Archive for the ‘self-employment’ Category

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 94: This is your moment. Be extraordinary.

April 16, 2016

MJ Arts announces the opening of its retail store! Marty has dug through the image vaults from his 30 year illustration history, and combined his efforts with Society 6. Wearable art in various sizes and formats.
https://society6.com/mjartscom

 

The Doctor finally shows up in Amelia Pond’s life, twelve years late. The Doctor is trying to save the world from oblivion—
DOCTOR: … why should you trust me? I’ll let my best man explain. (sotto voce): Jeff, you’re my best man.
JEFF: Your what?
DOCTOR: Listen to me. In ten minutes, you’re going to be a legend. In ten minutes, everyone on that screen is going to be offering you any job you want. But first, you have to be magnificent. You have to make them trust you and get them working. This is it, Jeff, right here, right now. This is when you fly. Today’s the day you save the world.
JEFF: Why me?
DOCTOR: It’s your bedroom. Now go, go, go.
(The Doctor runs out.)

The Doctor always encourages people to be the best that Humanity can offer. Sadly, they don’t always live up to the expectation.

BeExtraordinary

Be Extraordinary. I first heard these words my Senior year of High School, thanks to ‘Captain Bob’ Bonniwell. One of the teachers that changed my life.

At some point in the year, he played a long-playing record [yes, the dinosaur age] of the stage play, Man of La Mancha. The story awakened me. For the first time that I realized that my life didn’t have to just be about me and my parents, and the ordinary stuff of life. I learned that one can live life for a higher purpose.

“I will impersonate a man. His name… Alonso Quijana.
A country gentleman, no longer young. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night till morn again.
And all he reads oppresses him fills him with indignation at man’s murderous ways towards man.
He ponders the problem: How to make better a world where fraud, deceit, and malice are mingled with truth and sincerity. He broods and broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up. He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined: to become a knight-errant, and sally forth to roam the world in search of adventures; to right all wrongs, to mount a crusade to raise up the weak and those in need…”

Be Extraordinary. I heard these words again, three years later, from the most unlikely source I could imagine. Like Jeff, the explanation was that it was my dorm room.
The story of another man, one who had not lost his sanity, but one who was filled with the same indignation. We might call him Joshua; he’d been trained as a craftsman. One day he decided that he would lay down his tools and set out ‘to roam his world, to right all wrongs, to mount a crusade, to raise up the weak and those in need.’

I met him in Eugene, Oregon in 1973, during the 3rd of my 5 years at University.

I’d heard about him earlier, while in Corvallis at Oregon State. Some people called him a god. I wasn’t interested in that; religion wasn’t any part of my upbringing. His followers were arrogant, rude and judgmental. I wanted to have nothing to do with him, or with them. I crossed the street when they approached.

In time I met Joshua. The odd thing being that he had been executed as a criminal some 1,940 years earlier. He’d also been brought back to life, and was still alive…Science Fiction right before my eyes.

I was watching “Poirot” tonight; he was chastising the characters in the story about believing in superstition—it had to do with murders associated with the opening of a 3,000 year old Egyptian burial chamber.

“Superstition” is a word I generally ignore [Stevie Wonder being one exception]. I started doing some googling and reading on the subject, and the unwelcome thought came to me—‘There are probably people in my life who consider me to be superstitious in my belief that there is a Creator of the Universe; and that [He] sometimes interacts with the world we know.”

To me, the idea of my being superstitious is preposterous; I know the struggle I had with accepting the concept of a Creator. C. S. Lewis was probably the biggest bridge I found—enabling me to overcome the unwilling suspension of my disbelief. Then the ‘incursions’ started coming. Odd things in my life, unexpected situations and strange timings; each being fairly innocuous by itself, but when added up over a period of time, fairly difficult to ignore, or accept as being merely coincidental…

I eventually started going to church, which was really odd. There are a lot of strange religious people in the world, and they go to church.

Mostly I was interested in the gatherings of this group of college students who seemed to have a different way of living life. A life as a follower of Jesus, [the transliteration of the Hebrew term, “Yehoshua”/Jehoshua (contracted to “Joshua”), which means “Yahweh saves” (or “Yahweh is salvation”)]. The next three to five years brought amazing insights into a world that has been surrounding me for my entire life; a world I hadn’t seen, would not have seen but for the Grace of the Creator. Science Fiction right before my eyes…

Following Jesus became the pattern of the rest of my life. Church, not as much, a statement which may surprise my children, if they read this. Nearly 40 years of Sunday mornings. All sorts of Sunday mornings. I attend Church because that is where people talk about following Jesus. Doesn’t happen all that much, elsewhere in my life. Not, that is, prior to Facebook…

There is a lot about church that I ignore or overlook.

It’s harder to overlook, in these days of unGrace.

I think this time in history is one of the things that brought tears to Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t die so that religious hatred could flourish.

jesus leaves the tombFrom “Passion of the Christ”—the only shot I really enjoyed.

“Be extraordinary.”
Why do I write so often about the Man in the Blue Box?
Because he encourages people to be extraordinary. The world needs extraordinary people to bring us out of the mudhole my generation has dug ourselves into. I don’t find a lot of people in popular culture encouraging people to be extraordinary.

I believe that the Millennial Generation has the ability to change history; if they will simply get out and vote. There are a lot of people investing huge amounts of money in making sure that they don’t.

Be extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 93: Easter/Holy Week

March 25, 2016

Christ Washing Peter - FM BrownChrist Washing Peter’s Feet – Ford Madox Brown 1852–56

An innocuous scene, to the eyes of those in the 21st Century. The controversy innate in the scene isn’t obvious to modern viewers. The controversy is a little more obvious if one has followed the Papal career of Pope Francis—the Pope who began washing the feet of women seeking an audience with the Pope—and who compounded the controversy this week by the washing of the feet of refugees, including women and those of the Islamic faith. The Donald was no doubt unhappy. Not that I particularly care about his opinions.

Feet washing—a kindness given to those who wandered about the unpaved landscape in sandals. A kindness assigned to servants. Not one of the kindnesses expected from the Messiah, the King of Israel—as Peter believed Jesus to be. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. I was a ‘public servant’ for 14 years, working for the City of Portland. One of the memorable debates that often arose was the question as to whether we were ‘public servants’ or ‘City employees’. There were many who rebelled at the concept of being servants. I came there to serve.

I grew up an atheist. Never heard about God, but my [favorite] Grandmother called my parents and I ‘heathens’. We did not go to church; she seemed to overlook the obvious-to-me-fact that she didn’t go to church either. She couldn’t find a Norwegian “Hellfire and Damnation” church in Portland. So she watched church on TV on Sunday mornings. Apparently there was an adequate amount of “Hellfire and Damnation” available on television. From what I can tell, there still remains an abundance—and more channels.

I came to faith, kicking and screaming, during my 3rd year of University. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the religious people I encountered on campus. Religion has never had much meaning for me; still doesn’t, after 40+ years of doing church. I encountered faith among a handful of students on campus, a philosophical concept I studied fairly thoroughly. Over the next 3-5 years, I encountered Belief. I encountered the Intangible, the Unexplainable. In Church terms, I encountered the Holy Spirit; in more non-Church terms, I encountered ‘windows’ between this dimension and the dimension of the spirit. I can’t prove it to anyone. I see the openings between these dimensions all the time. There are many who can’t see them at all. A concept I do not understand.

For much of my life there has been a connection between Cosmology and Theology—the study of the Cosmos and the study of the Creator of the Cosmos. Stephen Hawking and others are fairly convinced that the nature of the Cosmos is such that it could come about without a Creator—the Laws of Physics are sufficient. I tend to wonder how the Laws of Physics came into being. How gravity came into being. For some, the concept of God is unnecessary; as if God was some sort of ‘great and powerful Oz’—with a man behind the curtain. I doubt that we have the capacity to perceive the Creator with our senses.

Jesus was a failure as potential monarchs go—being crucified meant that one failed. This is why Pilate posted a sign over Jesus’ head—“King of the Jews”. Pilate didn’t understand; Peter didn’t understand, nor did any of the other guys at the table above.

The Doctor would understand, if his creators understood. A scene from The Zygon Inversion:
“DOCTOR: No, it’s not a game, sweetheart, and I mean that most sincerely.
CLARA-Z: Why are you doing this?
KATE: Yes, I’d quite like to know that, too. You set this up. Why?
DOCTOR: Because it’s not a game, Kate. This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought, right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die! You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn! How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they were always going to have to do from the very beginning. Sit down and talk! (sigh) Listen to me. Listen, I just, I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind.

CLARA-Z: I will not change my mind.

DOCTOR: Then you will die stupid. Alternatively, you could step away from that box, you can walk right out of that door and you could stand your revolution down.
CLARA-Z: No! I’m not stopping this, Doctor. I started it. I will not stop it. You think they’ll let me go, after what I’ve done?
DOCTOR: You’re all the same, you screaming kids. You know that? Look at me, I’m unforgivable. Well, here’s the unforeseeable. I forgive you. After all you’ve done, I forgive you.

CLARA-Z: You don’t understand. You will never understand.

DOCTOR: I don’t understand? Are you kidding? Me? Of course I understand. I mean, do you call this a war? This funny little thing? This is not a war! I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine. And when I close my eyes I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count! And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight till it burns your hand, and you say this. No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will have to feel this pain. Not on my watch!”

On this night called Maundy Thursday, some 2000 years ago, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He knew what was ahead of Him, and had known it for a long time. Scripture says that Jesus was sweating ‘drops of blood’ for a long time, while his best friends slept instead of praying with Him. I am of the opinion that during this time of prayer, the Creator of the Universe, the One who lives outside of Time, the One that could never fit into the body of a human being, allowed Jesus to see the barbarity, the cruelty, the hatred that would take place in His name for the centuries to come; and Jesus wept.

He said to Himself, to the Creator whom He was, “when I close my eyes I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count! And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight till it burns your hand, and you say this. No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will have to feel this pain. Not on my watch!”

And no one has to. In our foolishness, and our arrogance, we decide to do it anyway.

Until we find release.

May you find release.

christ-the-redeemer

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 92: Storytelling, Part II

March 12, 2016

For those of you who are keeping score, and don’t recall a Part I, don’t worry. Part I was written and published here in 2011…

Storytelling…

   To me, this is the heart of illustration– to tell a story; to make a story more clear and understandable by the use of images.

   My fear, and my frustration, is always that I haven’t served the story well enough with my illustrations. This sometimes happens when I have to rush to meet a very short deadline.

   Jesus told parables- stories- so that those who chose to listen to his stories would ask, “…why is He saying that? what does it mean?”

   The ultimate answer to all of our questions is I AM– the story the Eternal told Moses. “You shall know this day and place it in your heart that the Eternal is God in heaven above and on earth below; ain od.” [Deuteronomy 4:39]

   “ain od- a Hebrew expression in this verse meaning there is nothing else.” [Dr. Gerald Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God]

     I believe that one of our purposes here on earth is to share our stories with others; to build stories with others; to pass on our stories to those that follow us.

 

Since all the world is but a story, it were well for thee to buy the more enduring story; rather than the story that is less enduring.

The Judgement of St. Colum Cille
[St. Columba of Scotland]

Manpupuner rock formation2_webI just finished my evening session with the Man in the Blue Box. I don’t always watch ‘special features,’ but tonight I watched a commentary on The Doctor’s Companions and their growth journeys. John Barrowman explaining how his journey on the TARDIS has forever changed the story of his life; and his gratitude. I don’t usually watch the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff because I don’t really want to look behind the curtain. The important part for me is the story; not the details involved in making the story come about. The stories of The Doctor are brilliant in that they make connections through 50 years of storytelling.

We are each in the midst of our own Neverending Story.

Every person on this planet is a miracle. It’s estimated that 108 Billion souls have traveled through the time that Earth has supported human beings.

http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx

Each one unique and like no one else on this planet. Created from the stardust of the Universe; acknowledged by the words that are often said at the end of life—“from dust you were made, and to dust you shall return’. Each of us is one out of billions of others; each as unique as the combination of millions of genes from two different parents. My Mom and her sister were identical twins; like so many other twins, they each had distinctly different personalities; and yet they came from the same fertilized egg.

There has never been another person like You; there never will be another You.

I don’t know that ‘Neverending’ is a requirement of our individual story. As with The Doctor’s Companions, I believe the Neverending part of our stories is voluntary. I believe we will be presented the question—‘do you want to come along?’ And we will make our choice.

I realized tonight that the stories of The Doctor remind me of the stories of the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They encountered “I AM WHO I AM”—the Creator of the entire Universe, and they never did quite understand. The Patriarchs and their predecessors lived for really long times, living out their lives based on an idea they received; One that no one else really understood.

The Doctor has traveled the Universe for 1,000+ years, from Beginning to End; and still does not understand the nature of the Universe and Time. I believe The Doctor encounters The Creator all the time; but he can’t see this because he spends so much of his time being ‘sciencey’. I don’t know that the creators of The Doctor have any knowledge of The Creator of the Universe, but they continually write stories that cause me to see attributes of the Creator.

Storytelling…

greentree

This is Grady, and his Mom. Grady was created a long time ago for a story that abruptly ended because our government invaded Iraq. I’ve used Grady in several other illustrations; as well as his sister, Aspen.

The above illustrations were created for a non-profit in Colorado; and they never used the images. There’s another story embedded within these images. The image on the right, a larger version of the photo on the wall behind Grady as he watches his seedlings grow, is a photo of his Mom [far left] and her Grandfather planting trees.

We each have a story; and we usually don’t know where that story will take us. Because we don’t know The Doctor, and don’t have time machines, we’ll never know how our story turns out; not until we are Home. A curmudgeonly Grandfather, aware that his work of planting trees would go much more easily if he didn’t have a Granddaughter ‘helping’ him; and the Great-Grandson he’ll never know, whose life will forever be different because he discovered the wonder of planting trees, passing on new life. Trees that will last for dozens, perhaps hundreds of years; trees that become the focus of a child’s lifetime.

Cigar boxes filled with memories, hidden within trees.

Thank you, Ms. Lee.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 91: Beyond All Recognition

March 5, 2016

For the last 50 or so years, whenever World War II has come up in conversation and speculation, the question always comes up—“How could Germany have allowed Hitler to rise to power?” And the implied statement: there must have been something wrong with the German people…

Hitler’s message was that ‘Germany can be great again; all that we need is to get rid of those people.’

For those who are paying attention, we are witnessing how the German people could allow Hitler to gain power:

Trump_HitlerThe idea for the image isn’t mine; a much more effective [brilliant] treatment is floating around Facebook…

‘America can be a great country again; all we need to do is get rid of those people’—the Muslim, the undocumented Mexican [and possibly those who are documented]. The immigrants who have been met for years by the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

For years I’ve watched movies and television shows where people ask the question, ‘didn’t we fight a war to make sure that this wouldn’t happen anymore?’

This is a pivotal time in American history—the Millennials now outweigh the Baby Boomers. This means that if all of the Millennials who believe that a person should not be judged by who their parents or grandparents are; should not be judged by those who don’t like the people that other people love; should not be judged by those who believe that behavior is dependent upon lists that someone makes or has found—if all the Millennials vote, the trend toward American fascism can be diverted. But only if you vote.

Can the trend toward American fascism can be Eliminated? No. Clearly there are people who will always judge people not by their character, but by the externals. This is part of the Human Condition, the price of Free Will.

There are people who choose to make the externals match their character, even when the choice is unpopular. This isn’t popular these days, but it has a lot of merit. I don’t know that this choice makes them better people. From my understanding, none of us merit the Grace we are given.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his military on standby for nuclear strikes at any time, the state media has reported. We are engaged in an endless war in the Middle East, and the leading Republican candidate for President discusses his penis size during a “debate” that seems more like an elementary school argument among boys.

Donald Trump has never had to work a day in his life. His multiple bankruptcies did not involve real money—when Donald goes bankrupt he doesn’t worry about paying bills or putting food on the table. Bankruptcy in the world of high finance is merely a score on a card—an evening at the bowling alley. Sometimes strikes turn into gutter balls…Somehow this man has convinced millions of people that he somehow understands the rigors of living in 21st Century America. Donald is among the 2% and is somehow convincing people in the 98% that he’s different from those in the 2% and that a man with no governmental experience can somehow be qualified to run a country. There hasn’t been any discussion that I’ve heard, whether a totally obstructionist Congress and Senate will cooperate with a President who has no experience running a country. I’m not sure that the title “Republican” will impress anyone on that side of the aisle, more than working with a Democratic President; especially those who are offended by Trump’s racial slurs and bigotry.

In my opinion, not that my opinion counts for much, if Donald Trump becomes President, the Statue of Liberty should probably be returned to France…we clearly won’t be welcoming people with brown skin.

Liberty

 

MJ Arts adds The Doctor to its retail store!

February 16, 2016

For a limited time, MJ Arts is offering “The Doctor” series for sale in a variety of products.
https://society6.com/mjartscom/collection/the-doctor

6 Doctors_web

The9thDoctor_web

The10thDoctor_web

The11thDoctor_web

The12thDoctor_web

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 90: The Doctor

February 10, 2016

These days, I spend time, nearly every night, with The Doctor. The Doctor brings Grace to a world that knows little Grace.6 Doctors_webThe world is so crazy. Tonight the Republicans of New Hampshire nominated for President a man who will horrify the leaders of every country on the planet; perhaps with the exception of North Korea… The sort of American President so often presented by the BBC…

I was ill for a couple of days, and to keep my mind from spending too much time thinking about my belly, I did a Torchwood marathon. The creator of Torchwood commented that the production company wanted to create ‘an adult science fiction story with more sex and violence than is usually seen on British television.’ I haven’t figured out why; but I’m not yet done with the series. Maybe I’ll figure it out. However, from what I’ve seen in life, ‘office affairs’ always screw up the working of the organization involved; and I guess the violence is the part of the ‘logical progression’ of our aggressive societies. I think what surprises me most is the notion that the same production company produces both Doctor Who and Torchwood. To me the two series are nearly the opposite of each other in terms of ‘guiding philosophies’. In Torchwood, at least in the first two series, the end of life is darkness. While there are glimmers of hope, that hope is that maybe luck will turn.

To me, Doctor Who is a story about Faith, and The Doctor is a ‘type’ of a Christ figure.
[Type—a: a person or thing believed to foreshadow another]
[            b: one having qualities of a higher category: model]

Not that The Doctor has any real similarity to the Incarnation of the The Creator into time and space. However, The Doctor was at the Incarnation—as David Tennant’s Doctor comments in one episode:
Astrid: This Christmas thing? What’s it about?
The Doctor: Long story. I should know. I was there. I got the last room.
Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned (2007)

As near as I can tell, neither Russell T. Davies nor Steven Moffat would consider themselves as persons of faith; I suppose that means that the two creators of the series are brilliant writers—they write about something they really don’t understand…

I’m not talking about religion; I rarely talk about religion except when I’m with religious people. Faith is about believing that there is some order in the Universe, even when all we see is chaos. Faith is about believing in ideas like redemption and forgiveness. I believe there is a Creator of all life; I believe the Creator loves everything [He] has created. Much like I ‘love’ every illustration I’ve ever created. They are labors of love, and every detail has a purpose. Not all of my illustrations reflect my original intent—I sometimes reach beyond my grasp and I fall short. But I still love the work, even when it flops.

The most common objection to the concept of the love the Creator has for us is, ‘if God loves us so much, why is there so much shit in the world?’ We cause most of the shit. We don’t like to admit it; we like to blame it on other people—shifting the blame doesn’t usually shift the truth. We cause most of the shit.

Earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes… we each live on a large chunk of rock, floating on molten lava, grinding against other chunks of rock; spinning at 1,000 miles per hour and rotating around the Sun at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour. Shit happens. Thank God we don’t ever come to a stop. We live in a closed environment into which we have been pumping pollutants and radiation for most of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Why would we imagine that there might be negative consequences for such stupidity? There are a lot of children in Flint, Michigan who will never have a ‘normal’ life because some politicians made some disastrous decisions about water. They can’t be fixed. Thousands of children today will never live a normal life because a virus is being spread across the world by mosquitoes. They can’t be fixed either.

We want the world to operate like a simple mechanical engine. We want every doctor to have the technology we see in Star Trek—Dr. McCoy runs a tricorder over us and can diagnose every medical problem we’ve ever had. Instead, we live in a world where all life starts with two cells; those two cells start dividing and subdividing and multiplying as needed, to form bones, organs, eye balls and the brain. Sometimes the cells forget to stop multiplying. The two cells create creatures who don’t even have a recognizable brain and yet have information programmed into them that we can’t even understand. One of our greatest flaws as humans is that we fail to recognize our shortcomings, our lack of understanding.

Enter The Doctor—
“I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who is gonna save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?”

10 th Doctor_bust_webThe Doctor brings Grace to the world; and he offers forgiveness. Rather than automatically killing his enemies, he offers them the opportunity to stop the evil they are doing. He offers them the possibility of a different life.

Clara Oswald: You’re going to help me?
The Doctor: Well, why wouldn’t I help you?
Clara Oswald: Because of what I just did, I just…
The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed my trust. You betrayed our friendship. You betrayed everything… you let me down!
Clara Oswald: Then why are you helping me?
The Doctor: Why? Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?

12th Doctor_col2_bust_szdI would like to think that The Doctor learned this from the Creator.

I recently ‘discovered’ Brennan Manning; priest, alcoholic, author of the Ragamuffin Gospel, mentor to Rich Mullins and thousands of others. Brennan wrote:
“Some have labeled my message one of “cheap grace.” In my younger days, their accusations were a gauntlet thrown down, a challenge. But I’m an old man now and I don’t care. My friend Mike Yaconelli used the phrase unfair grace, and I like that, but I have come across another I would like to leave you with. I believe Mike would like it; I know I do. I found it in the writings of the Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon. He calls it vulgar grace.”
“In Jesus, God has put up a “Gone Fishing” sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job in Jesus once and for all and simply invited us to believe it-to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in Him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion: no fasting till your knees fold, no prayers you have to get right or else, no standing on your head with your right thumb in your left ear and reciting the correct creed-no nothing….
“The entire show has been set to rights in the Mystery of Christ-even though nobody can see a single improvement. Yes, it’s crazy. And yes, it’s wild, and outrageous, and vulgar. And any God who would do such a thing is a God who has no taste. And worst of all, it doesn’t sell worth beans. But it is Good News-the only permanently good news there is-and therefore I find it absolutely captivating.”

“I am truly convinced that when each of us stands before the Lord, He will ask us one thing, and one thing only: ‘Did you trust me when I told you that I love you?”

 

 

GRAND OPENING!

January 30, 2016

MJ Arts announces the opening of its retail store!

https://society6.com/mjartscom

Marty has dug through the image vaults from his 30 year illustration history, and combined his efforts with Society 6. Wearable art in various sizes and formats.

Mobile Device Cases & Skins / Stationery Cards / T-Shirts / V-Necks / Tank Tops / Long Sleeve / Biker Tanks / Hoodies / All Over Print Shirts / Throw Pillows / Tote Bags / Shower Curtains / Duvet Covers / Rugs / Wall Clocks / Mugs, Travel Mugs / Laptop & iPad Skins / iPad mini Cases / Laptop Sleeves / Rectangular Pillows / Wall Tapestries / Throw Blankets

MJ Arts Store

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 89: A Renaissance of Civility

January 26, 2016

Last week the British Parliament debated the question of whether or not the leading GOP candidate for President of the United States should be banned from entering the UK because of his hate-speech. Today I watched a video from a 13-year old who said that he did not want to grow up in a country that elected this kind of person as President. ‘Adults—you are better than this.’

I would ask the question, ‘Do you really want Donald to have nuclear launch codes? What if he decides to do some nuclear testing, like the ruler of North Korea decides to do, when he feels like flexing his muscles?’

I don’t know if the UK could ban the President of the United States from setting foot in their country; it would make for some very awkward discussions regarding foreign policy. Does anyone remember how the GOP ruined the Dixie Chicks’ career for disrespecting George W? Congress disrespects President Obama every day he’s in office. The voting public can destroy Congress’ career, if they so choose…

A scene from outside the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Perhaps the beginning of the modern political environment.

1968 Demo_ConvI was in high school in 1968; it was another two years before the attitude above became ‘up close and personal’ in my life. I was raised to respect authority. My generation championed disrespect for authority.

My generation also championed peace, love and hope. And drugs…

I don’t remember us planning a world where we get our kicks from ridiculing others. Lifting ourselves by tearing others down.

I also don’t remember any of my contemporaries suggesting they go to Wall Street and rip off the 98% by taking pension money they didn’t own, and gambling it on the stock market, and betting they would lose, and making money off the loss. All done ‘legally’ because some of my contemporaries entered politics, and Congress, and voted away the provisions incorporated by earlier, wiser politicians to protect the 98%… Somewhere along the line our country threw out ethics.

I’d use the word, ‘morality,’ but that word has become something far beyond the simpler word, ethics. ‘Is it right?’ NOT, ‘can we get away with it?’

We are born knowing right from wrong. Birds don’t get taught how to build nests, it’s pre-programmed. Salmon are programmed to return to the water of their birth, after a lifetime of swimming in other waters, in order to spawn. Horses can walk around, minutes after they are born.

Why is it so difficult to believe that we can be pre-programmed with the knowledge of right and wrong? Sure, it gets refined as we grow—babies can’t understand adult concepts. We know when life isn’t fair to us…I was astounded at finding out how quickly our baby girl learned the concept of ‘not fair’ and ‘I really don’t want to do that.’

I’d even suggest that this knowledge is part of what it means that we are created in our Creator’s image. In the Biblical story, the Creator wasn’t surprised or outraged that Adam and Eve screwed up. The Creator knew from the moment of Creation that Adam and Eve would screw up. It’s not in the Biblical passage, but Adam and Eve had to watch an animal being killed and skinned in order for them to have clothing—they had discovered that they were naked, and knew shame; their behavior led to the first death. I don’t think the shame was from being naked; they were ashamed because they were fully aware that they broke the One Rule that they were given. I don’t believe that one can truly understand Grace and Forgiveness until one has become fully aware and fully ashamed of their behavior; behavior that we know is wrong, and we can see how much damage occurs as a result.

 

I watched the last three episodes of The Newsroom the other night, while I should have been sleeping. In the final episode Don Quixote is mentioned frequently—the old man with dementia who believed that by pretending to be a knight, he could bring civility to the world…

I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man’s murderous ways toward man. He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity. He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up. He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined—to become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha!

“…I’ve been a soldier and a slave. I’ve seen my comrades fall in battle or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I’ve held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no brave last words, only their eyes, filled with confusion, questioning “Why?” I don’t think they were wondering why they were dying, but why they had ever lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? To surrender dreams—this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! But maddest of all—to see life as it is and not as it should be.”

Dale Wasserman

We could be better.

The story of Don Quixote is probably the most important story in my life; important because it led to all of the other Important Stories in my life, including The Most Important Story—the story of the Innocent Man Who Died because human beings screw up all the time. He took my shame, and told me that I don’t have to worry about it anymore; the debt I owe the world has already been paid, and I don’t deserve the gift; and that is okay.

The only thing He asked is that I be kind to other people, even when I don’t want to. And I am unkind more times than I like to count; and it’s okay, for I am still a child, and I’m still learning how to walk…

We could be better.

Summer KingThe Summer King” from
Stephen Lawhead’s Arthur

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 88: The Other Story

January 8, 2016

I write these posts as a way of processing the world as I see it—the view from an introverted, INTJ, ‘stranger in a strange land’ perspective. There is much in human behavior that I have never comprehended.

Sometimes I write because I want to cause you who are reading this to examine your world.

Those of you who’ve read these posts in the past are aware that Faith is the most important component of my life. Being an asocial personality who prefers the life of a recluse to having a social life; if I’m honest, I only care about the people that I know, the people who have some impact on my life. I comprehend that as a person of Faith, my scope of caring is supposed to be wider; I’ve been working on this concept for 40 years. I still have a distance to go.

I wasn’t raised with faith; I was raised without a presence of God in my life. During my third year of college I discovered Faith, I was led to Faith. I assumed that my parents had never heard the Good News of Jesus; I soon learned that they didn’t want to hear anything I had to say; they’d heard it before… Evangelism has never been one of my strengths; on the other hand I really can’t comprehend how people who have seen what I’ve seen and heard what I’ve heard can’t understand what I understand. Maybe they haven’t seen and heard…I so often wish I could download Faith into someone’s brain as easily as one downloads an app…

Courtesy of Facebook, I recently read an article that implied that the contemporary Church’s acceptance of people with ‘alternative lifestyles’ is the cause of much of the chaos present in the world today; and presented a photo that implied that tattooed, pierced people were symptomatic of the problem. Probably an implication of one of my favorite saints, Pastrix Nadia of House for All in Denver, Colorado… To be honest, I couldn’t get through the entire online article; apologies if I misunderstood.

Canticle detailNot often seen detail from one of my favorite works,
Wooden Boat [Canticle of the Sea]

To be honest, I don’t comprehend the desire to tattoo oneself, particularly in places where one will never see the ink. I don’t object, I simply don’t comprehend. At least two of my three kids [3 of 5?] have ink, and I admire the art. I have yet to find an image I wouldn’t tire of, or more recently, wouldn’t grow out of…

So, the Church as become too accepting of people who live non-traditional lives… The author of that article has probably have never really understood Jesus.

A digression, hopefully the implication will be understood…

Genesis 18: 20-21, 23-25, 32
Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
…Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

Ezekiel 16:1-2, 48-50
“The word of the Lord came to me:
“Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices…
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

Jesus said,
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” [Mt 10:14,15]

There is something specifically missing from the above quotations about Sodom; something many in the Church seem unable to see. “Arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Haughty.” Sounds a lot like contemporary America.

No specific reference to sexual practice. It happened. That wasn’t why.

we shall remainhttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/

Tonight I finished watching “We Shall Remain”—the mostly-untaught story of America.

“In 2008, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly released a survey on how Americans view their country’s relationship to God: “Sixty-one percent agree that America is a nation specially blessed by God,” it revealed, “and 59 percent believe the United States should be a model Christian nation to the world.”
“Ever since Europeans came to America, the idea of the United States as a land of special blessings has animated America’s soul. John Winthrop, the Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, famously drew upon the Bible to describe the early New England settlers: “We shall be as a City upon a hill, the eyes of all people upon us.
“Subsequent generations have voiced similar themes to propel America’s narrative: their country was thought to have a “manifest destiny;” to represent “an empire of liberty;” to offer the “last best hope on earth;” and above all, to embody “American exceptionalism.”
by William Doino Jr.
http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/08/is-america-blessed-by-god

“The Master of Life has appointed this place for us to light our fires, and here we shall remain.” -Tecumseh (Shawnee)

Tecumseh to Governor Harrison (August 1810)
Brother, I wish you to give me close attention, because I think you do not clearly understand. I want to speak to you about promises that the Americans have made.
You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?
The being within me hears the voice of the ages, which tells me that once, always, and until lately, there were no white men on all this island, that it then belonged to the red men, children of the same parents, placed on it by the Great Good Spirit who made them, to keep it, to traverse it, to enjoy its yield, and to people it with the same race. Once they were a happy race! Now they are made miserable by the white people, who are never contented but are always coming in! You do this always, after promising not to anyone, yet you ask us to have confidence in your promises. How can we have confidence in the white people? When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, you killed him, the son of your own God, you nailed him up! You thought he was dead, but you were mistaken. And only after you thought you killed him did you worship him, and start killing those who would not worship him. What kind of a people is this for us to trust?

Tecumseh to the Osages (1811)
Brothers, when the white men first set foot on our grounds, they were hungry; they had no place on which to spread their blankets, or to kindle their fires. They were feeble; they could do nothing for themselves. Our fathers commiserated their distress, and shared freely with them whatever the Great Spirit had given his red children. They gave them food when hungry, medicine when sick, spread skins for them to sleep on, and gave them grounds, that they might hunt and raise corn. Brothers, the white people are like poisonous serpents: when chilled, they are feeble and harmless; but invigorate them with warmth, and they sting their benefactors to death. The white people came among us feeble; and now that we have made them strong, they wish to kill us, or drive us back, as they would wolves and panthers.
Brothers, the white men are not friends to the Indians: at first, they only asked for land sufficient for a wigwam; now, nothing will satisfy them but the whole of our hunting grounds, from the rising to the setting sun. Brothers, the white men want more than our hunting grounds; they wish to kill our old men, women, and little ones. Brothers, many winters ago there was no land; the sun did not rise and set; all was darkness.

America, the “City upon a hill, the eyes of all people upon us.” We, who slaughtered the Nations who lived here before us; we who enslaved the African population who were brought here by force; we who placed the Japanese-American citizens of this country in internment camps, stealing their property. We who have a leading candidate for President who wants to remove all of the Muslim citizens of this country simply because they honor the Qur’an.

As an aside, the 93rd verse of chapter 4 (sūrat l-nisāa), of the Noble Qur’an states:

ومن يقتل مؤمنا متعمدا فجزاؤه جهنم خالدا فيها وغضب الله عليه ولعنه واعد له عذابا عظيما

“But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.”

Most of the people killed by the suicide bombers of ISIS and others, are Muslim. Those in ISIS apparently don’t read their Book anymore carefully than we do.

In the days of the Prophets of Israel, they understood that sometimes the land had been cursed, due to the behavior of the people. God was often silent for centuries…

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 87: The Doctor Who makes house calls…

December 29, 2015

There aren’t a lot of doctors who still make house calls. My dentist, Dr. Kenneth Chung [http://www.comfortcare.net/], makes house calls for patients in need…such as my sister who needed dental work during her time of chemo. But such doctors are rare in today’s urban world. Maybe it’s different in rural America…

I don’t often participate in ‘pop cultural events,’ but I’m doing so twice this week. In a few days we’ll use 8 of the $1 Billion worth of tickets that have been purchased for the new Star Wars movie. J.J. Abrams gets the credit, but the reality is that George Lucas expanded our minds back in the 70s and 80s, and the expansion continues.

Last night, we were part of BBC Worldwide’s first showing of a Doctor Who Christmas Special in American theaters. Big crowd. Not as many costumes as I expected, but it’s bleak and rainy here in Portland this winter. Some Tardis-light hats, some sonic screwdrivers; but no costumes that I could see, and no bow ties…

matt_smith_doctorSketch for an upcoming Doctor Who image

I’m not a Whovian; I’m merely an enthusiast. Tom Baker was my first Doctor; and I’m not even sure where I found him. Long before BBC America. Probably in one of the video stores I haunted during my Christmas vacations. I just discovered in the last week or so that I never watched any of the episodes in the rebooted First Series, with the 9th Doctor. I watched the 9th Doctor over the last weeks, and it was all new.

I’m asking myself why am I working on a Doctor Who image at this time [I have other projects to work on]; and why I watch the Doctor nearly every night, these days. The only conclusion I can come up with is my need for Hope. The Doctor is ever hopeful. The heart of the Gospel is Hope, although if one checks the media very often, it’s hard to see this. We are in a time of religious war, as well as our path of endless war. In the real world, Hope seems far away. Hope is closer in the Doctor’s worlds…

This is one of the more difficult Christmas seasons I’ve had. Christmas in America is never something I enjoy, now that my kids are grown and on their own. The fact that my Mom died on Christmas Eve probably has something to do with it; although her death was a relief from her circumstances brought on by strokes. Since I tend to think about her death on Christmas Eve each time we attend a Christmas Eve service, there’s probably a grieving that I don’t really experience consciously. People at the church we attended then were surprised that we would come to church hours after she died. Our perspective was, where else would we come, but to be with our church family at such a time?

There is so much anger in the media; many of my friends ignore it. I have trouble doing that. Something in our country is broken, and I want to fix it. Christmas in America seems to have largely become a shopping time; and I suppose a throwback to its original roots—a Solstice Celebration. Which is probably why people who have no interest in Jesus have Christmas trees in their houses. Christmas trees have nothing to do with the Jesus story. In a Doctor/Christmas episode of a few years back, there is a comment that this winter celebration is one of ‘having made it half-way through the dark…’ Religious people complain that Solstice-type celebration has overtaken the birth of the Messiah; my preference would that they be two separate events.

Writers and Illustrators, by nature tend to be asocial; not anti-social, in wanting to avoid contact with others, but asocial—not needing contact with others. In order to lock oneself in a room by oneself for days, weeks, months at a time, we don’t have much of a need for human interaction. I’ve had an ideal Illustrator’s Life for almost 18 years. My wife works and lives on day shift; I live on night shift. We interact in the evenings for a few hours, and she snuggles up next to me when I come to bed. Most of my days are my own time, even when clients ‘interrupt’.

This year has been different in that I’ve made a conscious effort to become involved in other people’s lives—part of my semi-retirement. I don’t need to work as much, now that I get ‘paid for breathing’… Being involved in other people’s lives reminds me that I can’t fix people. I am by nature a Rescuer; my deteriorating body makes rescuing people more difficult, from a physical standpoint. But I can listen. I can send email. For the most part, I’m fairly ‘normal’ sitting down at the keyboard; until it’s time to move, and then life becomes very uncomfortable for a relatively short period of time.

There are people in my life who need fixing; and I keep wanting to find the words of faith that will create some ‘spiritual magic’ in their lives. A hope that something in my life will spark curiosity and questions; and will lead them along the path that I followed in college. A cynical skeptic who encountered Grace. When people have spent decades running from the Creator, for all sorts of reasons, many of which are totally valid from their point of view, it’s hard to see a need for change. People with physical problems that have brought them up against the fact that their physical problems really aren’t the problems that bother them the most. A couple of guys who have made a mess of their family lives for decades; now when they need the comfort of family love, there’s none there; only anger. It is so easy to mess up a life; it really takes very little effort to do. That’s the problem: making very little effort is an easy thing to accomplish. Undoing the years of inattention is hard to overcome. It takes courage to change; for me, that courage could only be supplied by my Creator.

So, here I am in the first week of Christmas, according to the Roman Catholic tradition that I often admire, but don’t participate with; and I find joy and hope in a blue box called the TARDIS; and the man who has lived for a thousand years in 13 different bodies [mustn’t forget the War Doctor]. As far as I can tell the writers aren’t necessarily people of faith; and yet they write so much about Faith. I captured a recent clip with the 12th Doctor—one of the best examples of Grace that I’ve seen in secular media:

http://mjarts.com/samples/Dr%20Who.m4v

Last Thursday evening during the Christmas Eve service, watching images of stables and shepherds and mangers projected on the wall, I found myself imagining a blue box in a corner of the stable; unobtrusive because of its Perception Filter… or out in the fields with the shepherds and the Doctor keeping watch at night. In my world of faith, the Doctor would of course visit the incident upon which the Western world bases its calendar. Perhaps in walking with Jesus, the War Doctor would find healing and forgiveness…

 

 

 

 


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