Posts Tagged ‘artist’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 121: Still, there is hope…

April 17, 2017

Does it bother anyone else that the symbol of America has become a bomb? ‘Don’t like them; don’t like the way they behave? Bomb the crap out of them.’ I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me; after all our national anthem sings, “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there…” There are other countries whose national anthems that remember death and carnage. Maybe P45 was right in his inaugural speech when he spoke of “American Carnage”. He merely got the continent wrong.

The explosion above isn’t even nuclear; it’s one of the largest conventional explosive weapons in the US arsenal: the GBU-43 MOAB/B– Massive Ordnance Air Blast aka “Mother of All Bombs”. 21,600 pounds total weight, nearly 11 tons of TNT; there’s a ‘penetrator’ version that P45 ordered dropped on Afghanistan on April 13, 2017—Maundy Thursday in America. The night that Jesus was betrayed and arrested. How appropriate.

“The U.S. military’s announcement that it dropped the “mother of all bombs,” one of the largest non-nuclear devices, against an ISIS facility in Afghanistan comes despite the U.S. assessment that only about 700 ISIS fighters remain in the country. It’s the first time the bomb has been used on the battlefield.”
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/mother-of-all-bombs/522960/

“Each MOAB, or Massive Ordinance Air Blast – nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” – costs $16m out of a total programme cost of $314m which produced about 20 of the bombs.

Crunched down – and in the most cold-blooded terms – that means the US military has expended some 5% of its stockpile of MOABs to kill three dozen ISIS members at a cost of almost $450,000 per individual.”
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/14/moab-attack-isis-baffling-choice-cold-blooded-terms-cost-afghanistan

This, added to the $60 million worth of cruise missiles P45 ordered launched a few days ago; which apparently did very little actual damage:

“Syrian officials said at least seven people were killed and nine wounded in US missile attack.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/trump-syria-missiles-assad-chemical-weapons

Our President has used $76 million of munitions to kill less than 4 dozen people. And he wants most of the public services in our government to reduce their budgets and become more efficient…

 

History tends to ignore the fact that the US firebombed Tokyo before launching the two nuclear weapons in 1945.

Strategic bombing and urban area bombing began in 1944 after the long-range B-29 Superfortress bomber entered service, first deployed from China and thereafter the Mariana Islands. B-29 raids from those islands began on 17 November 1944, and lasted until 15 August 1945, the day Japan capitulated. The Operation Meetinghouse air raid of 9–10 March 1945, which annihilated 16 square miles and left over 1 million homeless, was later estimated to be the single most destructive bombing raid in human history. Japanese later called this event “Night of the Black Snow”.

With an average of 103,000 inhabitants per square mile and peak levels as high as 135,000 per square mile, the highest density of any industrial city in the world, and with firefighting measures ludicrously inadequate to the task, 15.8 square miles of Tokyo were destroyed on a night when fierce winds whipped the flames and walls of fire blocked tens of thousands fleeing for their lives. An estimated 1.5 million people lived in the burned-out areas.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo#Casualty_estimates

The Ashes of Hiroshima

Thousands of people burned alive.
There are shadows burned into the walls that remain of original Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the only remains of the people standing next to the walls when the blast of light occurred. Hundreds of thousands of people disintegrated.

For every son, daughter, husband, wife killed by our bombs, another terrorist is born; a family member, a lifelong friend, or simply one who is horrified by our hypocrisy—preaching to the world of our greatness, and killing indiscriminately. The boy above [the children were real, their appearance unknown] didn’t have the opportunity to become a terrorist. In the scene above he is already dead, but his body doesn’t know it yet. He will die, as his sister has died, in a few minutes. Victims of radiation poisoning. The young woman in the picture is a teacher, who had been in the country when the Bomb was dropped. She returned home to search for her missing niece and nephew. When she arrived in Hiroshima, all she found were children wandering around, searching for their dead parents. Every child she encounters that day, dies in her arms. She wrote of her story in a “Hiroshima Diary”. There are many such diaries in Japan.

We are fighting a war of ideology.
There are no winners; all those involved are losers.

We [Westerners] are hated for our cultural display of ‘freedom’. Our freedom to behave however we like; constantly offending those who have a cultural belief system from centuries past. If electronic communication was to cease, perhaps the incidents of terrorism would diminish. Perhaps not; however, it’s only in a dystopian worldview that electronic communication will cease. The concept makes a lot of money for “Hollywood”—further fueling the problem…

How do we solve this problem? One person at a time; teaching those who don’t understand our ways that we aren’t intending to offend them, we are simply living out a freedom that is available to all. We teach each person we encounter to live as friends. A difficult task for me, I prefer the life in my ‘cave’. I struggle in engaging with other people. A struggle I realize is worth the effort; and one I am called by my Creator to engage in.

Ken Burns’ “The National Parks” is playing in the living room behind me. A story of the American rape of the environment; and the visionary people who fought to stop the American Carnage by the creation of the National Park System.

The wilderness can heal humankind, if it is allowed… Sadly, under P45, the rape will continue.

There’s a Service Dog who is a member of our congregation; a golden lab named Cupid. I make an effort to say ‘hi’ to Cupid each Sunday; one of the members that doesn’t require conversation. This morning Cupid gave me a thorough face-licking. Cupid’s friend asked me if I was diabetic—Cupid has an amazing ability to detect blood sugar levels. I said that I’m not; what I didn’t say is that perhaps Cupid was aware of my sadness, and wanted to remind me that I am loved.

I watch episodes of The West Wing most nights; reminding myself of what government could be; a remedy for the reading I do during the day, as P45 demolishes some of the greatest gifts our Constitutional system has given to the world. A remedy for my anger that so few in Washington are incensed by his hypocrisy; the hypocrisy that lives at so many levels of our government.

Last night I watched an episode called “Han”. The story of a North Korean piano prodigy who wants to defect, while performing in concert at the White House. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, secret negotiations are ongoing to reduce North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The defection will halt the negotiations. President Bartlett gives the young man the Freedom that life in America gives—the young man can choose to defect, and stop the negotiations; or he can choose to return to the oppressive environment in which he has lived for 23 years, in hopes that negotiations will be successful. The young man then explains to President Bartlett the meaning of the word, “han” a word that has no direct translation into English. President Bartlett says of “han”: “There is no literal English translation. It’s a state of mind. Of soul, really. A sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet still there’s hope.”

As a man who has grown up in the relative peace and prosperity of the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the use of the word, ‘han,’ to describe myself is probably an insult to the people of North Korea. But I think I have a sense of what that word feels like.

Still, there is hope.

“Doubting Thomas” by Caravaggio

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 118: Making the Truth Great Again

February 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I pray for our government.

history_and_grief_congress

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 117: Do not be a bystander

February 23, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am ashamed of what my country has become.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 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.

angel.grief_mj

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 72: The Hard Questions

May 22, 2015

Black Care

Abraham Lincoln battled it before and while he was President. A lot of the world’s great artists battled it all the time; and sometimes battled to the death.

Theodore Roosevelt called it “Black Care”—I wrote about it before:

https://mjarts.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/chronicles-in-ordinary-time-47-black-care/

Today we call it Clinical Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Manic-Depression—they aren’t all the same, but they have some similarities. They all lurk in my gene pool [which hasn’t been filtered well enough]. Dealing with Black Care can be awful.

Thanks to the wonder of modern chemistry, I may have passed through another valley. It seems too soon for the increased dosage of Prozac to have worked, but there’s some sunlight in my life today; couldn’t say that yesterday. I still ache all day, I get shooting pains in a variety of places all day long, my feet feel sunburned all the time. My teeth are clenched—I realized I have a habit of pushing on my upper palate with my tongue—it keeps me from grinding my teeth…

Sometimes I get asked how I write these Chronicles [or, I receive spam that looks like someone is asking a question]. Usually they percolate in my brain for a period of time [ruminate might be a better word]; and I get the urge to put the words on digital paper. Frequently the hard part is finding the illustration. I generally don’t draw people in a snarky mood. Too close to home.

People who are very important to me are dealing with a lot of shit right now; and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it besides praying for them, and asking some ‘prayer warriors’ I know to pray as well. Prayer isn’t magic. The Creator is not our magic butler who makes everything work out for us. A lot of the time, I think that when all of the Gears of Life [think of the Lionsgate Movies logo] are turning in such a way that the Creator’s plans work out to our advantage, we sometimes see unexpected, but hoped-for things happen in our lives…Being human, we only consider answered prayer to be “yes”—sometimes the answer is “wait” and we don’t like that answer. We like “no” even less; but by definition, “no” is an answer.

The pain of those close to me is my own pain. This is part of the reason I allow so few people to get close to me. My daughter’s tears at 35-ish set off the same internal alarms that they did when she was 5. Reading about my son’s tears sets off the same alarms. And I don’t want to not hear those tears. Part of the weirdness of being a parent.

I’m currently wading through Augustine; CS Lewis recommended that we should always read from older periods in history, so that we can better understand the present. I haven’t followed that advice too strongly; but my first introduction into ‘theology’ was reading Marcus Aurelius in college. He asked the same questions I was asking. Job, the oldest book in Torah/the Old Testament, something like 4000 years old, asks the same questions.

“How can there be a loving God when this is such an awful place to live?”

“How can a loving God allow all of the hatred and war in the world?”

“How can there be a loving God who allows typhoons and earthquakes to devastate populations?”

“How can there be a loving God who allowed the Holocaust, and who allows the brutality of ISIS and Boko Haram?”

My short answer to these questions is that we have a Creator who has endowed us with Free Will and so values our individuality and respects our right to express ourselves that He allows us to commit all of the stupidity we find necessary to live; in hopes that some day, as individuals, we will come to our senses, and ask the Creator “how should we live?”

Just because people commit crime and blame it on God does not mean that God had anything to do with the crime…God gets blamed for an incredible amount of human misery.

“Torah tells how God caused the Israelites to wipe out nations; God wiped out mankind in the Flood and God sent plagues to the Egyptians. How could a loving God do that?”

I believe that Torah and the New Testament are True, and Inspired by the Creator. I also believe that these books are more like what we term “a journal” than complete histories of those times. These are the journals of the Hebrew people and the early Church. Statements and explanations of what happened; they don’t necessarily explain what the Creator wanted to have happen. I sometimes wonder if the things attributed to the Creator really were the Creator’s wishes…The things happened—David murdered Bathsheba’s husband so that he could get into her pants—it was not the Creator’s will. We are granted an incredible amount of choice, and sometimes we choose to blame God for our own greed and selfishness.

How could God have destroyed innocent men, women and children?

I have no idea what the destroyed nations were like; perhaps these nations were committed to paths of destruction. Human sacrifice [often sacrifice of children] was a very common way to ‘appease the gods’ in ancient times. Animal sacrifice goes on today. For a moment, suppose those nations were like ISIS and Boko Haram? Would our question have a different answer?

Who will the young boys living under ISIS grow up to be? Will they emulate their fathers and uncles? Would it be more merciful if they didn’t grow up at all? This isn’t a question I have been given to answer.

As 21st Century American individuals, we have no real understanding of what it would be like to live under an all-powerful and benevolent Ruler who commands obedience for our own welfare. It’s never happened in recorded history. Even writing the words, “commands obedience” causes warning lights to flash in my head. Growing up with my Dad. The Creator isn’t like my Dad. My Dad, was in some ways, like the Creator.

When the Israelites asked God to give them a king, so they could be like other nations, God’s response was a warning that they really won’t like what happens if they have an earthly King; and yet God gave Israel a King. The Kings of Israel were just as flawed and stupid as the rest of humanity.

We live on a rock floating in space, rotating at 24,000 mph, and traveling around our Sun for a year per revolution. Our distance from the Sun changes over the course of the year; our planet’s tilt, relative to the Sun, and that changing distance cause extreme changes in temperature during that year. At the center of this rock is a molten core of incredibly hot liquid. The surface of our world is a series of rock-plates that float on this molten core—extremely simplified geology. I live on the side of a volcano that is situated in a region that will most likely have a devastating earthquake in the coming decades. I haven’t moved to Iowa; nor to Maui, which would be my preference. There is only so much potential for destruction that my imagination will allow me to deal with.

Given all that we have learned about the non-static nature of the earth, why would we expect it to be static and always nice?

“Because God created the world and called it good.”

The Hebrew word translated as “good” is defined as, “to be (transitively, do or make) good (or well) in the widest sense.” To expect that ‘good’ means ‘perfect’ is projection of what we’d like it to mean. I think ‘good’ probably means something more like ‘sufficient’ than like ‘exceptional.’

I have three of the most terrific adult children that a parent could ask for. They are all flawed, in different ways than I am flawed; they all have traveled paths I wish they wouldn’t have traveled; and yet I have always tried to support their endeavors to the best of my ability at that time.

My children don’t experience the relationship with their Creator that I experience. I have no idea why, because I never asked for my experience…which isn’t entirely true, because I did ask for this experience; I just didn’t know what I was asking for. I knew that I didn’t know enough about life to live it successfully; three years in college had already made that clear to me. I had no spiritual background or experience, growing up. Asking the Creator of Life to lead me seemed to be a really smart choice when I finally understood the question; I really couldn’t understand why my parents weren’t as enthusiastic about this new awareness as I was. I found they had run from the Church; they never talked about the particulars.

The older I get, and the more I see of life, the more I wonder how my children view me. Someone with some odd beliefs about how Life works; perhaps someone who isn’t as enlightened as they are…

I have been blessed with encounters with the Living Creator for the last 40-odd years [or 40 odd years]. I long ago realized that mine is not a universal experience; and when it is experienced, it often is expressed in a manner that I find very peculiar. Probably as peculiar as my children view me; and as peculiar as I viewed ‘religion’ in my first years of college. I admire a gal at our church who says that she doesn’t have a ‘sarcasm’ gene. I can’t relate, but I admire the concept.

I am bothered that as a parent, I didn’t demonstrate the nature of “belief in the Creator” in such a way that my children would want to emulate that belief. Scripture teaches that my belief is a gift of the Creator. Sometimes I feel like it was a gift given to the wrong person. I can’t see my life as my Creator sees my life. That happens when I get Home.

I believe we are created with Eternal Souls; that Earth is a place where we are intended to learn how to live well with our fellow creatures. I believe there is another ‘plane of existence’ that isn’t tied to bodies and disease and suffering; and that we arrive at that plane when we leave these damaged bodies behind. I also believe that we could do a much better job of living with each other than we do. It’s our greed, our stupidity, our selfishness that makes this world a garbage heap…

We can each become the change we want to see in the world. That’s frequently a statement that is much easier to write than it is to do. I wouldn’t have written this statement in recent days. I thank God for Prozac. Those who manage to get through this life without the aid of chemistry are truly blessed.

piggy back draft 5From “A Dimly Burning Wick” a Hiroshima Diary

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 71: Missing the Point

May 3, 2015

DragonFire1Dragon Fire [digital painting]

I did a ‘Hobbit Marathon’ last weekend; the third installment arrived from the library. I decided to revisit the earlier installments to get back up to speed. After watching 6 or so hours of Hobbit, it occurred to me that between the Hobbit trilogy and the Lord of the Rings series of movies, it was very easy to miss the point of the whole story—the destruction of a Ring of Great Power because it was too dangerous to be left in human [or otherwise] hands. Amidst the Hobbits, the Orcs, the Elves, the Dwarves and Trolls; amidst the Wizards and Fell Creatures, it’s easy lose sight of the main character—the One Ring.

We humans are great at missing the point.

People argue over the idea of Bible Stories being true. They bring up the quandary of whether a whale could swallow a man for three days, and miss the point of the story. The whale is actually a very minor character in the story of Jonah. The point of the story is that the Creator wants the people of Nineveh to change their way of life to that of “love justice, show mercy and walk humbly with their God.” Jonah apparently has a real problem with the Ninevites and wants God to blow them off the face of the earth; rather than asking them to change. The people change for the better, and God wins.

We tell Bible Stories to children because most of the concepts in the Bible are adult concepts that can’t be understood by children. We tell them the stories with animals and kids and Jesus’ miracles because these ideas can be understood by children. Sadly, many of those children become adults without every hearing or reading the rest of the Bible, and they never wrestle with the adult difficulties of “love justice, show mercy and walk humbly with your God.” They write off the stories they heard when they were children, because those stories don’t seem to apply with the real difficulties of life; and they write off the Bible.

I read an article online recently, one that talked about the 10 longest-living creatures on the planet. Humans aren’t on that list.

what is man_webWhat if we are missing the point again?

The Bible talks about the great ages of the people before the Flood; and people ponder how those incredible lifespans could be…the age of an Arctica Islandia; an Ocean Quahog clam [500 years].

what is man_his days are like grassWhat if the point of all those great lifespans were simply to allow us to take care of Creation? To have a Galapagos Tortoise or a family of Macaws as friends, and to watch their life cycle?

Genesis 1:26 reads: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

The Hebrew phrase: בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם  can be translated: “in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish…”

The word וְיִרְדּוּ֩ means to ‘rule’/’have dominion’ and is a verb; consequently the word means an action rather than a position. We are to act in the manner of one who rules over Creation; not one who tells Creation what to do, but one who nurtures Creation.

As the story continues, man, having failed to do his job correctly, gets wiped out; and God starts over again with one human family, and all of the other families of Creation. From one perspective, Man’s assignment is still the same. Take care of God’s Creation. And God promises that the world will never again be wiped out by a Flood.

This time we are doing it ourselves.

We missed the point again.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 70: The Battle of Bedford Falls

April 29, 2015

klara_holdenfrom The Book Lover

   The title of this entry is from a movie reference, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey of Bedford Falls opts to take the role of Rescuer instead of the role of Adventurer; and the decision changes the course of his life. He takes on a job he doesn’t want, in order to rescue his family; he marries, ends up living in a drafty old house, takes on the role of father and ends up taking the fall for a mistake supposedly made by a daffy old uncle. On the verge of bankruptcy, he attempts suicide; and is rescued by an unlikely [and non-Biblical] angel. Clarence the angel gives George the gift of seeing what his world of Bedford Falls would have been like had he never been born…

The Battle of Bedford Falls is the battle of making it through another day when everything inside of you wants to opt out of the experience. There are a lot of other options to suicide that accomplish a similar task—‘opting not to play the game’ one more day; and immersing oneself in a variety of activities that postpone the inevitable.

When I started writing for public consumption—this venture into online journaling—I decided that I would only write about things I know about; things in which I have some expertise. I don’t write to gain “followers”—although they are appreciated; and I don’t write to ‘monetize’ my thoughts. I write as a way of exploring my life and myself, and hopefully express in words some thoughts that others may not be able to find the words for. Occasionally using bad grammar…

My only areas of expertise are subjects related to the Building Code; and a very particular style of illustration. These aspects of my life don’t offer a lot of practical wisdom [I wish I’d had more of the former, when I was building the house I’m in]. I’ve built houses, written City policy, raised kids into adulthood and stayed married for nearly 39 years. I’ve rarely left Portland; and at the same time have traveled to the Gulf Coast and to Mexico a few times for construction-related mission work.

I have years of training in how one can change their life for the better, and I’m happier with ‘me’ than I was 30+ years ago; but I only know how to change me—I can’t change other people. The most that I can do is create an environment where people can change, if they desire change. I can offer suggestions [many of which are for me, facts]—but until someone accepts my ideas as their own, they are simply ‘suggestions’. I can provide people with a list of books to study, but I can’t make them read the books or try to implement them into their lives.

There’s rioting in Baltimore; perhaps not tonight, but there has been rioting over the last few days. Rioting in lots of cities, reminding me of the late 60’s—the rioting then had different causes. Throughout the Twentieth Century and overflowing into the Twenty-first, we have become a people who prefer antagonism to mediation. Despite a century of bloodshed, people still pick up weapons in order to feel safe. The proliferation of weapons isn’t making us any safer.

The Battle of Bedford Falls—how do we get through today?

I feel shitty most days, at the start of my day; I start the day, these days, feeling like I did at the end of the day in the past. Due to my neurological issues, my entire body feels wrong; my legs, from the knees down feel wrong, but I’ve been walking for something like 60 years; my muscles know how to walk. I choose to ignore how I feel and walk anyway. The reality is that I know of dozens of people who are in worse shape than I am. So I start my day in prayer, listening to music that turns my mind toward the Creator and my inner self. I ‘lift people up’ in my prayers—I’m not smart enough to tell the Creator what His creation needs. Praying for others takes my mind off of myself. Do my prayers change the world? I have no idea. They change me, over time. Among those changes are a growing list of people—I pray for people I don’t know, I pray for people I’d rather not talk with.

I make sense out of my life by the belief that this life is but an eyeblink in the span of Eternity. I was told long ago, that we are minds with a body, rather than the reverse. Over time I have come to believe that we are Eternal souls that have a mind and a body. That Earth is a place where we are intended to learn how to live well with our fellow creatures. I believe there is another ‘plane of existence’ that isn’t tied to bodies and disease and suffering; and that we arrive at that plane when we leave these damaged bodies behind. I also believe that we could do a much better job of living with each other than we do. It’s our greed, our stupidity, our selfishness that makes this world a garbage heap…We blame God for not stopping us from doing the things we can do by our own choice.

And this is a lousy way to end this entry…probably indicative of my mood—I’ve been repairing a washing machine over the last couple of days, and I dislike the toll it’s taken on my body and mind. It used to be a lot easier.

In spite of a lot of evidence to the contrary, I look forward to seeing what another few years will bring into my life. I’ve met people I would not have met before; there are people I care about now that I didn’t know a couple of years ago. Granted, I’m not seeing a lot of points on the ‘win’ side of the ledger these days, but I lack the ability to see into the future. I have to wait for the future to show up. I see my kids overcoming huge obstacles, and I believe they will continue to move forward. Every day I see indicators of positive change for the future of mankind—if we will stop fighting each other long enough to pay attention. We walk in the shadows of giants; and I believe we will see more giants in the future, if we will simply pay attention.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 23: Sustainability

November 20, 2012

I just finished watching Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl;” chronicling the 30 or so years that it took to turn a self-sustaining savannah of Buffalo Grass into what almost became the Sahara Desert revisited. Land that should never have been cultivated, because it can’t sustain agriculture. Rain is infrequent, but Buffalo Grass had roots that grew 5ft into the ground. The ‘Dust Bowl’ happened because wheat ranchers over-cultivated land that should have been left for grazing. I didn’t keep track of the numbers; but the narration speaks of millions of tons of topsoil that was blown away. At one point in the mid-30’s, Oklahoma dust fell on a tanker 300 miles at sea.

The area where the Dust Bowl once existed is now used for “corn” production, which requires even more water than wheat. The water for this production is pumped out of the Ogallala Aquifer. Not only does the aquifer provide water for irrigation, but it also provides drinking water for much of the central plains.  Some estimates say the aquifer will dry up in as few as 25 years. The Dust Bowl will very likely return. Drinking water used for hog feed.

Why are we so stupid?

The farmers came because they wanted to own land, and to make a life for themselves and their descendants. A valid desire. The Ken Burns story references the writings of Carolyn Henderson; a woman who came to Oklahoma looking to build a life for herself and her husband, and their family. I have relatives who are Hendersons, probably not related; my father expected to be a wheat rancher, here in Oregon. The Ken Burns story pushed ‘buttons’ that I prefer keeping un-pushed.

In America we have the freedom to ruin the land that sustains us. We do things because we can; not because we should. This too, is the American Way.

There are those who had the ability to create a ‘dust bowl’ of our economy. Not just the American economy; but much of the Western world’s economy.  The homeless [both on the street, and those who now live with family and friends, having lost their homes] are the ‘Okies’ of today. Victims of our own foolishness and/or lack of foresight. We over-cultivated our economy, in the same manner as did those who created the Dust Bowl. The parallels are frightening.

I am heartened by individuals in my children’s generation; people who want to repair the land, and live in a more sustainable manner. It requires a divorce from consumerism; which drives our economy. So, we not only need to live a more sustainable lifestyle when it comes to agriculture and energy production; but we also need to wean our economy off of consumerism, and into sustainability.

A large portion of the population of our world live in tin shacks or mud huts. They have internet access in this world of dire poverty; the contrast is also staggering.

Black Friday is coming, this week; and retailers are excited. During the time of the Dust Bowl, there occurred a Black Sunday. Walls of dust, thousands of feet tall, blocked out the light of the sun for hours on end, for much of the Plains states. I wonder if our upcoming Black Friday is also leading to a Black Sunday in the future.

Cover art for Scholastic’s “Oregon At Last”

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 22: Recent Images

November 9, 2012

 

Photoshop Humor

Images inspired by the Grand Staircase in the movie, ‘Titanic’

cropped version:

 

Illustration from a ‘work in progress’ children’s book:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 13: the predicament of nuclear man

February 27, 2012

Today is my 39th Re-Birthday.

The first part of Henri Nouwen’s “The Wounded Healer” [The Search of Nuclear Man] describes my theological quest for meaning in life: “When we look around us we see man paralyzed by dislocation and fragmentation, caught in the prison of his own mortality. However, we also see exhilarating experiments of living by which he tries to free himself of the chains of his own predicament, transcend his mortal condition, reach beyond himself, and experience the source of a new creativity.”
Using Nouwen’s categories, I was a Mystic in a time of theRevolutionaries during the first half ‘the seventies’. Too bound by my upbringing to truly become a Revolutionary–I considered emigrating to Canada to avoid the Draft, but didn’t have the nerve. I was ‘saved’ by a very high draft number. Had I been born 4-6 hours earlier in my 10-month gestation, I would have probably become a 2nd Lieutenant in Vietnam, with a 20-minute life expectancy. I had no religious beliefs nor upbringing, so I could not become a conscientious objector; even though that was an appropriate definition.

I came to life in college.
I really have very few memories from childhood. Memories from our family cabin on the Sandy River, near Brightwood, Oregon. Some hormonal experiences/dreams. Some boring trips to my grandmother’s house in Condon, Oregon. Memories of my Grandparents’ house. Helping my ‘Grandfather’ [great uncle] build their last house. Riding my bicycle/jumping off of my bicycle onto our lawn. Playing in the back yard of my across-the-street neighbor/best friend, Bobby. There are more memories from high school, although not a lot. Memories of my best friend, Pete; and my other best friend, Mark. Pete remains on the periphery of my life; Bobby and Mark are absent.
For many years, I felt as though I could clearly remember every day of my two years at Oregon State. Discovery. The beginnings of an understanding of who I am. Chronic despondency. Hours and hours in my darkened room, listening to the dreary music of Rod McKuen and other folksingers who saw the problems of life, but had few suggestions for improving the situation.
“In the absence of clear boundaries between himself and his milieu, between fantasy and reality, between what to do and what to avoid, it seems that [he] has become a prisoner of the now, caught in the present without meaningful connections with his past or future. When he goes home he feels that he enters a world which has become alien to him. The words his parents use, their questions and concerns, their aspirations and worries, seem to belong to another world, with another language and another mood. When he looks into his future everything becomes one big blur, an impenetrable cloud. He finds no answers to questions about why he lives and where he is heading. [He] is not working hard to reach a goal, he does not look forward to the fulfillment of a great desire, nor does he expect that something great or important is going to happen. He looks into empty space and is sure of only one thing: If there is anything worthwhile in life it must be here and now.”

At University of Oregon I encountered The Eternal. I lived across the hall from two of those ‘annoying Christians,’ who in time, became close friends; Brad remains my spiritual ‘father/big brother’. After months of asking, I finally agreed to go with them to their Sunday night meal and Bible study at the pastor’s house. One gathering sticks in my mind; the group was kneeling in a circle at the end of the evening, praying; and I realized that these people were not delusional, they actually were in contact with someone I did not know, nor had ever heard about.
“For the mystic as well as for the revolutionary, life means breaking through the veil covering our human existence and following the vision that has become manifest to us. Whatever we call this vision-“The Holy,” “The Numinon,” “The Spirit,” or “Father”-we still believe that conversion and revolution alike derive their power from a source beyond the limitations of our own createdness.”

While I consider today to be the anniversary of my rebirth, it really didn’t happen on an individual day. It probably started in my second year at Oregon State, when I told my good friend, Jeff, to quit bugging me about his newly-found belief in Jesus: the story of the druggie that had an overnight conversion and became a street preacher. Our 2am sessions in the dorm hallway, Jeff singing Crosby, Stills and Nash in a voice like Neil Young; and then singing strange Christian songs in the same voice. He moved his ministry to University of Oregon after I wrote  a lonely letter describing my living among strangers. The conversion process continued actively for my next three years at U of O and my first couple years after college. By the time I was 28 I was indelibly altered.

After nearly 50 years of an artist’s life, I really can’t find a single image that represents my coming to faith. Which is probably why I consider myself an illustrator rather than an artist. I don’t do well with creating abstract images; and the conversion to faith is an abstract process. The Apostle Paul’s description of life as a battle may have something to do with my fascination with Asian martial arts movies, even though I’m a pacifist. One of the reasons I could not honestly become a member of the Society of Friends [Quakers]; even though their beliefs are probably more along the lines of my own than the conventional Protestant church.

“…and the monstrous creatures of whales” [below] probably represents my faith most adequately, although I really don’t know why.  The Eternal cannot be described in an image; the wonder of Creation can perhaps best be described by the ocean of the South Pacific [I’m not familiar with the South Atlantic]. Warm, teaming with life, teaming with Wonder. I invested two years of my life creating the full-size image from which the image below is derived; in the *interesting* nature of my life, I can’t justify the expense of printing the image in its glory…


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