the publication of his theological works, his science fiction and his Chronicles of Narnia.

C.S. Lewis on The Modern View:

The whole modern estimate of primitive man is based upon that idolatry of artefacts which is a great corporate sin of our own civilisation. We forget that our prehistoric ancestors made all the most useful discoveries, except that of chloroform, which have ever been made. To them we owe language, the family, clothing, the use of fire, the domestication of animals, the wheel, the ship, poetry and agriculture.

The Problem of Pain, ch. 5

Between Jane Austen and us comes the birth of the machines…This is parallel to the great changes by which we divide epochs of pre-history. This is on a level with the change from stone to bronze, or from a pastoral to an agricultural economy. It alters Man’s place in nature…

I conclude that it really is the greatest change in the history of Western Man.

De Descriptione Temporum’, Selected Literary Essays

‘It is the same with all their machines. Their labour-saving devices multiply drudgery; their aphrodisiacs make them impotent; their amusements bore them; their rapid production of food leaves half of them starving, and their devices for saving time have banished leisure from their country.’

The Pilgrim’s Regress, bk 10, ch. 6

It took me as long to acquire inhibitions as others (they say) have taken to get rid of them. That is why I often find myself at such cross-purposes with the modern world: I have been a converted Pagan living among apostate Puritans.

Surprised by Joy, ch. 4

In the early years of this century, I illustrated a Korean children’s book based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia. The story of a King who is being blackmailed for his dalliance with an American opera star, Irene Adler. She who was later described by Holmes as The Woman; the only person to outwit the Great Detective. I was chosen as the illustrator because the Korean publisher wanted the book to have a ‘western’ design, rather than an Asian design. I have no idea where they found me; typical for my projects. People inquire about my availability, and they rarely seem to remember how they found me.

The book was published; the publishing house was purchased by another company; and that company went ‘bust’. However, I own all the art that went into the making of the book. In the years since I illustrated the Korean children’s version of Doyle’s story, A Scandal in Bohemia has entered the Public Domain. A couple years ago, I decided to publish a digital version of the book, illustrated the way I would have liked to illustrate the book, all those years ago; using Doyle’s manuscript. Being a project for myself, it always takes second- or third place in my time priorities. So, most weeknights find me working on A Scandal in Bohemia while I listen to MSNBC’s coverage of the Scandal in Washington DC…

Os Guinness [yes, that Guinness] wrote a book entitled The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life; one of his stories comes from his own family history. His great-great-grandmother found herself widowed at a young age; her foolish husband having been killed in a duel in Scotland. Destitute, she had taken her children to a bridge, from which she intended to jump, along with her children. While gathering her courage at the bridge railing, she became entranced by watching a farm hand plowing a field. The farm hand was plowing his rows as carefully as a painter would have painted the scene. She realized that if a farm hand could take that amount of care in his plowing, perhaps she could make something of herself. She left the bridge railing; eventually found Faith and eventually married one of the Guinness sons; and is known to have prayed for the generations that would follow her, for the rest of her life.

She learned to live for an Audience of One.

Also from The Call:

Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned maestro and violinist, has held audiences all over the world spellbound with his conducting and virtuoso playing. Like many great musicians, his gifts were precocious. He made his violin debut in San Francisco at the age of seven and launched his worldwide career at the age of twelve with a historic concert at Carnegie Hall. In his memoirs, Unfinished Journey, Menuhin tells the story of how he began his long love affair with the violin.

From the time he was three years old, Menuhin’s parents frequently took him to concerts in New York where he heard the concertmaster and first violinist Louis Persinger. When Persinger broke into solo passages, little Yehudi, sitting with his parents up in the gallery, was enchanted.

“During one such performance,” Menuhin wrote, “I asked my parents if I might have a violin for my fourth birthday and Louis Persinger to teach me to play it.”

Apparently, his wish was granted. A family friend gave the little boy a violin, but it was a toy one, made of metal with metal strings. Yehudi Menuhin was only four. He could hardly have had the arms and fingers to do justice to a full-sized violin, but he was furious.

“I burst into sobs, threw it on the ground and would have nothing to do with it.” Reflecting years later, Menuhin said he realized he wanted nothing less than the real thing because “I did know instinctively that to play was to be.”

Stories like that are common lives of creative artists. Artie Shaw, a famous clarinetist in the old Big Band days, shared his heart with an interviewer. “Maybe twice in my life I reached what I wanted to. Once we were playing ‘These Foolish Things’ and at the end the band stops, and I play a little cadenza. That cadenza—no one can do it better. Let’s say it’s five bars. That’s a very good thing to have done in a lifetime. An artist should be judged by his best, just as an athlete. Pick out my one or two best things and say, ‘That’s what we did: all the rest was rehearsal.'”

I get up each morning and create illustrations for an Audience of One—the One to whom I gave my life 46 years ago. I opened my heart to my Creator and said, ‘here, take my life. I’ll only screw it up on my own.’ And my hope is that today I will create something beyond ‘rehearsal’; knowing that one can’t create ‘best’ without rehearsal.

This is not to say that I create religious illustrations or illustrate religious books. I mostly don’t. I’m not fond of religion. At the same time, I want all of my work to be a work of Grace—“unmerited favor”—humans do not merit the Creator’s favor—we are a cruel and monstrous lot. If you don’t believe that you should be counted in this cruel and monstrous lot, you haven’t read enough history; you haven’t read the news today. There is only one race; it is called “human” and every day, our government is in the process, directly or indirectly, of killing our brothers and sisters. I did not do anything noteworthy today to stop the murders. I signed some petitions; I’ve donated some money. I put the needs of my family above the needs of others. This isn’t ‘wrong’, per se; while I have been focused on the needs that I value, my fellow humans have been harmed. I bear that guilt, even if I don’t want to. I did nothing to stop the killing.

When the future Mrs. Guinness stepped away from the railing on that bridge, it was because she had decided to live for the future, rather than dying because of the past. She decided to live for an Idea.

I live for an Idea. I can’t prove that there is a Creator who guides my steps, although I believe this is true. I get out of bed each day for an Idea. It has become painful to get out of bed each day; I take a lot of medication—not nearly as much as some people—enough that my body now has a different smell than it had years ago—and my sense of smell is rubbish. There was a time, long ago, when my doc had to say, ‘take the damn pill, Marty,’ because I didn’t want to live medicated. Pain can be an addiction. It doesn’t seem that different from the barbiturate addiction I used to have.

I get out of bed for an Idea; that Idea is my Audience of One.

Who we individually are is Idea; nothing more, nothing less. As I keep writing, over and over, our bodies are collections of atoms that are largely composed of space, and electromagnetic forces; consequently, even though we seem to be solid, we are mostly space, and the electromagnetic forces that create an illusion of solidity. We are energy; when the shells of our body die, we remain energy in the form of Identity. How this all works is something we really can’t understand on this side of Life.

I believe that the Idea that is us, exists in a spiritual dimension; which is also an Idea. I believe that this Idea is also called the Soul. Ideas can build magnificent futures; Ideas can rob us of the future we might have had, were we willing to trust the Idea of us.

One of my mentors once said: ‘If you have to move 12 inches in order to be happy, you will never be happy’. People who live in chronic physical or emotional pain have a difficult time finding ‘happy’—happiness is largely circumstantial. Joy is a more achievable emotion, one that is less dependent upon circumstance. Living in Joy can happen even when happiness doesn’t occur. Joy is a decision. Joy is an idea.

How do we find our Audience of One? I think that we must first decide that we cannot do this life on our own, without screwing it up. For many of us, we have been proving this to be true for decades.

There have been alcoholics in my family; I have grown fond of the Twelve Steps. Steps 2 & 3 are:

[I] Came to believe that a Power greater than [myself] could restore [me] to sanity.
[I] Made a decision to turn [my] will and [my] life over to the care of God as [I] understand Him.

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/12-step-programs

Overcoming the Human Propensity to F*ck things Up.

I realize that there are a lot of people who just can’t believe in the concept of a Creator [an Idea]—the sciences explain ‘everything’ without the need for a Creator. The sciences don’t explain everything, any more than religion explaining everything. I believe that the sciences are a language of the Creator. My understanding is that before he died, Stephen Hawking proved that the creation of the entire Universe could be explained by Gravity. I don’t know that he explained the existence of Gravity.

 

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #10:

Marketing. I hate marketing myself. People who spend weeks at a time, alone in a room, creating something, aren’t particularly social. To market oneself, one must learn to be more sociable. For me, Social Media and the internet are ideal ways to be sociable. I am anonymous; my interaction with people is structured; a fairly effective way to avoid saying things I don’t want to say [it’s called proofreading]; and I can deliver images.

ONLINE PORTFOLIOS

Websites that currently have my images [if you find a bad link, please let me know] are below. The websites marked in bold have brought verifiable sales or customer inquiries. Something more than “likes”.
The $ means that I pay a fee for the service. These fees are far less than I’ve paid for print advertising. Of course, at this point in time, my business income is less, which makes the fees a larger part of my income.

mjarts.com                       Society 6 Retail Store
MJ Arts website
              https://society6.com/mjartscom
http://mjarts.com/portfolio.html

Artist.com Retail Store
https://artist.com/name-lt-marty-jones/arts-list

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/mjartscom

about.me                                    The Creative Finder        $
https://about.me/martyjones       http://thecreativefinder.com

childrensillustrators.com     $
http://www.childrensillustrators.com/illustrator-details/martyjones/id=62

Dripbook:
http://www.dripbook.com/mjartscom

picture-book                 $
http://picture-book.com/mj-arts-illustration-2

hireanillustrator.com             $
http://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/portfolio/marty-jones

behance.net                                    deviantart.com
https://www.behance.net/mjarts    http://mjarts.deviantart.com

Pond5 Stock Media
http://www.pond5.com/artist/mjarts

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators          $
https://www.scbwi.org

localsolo.com
https://localsolo.com/portland-or/profile/18258

Chronicles in Ordinary Time         Facebook
https://mjarts.blog       https://www.facebook.com/mjartscom

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mjarts

Twitter
https://twitter.com/mjarts_com

youtube: mjartscom’s channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgJQUsjr0nmHieNcNpa8oeg

pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/mjartscom

Artists Info          $
https://www.artistsinfo.co.uk/artist/marty-jones

Amazon Author pages:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B016GG2LPS
UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B016GG2LPS

IMDB
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur68910572

Redbubble
http://www.redbubble.com/people/mjartscom

Dribbble
https://dribbble.com/mjartscom

The collection above represents a huge amount of my time for uploading information. Every portfolio page has different sizing requirements. Nearly all of them require the use of keywords. I generally don’t create images that are designed only for the purpose of selling images. In the process of creating larger/more complex images, I create small images which, in theory, can be used as stock art. Apparently, I’m not good at selecting images that sell well.

Is it worth it? To be honest, I don’t know. I want to do illustration/graphic arts work; searching job boards takes a lot of time.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 184: Telling Stories

March 3, 2019
Serra Pelada Gold Mine Brazil; Sebastião Salgado

I am a story-teller.
Sadly, I lack the ability to craft a narrative tale of any length. So, I tend to tell the stories of other people, mostly through my illustrations.

There was a time when I thought I would become a better photographer. Time and circumstance being what they are, I found that my neurological challenges won out over the steadiness needed to be a photographer.

The other night, I watched The Salt of the Earth; a documentary about the life and work of Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian economist turned photographer, and his 40-year quest to show the world to the world. By the end of the 20th Century he had become heart-sick over the abject cruelty of the human race; and our continuing, endless history of warfare upon each other. He photographed genocide, starvation that could have been stopped and incredible poverty. By the end of the 20th Century, he had decided to quit photography.

Early in this century, he and his wife took on the ‘impossible’ task of replanting a Brazilian rainforest that had existed on- and adjacent-to the Salgado farm; but had been decimated by years of drought. Having planted over a million trees, over several years, by last year the Brazilian Rainforest had returned, along with its wildlife. Their work, called Instituto Terra, has been given to the Brazilian people in the form of a National Park; and has become the model of recovery for abused landscapes. Sebastião was healed by the replanting, and began a new chapter of his career, photographing nature.

Early in his photographic career, Sebastião Salgado went to the Serra Pelada Gold Mine in Brazil; when it was a giant hole in the ground being mined, by hand, by 50,000 men from all walks of life, lured by the power of gold:

“Though Salgado felt compelled to document what was at the time one of Brazil’s largest gold rushes, he was ill-prepared for the frenzied scene he encountered at Serra Pelada (or “Naked Mountain” in English). “I was left speechless… droves of men of all colours and ages were carrying their feverish dream of instant wealth, a dream that had led them to leave their families and homes…to dig for a dull yellow metal that promised them a new life..
“Swept along by the winds that carry the hint of fortune, men come to the gold mine of Serra Pelada. No one is taken there by force, yet once they arrive, all become slaves of the dream of gold and the need to stay alive. Once inside, it becomes impossible to leave.
“Every time a section finds gold, the men who carry up the loads of mud and earth have, by law, the right to pick one of the sacks they brought out. And inside they may find fortune and freedom. So, their lives are a delirious sequence of climbs down into the vast hold and climbs out to the edge of the mine, bearing a sack of earth and the hope of gold.
“Anyone arriving there for the first time confirms an extraordinary and tormented view of the human animal: 50,000 men sculpted by mud and dreams. All that can be heard are murmurs and silent shouts, the scrape of shovels driven by human hands, not a hint of a machine. It is the sound of gold echoing through the soul of its pursuers.”

Jesus taught about the dangers of pursuing wealth. ‘It is easier to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven’. And the disciples were disturbed by this teaching. All sorts of explanations have been made as to what Jesus was saying. Some say the disciples were disturbed because they were wealthy men; perhaps they desired wealth. Some people talk about a narrow gate in Jerusalem called ‘the eye of the needle’—a place where a camel had to be unloaded before it could enter. People don’t like to take the teaching literally.

I had a digital conversation the other night with a guy I respect; his understandings of Faith are remarkable. However, he seems to be caught up in the making of money. Probably a good program; but I realized that he’d been running in the same ‘circles’ that I had run in a few decades back…
My wife and I spent several years in the company of people who put a priority on gaining wealth. Financial principles were taught in the context of Scripture and the ability to buy one’s freedom from a job. My own motivations were simpler, I simply wanted to be in the company of individuals I admired. I had some talent for selling tech; but I could never make it an important part of my life. I could not live with the slogans like ‘Jobs are for Losers’. Categorically labelling people as “losers”—something that happens far too often at this point in our capitalistic history—removes the possibility of change and growth.
Helping others to fulfill their dreams became important for me; but things fell apart when I nearly died, months after doing my utmost to make sure that my sister didn’t die [see my previous post]. Late in 1988 I did some research that indicated that adult victims of a ruptured appendix had frequently gone through a period of stress. All that I know is that my recovery ‘nearly killed me’—the metaphor. It was the rupture and a day of internal leaking of nasty stuff that nearly killed me. The rest was 8 months of frustrating recovery.

How do we return?

As supported by historical research in recently-released government records, Rachel Maddow and her team at MSNBC created a podcast called “Bag Man” which focuses on Richard Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew. Richard Nixon, despite his protests to the contrary, was a crook. During the early days of the Watergate investigation, Federal Prosecutors found evidence that the Vice President, successor to Richard Nixon, if he left office, was a real crook. For years, as Governor of Maryland, Agnew took kickbacks on lucrative government contracts; and sacks of money were delivered to his office on a regular basis. This practice continued after his becoming Vice President, and the sacks of money were regularly delivered to the Vice President’s office. Prosecutors having found evidence supporting charges of extortion, bribery, and income-tax violations, Agnew agreed to leave office having pled ‘no contest’ to a felony charge of tax evasion; and forfeited his license to practice law. Senator Gerald R. Ford was quickly confirmed to the office of Vice President; Republican Senators presented the Prosecution’s case against the President to Richard Nixon; he agreed to leave office; and was later pardoned by President Ford for crime[s] Nixon did not admit to having done.

This last week, the President’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, was questioned by Congress for three days: two closed sessions, and one open session. He will be returning this coming week, bringing additional paper records to support the allegations he is making.
In these days, when there is a week’s worth of news every day, the narrative sometimes becomes lost…

“…Just over a month later, on Aug. 21, 2017, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in Manhattan to eight felonies—including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a bank—before Judge William H. Pauley III. The federal sentencing guidelines call for about four to five years on those charges, which were brought by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, known as the Southern District.

“Surprisingly, Mr. Cohen entered his plea without a traditional cooperation deal in which the Southern District would write to the judge and seek leniency when he was finally sentenced.

“Last Thursday [November 28.2017], Mr. Cohen entered his second guilty plea in Manhattan, this time to a charge of making false statements, which was filed by Mr. Mueller’s office. In court, he admitted he had misled congressional committees about negotiations he carried out on Mr. Trump’s behalf during the 2016 election campaign on a proposed tower in Moscow. Those negotiations, he said, lasted until five months before the election, far longer than previously known, and Mr. Trump was kept in the loop.

“For lying to Congress, Mr. Cohen faces a potential sentence of up to six months under the federal guidelines. And although there was no traditional cooperation deal, Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors agreed to bring Mr. Cohen’s assistance to the attention of the sentencing judge.”

https://theworldnews.net/ca-news/why-michael-cohen-donald-trump-s-fixer-confessed-to-it-all

Not to attempt to ‘paint’ a convicted felon heroically, Mr. Cohen’s second set of indictments were not the result of an arrest; on November 28, 2017 Cohen walked into a courtroom and pleaded guilty to felonies, on his own volition. He was seeking to clear his conscience for the sake of his family; I’d begun to believe that consciences did not exist anymore in Washington D.C. and NYC.
During the open session, many members of Congress continually accused of Michael Cohen of being a liar [for which he has already been indicted—more lying would likely increase his prison time], but no one disputed his allegations. Let that one sink in for a moment. No one disputed his allegations. They simply did not like what he said.

In the weeks and months ahead, facts about the current President will become more well known. The open questions regarding his support of- or by foreign powers hostile to the United States will be out in the open; as well as alleged financial crimes committed by the President’s family corporation.
15-20% of the population will no doubt consider these facts, not yet in evidence, as lies promoted by “Fake News” and the “Deep State”. Half of the Electorate did not vote in 2016; refusing to choose between a morally compromised businessman, and a liberal, female candidate who came with political baggage. Those who did not vote are guilty of allowing the President to gain his office. They could have voted for someone else.
Less than a day after Mr. Cohen appeared before Congress, alleging that Donald Trump committed felonies during his Presidential campaign, and his Presidency; at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, CEO Mike Lindell stated, “As I stand before you today, I see the greatest president in history. Of course, he is. He was chosen by God,” Lindell told the audience.
“God answered our prayers, our millions of prayers, and gave us grace, and a miracle happened on Nov. 8, 2016,” Lindell continued. “We were given a second chance and time granted to get our country back on track with our conservative values and getting people saved in Jesus’s name.

Statistically, 80% of White Evangelicals who voted, voted for the President. While they probably would not have let their daughters date the candidate, because he was publicly, morally compromised, they did not object to his running the country, because he promised to place Conservative judges on court benches; and would oppose funding for apparently-offensive publicly-supported programs that serve the underprivileged and those not holding to the strict moral code the Evangelical Church was willing to ignore when it comes to Presidential office. For decades I heard Evangelical preaching as to how I was to raise my children—none of it included behavior boasted by the current President.

The Conservative Evangelical Church condemns those whose behavior does not match their moral standards; and yet are willing to ignore the fact that a Federal Court has determined that the President of the United States is already an Unindicted Co-Conspirator in the conducting of multiple felonies. The man is a crook.
Perhaps I have a better understanding now:

(Matthew 27:15-26; Luke 23:13-25)
6 Now it was Pilate’s custom at the feast to release to the people a prisoner of their choosing. 7 And a man named Barabbas was imprisoned with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8 So the crowd went up and began asking Pilate to keep his custom.  9 “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” Pilate asked. 10 For he knew it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. 12 So Pilate asked them again, “What then do you want me to do with the One you call the King of the Jews?”  13 And they shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 “Why?” asked Pilate. “What evil has He done?” But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!” 15 And wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified.

The Garden of Gethsemane

Enough of that.

  • Illustration Tip #9: [I know, I’ve jumped from #6 to #9]

Keep lists. This will help you keep information straight, when your brain gets too full; like when jumping from Illustration Tip #4 to Illustration Tip #7 without realizing it; because I hadn’t started keeping a list of these tips…

I keep lists of keywords, I keep lists of websites where I have portfolios of some sort. These two lists are in .txt files—a digital file card that takes very little space on the computer and can be useful in telling me when I need to restart the computer. If I can’t save a change, Windows 10 needs restarting. Windows 10 often needs restarting…

I keep passwords in lists. After twenty years of digital marketing, I sometimes have trouble remembering why I have a specific website on my password list. If I was really diligent, I’d go through and clean them up… As it is, I receive extortion spam from people who claim to have access to an email address I may have used for a month, a few years back [if you use MySpace, change your password]. I have no idea what my password is for that site. I forward the extortion spam to the Feds. I do not have cameras on my computers.

Back up your work. Another form of list. I have tens of dozens of DVDs, upon which are twenty years of illustration/graphic art/consulting work. Some of my larger-scope projects have required a dozen DVDs to store the images. Now I use terabyte drives. Since terabyte drives are not impervious to damage, I generally have duplicate backup files. Sometimes that isn’t enough…

Having your work visible in one spot on the internet is not enough. I have my work visible in a lot of spots on the internet and it still isn’t enough. Redbubble advises that having at least 15 tags/keywords per image increases the chances of getting found.

I have my images on a number of ‘retail store’ websites. Upload your image to a website, and have it duplicated onto clothing, tech cases, furniture. Eventually you will find that your work is making sales without your knowledge. Before you get too excited about the idea, your earnings will probably allow you to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks…

For me, the marketing of my illustrations is painful. Mostly metaphorically. I’ve had ‘agents’ who’ve claimed that they will sell my work for a small commission. I do not have a problem with sharing profits with people who are willing to do the work of marketing; they seem hard to find.

Over the years I have paid for ads [usually a full sheet of paper] in printed workbooks; paid for advertising in digital catalogs and paid for inclusion on ‘graphic art’ websites. I have an IMDB listing for creating a movie poster. I pay a company in the UK to advertise my work. My general standard for deciding whether or not I should continue that advertising is fairly simple—have I gotten inquiries from the source? I don’t focus on sales as much as on inquiries. There are many factors involved in generating sales as a commercial artist. Sometimes there are factors that have absolutely nothing to do with my work. An upcoming exhibition in London:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 182: The Blind Spot, Part Three

February 18, 2019

Yes, same image, one more time. If I could have chosen my profession, I might have chosen to be a Medical Illustrator. The above image is not signed; and isn’t entirely original. I have ‘adopted’ and altered portions from unsigned illustrations found on Google. Much of it is my own.

Blind Spots. The importance is somewhere other than the idea in front of us. Our brain ‘hides’ the blind spots in our vision; our brain also hides the blind spots in our thinking.

My goal in life, in all the different ways that I interact with chronos-life is to help people catch a glimpse of Kairos-life; and possibly encourage people to see ‘with new eyes’. We live two lives—the one you and I are reading this in; and the world of Eternity. The Creator lives in Eternity, without the hindrance of Time. The English language is deficient, in that there is only one word for ‘time’—in Greek, there are two words for time—chronos—clock time; and Kairos—Eternal time. ‘Eternal’ does not mean, ‘a really long time.’ Eternal means existence outside of Time. In the time-controlled-to-an-incredible-degree 21st Century, the concept of ‘life outside of time’ falls into the realm of science fiction. I wrote more on this subject in my previous post. I believe we were created to live Eternally; just not all in this place.

I am a man of Faith; I also believe in science. Headlines and social media rhetoric to the contrary, these two aspects of life are not contradictory. I believe that the Laws of Physics, Time, and Space didn’t just ‘happen’. The Laws of the Universe are Laws, not because Science says they are Laws—ideas proven by repetition; they are Laws because they are products of the Creator of the entire Universe. It is merely lack of imagination that attributes these Laws to ‘Nature’ instead of attribution to a Creator. Quantum Physics was understood by the ancient Hebrew scholars, who also recognized the scientific contributions of the Greek philosophers. They used a different vocabulary, but the information is there. The Bible was never intended to be a physics text. The Bible is the story of the Hebrew people, who provided the foundation for the Creator’s entrance into Time and Space in the form of a single cell, planted into the womb of a teenager. Human history is centered on that single cell. Most of human history has been oblivious to that single cell; ‘oblivious’ does not mean, ‘mistaken’. It usually means, ‘too busy’.

I learned, a long time ago, that my brain works along pathways that many others don’t. Not ‘better’—simply different. I fail to understand the ideas most people have, and the things most people do. This notion is possibly best stated in the concept of ‘clubbing’. I don’t know why people dance, I don’t know why people get drunk. I’m not offended by either idea; I am simply incompetent in these activities, and they don’t make any sense for me. This morning in church I realized that while I can recognize harmony, I have no idea how it is created vocally. “Competence” is what drives me; “incompetence” is among my FEARs. False Evidence Appearing Real.

I don’t try to ‘convert’ people to my way of thinking; to try to ‘convert’ someone implies that I know more about someone else’s life than they do. Another example of my incompetence. HPtFtU. The Human Propensity to F*ck things Up [the asterisk is for those who may be reading these words; I don’t particularly care]. The word has a strange history. The World has a strange history. I’ve been intentionally interacting with an old guy, nearly every week for almost four years; in some ways, I probably know things about this guy that his children aren’t aware of. However, he’s in his 80s; what I know is a small sampling. While I can see patterns from his past, he can’t see them. His relationship with his family is contentious. And there are nearly 80 years of his life that I haven’t seen first-hand. All I hear is his side of the stories.

We live in a society that categorizes life to an incredible degree. If we can categorize someone, we don’t need to think about them anymore. This is probably why people don’t listen; truly listening to someone—not waiting for your turn to talk—is one of the most powerful therapeutic tools that we all have at our disposal. If we made the effort to listen, we might solve some of the issues that face us. ‘We don’t have time’ to listen. ‘We don’t have time’ to save the planet…

We also live in a time of moral crisis. Politicians have always lied. Some portion of the lying has been to protect sensitive information—we don’t need to know information regarding international negotiations at the time the negotiations are taking place.

Now we have Government Leaders who simply lie; when they get caught in a lie, they cover it up with a bigger lie. Our current President doesn’t even hide is ‘misdeeds’—he does them in public all the time. He seems to believe that he is the CEO of Trump America, rather than President of the United States of America; a country bound by the Constitution of the United States. In the days before declaring a National Emergency that does not exist on Friday, February 15th, he tried to coerce the Tennessee Valley Authority into funneling money to one of his large contributors…

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/times/

Rachel Maddow asks a very important question:

“Yes, this is the story of just another destructive tributary of Presidential corruption that is flowing though U.S. government policy out of this White House. But it is also another element in this age of — sort of — moral bewilderment we’re now in as citizens. There’s no way to embarrass somebody [the President] if they’re happy to be seen in public selling the government for cash. And if you can’t embarrass or shame anybody about it and increasingly, you can’t shock anybody about, then what do you do with it? How do you stop specific government actions like this, if there is no shame from public officials doing it; but also, how do we once again become a country where that kind of thing would at least be a scandal?… If it doesn’t matter anymore, if we’re not surprised and nobody is embarrassed, how do we not just become that?”

Can we once again become a country whose leaders understand honor? If our leaders do not act honorably toward the citizens of the country, how can we expect the citizens themselves to act honorably toward each other?

Enough of that.

Humor: Still Life, with Sea Urchins

A correction to:

  • Illustration Tip #4:
    “As an editorial note regarding Windows:” this should have said “Word”.
  • Illustration Tip #5:

Provenance. Copyright. Publication. Pixilation.

Digital “Provenance”—the art world is always concerned about the ‘provenance’ of artistic works—who made it, who did it get sold to, how often did it get sold before it landed here; is there any external proof—sketches, etc. to establish a link between artist and seller?

I now create digital images as opposed to painted images; I publish these images on the Internet; I ALWAYS ASSUME that my internet-published work will be ‘adopted’ by someone. Even when I sign the work. I have a Physical Therapist who seems to have been born with an incredibly high set of ethics—she says she is incapable of lying, and I believe her—I was not born with that gift. I’ve ‘always’ [not, ‘since birth’] believed Ethics are Situational.

Upon entering into Church Culture when I did, I could never understand the furor over “Situational Ethics” that was stirring in the 70s. However, I’ve never believed that the Creator has ink stains or granite dust on His Hands, from having created Tablets of Stone or original documents. The first use of graphite for drawing appears to be somewhere in the 1500’s A.D.; an entertaining description of a forerunner of the brush can be found here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pencil#Camel’s_hair_pencil

My suggestion is that if you are REALLY concerned about the ownership of your work, and the notion that you deserve to get paid for every hour you work, DO NOT publish your work in a reproducible fashion on the Internet. I know illustrators who invest a lot of energy into the subject of Copyright. I’m not one of those guys.

ALWAYS use a resolution of 72dpi [dots per inch] for images published on the Internet. 72dpi images will pixilate when printed.  If you do not know how to reduce the size of your images, it would an excellent thing for you to learn. Images that are published on the Internet will get copied by someone, at some time. It’s unavoidable. I’m a prime example. I download images from the Internet all they time; I use these downloaded images instead of hiring models. Hiring models requires the paying of models, which requires more money than I’ve been able to earn in my 20 years of work as a commercial artist. I earn enough to pay bills. I download high-resolution images, digitally cut them into pieces, and create a new ‘photo’ of something that does not exist. From that ‘photo’ I create new illustrations.

For what it’s worth, Norman Rockwell used a similar technique, using an opaque projector to project an image onto a canvas; which he then traced. Rockwell, however, hired models and a photographer. It’s possible that Johannes Vermeer used a similar technique with a camera obscura; many of Vermeer’s paintings have a photographic quality to them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim%27s_Vermeer

I only aspire to be in the same category as Rockwell and Vermeer. It will never happen. There was a time, when I could still paint, that I thought some sort of miracle might happen. I’ve resigned myself to simply being a commercial artist who specializes in digital images.

 

 

 

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

February 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Enough of that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 178: Abstraction

January 12, 2019
Nebula NGC 3627

ANY TIME that a human being writes something that is intended to somehow describe the nature of God, that human being is using an abstraction. The problem with many religious people is that they really have no idea what an abstraction is.
Abstraction, the cognitive process of isolating, or “abstracting,” a common feature or relationship observed in a number of things, or the product of such a process.

The term abstract is sometimes used to refer to things that are not located in space or time; in this sense, numbers, properties, sets, propositions, and even facts can be said to be abstract, whereas individual physical objects and events are concrete. The capacity for making and employing abstractions is considered to be essential to higher cognitive functions, such as forming judgments, learning from experience, and making inferences.
https://www.britannica.com/science/abstraction

This lack of understanding is the reason I refer to the Creator, rather than ‘God’—when people use the ‘God’ word, I really have no idea what they actually mean. The Creator is not located in Space or Time. I don’t even think the Creator is corporeal in any sense that a human can understand. Humans are trapped in Space and Time; nearly everything we know is concrete—things we can understand or experience directly; experiences that involve the five senses. There are some common experiences that go beyond the concrete—Love being a primary example. No one knows what Love looks like until they experience it. A baby begins to experience Love while in the womb; the bond between a mother and their unborn offspring [Love seems to exist beyond the human].
This Love becomes tangible at birth; or not. Not every child experiences Love. One of the saddest creatures on earth is the child who has never known Love. People who are Pro-Birth tend to forget this; not every child is born into a loving environment; not every child is adopted into a loving environment; not every child experiences Love in her or his life. While possibilities always exist, being born is no guarantee that a positive outcome will occur. People talk about being Pro-Life; I am of the opinion that if people were really concerned about the life of a child, they would show a greater concern about solving the societal ills that end up forcing a girl to deny her baby’s life. I walk through a cemetery almost every weekday; there are portions of the cemetery that are set aside for those who die early in life. Clearly one can see that even in death, the remembrance of the child is filled with Love. The Book of Ecclesiastes touches upon this notion.

In my last post, I raised the idea that I was going to write about my life. To fully understand me, one needs to understand the idea that I believe in the Creator; that everything in my life stems from my relationship with my Creator. This relationship extends from the most inane aspects of my life to the most far-reaching ideas of my life. This hasn’t always been true; I was raised as an atheist. Even that phrase is inaccurate; the Creator, in whatever form that concept is used, was absent from my early life. While I heard the word, ‘god,’ this word had no real meaning for me. Even less meaning than Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I was in my twenties when I first began to understand the Creator.
I really don’t care what you believe; my intention in life is not about convincing others as to what they should believe. My goal is to share possibilities.

One, I don’t believe that we are supposed to be uniform in our understanding of the world we live in; two, as the BBC’s Sherlock describes himself, I am a ‘high-functioning sociopath’. More academic descriptions, such as INTJ [if you are aware of Myers-Briggs] appeal to my wife. My ‘natural’ self really doesn’t like people very much; that self that I have been working on for forty-plus of my sixty-six years is more open to people. My digital self is more personable than my physical self.

I am a follower of Jesus. The Creator of the entire Universe created a single cell and implanted that cell into the womb of a teenage girl named Mary. Mary [Miriam in Hebrew] was a 1st-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran. The Creator entered Time and Space as Jesus so that humans could have a more concrete idea of the nature of the Creator
I don’t ascribe to a particular denomination of Christendom; at the same time, I’ve missed very few Sundays in church, during these forty-plus years. “Church,” I find, is one place where I can converse with other humans about the Creator. Generally speaking, if I comment about the Creator on social media, I find a lot of hostility. I have little room in my physical life for hostility—one of the reasons I vent about our government so much—it was never intended to be functioning so ineptly—the venting helps me to be the person I want to be; rather than that other guy.
My digital self is far more open to interaction with other humans.

I am in pain all the time. This situation began in high school. Pain is an indisputable fact of my life that, like my belief system, can’t be separated from the rest of my life; however, I do not like to define my life by my limitations. I prefer possibilities…

Enough of that.

An early sketch, pre-1970

I began drawing in the seventh grade, or something like that. I was bored, spending another weekend at my grandmother’s, in Condon, Oregon. Condon was small then; I think it may be smaller now. My grandmother had an old refrigerator box sitting on her porch, filled with magazines. In my boredom, I began copying photos from magazines. I had some talent.
In high school, pursuing the drafting proficiency I began in my elementary school shop classes, I was introduced to Technical Illustration and found the occupation that I thought I would pursue all of my life. It didn’t exactly work that way. In college I found out that it’s really important to plan one’s life. The college I chose did not offer Technical Illustration; that college was the only one I considered, because my cousin was going there. See all of the words above Spock. There, my choices were architecture and art. “Starving Artist” seemed to be a poor choice for an academic career. I didn’t want to draw houses [limited imagination], but I selected architecture anyway. Of course, the college I was attending didn’t really have an Architecture program. It took me two years to understand that; and I transferred to the State University that offered an Architecture program. After five years of college, I had a degree in Architecture. I had no desire to be an architect. I still didn’t want to draw houses [intentionally-limited imagination]. If one likes to draw, an Architecture major is a good choice.
Years later, in my third career, I began working as an Illustrator and Building Code consultant [the occupation that has allowed my wife and I to eat, for the last twenty-one years].

  • Illustration Tip #1: find a career that will provide you with an income while you begin your illustration career. The reality is that if you can’t juggle two occupations at the same time, you won’t likely survive as a commercial artist. The ‘day job’ won’t feed your soul, but if you don’t feed your body, you won’t be able to pursue a career that feeds your soul…

Further Tips in the future.
Watch this space.









Chronicles in Ordinary Time 177: I’m tired of this [expletive deleted].

January 6, 2019
Canticle of the Sea [Wooden Boat]

Moving Forward.
This is what ‘New Years’ should be about.

New Years come with promise; sadly, there is so much HPtFtU [Human Propensity to F*ck things Up] in our world that by this time, 365 days from now, we will probably be thinking about the year just past, and all its disappointments. We are better at remembering disappointments than we are at remembering hope. Remembering hope is hard.
Perhaps we will be able to look back and see that this was the year that we started growing up. “We” means nearly everyone on the planet; “growing up” means taking responsibility for our actions. Humans dislike taking responsibility for our actions.
The idyllic scene above is becoming more impossible each day. We are destroying the oceans, and the creatures who call the ocean their home.

Growing up when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I lived with what seemed like a mythic image of the “Greatest Generation”. A friend of mine, in his eighties, gets annoyed with the junk mail he receives about the “Greatest Generation” and how the message is about the soldiers who fought. In reality, the “Greatest Generation” was the civilian population of the Allied powers who endured years of rationing and simple ‘going without’ so that soldiers had the resources to fight. In America, the majority of major factories became dedicated to producing the machinery of the war effort. Very few new cars were built in America during World War II. When paid-up orders for new cars reached a certain level, the factories would stop making airplanes, and went back to making cars for a short time. When those orders were filled, the factories would return to the War Effort. People had ration books that enabled them to buy the hardest things to purchase in wartime—gasoline, meat, eggs, milk, dairy products. If one used up all their gasoline allotment before the new ration books were produced, one simply walked, or rode bicycles. The car stayed idle, in the garage.
The governments of the world have not yet internalized the extent of our Climate Change problem; they have not yet realized that a worldwide ‘war effort’ will be needed in order for the human population to be sustained on the earth. World War III may be fought against ourselves. People will have to start doing without, in order for us to stop the worsening effects of Climate Change. Modern people don’t like doing without. We in urban America live in a world dedicated to convenience and immediacy.


One of my favorite images of this last week:

I’m not a particularly a big fan of Nancy Pelosi. I wasn’t paying much attention to her activity during the ‘W’ years, and the first years of the Obama Administration. However, she is the only woman, ever, to be elected Speaker of the House. She is also the only woman to have achieved this distinction, twice. This counts for something.

I enjoy the above image because I have a granddaughter, a teenager who will be able to vote in her first election in 2020. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, surrounded by all the children present in the House Chamber that day, her own grandchildren, and the children of the new Members of the House being sworn-in this week. She dedicated her swearing-in to the children of America. The children of today, across the world, are likely the last hope of keeping our planet safe for human existence. As long as we adults get off of our complacency and stop making the situation worse.

A collection of photos of the ‘Democrat’s Class of 2019’ looks like a cross-section of America. A cross-section of the Republican House looks like a bunch of old white men. I am an old white man, and I am tired and outraged at the Legislative Branch’s decision to not-govern during the first two years of the current Administration.

There is a disease spreading across our country. It isn’t a new disease, it’s a disease as old as mankind: HPtFtU. However, there used to be a semblance of resistance to this disease—only ‘bad’ people treated other people like dirt. It wasn’t true, but it acted as a barrier. Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, if you were white, and growing up in Portland at the same time as I, there was a cultural stigma of ‘being bad’ that was to be avoided. Stealing, swearing, sex before marriage, underage drinking and others, were things to be avoided because the penalty just wasn’t worth the short-term benefits that could be imagined. At least, that’s how it was in the world of my family and in my schools.

The world I grew up in no longer seems to exist in urban America. Maybe it still exists in rural America—I’m not there.

The only reason the President of the United States of America is not in prison is the nature of his job. He is an Unindicted Co-Conspirator on multiple felony charges. His Indicted Co-Conspirator, his former attorney, is looking at three years of Federal Prison time. He got off easy, because he ‘cooperated’ with the Special Prosecutor in the Mueller Investigation.

The President of the United States of America is an Unindicted Co-Conspirator on multiple felony charges. Just let this sink in for a moment of historical time.
Nixon was never charged with a crime. He was pardoned without having anything proven. He was shown the information collected against him, and he resigned, with nothing proven. He had tapes of everything that happened in the Oval Office.

The current President of the United States is under at least a dozen State and Federal criminal investigations. His Charitable Foundation was dissolved by the State of New York for having made only one $7.00 charitable contribution to the Boy Scouts—for Barron’s joining; the rest of the time, he used the millions of dollars in his Foundation as a checkbook. The State of New York is pursuing a lawsuit against the Trump Corporation. In the meantime, the President is banned from serving on any New York Foundation for ten years; as are his children. The President who ‘is proud to shut down the government for border security’ has been found out to have regularly hired undocumented immigrant workers at his resorts—the names of the employees lacking documentation were removed from the computer systems, to avoid Secret Service scrutiny.

This is the man leading our country; the man who represents our country to the world. The man who has single-handedly, with his ‘America-First’ Doctrine, cost our country its respect across the world. The world now knows that the United States cannot be counted on to preserve justice in the world

I’m tired of this.
I also realize that my being tired of this doesn’t change the world.
I also realize that there are millions of people in this country who also are tired of this.

A friend of mine suggested that I am contributing to the divisiveness in the country, by the nature of what I share on Social Media. Therefore, I’m changing the nature of this blog

I applied for a Grant once, to provide external funding to enable me to spend more time illustrating, and less time being a “Code Guy”—it pays much better, but I’m tired of dealing with the government. I have been tired of working with and for the government, since the 80s. The Grant application wasn’t approved; one of the comments made by someone on the committee was that, as my application was being read, people ‘lit up’ when I was talking about my story, rather than the Sherlock Holmes story I’m creating.
I don’t often share my story; to me, it doesn’t seem helpful, because it really isn’t duplicatable. I may be mistaken. I’ve battled chronic pain for 40 years; I’ve battled addiction. I haven’t won, and I’m still ‘losing’—physically. I’m stronger, emotionally. Maybe it’s time to share…

Watch this space.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 176: Xmas in America, Part II

December 23, 2018
A Christmas gift from NASA, RS Puppis:
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed the variable star RS Puppis over a period of five weeks, showing the star growing brighter and dimmer as it pulsates. These pulsations have created a stunning example of a phenomenon known as a light echo, where light appears to reverberate through the murky environment around the star. RS Puppis is over ten times more massive than our Sun, and around 15,000 times more luminous. It lies around 6500 light-years away from us.

I spend a lot of time following the news; current events via MSNBC and the dozens of commentators and experts available to them. Frequently former Cabinet members, Ambassadors, and Military officers that have served previous Administrations.

People are stunned; and do not know how to react.

A Global temper tantrum.
Shutting down the Government on the weekend before Christmas…

It shouldn’t surprise me; it’s about par for this course. A President currently under 17 Criminal investigations with a Cabinet of corrupt officials.

A President who is probably acting a lot like King Herod, using a metaphor from this time of year. Instead of killing the children they are still being stolen from their parents; and they still haven’t been returned. Stolen children are being held in a DHS facility near my house; I pray for these children every time I drive by. What a lot of people do not understand is that the parents of these children have no idea where their children are. In recent weeks it has been discovered that if children are finally allowed to return to their families, they may not even recognize their parents, and may no longer be able to speak Spanish, or whatever dialect their family speaks.

A President who loudly spoke from the Oval Office, to the cameras, that he would proudly shut down the Government for the sake of Border Security, who now blames the shutdown on the Democrats…

A Gofundme site is raising money to help build the Wall. The Wall that supposedly was going to be funded by the Mexican Government.

A counter Gofundme site is now raising money to buy ladders.

And still, the Light of the World shines in the darkness. It takes work to remember this, sometimes.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 175: Xmas in America

December 16, 2018

It appears that we are in that time when the season of Christmas in America lasts for a solid month, beginning with Thanksgiving. One thing I find interesting is that in the Catholic Church [I’m not], the Season of Advent begins December 2nd, and the Season of Christmas begins on Christmas Day. No Christmas carols before Christmas. Advent music, yes; Christmas carols, no.
When I worked for the City of Portland, I took my lunch to an atrium on the 5thfloor of a nearby office building, and often listened to KBVM, the local Catholic radio station. On KVBM I could listen to peace-restoring music that WASN’T Christmas songs. Advent, the time of waiting for the Savior to appear, precedes Christmas. For me, Advent is largely all year.

Those who know me well [a relatively small number], know that I really dislike this time of year. The celebration of Christmas is ostensibly about the Creator entering Time and Space in the form of a single cell embedded into the womb of a teen-aged girl, the first InVitro Fertilization in history; in America, the celebration instead glorifies the Having of Stuff, More Stuff, and Stuff you don’t want, but it was on sale…

Consequently, I find this image incredibly appropriate to this Season in America:

Mary, Joseph and the young child Jesus, left Bethlehem and traveled to Egypt [without papers] in order to protect Jesus from Death by Roman Soldier, in what artists have called The Slaughter of the Innocents. King Herod, fearing his being supplanted by the foretold ‘King of the Jews’, prophesied by the Magi who visited him, ordered the murder of every child in the land that was under the age of two years.

Our own Autocrat wants the children stolen from their parents at the border and placed in Foster Care for the rest of their childhood. Our Autocrat readily admits that the idea is to make emigrating to America completely undesirable.“America is closed” for immigration business…

My take on a not-original idea that floated around Fb recently:

Are We There Yet–Mary and Joseph At the Southern Border

My forebears arrived by boat, from Scandinavia. My Mom became an American citizen when she married my Dad.
Too few Americans are aware that the notions held by our current President regarding immigration do not match the provisions of our Constitution. It is not illegal to enter our country at someplace other than an Immigration station. It is not illegal to enter our country without a Visa or even a Passport. Our Constitution guarantees the right of refugees to enter our country from anywhere on our borders, in order to seek asylum. It is merely inconvenient for thousands of immigrants to seek asylum en masse at one location.

Soul Nebula in Infrared from Herschel
The little-known nebula IRAS 05437+2502 an Enigmatic Cloud
Madonna with Protective Cloak
The image of the Madonna of Mercy first emerged in a collection of saints’ lives written in the 1230s by the Cistercian hagiographer Caesarius of Heisterback. Marian devotion was starting to include the idea that Jesus’ mother shared some of her son’s powers to protect and even redeem sinners. Caesarius wrote dozens of tales about Mary protecting priests, nuns and monks from thunderstorms and devilish temptation, and then closed the collection with a Cistercian monk’s vision of the Virgin Mary surrounded by many high clerics. the monk was disturbed when he could see no Cistercians, but when she was asked why, she threw open her cloak to reveal a host of Cistercians in a privileged place under her mantle. This proved an extraordinary compelling image, and clergy in particular competed for that favoured place under the Virgin’s protective cloak. Many late frescoes and paintings show Franciscan and Dominican nuns or friars under the mantle…
The Misericordia [Mercy] image spread rapidly through the fourteenth century, when plagues like the Black Death in 1348 drove Christians to seek shelter under Mary’s cloak. By the end of the century, recurring plagues, a widening split in the church, and growing fears of the devil’s work on earth made many fear that final Judgement Day was coming.
Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World: An Alternative History of the Reformation
Nicholas Terpstra

On this Third Sunday in Advent, I read the following headlines and summaries:

Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under criminal investigation.
The Atlantic reported last week that the Trump administration is renewing its early efforts to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades — many of them having fled the country while at risk of becoming political prisoners during the Vietnam War.
7-year-old immigrant girl dies after Border Patrol arrest. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox had criticized Trump for the death of a seven-year-old migrant girl and for his handling of the migrant caravan.
More than three years into Yemen’s civil war, more than 16,000 civilians have been killed and injured, the vast majority by airstrikes, the U.N. human rights office estimates, adding that the figures are likely to be far higher…the United States is playing an essential role in the war, supporting the coalition with intelligence, refueling, technical assistance and billions of dollars in bombs and other weaponry…Despite the concern, President Trump announced $110 billion in new arms sales last year to the kingdom, weapons that most analysts expect will be used in Yemen.U.S.-made munitions, including banned cluster bombs and Paveway bombs, have been used in attacks that have killed and injured civilians.
Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is considered the worst in the world. With more than 3 million people displaced by war, and with the economy besieged and in ruins, the United Nations says the risk of famine could imperil 22 million people – about three-quarters of the population.
At least 1 million Yemenis have contracted cholera in the largest outbreak of the disease in history and pose a threat of an international epidemic.

I especially find the legend of Santa Claus, center-stage of everything Xmas in America, to be especially inappropriate this year. Before you complain about how children need the Christmas story, think about 22 Million Yemeni children,women and men dying from famine or cholera.

The US Senate has voted to stop funding the Arab war against Yemen. The Speaker of the House refused to allow the legislation to be presented to the House of Representatives; and it is likely that the President would veto the legislation—he’s a big fan of the $110 Billion arms sale. He does a lot of business with the Saudi government.

While I do not consider Mary to be the Third Person of the Trinity, I do, in my illustrator-brain, think of Mary as a vehicle for the work of the Spirit of the Creator. The Greek word used to speak of the Spirit of the Creator is a feminine noun.

Our broken world needs the Protective Cloak of the Madonna.



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