Archive for the ‘careers’ Category

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 116: America no longer aspires to be a selfless nation

February 12, 2017

garden gethsemane rev2Malchus’ Legion/Garden of Gethsemane

One of the ironies of the above image is the confused look on Peter’s face [yeah, the dark-skinned guy on the right; the fisherman who is out in his boat each day]. Jesus told him to bring a sword with him as they went to the Garden, where Jesus was about to be arrested. Apparently, Jesus was preparing an ‘object lesson’ because after Peter lops off the ear of a servant, Jesus warned Peter—Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Perhaps an object lesson for us…

I wrote my last blog in anger. I don’t think I would retract any of the ideas that I wrote, but I was angry when I wrote it. I don’t want to live my life in anger; and yet, because of all the turmoil going on in our country, I find myself angry all the time.

I grew up an atheist [my beloved Grandmother called us Heathens; and yet made Cinnamon Toast for me nearly every day as I stopped at her house on my way back from school]. I wasn’t sure what Heathen meant, but it didn’t sound like a good thing. But my Grandmother fed this Heathen cinnamon toast. I’ve never been able to duplicate her version of the treat.

My parents’ ‘church’ was the American Legion. I grew up going to American Legion meetings regularly; I think it was mostly because my parents didn’t have money for babysitters; maybe it’s what parents did 60 years ago… When we had the Memorial Service for my Mom, who basically had three stages in her life—PTA when I was young; the Legion and her work as a volunteer at the VA Hospital; and her life at the Condominium after my Dad’s death—I was reintroduced to Legion people I knew as a child, when I was in my early fifties: “You’re the kid who slept on the steel folding chairs…”

My understanding of life in America is that we aspire to be ‘selfless people’—we dedicate our lives to the assistance of others. That’s what World War II was about—if one overlooks the Internment Camps [Concentration Camps] like Manzanar. Over 120,000 American citizens, born in the United States were sent to Concentration Camps simply because their ancestors were Japanese. Nearly all of their possessions—their houses, their furnishings, their land—were confiscated. “Japanese truck farmers, he said, produced crops valued at 40 million dollars annually and interned Japanese “stand to lose approximately 100 million dollars in investments” because of confiscation or forced sale by the U.S. Government”  http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist9/harvest.html

“The Government found itself in possession of seized properties whose value may run to $5,000,000,000 or more. The total has never been tabulated.” http://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2016-12-05/from-the-archives-government-seizes-firms-puts-axis-citizens-in-concentration-camps

…And the entire histories of the First Peoples and the African-Americans in the US. Portland was a mostly-white town when I was growing up; I never had a real conversation with an African-American until my 4th year of college.

Our national legend is that we aspire to be a selfless people. We have this big statue in New York Harbor that is a monument to the legend. As a person of Faith, I can say that the majority of the people of Faith [I’m not talking about religion] aspire to be selfless people. We fail. This is one of the many reasons we need Grace.

Because the new Administration is demonstrating so vividly that America no longer aspires to be a selfless nation, I am very angry. What angers me even more is when people of Faith share the mistaken belief that we are in danger from refugees and immigrants, and therefore want to bar them from entrance into this country of immigrants. The only non-immigrants in the news these days are at Standing Rock, and other Reservations; being threatened by a government that has done nothing but lie to them from the beginning.

The number of terrorist attacks in America by refugees and immigrants: 0%

The number of terrorist attacks in America by home-grown American citizens: nearly 100%

The events of 9/11 were perpetrated by foreign nationals from countries that are not included in President45’s Travel Ban.

I’ve never been overly ‘impressed’ with many religious aspects of the Christian faith. I grew up believing in science. Today I study theology more than I study the Bible [probably the explanation of my Progressive Liberal ‘problem’—in some eyes]. I study theology, not because it is more ‘true’ than Scripture, but because theologians often try to frame the truth of Scripture within human experience.

My experiences/encounters with God have never been as dramatic as a burning bush [Moses]; being knocked off my horse and blinded [Paul]; or being swallowed by a big fish [Jonah]. My experiences with the Creator have been dramatic enough for me to say, ‘Marty, pay attention—there is something going on here that is outside your experience.’ I have encountered the Creator—haven’t heard voices, haven’t seen images, and rarely experience these encounters in the presence of others. A guy who represented the other end of the Spiritual continuum once came to my dorm room. When these odd and infrequent events occur, I become aware that a ‘door’ has been opened into another ‘world,’ for lack of a better term; a world that I do not understand.

When we humans try to connect the Creator with human experience, we are mistaken; it is the Creator who does the connection—the Creator connected human experience in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the human face of the Creator; however, the Creator is as far beyond our understanding as we are from whales; perhaps as far as we are from the squiggly things crawling under rocks in our gardens. It is our human need to ‘exalt’ ourselves that causes us to equate ourselves with the Creator of the Universe. Scripture describes us as ‘a little lower than the angels’—we assume this is high praise. The point of the Book of Job [one of the oldest books in Scripture] is how small we are. The Creator speaks to Job at the climax of the Book, and points out how little of the Universe Job understands. The fact that physics can now demonstrate that a Creator is not needed for the Universe to function does not mean that a Creator does not exist. It simply means that the Universe is so well-functioning [barring human interference] that it doesn’t need constant maintenance in order for it to function. There are oddities in Creation that make such an assertion seem doubtful.

The real question is whether or not we want to open ourselves to the idea that we are not self-sufficient. When I’m honest with myself, I realize that I am not adequate to keep my car running well; thankfully, cars are so well-made that their need for my attention is relatively small. From my perspective. My mechanic may have a different opinion.

Because MY experience is exactly that—MY experience—I cannot download my experience into someone else’s brain. Another reason why I like the ‘magical thinking’ of Star Trek. I want my doctor to be ‘Doctor McCoy’; and I want ‘Vulcan mind-melding’ to be possible. Sadly, I am ‘marooned’ here in the 21st Century.

FDR said it best—the only thing we need to fear is fear, itself.

We, as a country, are feeding ourselves on a diet of Fear. We are what we eat.

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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 115: I’m sorry I’m interrupting your puppies and kittens and desserts…

January 28, 2017

…No, I’m not. I’m sorry for your ignorance.

declaration_cover-lgCover Image: The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

You grew up thinking that your life was about you. I did the same thing. This is the way our country works—teaching us that what’s important is us. When we think that the important part of this country is our self, those who actually run this country—the 1%—never have to worry about entering the 2%.

Your life was never about you.

Your life is about your relationships with others. Your lack of understanding of this truth is what causes all of your problems.

Some of those reading these words have a serious problem with those who are marching; they believe that somehow these protests demean the country.

If one reads the Declaration of Independence, one can striking parallels between the Declaration and the Executive Orders of Donald Trump in his first week in office. Our Founding Fathers, whether or not they considered women and people of color as “men” this meaning has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. Our Founding Fathers found that the harsh circumstances in which they lived under King George were cause to dissolve their union with Great Britain:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…
The history of the present [one-week history of the President] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has
[“will”, because on March 16, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. Defying their Constitutional authority, the Senate refused to hold a hearing or vote on this nomination made during the last year of Obama’s presidency, insisting that the newly elected president should fill the vacancy, nearly a year later] made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
[the Mexican Wall and the proposed 25% sales tax on Mexican imports:

 And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

And then they went to War, instead of staging protest marches.

So far, the protesters, following the Worldwide Women’s March on Washington—one week ago—stand in lines, or march, chanting and holding signs. Today they are in airports; protesting Trump’s ban on arrivals from the Middle East. In Dan Rather’s words:
For generations, we have been an imperfect but vital beacon of freedom to a world too often wandering and failing in moral confusion. But that ultimate strength has dimmed considerably in light of the recent actions on immigration from the new President Donald Trump. We are turning around desperate refugees. We are singling out men, women, and children on the basis of their faith – and we are doing all of this with a randomness and capriciousness that defies reason.
“A colleague of mine used the term “heartless” to describe so much of the President’s executive actions. Sadly, I found it an apt and dispiriting diagnosis—especially when faced with the results of his executive order on immigration. For over the years, I have seen that our greatest American leaders extol empathy rather than condemnation. They have known that in a complicated world, it is best to make policy choices with a scalpel – not a hacksaw. Sometimes, when our national security is threatened at the level of World War II, all-out conflict is the only recourse. But those instances are by far the exception.”

Thankfully a Federal Judge has just ruled that Trump’s Ban on Muslims is unconstitutional [http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/muslim-ban-federal-court].

I’m sorry if your Facebook feed isn’t full of pleasant thoughts and images that make you feel warm and comforted.

It’s a harsh world now, and our President and his ‘Cabinet of the 1%’ have no investment in solving the problem; their investments, literally, are in making the problems worse. A dependence on coal and fossil fuels and a denial of research in alternative means of energy production. Ties to foreign governments. The Conflicts of Interest among Trump and his proposed Cabinet defy imagination.

I am an Immigrant Son—First Generation American on my Mother’s side of my family heritage. My Grandparents and family came here from Norway, when the 20th Century was young.
My paternal grandmother and her siblings were First Generation Americans from Swedish immigrants. My paternal grandfather and his family crossed America by land, their ancestors having come from England and Wales.

By no choice of my own, I come from Northern European stock. So when my grandfather and my father joined the US Army in World War II, the women they left behind weren’t sent to “Internment Centers” [aka Concentration Camps] because they weren’t Japanese. They did not have to give up their homes and belongings because of the color of the skin, and the Creator-given design of their eyes.

There were no German Concentration Camps on American soil. Hard to tell a German by sight.

However, it’s less hard to spot a Native American; their Concentration Camps are called “Reservation”. American treaties with First Peoples were broken as soon as the ink was dry on the impressive parchment. There was a 1% then, too. They were intent on stealing land from the people who had lived on that land for Centuries.

fallen-liberty

 

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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 114: Like a Mountain, an Anthem for Peace

January 15, 2017

llike-a-mountain-1llike-a-mountain-2
While I have long been inspired by Civil Rights Activism, I’ve never really been actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Never had the nerve, I suppose; as well as not being particularly fond of being around people. Persons, I like; people, not so much. I didn’t join the Vietnam War protests when I was in college—I was taught that Rebellion was not permitted in my family.

In 2008, when the US invaded Iraq, I was tempted to join the marchers in Portland; again, I didn’t find the nerve.

It’s taken 40+ years, but I’ve finally become involved. The coming President and his Cabinet have me bothered enough to care about people I don’t know. I know there are believers who have been able to look past the failings of the President-Elect to make a choice regarding political priorities. I can’t. The man’s actions, behavior, bluster and juvenile behavior [Twittering] are totally beyond that expected of the ‘leader of the free world’. His threats to people of color, to immigrants, to those who view marriage and ‘intimate behavior’ in a manner not accustomed to in our country’s history, endanger First Amendment freedoms, and the other freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights. These threats contradict everything I learned about Citizenship, growing up in the ‘American Legion’ family that mine was.

This last week, despite the snowstorm and ice that once again invaded Portland, I’ve joined Activists who protested when I was in college; and Activists who have found their voice in the years that I have missed… Including the son of one of my heroes, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. I’ve followed Noel Paul’s career more closely and once wrote him in request that he sing “Wedding Song” at a friend’s wedding. Noel replied that he’d written the song for Peter and his wife; and that he had no plans for singing it at any other weddings. Christopher Yarrow was among the 60+ performers as this chorus was being videotaped yesterday; this video will be combined with the incredible vocal stylings of Marilyn T. Keller and several vocalists, singing a Darrell Grant’s new arrangement of the song originally penned by Naomi Little Bear Morena. This video will be published digitally, on the day before Inauguration Day. Tonight a repeat performance of Like a Mountain, with chorus members who assembled yesterday, will occur at Augustana Lutheran Church’s weekly Gospel/Jazz service.

There are people who are of the opinion that those of us who are protesting the election are simply unwilling to accept the election of the President-Elect instead of Secretary Clinton; nothing could be further from the truth [I voted for Bernie]. Secretary Clinton won nearly 3 million votes more than Trump. A fact that is overcome by the voting of the Electoral College. The problem is that Donald Trump appears to be incapable of telling the Truth, and incapable of having an adult conversation with members of the press. He’s flaunting the delicate relations with world leaders, and to all appearances, intending to line his own pockets through his ownership of the Trump real estate empire.

Of the eligible voters in the 2016 Presidential election, 46% chose not to vote. In reality, something like 70% OF THE ELIGIBLE VOTERS DID NOT VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP. The 46% have reasons for not voting that I do not understand. My understanding is that some simply could not stomach a vote for either Trump or Clinton; and they were unwilling to vote for the other candidates. The 46% have no reason to complain during the next 4 years; they did nothing to stop the Trump bid for Empire.

There are many who raising their voices.

llike-a-mountain-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 114: Being Better Americans

January 2, 2017

fallen-libertyFor months I’ve been saying that if Donald Trump becomes President, we should tear down the Statue of Liberty and send it back to France. One person I mentioned this to replied, “It’s just art.”

But is it ‘just art?’ The first view of America that thousands of immigrants is was the Statue of the Lady in the harbor. Whether or not this is an official icon of our country, the Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of freedom across the world. In less than three weeks, the significance of this image will be forever changed.

From the Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lorraine-devon-wilke/our-task-in-2017-be-bette_b_13913238.html

…while [we have] a tragic and dispiriting legacy of Election 2016, we are each and every one of us capable of transcending and resisting it. How?

By being better Americans than the incoming president:

  • By being better people, better leaders; better teachers, mentors, inspirers, and creators, embodying exactly the kind of people we want our children to be.
  • By being industry leaders and innovators who conduct business with respect, integrity, and unassailable ethics.
  • By opening our minds and hearts to learn and absorb new facts and verified truths — not propaganda, not biased misinformation — about people, cultures, ethnicities, religions, and orientations that are “different” and unfamiliar.
  • By extending the compassion and understanding garnered from the above to treat people better, to seek new ways to help, find effective steps toward tangible solutions.
  • By shaking off fixed notions about what sexism is, gaining greater understanding of how it pervades and influences; adjusting our thinking to realize and implement respectful, honorable, and gender-equality behaviors and attitudes towards women.
  • By teaching and exemplifying decorous, respectful, civil, and productive discussion skills, for both virtual and tangible conversation and debate. Trollism has had a deleterious effect on our culture and, unfortunately, the new president is the King of Trolls. Let’s change the trend and raise the bar.
  • By realizing that “politically correct” actually means being sensitive and aware of evolving culture, mores, ideas, and attitudes, and adjusting according. That rejecting the notion of “politically correct” is most often the tool of those who traffick in bigotry, hate, racism, sexism, trollism, and verbal abuse.
  • By understanding that loyalty and patriotism do not require blind acceptance of the words, actions, and policies of any one person, including the new president, nor do they preempt one’s right to free speech and civil liberty. They do, however, suggest one not aggrandize the dictator of an antagonistic foreign government over one’s own.
  • And, lastly, and in an umbrella overview: by acknowledging and staying vigilant to the new president’s long and growing list of negatives, using those as bullet-points of what not to be, do, and emulate. That almost makes it easy, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 113: Pay No Attention to the Man…

December 12, 2016

pay-no-attention“We wanna fix up our infrastructure bigly. That includes – and who’s better at that stuff than me? Believe me. Hey I don’t need your vote anymore, but I’m telling you I’ve very good at that. That’s right I don’t need your vote, can you imagine that? Four years, I’ll need your vote.”
Donald Trump, 12/11/2016

Approximately 59% of the eligible voters in the US chose to vote. Approximately 40% of the eligible voters chose to abstain. Of the voters who chose to vote, approximately 48% voted for Hillary Clinton; approximately 46% voted for Donald Trump.

Approximately 27% of the American voters sold the country to Donald Trump.

“He’ll shake things up”

“He’s going to run the country like a business”

Yeah. He’s going to run the country like a business. He’s going to run the country like HIS business; he’s not going to run the country like YOUR business. It appears, from the words of ‘The Great and Powerful Donald,” he now owns one of the world’s largest businesses, ‘Trump America’.

From what the talking heads have said, as they justify his selections for his cabinet, the primary quality they have is that they are “successful”.

Successful at what?

Successful at making money? Is that what being “successful” in America has come to mean?

The reality is that we don’t even know if ‘The Great and Powerful Donald” IS successful…We know that he has a lot of property with his name on it, property all over the world. But since we spent all of our energy focusing on Hillary’s email, we never really found out if Donald is even solvent. He has been afraid to show us his tax returns. Given his out-of-court settlement for his Trump University scam, and the cost of the election campaign, he might have run out of cash…until this last couple of weeks, when his business capital has expanded mightily, cashing in on “President-Elect”. Now that he’s been elected [in theory—the Electoral College has not voted yet; he has not won ANY Electoral Votes, they are merely committed to him], he has absolutely no reason to show us his financial records.

He apparently plans to charge the Secret Service a million dollars a year to protect him—the cost of renting a floor of Trump Tower, in New York, where he plans to do much of his business during his time in office. He only wants National Security Briefings once a week; does this mean he really only plans on being in the White House once a week?

His apparent selection for Secretary of State is a man who has serious financial ties to Russia—‘he knows all the players’. His proposed selection for the Environmental Protection Agency is a man who is committed to ‘de-regulating’ the EPA—meaning, getting rid of all of those pesky rules that prevent Corporate America from making a profit.

“Air pollution in India is so bad that it kills half a million people every year…”

The Washington Post, May, 2016

“New Delhi is the most polluted city on Earth right now…” CNN November 2016

“China tops WHO list for deadly outdoor air pollution…” The Guardian, September 2016

“Paris winter air pollution is worst in 10 years…” France 24, December 2016

Even if one is mind-boggled enough to doubt that “Climate Change” exists, such as people like Donald Trump, the reality is that the air in China, the air in India, the air in Paris…

IS OUR AIR.

There is only one AIR on planet Earth.

The polluted air of the other major land masses on Earth will soon find its way here. There is nowhere else for it to go. Particulates will pollute the ground we walk on. The Earth’s vegetation will convert the carbon dioxide to oxygen; but we are rapidly defoliating the Earth. The plants won’t scrub the toxins from the air; the heavier toxins will enter the ground or cover the buildings and the pavement, or land in the water.

When the 2017 EPA Director comes into office, what will happen to the DAPL; and the one victory for America’s First People in 200+ years of history?
What will happen when the Missouri River is polluted by petroleum? What will happen to the aquifer under the Dakotas, when it is polluted with petroleum?

We can’t drink petroleum. I guess we’ll have to buy water from Nestle’s…

There are dead places at the bottom of Earth’s oceans—places where nothing will live again. Sea life can’t drink petroleum, either.

Trump’s cabinet is being filled with people from Goldman Sachs—the very people Trump complained were Hillary’s allies.

It seems that 27% of the American voters chose to ignore the character of the man. We were told about his character; but his character apparently wasn’t as important as the claims he was making during his campaign. “Lock Her Up!” was a major claim; one he now says was ‘for show’. What other campaign ‘promises’ were simply for show?

I grew up in the fifties and sixties, being told that Character was the most important quality in being an American. When I came to Christ, I was told that Character is the most important quality of a follower of Jesus.

What happened?

 

 

 

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

November 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

What are we coming to as a nation?

What did the Greatest Generation fight a war for?

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

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

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

November 18, 2016

night-watcherThe Night Watcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we-dont-talk-about-2016

Chronicles of Ordinary Time 110 The Lamp Has Gone Out

November 9, 2016

liberty-falls
For months now, I’ve been saying that if tonight happened; the Statue should be broken down and returned to France. This is probably as close as I will ever see…

From Van Jones, CNN Commentator:

“People have talked about a miracle. I’m hearing about a nightmare,” Jones said. “It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, don’t be a bully. You tell your kids, don’t be a bigot. You tell your kids. do your homework and be prepared. Then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight. They’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of, how do I explain this to my children?”

“I have Muslim friends who texted him tonight to ask if they should leave the country, immigrants who are “terrified” of what might happen to them under President Trump.”

A friend of mine is being approached tonight by high school students who are afraid their parents will be deported. The same fear will need to be addressed by teachers in elementary schools tomorrow… The school district where my wife works has one of the most ethnically-diverse populations in the state.

I suppose that of the approximately 54% of the people who voted, the people who voted for Donald Trump, they might respond that those people don’t belong here anyway.

Their children were born on American soil. They are Americans. Potentially, the Foster Care programs across the country are going to be inundated with American orphans, who no longer have parents to look after them.

Did you think about that? Do you care?

 

I’ve known for most of my adult life, some 40 years, that my citizenship, even though I was born here, is in Another Country. Not the Scandinavian countries from where my ancestors mostly come; my citizenship is in a Country that doesn’t have borders, boundaries, taxes or armies [in spite of some songs to the contrary]. I have a King: the Creator of all life.

Consequently, I’ve never expected the world to follow the same rules that I follow, nor to have the same practices I have. For decades, I have followed the teachings of two Religious Extremists—their names are Jesus of Nazareth and Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. Dangerous Extremists who were killed for their beliefs. Millions of their followers have died for living in a way that the world finds dangerous—loving the underprivileged; loving the forgotten; loving the shunned. Loving the Stranger.

Emma Lazarus, the author of the poem above, was a Jew.

If the President-Elect keeps his campaign promises, it’s going to get really ugly for most of the population of this country—I’m counting the ones who didn’t think it important enough to vote…

One scholar I read about, someone I know nothing about, says that The Donald will be in jail within the next year; tax evasion, sexual assault, numerous other accusations. Maybe he thinks the Presidency will shield him from prosecution. If Congress cooperates, it will become true.

Wall Street, the supposed friends of the President-Elect has plummeted; foreign markets are following.

Those of you who voted for President-Elect Trump–Did you think about that? Do you care?

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 109_Is there room in our hearts for this?

October 30, 2016

REFORMATION DAY 2016

I’m not a big believer in coincidence.

I also cannot consider myself a Lutheran, having never followed all of the beliefs and the traditions of the Lutheran Church. I’ve never been Confirmed. However, I’ve served and worshipped among Lutherans for decades.

I was ordained as a Presbyterian Elder more than a decade ago; to my knowledge, I’ve never been un-ordained.

So I find it *interesting* that this matter has come to my heart and mind on Reformation Day.

A quotation presented by the Institute on Religion and Public Life:

“…Therefore, it seems fitting that we, Lutherans, make our own mea culpa. It seems fitting that we confess our sins associated with the Reformation and, especially, our continued unkindness toward our brothers and sisters of other theological traditions. It seems fitting that we, once again, make Jesus’ prayer our own, not only in word, but also in deed “ ut unum sint .”  (Latin: ‘That they may be one’)

Joshua Genig, pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Atlanta, Georgia

TREATY WITH THE SIOUX—BRULÉ, OGLALA, MINICONJOU, YANKTONAI, HUNKPAPA, BLACKFEET, CUTHEAD, TWO KETTLE, SANS ARCS, AND SANTEE—AND ARAPAHO, 1868.

Apr. 29, 1868. | 15 Stats., 635. | Ratified, Feb. 16, 1869. | Proclaimed, Feb. 24, 1869.

ARTICLE 16.

The United States hereby agrees and stipulates that the country north of the North Platte River and east of the summits of the Big Horn Mountains shall be held and considered to be unceded Indian territory, and also stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same; and it is further agreed by the United States that within ninety days after the conclusion of peace with all the bands of the Sioux Nation, the military posts now established in the territory in this article named shall be abandoned, and that the road leading to them and by them to the settlements in the Territory of Montana shall be closed.

What am I talking about…

The North Dakota Pipeline Protest

north-dakota-pipelineDAPL map overlaying Treaty Lands

shameful-day
Unarmed protesters, on their own land, being attacked by police and National Guard members in riot gear, armed with rubber bullets, pepper spray, a sound cannon and police dogs. Forcing the unarmed protestors off their own land.

Beating unarmed protestors.

On their own land.

Granted, Custer broke the 1868 treaty in 1874 because gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Gold, in America, is more valuable than treaties. Treaties are just pieces of paper [what’s in your wallet?]. One hundred and forty years, and the Courts still have not settled this dispute.

Medicine BottleThis is Medicine Bottle, originally photographed by Edward S. Curtis, a day or two before Medicine Bottle was hanged in the late 1800s. His crime? BEING A SIOUX.

On Reformation Day, can the followers of Jesus acknowledge and accept the idea that ALL LIVES MATTER?

That our promises matter.

That our honor matters.

That Justice matters.

That how we treat people matters.

May God have mercy on our souls…

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 108_ My hope is that it isn’t just science fiction

October 28, 2016

GRAND OPENING!
MJ Arts announces the opening of its second retail store!

https://www.teepublic.com/user/mjartscom

Marty has dug through the image vaults from his 30-year illustration history, and combined his efforts with TeePublic. Wearable art in various sizes and formats.

Including new Doctor Who fan art, images from Marty’s Wildlife Preserve and Marty’s Undersea World. Sale going on now for some items.

 

4th-doctorDoctor Who art for book jacket

The above image [plus absent components] was created to replace the cover of a Doctor Who novel my son gave me. I found the original cover to be awful. I can’t tell if the character next to the Cyberman is supposed to be the Doctor, or one of the other characters in the story.

revenge-of-the-cybermen-doctor-who-5

I watched a new CBS story tonight, Pure Genius. A Silicon Valley billionaire app developer turns his wealth to creating the most advanced hospital on the planet, capable of solving all—well, many—of the medical problems that face our age. The episode includes ‘technology that’s really out there—they just needed funding’—that really isn’t out there, after all. At least not subject to a quick Google search.

Would we have cell phones if not for Star Trek? Who would imagine that Captain Kirk uses a really old-fashioned flip phone…

Does science fiction create the future, or does it simply encourage us to think that the future is possible?

I recently stumbled across an old Outer Limits episode from 1963, The Galaxy Being. [Star Trek first aired in 1966…] In The Galaxy Being an engineer uses some broadcasting equipment for research he’s not supposed to be doing, and encounters a being from the Andromeda galaxy doing exploration that he’s not supposed to be doing. The Alien is a nitrogen-based creature made of microwave energy, rather than us carbon-based creature [if you remember your high school chemistry, “organic” means carbon-based…think about this the next time you shop for groceries]

The two explorers engage in a brief philosophical discussion:

What about wars? Do you have wars? Battles. Atom bombs. Radiation fallout?

Forbidden. Reason we are not allowed to contact you. You are danger to other galaxies.

 

What about God? Do you have a god?

Explain.

An all-powerful being. A force underlying everything.

Electromagnetic forces underlying all.

No, l mean an intelligent force… God.

Electromagnetic force intelligent. Matter, space, time: all the same.

All the same?

Different names. lnfinity. lnfinity is God. God infinity. All the same.

 

Of course, as with many science fiction movies of the sixties, a crowd gathers, and the military arrive to deal with ‘this monster’.

You people of this planet, you must not use force.
l do not see you, but l receive your brain patterns.
l have told you not to use force. Now warn you there are powers in the universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. You must explore. You must reach out. Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe.
l will leave you now…in peace.

Probably the most improbable part of the story is that the townspeople do go home to give thought to the mysteries of the Universe…

Then the closing narration:

“The planet Earth is a speck of dust, remote and alone in the void. There are powers in the universe inscrutable and profound. Fear cannot save us. Rage cannot help us. We must see the stranger in a new light – the light of understanding. And to achieve this, we must begin to understand ourselves, and each other.”

Words we need to hear now.

I was at my cousin’s house, in my early teens; possibly younger, when I saw the movie on TV that has stuck with me for something like 50 years:

screen-shot
First Contact; with Klaatu and Gort:

klaatu-gortGort is in the back; the low-tech rubber-covered ‘robot’ who acts as ‘Dirty Harry’ for the Universe. The cop who enforces justice upon the inhabitants of Space. The Earth had become too violent; Klaatu had come to warn us that if we were going to continue in our efforts to spread our violence beyond our home planet, there would be consequences…

I imagine that there is a string of warning beacons surrounding our Solar System, warning all other beings to avoid this place, because we are infected with the disease of greed and violence. Watch 15 minutes of the PBS Newshour. World-wide greed and violence.

With some moments of hope that we can become more than we are now.

My hope is that it isn’t just science fiction.

 


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