Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 138: God Didn’t Have to Come

December 19, 2017
Sketch of a Man by François-Guillaume Ménageot (1744–1816)
Other art images weren’t credited by those who posted them

I’ve written this many times before; I was raised as an atheist; and came to faith while in college. To paraphrase CS Lewis, I was looking for faith in the same way that a mouse looks for a cat. Total surprise, totally changed my life. Truly God-smacked.

I’ve also written that I really don’t like this time of year, particularly in contemporary America. Amidst the shopping, the battles over the nature of Christmas decorations; the battles between Fundamentalists and those who aren’t—often their own family; amidst Christmas pageants and incessant Holiday movies on the tube, the whole point of the first Advent has been lost.

The Creator did not have to come.

Many don’t think He did.
There are those who accept the concept that a Creator began the Universe, and then walked away.

Think of every war, every dictatorship, every moment in history when discord and brutality ruled the Earth—that part of Creation devoid of God. We probably wouldn’t be here now; our ancestors destroyed in the nuclear war that could have happened.

At that moment in time when the timeline was split into two portions, the Creator of the entire Universe entered time and space in the form of a single cell. People get so bent out of shape about the “Virgin Birth”—seemingly overlooking the wonder of the births that happen each day, all over the planet. We lose the wonder of the miracle because it happens all the time, all over the Created world. Cells are fertilized and expand through a process called cellular mitosis. We grow, largely in the dark for 9 months, breathing liquid. And then another wonder happens—we start breathing air. Or not.

To quote Steve Brown, one of my mentors:
The first prayer any believer ought to pray is “Thank you.” God didn’t have to come.
Who would have thought that God—the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is—would have come as a little baby?
God surprises us in our lives. The principle is this: Whatever you think God is doing in your life right now, he probably isn’t. That principle helps me live with the paradox of trying to put God in a box. You see, he wants us to learn to trust him no matter what happens. Meaning isn’t to be found in having all questions answered, all problems solved, all ambiguity resolved. Meaning is found only in the fact that Jesus has come.

The Creator did not enter time in space so that all of your problems would be solved. The Creator did not enter time in space to bring judgement upon the world. The Creator did not enter time and space in order to create new religions. The Creator did not enter time and space in order for one religion to prove that it is better than other religions.

The Creator did not enter time and space to die on a cross so that you don’t have to.

The Creator came to let you know that your Creator knows exactly what it’s like to live in this world. To be an outcast for much of His life—everyone in the community knew the stories—the angels, the shepherds; the wise men that came from the east when Jesus was something like two years old, bringing extravagant gifts fit for a King. If the apocryphal stories have any truth in them, everyone in the village knew about the boy who could do miraculous things…Jesus was an ‘outcast’—He was different from everyone else, and every Junior High kid knows how awful that can be. When Jesus was 12 He went with His parents to Jerusalem, and was left behind by His parents, because He wasn’t paying attention to anything but what the Rabbis were teaching…and what He was teaching them. Everyone knew how the caravan had to turn around, and Jesus’ parents were hunting through Jerusalem to find Him. Everyone in the community learned that story…

When He finally found His Calling, He had three years before the religious leaders of the community had Him falsely arrested, tortured and hanged on a cross like a common thief. He died. The sky split, as did the two-story tall curtain in the Temple—the one that separated God from the people—split from the top down. He was placed in a borrowed tomb; and rose three days later, walking out, in front of Roman guards. For the next several weeks, Jesus appeared before something like 500 people, many alive when the Gospels began being written. Then He left. And then He returned in the form of Spirit—the Spirit that inhabits every person on Earth.

Richard Rohr:
God saves humanity not by punishing it but by restoring it! We overcome our evil not by a frontal and heroic attack, but by a humble letting go that always first feels like losing. Christianity is probably the only religion in the world that teaches us, from the very cross, how to win by losing. It is always a hard sell—especially for folks who are into strength, domination, winning, and enforcing conclusions. God’s restorative justice is much more patient, and finally much more transformative, than mere coercive obedience.
We are not separate from Christ. We are his incarnation, his body. So, our suffering is not separate; it is a continuation of the suffering of Christ that still endures for the life of the world. Much of Christianity has still not dealt with that. We still act as if Christ were “over there,” and we are praying to Christ and pleasing Christ and trying to get Christ inside of us
.
That’s why I dislike such language as “I have accepted Christ into my heart as my personal savior.” The implication is that we are actually separate and our brave decision changes all of that. The truth is that we are already in Christ by the power of the Spirit. We are his flesh, we are his body, we are his children. It’s all a matter of recognition and response, which we call faith.

Advent crrop

That ‘ex-‘ the one you don’t communicate with, but can’t get out of your mind. She’s still in my mind; and I still don’t know what happened. I think of her every day, because I keep her in my prayers. I don’t pray for anything specific—I simply remember her, and hope that good things are happening in her life.

Such is the Spirit of the Creator within us. When I got God-smacked in college, ‘nothing happened.’ The day of realization was just like the day before; I merely became informed that nothing had to happen; I simply had to ‘open a door’ in my mind. No ‘rushing wind’, no ‘tongues of fire’. What changed was me. As I trusted in the process, trusted in the new information, new things occurred in my life. Some good, but not all. Eventually the emptiness I’d felt for years left. The Spirit of the Creator was already in me; I’d never paid much attention before. For most of my life I’d totally ignored the Spirit within me; except for those moments when ‘conscience’ told me I’d made a wrong choice. Or my Dad.

Every person on Earth has the Spirit within them.
Fundamentalists are looking for pitchforks and torches…

There are a lot of people in this world, a lot of people in this country–many of whom hold political office–have a really hard time distinguishing between Truth and Fact. Truth can readily exist in the absence of Fact. Sadly, Fact doesn’t always mean Truth.
Some people have a hard time understanding that the Americas are absent from the Bible. The Americas didn’t ‘exist’ until a couple thousand years after the Abrahamic Scriptures were written. Scriptural principles can apply everywhere;  it’s a bit of a leap to claim that our present governments are ‘clearly’ written about in Scripture…

 

 

 

 

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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 136: To my Un-fundamentalist Friends

December 6, 2017

Adoration of the Magi and a Time Lord

Adoration of the Magi, and a Time Lord

Christmas is NOT my favorite time of the year.
Christmas was enjoyable when my children were young; because children are open to the ‘magical’ aspects of Christmas, and that sharing of ‘magic’ is contagious.

I am writing this primarily to the Un-fundamentalists who struggle with Christmas in America [I have no experience of Christmas in other countries]. I was raised as an atheist; and was introduced to the Creator in my twenties, while in the third of my five years of University. I, of course, was familiar with “the baby Jesus” who came with Christmas; and I was familiar with the word, “God,” although I mostly heard the word as part of a phrase… I never went to Sunday School; I may have had more than one day of Vacation Bible School, but I can’t recall. All I remember is tomato juice, and I hate tomato juice.

I was looking for the Creator in the same way a mouse looks for a cat. Something to avoid. My curiosity was aroused by the caring and kindness of the two Christians who lived across the hall from me; and because University of Oregon did not serve dinner on Sundays, and the pastor of a church did serve dinner in his home; for a group of 15-20 college students. My curiosity was further aroused by these fellow students who did something called ‘praying’ and it was clear they really believed that what they said was heard. By Someone, rather than by the ceiling, or Something. Forty-plus years later, I’m still doing this ‘Christian gig’—because somewhere in my last years of University I encountered Someone who changed my life.

What I have written here is VERY long. Everything I write here will antagonize Fundamentalists; who will have dozens of Scripture verses to refute everything I write. There are thousands of verses in the three Books of the Abrahamic Faith; taken out of context, they will prove or disprove nearly everything. This is why I am not going to use Scripture quotations in that which I write.

It is said that Thomas Jefferson removed all of the pages of his Bible that contained references to miracles; an accomplishment, given that the Bible was probably printed on both sides of the pages. I am of the opinion that the theology of the majority of churchgoers is a combination of the dumbed-down-for-children religion they learned in Sunday School, modified by words and phrases heard in numerous sermons and from the lyrics of songs; or verses taken out of context from devotionals. I am of the opinion that most adults spend very little time reading theology.

I have no initials after my name beside B.Arch; I’ve never attended a university religion class; I’ve never attended seminary. I’m not a theologian. I have, however, invested some amount of time, nearly every day, of my forty-plus years of faith, reading theology. I’m an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church, which somehow is a lifelong ordination. I’ve been a member of churches of several denominations, and have attended worship services in several more, from Pentecostal to Roman Catholic to non-denominational ‘stadium’ events. My impression is that most churchgoers have no idea that Christianity is done very differently between denominations. Since there are over 40,000 denominations in the world, according to recent studies, that makes for a lot of variety. Some of those denominations would probably be denounced by many Fundamentalists.

One does not need verses of Scripture to tell of the Creator; the Creator provides [His] own teaching, if one is open to learning. There is a self-evident Creator of the Universe, a concept refuted by some scientists and shared by others. I am partial to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s description of the Force: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” I believe the ‘energy field’ is that created by the Spirit of the Creator, called, in Hebrew, Ruach—the Breath of God, the Spirit of Life. This Spirit surrounds us, uplifts us and makes us whole—whether or not we want to believe it. [editorial note: I generally use the word, ‘Creator’ rather than the word, ‘God’. I’ve heard so many definitions of ‘god’ in my life, that I find its use unhelpful].

The Creator is the Beginning. All things flow from the Creator, including the Laws of Physics, the Laws of Mathematics, the Laws of Science; they all are upheld by the Creator of All. I believe that if we ever bring C.S. Lewis’ fear to fruition, and we become able to leave this Solar System to investigate other Solar Systems [bringing our contagion with us] we will find Creation stories; and we will find stories of Redemption. They won’t be our stories; which are likely unique to human beings; but there will be stories…

From physicist, Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang:
“In the thirteenth century, [the Jewish scholar], Nahmanides quoted a commentary on Genesis written 600 years before him, noting that prior to the existence of the universe, time did not exist. This was learned from the wording of Genesis 1:5, “. . . and there was evening and there was morning, day one.” It is not stated “the first day.” For the use of first would have implied an already existing series of days or a continuum of time when in fact on this “day one” there had been no prior time to this one day. Not a before and not an after. There was nothing to which one could relate this day. It stood alone as “day one.” For all the remaining days in that week of Genesis, the ordinal terms, second, third, etc., are used and. logically so. By day number two, and thereafter, a series of days had been established. Although it is difficult to comprehend, the creation of the physical universe brought with it a concurrent creation of time…
“At the briefest instant following creation, all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. The matter at this time was so thin, so intangible, that it did not have real substance. It did have, however, a potential to gain substance and form and to become tangible matter. From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This initially thin noncorporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of matter as we know it. From this initial act of creation, from this ethereally thin pseudosubstance, everything that has existed, or will ever exist, was, is, and will be formed.”
The Hebrew Scriptures, properly interpreted, based on the shapes of the Hebrew alphabet as well as the content, explain the Expanding Universe in the 7th or 8th Century…

Every human being is comprised of at least two attributes: who we are, and how we act. Scripture teaches that we are created in the Image of the Creator; there is no explanation of what this means. The Creator is the First Principle; the Creator’s actions in the Universe are the work of the Spirit of the Creator—the Ruach.

I believe that the Spirit of the Creator ‘speaks’ to us mostly through our subconscious minds; and sometimes enables our brains to create new ‘neural pathways’ in our brains. Every thought is transmitted through our brain by neural pathways; and sometimes new connections are made between thoughts we already have, and thoughts we never imagined could be true…

Della's Brain

Christianity defines the Creator as having three attributes, which are commonly called, The Trinity: The Creator of All; the Spirit of the Creator, by which the Creator acts; and the Word by which all things were made. Think of it as who you are, how you behave, and your personality, which is a result of genes and DNA. These three attributes of ‘you’ are separate, but at the same time inseparable—they form one You.

The Book of John, in the Newer Testament [there’s an Older Testament, called The Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures comprising the books of law, the prophets, and collected writings], states:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  The Word is the second person of the Trinity, and we know Him by the name Jesus of Nazareth.

Some people get really messed up, when it comes to the fact of Jesus, and His entrance into human history. It’s really fairly simple: The Creator of the entire Universe created one single cell, and implanted it into the womb of a teen-aged girl named Mary. That cell fertilized a cell from Mary, and mitosis began—where a single fertilized cell divides, resulting in generally two identical cells, each containing the same number of chromosomes and genetic content as that of the original cell—eventually creating a human boy with DNA from the Creator. I find it interesting that the people who get all bent out of shape over “The Virgin Birth” apparently have no problem with the equally miraculous non-virgin births that happen every day throughout the animal kingdom.

Mary was betrothed to a [probably older] man named Joseph; Joseph intended to ‘divorce’ Mary [betrothal was sort of like marriage, but with no consummation], because Joseph knew how babies came into being. However, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream [subconscious] and told him to continue with his plans for marrying Mary—the son that was to be born was the prophesied Messiah of the Hebrew people, promised thousands of years before.

The Christmas Story

1] There were no evergreen trees in Israel, in the First Century; the closest thing was probably a palm tree.

2] Many scholars think Jesus was probably born in the Spring. There were no Birth Registries in the 30s AD, the presumptive time period Jesus was born.

3] While there was probably a stable and no room at the inn [Doctor Who once said he got the last room], there probably were shepherds, and there could have been a Star. There were no Wise Men at the manger/crib where Jesus lay, in swaddling clothes.

4] The Wise Men from the East probably arrived at Jesus’ home when Jesus was around two years old. Having had an audience with Herod, asking about the new King born in Judea; and having not returned the way they came [another dream warning to the subconscious], Herod ordered that all of the Hebrew boys of two years and younger were to be killed [The Slaughter of the Innocents]. The Wise Men apparently suggested to Herod that the new King had been born sometime in the previous two years. Having been warned in a dream [another one], Joseph gathered up his family and fled to Egypt.

5] Christmas trees, Santa Claus, the Story of Saint Nicholas [the Bishop of Myra] and all of the material and materialistic stuff of Christmas practiced in the Western World is a result of priests in the Middle Ages pre-empting the pagan rituals relating to the Winter Solstice celebrations into something more in keeping with the Christian religion brand.

6] American culture [the only culture with which I am conversant] has blown the Christmas story into something that has almost nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. Celebration of the birth of Jesus is not required by the Christian faith. I haven’t celebrated Christmas for a couple of decades. The Christmas decorations we have up in our house stay there for the entire year. Christmas, the celebration of New Birth, is to be celebrated all year round.

7] Human beings, without regard to titles they hold, have neither the power, nor the authority to ‘condemn someone to Hell’. Such condemnation [if it happens], is entirely up to the Creator of All; and will only occur when we come before the Creator, when our time here has ended. Scripture says that you, in your entirety, and across your entire life, have been known by the Creator from the beginning of time [aka Omniscience]. We can NEVER surprise the Creator by our behavior; we only surprise ourselves and those we know. The concept of the Creator of All, creating literally billions of human beings, for the sole purpose of sending them to Hell, defies my ability to suspend belief.

In His time on earth, the only people that Jesus condemned were the self-important religious leaders of his day. Jesus, who equated Himself with the Creator [one of the many ‘blasphemies’ for which He was accused] taught compassion for the poor, the homeless, the Stranger, and the downtrodden. He taught that we are to comfort the widows, the orphans, to reach out to the disabled, and the broken. That we are to give from our wealth to those who are without.

In short, the opposite of what the current Administration appears to be attempting to do.

Thus, endeth the sermon.

Saint Nicholas 2

One Christmas morning, many, many years ago, I went out on our front deck, to look at the new-fallen snow. I looked at the driveway and saw two ‘grooves’ in the snow; and a bunch of small, circular wet spots where the driveway showed through the snow.

I swear, I did not put them there.

It would have been a great idea…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 134: More Need for Hope

November 6, 2017

Sorrow for the Americas2

US Mass Shootings 2017

A friend of mine, tonight on Social Media, asked the question, ‘what more can we do?’

By rights, the image above shouldn’t have our flag; the image shouldn’t have only the recent deaths in America. By rights, the image should remember every act of terrorism that has occurred in the world, in 2017.

I honestly don’t know what more we can do.

I believe that when America decides that a problem is best solved with a bomb, a gun, a weapon of some sort—and we are experts at trying to solve problems with guns—we give an example for the world, that violence is the way to stop violence.

Ronald Reagan’s January 11, 1989, farewell speech to the nation, echoed the words of John Winthrop, in a sermon from 1630:
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

I was 37 when I heard this speech; a husband, the father of three children, working for the City of Portland. I had been raised in the ‘church’ of the American Legion; the only God I had been raised with was in the phrase ‘God and Country.’ I had since come to know the Creator; and I believed that our country had been blessed with tremendous prosperity, and we owed it to the nations of the world to share our prosperity. We owed it to the nations of the world to be a shining example of those words uttered by President Reagan, and by President Kennedy, before him. Similar words spoken by so many Presidents that followed.

The life of an illustrator requires the pursuit of research, historical research, if one is illustrating historical subjects. The more historical research I did, clearer it became that the truth was that the US Government did a pretty shitty job of living up to those words. Most of that excrement was hidden for a very long time. We played the hypocrite until we finally elected a President that didn’t make the slightest effort to live up to any of those words. His ‘leadership’ makes a mockery of the words of the Presidents before him; and he blames others when his bad decisions are discovered.

America has presented itself, for a century, that we are the example the world should live up to. Look at the example we have become.

Less than 55% of the voters in America bothered to vote in the Presidential Election of 2016. Of those that voted, 46% voted for the President; 48% voted for the Democratic candidate. One-quarter of the country voted for FEAR [False Evidence Appearing Real]; and FEAR won the election. The winner of that election has been spouting on about Fake News for so long, that many of the voters of America don’t even pay attention to politics anymore.

Every time we attempt to solve the internal problems of other nations by the use of weapons of mass destruction [including automatic weapons], we tell the world that this is how problems should be solved. We are the example…377 Mass Shootings this year; day 309 of this year.

Jesus wept.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 132: Katrina again.

September 28, 2017

P45_mj

Football.
Millionaires who play games for a living, funding an industry that derives hundreds of millions of dollars selling everything that can be sold under the guise of professional sports.

3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most devastating hurricane in history, and American news is full of stories about professional football players, many of whom are incredibly wealthy, living in Privileged comfort.

Of course, the real story isn’t about football and flags; the story is about America’s shameful history of Race.

Let me repeat: 3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most damaging hurricane in history. They are without food, they are without water, they are without power. FEMA has sent aid; and the aid is sitting on the docks.

President Donald Trump has made it clear his administration isn’t planning to allow any additional outside aid to get into Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon [9/27], the president cited business interests as the reason for refusing calls from lawmakers and activists to allow international organizations and governments to ship aid to the island.         Newsweek

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says food, water, and other supplies have reached Puerto Rico a week after Hurricane Maria plowed through the island, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and shipping firms concur. Most of the 3.4 million Americans on Puerto Rico haven’t gotten that aid, so CBS News correspondent David Begnaud went to find out what’s happening. He found some 3,000 shipping containers sitting at the docks in San Juan, the capital, he said on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News; most of them are filled with relief supplies, and some of them have been there since before Hurricane Irma hit, three weeks ago.
The problems, according to Rossellé and the shipping companies, are many and frustrating. Roads are still blocked or flooded around the island, truck drivers are tending to their damaged homes, their trucks were destroyed, they don’t have fuel, or they’re incommunicado because electricity and cellphone service are out across the U.S. territory, and the bus drivers Rosselló is trying to recruit to drive trucks in their stead have the same problems. In the meantime, nearly half the island doesn’t have potable water, food and water are scare, “gasoline has become like liquid gold,” Begnaud says, and there are lines for everything. You can watch his report below. Peter Weber

Katrina again.

The victims tend to have brown skin, rather than pink skin. Only the dead have white skin. And many are dead.

Instead of demanding that our Government solve the problems of distribution [we can], people are arguing all over the Internet about whether or not someone is disrespecting the flag by not standing; when the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that Americans are protected by the Constitution when they decide not to stand during the National Anthem; and when they refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag:

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Court’s 6–3 decision, delivered by Justice Robert H. Jackson, is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed “beyond the reach of majorities and officials.”

I quit pledging my allegiance to the flag when I realized that America was built on the graves of the indigenous people who were killed so that the white population could practice their Manifest Destiny. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot in good conscious support a government that refuses to acknowledge the crimes that were committed to getting to this place in history.
This place in history where our President refuses to do everything in his power to rescue citizens of his country. Instead, he shames African Americans who protest the murders of African Americans by white police officers who receive no punishment.

Lynching, again.

The President uses language on global television that would have landed me in great trouble by my father, growing up. He uses language that should be an affront to every Believer in Scripture, regardless of the Scripture being read.
The depravity continues to make me ashamed of our government; and mocks every person who has died defending this country.

Liberty_mj

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 131: An Open Letter to the US Senate

September 21, 2017

Lincoln_mj_

I get it.
You believe that adequate Health Care in America is not a right, it is a privilege. A privilege belonging to US Senators, members of the US Congress; a privilege granted to millionaires and above. Your bosses, the 565 billionaires in this country1 and your other bosses, the pharmaceutical companies and those that run health insurance companies, are threatening your jobs, if you don’t cut their taxes. I realize that the only way to cut taxes, given the current Senatorial budget rules, is to cut expenses. The easiest expenses to cut are those that affect the ‘least important’ people in this country: seniors, the disabled, the underemployed, Veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country, and the poor. Women. Because in America, women only earn 80% of that earned by men; except in the US Senate and the US Congress. Those ‘least important people’ whose only crime, the most important crime of all, is that they haven’t been born rich.

I get it.
You work hard for your money.

The average member will pocket $174,000 while showing up to the office just 145 out of 261 work days in 2017, according to the updated calendar released by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
For reference, the median American income in 2015 was $56,516, according to Census data, while the average employee reported working 47 hours a week ― nearly six days ― and taking just 14 days off per year. 2

I understand that you believe you deserve the best healthcare that money can buy.
One of the problems is that you aren’t actually paid by your bosses—specified above—you are paid by the poor shmucks who actually cast votes for you; and THE POOR SCHMUCKS WHO PAY YOUR EARNINGS THROUGH THEIR TAXES. Those taxes that your bosses want cut, so they won’t have to pay so much of your wages. They will still fund the campaigns that get you elected; they will continue to pay you under the table for the good service you provide, like any other server in this country. Except that most of the servers in this country serve lousy tippers.
UNLESS YOU PASS LEGISLATION THAT CRIPPLES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

Some of your billionaire bosses are talking about not funding your jobs, next election cycle, if you don’t manage to get this one thing done. All that’s necessary is to remove from the health care roles, all those people who ‘didn’t deserve’ health care in the first place—those who’s crime was not being born rich. Those people who actually used the health care system in this country. Those people who will die, because they can’t get the health care they need, and they won’t be a problem anymore. That’s all you need to do; correct the mistake by killing off millions of people. Simple.
It doesn’t matter that insurance companies, who started receiving monies from millions of the newly-insured and those who don’t currently need health care, started jacking up the prices of private health insurance and the cost of pharmaceuticals—simply because they could. And the bottom line made your bosses even wealthier. Kill off the weak, before the strong need to use the system. Preserve profits.

You’ve been hard at work during this year. You have financially crippled the Environment Protection Agency; you have financially crippled nearly all the human service organizations; you have financially crippled nearly every Agency that endeavors to make life in America work better for those who weren’t born rich. Because that President you don’t want to talk about endeavored to improve the quality of life in America; and enabled millions of people to be able to Afford Health Care.

And you have fed America’s Eternal War Machine so that our military budget dwarfs that of every other country on the planet, and still they want more.

US military budgets

When our current President gets the nuclear war with North Korea that he so ardently wants to have happen, to prove how Big he is, our spending on the Military-Industrial Complex will skyrocket, and all of your bosses will have a field day. Meanwhile 25.37 million North Koreans will die, because the leader of their country is just as juvenile as our own.

You were elected to serve the needs of the American people.
When are you going to grow up, and act like responsible adults?

 

1https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2017/03/20/forbes-2017-billionaires-list-meet-the-richest-people-on-the-planet/#3e05fd4562ff
2https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwimhZ-Z4rXWAhVBHmMKHTkWAXgQFggoMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2Fentry%2Fhouse-representatives-calendar-2017_us_583ef06ae4b0c33c8e133590&usg=AFQjCNGIQZeK3EKty32BVZbEREJU6bkzFw

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 130: Part One- We aren’t what we think we are

September 18, 2017

 “The key idea of Einstein’s theory of general relativity is that gravity is not an ordinary force, but rather a property of space-time geometry.”
http://www.einstein-online.info/elementary/generalRT/GeomGravity

“…general relativity is about more than just understanding gravity. It’s about explaining the totality of existence. General relativity inspired a new vision of the entire fabric of the cosmos. From general relativity flowed the realization that the universe is expanding, that it contains spacetime bottomless pits called black holes, that it is traversed by ripples in space triggered by cataclysmic collisions.
“The implications for the further reaches of the universe were more surprising than even Einstein ever realized,” physicist Stephen Hawking has written.
General relativity explains how the universe can obey physical laws that apply to any form of motion. It’s at the heart of identifying and investigating crucial questions about space and time, existence and reality. And its implications are not limited to esoteric concerns on cosmic scales — it has its down-to-Earth impacts as well. Without general relativity, for instance, GPS devices would be worthless. Satellite signals designed to keep your car on the right road would be off by miles if not corrected for the effects predicted by Einstein’s math.  -Tom Siegfried
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/einsteins-genius-changed-sciences-perception-gravity

I’m not a physicist, but I am fascinated with physics. Our understanding of gravity is theoretical. It’s a pretty good theory, and aspects of the theory are demonstrated all the time. However, no one really understands gravity; nor does anyone really know why gravity exists We haven’t ventured far enough into the Universe to know that the theory is True throughout the Universe. It’s simply the best explanation that has come along.

Saturn's Rings_Blue Marble

The image on the right was taken by the Cassini spacecraft, a few days before it crashed into the atmosphere of Saturn last week. The upper part of the image shows a portion the rings of Saturn; the lighter area at the bottom of the image are believed to be ice crystals ejected by one of Saturn’s moons. A portion of Saturn itself, is in the black area at top left of the image. It’s black because it’s facing away from the Sun, the light source for all the light in our Solar System. The image on the left was created from the data transmitted from Cassini.

Years ago, while working with NASA, Carl Sagan requested that the Voyager spacecraft take a parting photograph of the view behind, as Voyager left the Solar System. In that photo, Earth was seen as a tiny blue spot in a shaft of light.

The Universe is far larger than we can possibly imagine. A human tendency toward hubris—excessive pride or self-confidence—leads us to imagining that we know for a fact, those things we know very little about.

Those whose faith resides in Science often use the same kind of language to discount those whose faith resides in a Creator. Granted, many of those whose faith resides in a Creator use language that isn’t sophisticated, and cannot provide mathematical proofs to give credence to their ideas. I cannot provide proofs to my ideas about the Creator, my ideas about the Universe. All I can tell you is that when I was an atheistic young adult, I encountered the Spirit of the Creator of all life; and this encounter changed the direction of my entire life.

From The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan:

“…There is no reason I should expect an omnipotent being to leave evidence of His existence, except that the Gifford Lectures are supposed to be about that evidence. And I hope it is clear that the fact that I do not see evidence of such a God’s existence does not mean that I then derive from that fact that I know that God does not exist.
“That’s quite a different remark. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Neither is it evidence of presence. And this is again a situation where our tolerance for ambiguity is required. The only thrust of these remarks is for those—and it’s by far the greatest majority of contemporary theologians—who believe that there are natural pieces of evidence for the existence of God or gods. And so, I have no problems with any of that. And, as you say, if a god existed who gave us free will or merely noted that we had free will, and wished to let our free will operate, then he or she or it might very well give us no evidence of his, her, or its existence for just that reason.
“…That we have to use our sense organs and our intellectual abilities to comprehend these issues, I think, is apparent. Perhaps they are limited, but it’s all we have. So, do the best with what we have. Don’t foist, I say, our predispositions on the universe. Look openly at the universe and see how it is. And, how is it? It is that there’s order in there. It’s an amazing amount of order, not that we have introduced but that is there already. Now, you may choose to conclude from that fact that there is an ordering principle and that God exists, and then we come back to all the other arguments: Where did the ordering principle come from? Where did God come from? If you say that I must not ask the question of where God came from, then why must I ask the question of where the universe came from? And so on.” [emphasis added]

From an old entry: Chronicles in Ordinary Time 68: We aren’t what we think we are
https://mjarts.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/chronicles-in-ordinary-time-68-we-arent-what-we-think-we-are/

Imagine a baseball stadium…stadium

I’m not really a science guy, but I’m fascinated with science; I find that my generic understanding of science helps me to understand the Universe, which means that science helps me understand the nature of the Creator.

As I understand it, if an atom was the size of a baseball stadium, the nucleus would be the size of a baseball, and the electrons of a water molecule would orbit somewhere within the confines of the stadium structure. Quantum mechanics, and that concept which is sometimes, but not necessarily accurately, called ‘Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle’, proposes that the act of looking for a particle actually changes the location of the particle—so I’ve indicated the Hydrogen molecules as amorphous ‘star’-like images. When you look to find these atomic particles, they will most likely be somewhere else…

The rest of the volume of the stadium is empty. Electromagnetic forces and nothing solid. We are made up of zillions of atoms; consequently, we are made up of zillions of packets of empty space and a ‘few’ atomic particles. And yet, we believe ourselves to be made up of solid material. The apparent solidity is caused by the electromagnetic forces within the atoms.

We aren’t what we think we are.

So, what are we?

A question that has been asked for Millennia. One of the aspects of living in this cyber-era is that we have a tendency to believe we know so much more than our human counterparts of the last centuries. There are a lot of ‘factoids’ that we now know that people in the past did not know; but that doesn’t always mean we are all that much wiser…

I believe that everyone’s idea of the Creator is too small. This is ‘an occupational hazard’ of being human. Our minds can only perceive so much. People can’t really imagine an Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator; we are stuck here in time, never knowing what’s ahead, and relatively powerless to accomplish anything that will last. But we dream of More. We realize that we were made for More; until the World squishes such thoughts out of our minds; by its incredible and ever-growing weight.

That ‘blue dot’ is not anywhere near the center of the Universe; it isn’t anywhere near the center of the Milky Way; I believe this is the idea that first confounded the ‘religious experts’ of earlier centuries. ‘Surely [‘stop calling me Shirley’] we, who are created in the image of God, must be in the center of the Universe.’ In reality, we are probably located in a low-rent district near the edge of the galaxy.

I believe it is our ability to think that is how we are made in the image of the Creator. I know from my own experience that we can change the way we think; we can change the way we perceive our world. I believe that we can come in contact with the Creator of the Universe through the labyrinthian pathways of our brains. Functional MRIs can plot the path of a thought. Functional MRIs can show that in the mind of one with Bipolar Disorder, thoughts get blocked; as if by a roadblock on the freeway. Studies have shown that with rather drastic methods, those ‘roadblocks’ can be bypassed. Sometimes those blockages can be bypassed with the use of ancient herbal formulae.

I believe we can re-program our brains through the way we think. I believe that the Spirit of the Creator can help us to reprogram our brains; and can ‘plant’ new ideas in our brain. We do not have to be the victims of our brain chemistry. But changing the way our brains operate doesn’t just happen; one has to cooperate with the process, and it requires a lot of work.

I believe these ideas because I have seen them at work in my own life. I have become a person, that in the past, I did not want to be. I have discovered that other people are more important to my life than I am. By nature, I am a curmudgeon who really doesn’t care about people I do not know. In spite of myself, I’ve changed.

A friend asked:

My sensory nerves are ‘dissolving’—I lose sensation on a continual basis; and a bunch of neurologists have no explanations as to why, or how long. Ironically, as I lose these sensations, they are often replaced with pain. Sometimes, intense pain. For the most part, the pain does not get worse when I move. So, I keep moving.

I have spinal damage in my neck and lumbar regions—damage that probably occurred in high school. My parents didn’t have the money, and didn’t see the need, to take me to a neurologist. I have no proof it happened in high school. I’ve been in three ‘totaled’ car wrecks, and did stupid stuff as a contractor. The old damage that shows up in contemporary MRIs could have occurred sometime in the first decades of my adult life.

All I know for sure is that the continual pain I’d felt for years, went away one day; the day after I went to a ‘Crusade’. I felt compelled to ‘go forward’ with the dozens of people who were leaving their seats in the Civic Auditorium. I did not want the ‘Spiritual Gifts’ the preacher was handing out. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to go forward. Nothing happened that night, beyond embarrassment. The next day I realized that the pain in my low back, pain I’d had for years, was gone. It stayed away for a long time. Apparently, something happened in my brain that was ‘stronger’ than my brain chemistry and the damage to my spine. My mind overcame pain.

But I can’t prove it; and I can’t download software into your brain. Part of the continuing story of my faith walk. Stuff I cannot prove. My experience in encountering the Spirit of the Creator has become my “Formal Principle”.

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is taking place soon. Martin Luther nailed his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517. The ‘official’ beginning of the Reformation. His intense study of Scripture became his “Formal Principle”.

I wasn’t raised in the Church; I never entered a church sanctuary until I was in my twenties. My reading of the Bible happened in the same time period as my reading of Marcus Aurelius. Both are profound. While I believe that the Bible is entirely inspired by the Spirit of the Creator; and is entirely True in its original languages, for the purposes that they were written; I don’t believe the Bible is entirely factual. In one of the oldest books of Torah [Older Testament], the Creator speaks to Job, and tells him that about 2/3 of what was written—the speeches by Job’s ‘Comforters’—is actually nonsense. However, it hadn’t been written at that time, so we aren’t entirely sure which 2/3 is being referenced.

Jesus and His Apostles practiced Judaism, not Christianity; an altered Judaism, which is what caused the Religious Right to be ticked off. That which became the Newer Testament was written to believers who practiced Judaism as taught by Jesus. They later became known as Christians, but there’s no indication that they stopped practicing Judaism. Judaism without circumcision, and without Kosher food. This is probably about as far away from Luther’s Holy Roman Catholic Church as one can get, while still using the name of Jesus. I have trouble believing that Paul and the Apostles realized that they were writing the “Formal Principles” of the modern Church. Would their writings have been different, if they knew what was to come? I have no idea.

We won’t know, until Time does not matter.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 127: Brokenness Can Be the Beginning

July 2, 2017

Independence Day Holiday, 2017

It is when we are broken that we realize we cannot be what we want to be; we cannot accomplish the things we want to accomplish in our own strength. We see our faults for what they are, and we stop hiding from them. These broken places can become places of strength. The broken places are where the Light shines through.

America once had a standing in the world as the ‘home of democracy’; the place of freedom for anyone to be who we can become. Where every citizen can become President. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:
My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

“Once again”—presumably a reference to the Civil War. Hopefully applicable to the less-than-civil ‘war’ that is happening in America today.

My maternal Grandparents and their family, at different times, came from Norway to America in the early 1920’s. I don’t know why, exactly. I realize now that I really didn’t care, all that much. One of my less-positive attributes, a problem of being ‘asocial’; perhaps a consequence of being an ‘Only’ raised by working parents. I’ve recently learned that there was a famine in Norway in the early 1920’s; my assumption is that this was a contributing factor to their emigration.
My conclusions, based on growing up in my family, is that when my Grandparents left Norway [which was referred to as ‘the Old country’], they decided to become Americans; rather than Norwegian-Americans. I’ve never bothered to find out much about their lives… I know that my Grandmother traveled by train with her three young daughters, across the US from New York. My Grandmother’s first experience of seeing people of Color. She was surprised by the dark brown skin, but found the porters on the train to be very nice. My Grandmother spoke no English at the time; my guess is that she learned a lot from her three daughters, as they learned to speak English. We had Norwegian cookies at Christmas; a small Norwegian flag sat on the mantle. Occasionally Norwegian relatives visited Portland. My Grandparent made at least one trip back to their Norwegian home.

I don’t know how they would feel about today…

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…”
It doesn’t take long, if one reads stories from the International Press, that we aren’t there anymore. America is failing the world, in terms of our example. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is rightly being called the “Leader of the Free World.”

The Bible uses a word called, “repent” to symbolize this understanding of our own brokenness, our weakness, and our determination to move beyond our failures through the strength of a Higher Power. The Greek word, usually translated as “repent” actually means, ‘to see the world through new eyes’. Over the centuries, the word “repent” has taken on a moralistic tone regarding one’s behavior. This understanding is incorrect.

Four Presidents, I believe, found the strength to be dynamic leaders of our country, through having discovered their brokenness. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. The moment some people finish reading that sentence their minds race in rebellion. Do I believe that these are America’s Greatest Presidents? Probably not; I’m not a Presidential historian. There were a lot of Presidents before Lincoln; there have been a lot of Presidents after JFK, who, I believe, never had the opportunity to fully prove his Greatness.

All of these Presidents were flawed; which is part of my point.
Abraham Lincoln, clinically depressed, married to a bipolar wife, lost three children to death by illness; two before the Civil War.
Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day, early in his political life. He chose to suffer hardship in the Dakotas, leaving his newborn daughter with his sister; possibly in some strange act of penance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stricken with polio eleven years before he became President. He taught himself to ‘walk’ using iron leg braces and the assistance of a son.
John F. Kennedy severely injured his back in the Pacific, during World War II, and was in continual pain for the rest of his life, and addicted to pain killers while in office.

Four men, labeled by history as a “Leader of the Free World,” who inwardly realized they could not accomplish anything in their own strength and power, regardless of how the world might view them. Men who became broken by circumstances, and found the strength to overcome their brokenness. I am of the opinion that all these men came to rely on a Higher Power to enable them to do what they could not do on their own. Men who decided that they dare not fail.

Today our President is failing all over the world, and he seems to be oblivious to it. Some critics say that rather than ‘Making America Great Again’, he is making China great. Rather than encouraging the country to become more than it currently is, leading by example, he gets in ‘twitter wars’ with journalists and celebrities…To me, it seems he still thinks he’s on a ‘reality TV show’; rather than attempting to be the ‘Leader of the Free World’. A President who seems to mainly be interested in his own popularity rather than caring for the least of us. A President who supports a Tax Cut for the wealthy at the cost of health care for the poor.

From my reading of Facebook, some will think that I’m whining about the result of the 2016 Presidential Election; this isn’t true. I’m a ‘progressive centrist’. I voted for the Jewish Socialist who spoke the words of Jesus, the words of Torah, whether or not he realized it. I’m writing about character. ‘Leading by Example’; something any Senior Patrol Leader in the Boy Scouts will affirm; but something our President seems never to have learned…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 124: Donald on the Road to Damascus

June 15, 2017

I’m currently working on a new illustration, one that woke me up one night, a few weeks ago. This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often; when they do, I make an effort to pay attention to them. I have no idea why I’m working on the illustration—in terms of what will be happening with the illustration when it is finished. I’m working on it in my ‘spare’ time; with the expectation that at some point in my story, I will learn why.

The image deals with Saul of Tarsus and the Road to Damascus, taken from the New Testament Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The Road to Damascus is where Saul, Pharisee of the Pharisees, Ultra-Conservative Jewish Defender of the faith; he who became a Jewish hunter of the followers of Jesus—sent to imprison them—the road where Saul was knocked off his horse, and blinded:

‘As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

From there he is taken to Damascus, and brought to the house of Ananias, a devout follower of Jesus, who has been warned in a dream that the feared Saul would come to his house; and Ananias would heal Saul of his blindness. This happens, and Saul becomes Paul. The rest is history, or not; depending upon your beliefs regarding the New Testament.

Having no idea what the Road to Damascus looks like now, much less what it looked like 2,000 years ago, I did what I always do—an image search for ‘Damascus Road’ on Google. Amongst the images of Syria, I found this one:

Donald on the Road to Damascus By Claire Palmer

Speaking for myself, a Believer who was trained in high school and college in Critical Thinking, I have a tendency to treat Biblical events as mythology, more than literal fact… yes, even in God’s Word. I believe that Scripture is entirely True in its original languages; for the purpose it was intended. The Creator of the Universe told Job that 2/3 of the Book of Job [believed to be the oldest of the Biblical texts] is entirely wrong. According to the Creator, not all of Scripture is literally accurate. There are many who seem to forget this piece of information.

I was pondering the notion of what it would have ‘looked like’ to be there in Damascus at the time Saul was knocked off of his horse; or even the more currently applicable incident found in Daniel 4, where:

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar [who was king of Babylon c. 605 BE – c. 562 BCE, the longest reign of any king of the Neo-Babylonian empire]. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird…

…and eventually King Nebuchadnezzar repents and returns.

What would the Washington Post have to say about an event like this?

If the story is true, there would have been bystanders, witnesses to the circumstances, whose personal descriptions have not survived the test of time. Not enough journalists at the time…

Suppose The Donald is about to receive some ‘horrible’ fall from his throne, becoming the least effective, the least popular, and probably most hated President of current American history [he says the same, about his predecessor]. Where will he go? Will he forsake his ‘palace’ in NYC and go to Saudi, where he has lots of friends, or to one of his many other favored places…or will all of his allies suddenly disappear as the Trump Empire begins its downfall…

One of the ironies is that at the final Correspondents Dinner that President Obama attended, he roasted The Donald; and as the cameras focused on the future President’s face, one could see that he was seething. It is said that one of his main goals in life would be to take the Presidency from the man who had so thoroughly insulted him during that dinner. He is a proud man.


I have seen the facial expression of the middle photo so many times; and I keep getting reminded of the face of Benito Mussolini, dictator over Italy during World War II. Another proud man who fell from his ‘throne’.

Do I wish ill upon P45? No; I think the man is an egotistical fool who had no business running for President—he clearly has no idea what the job entails. P45 was raised to be a real estate magnate who somehow believes that wealth gives him the necessary wisdom to run a University, and somehow, to run a country. He and his thumbs have shown him to be his own worst enemy.

What saddens me most is to see our country as it has become in the last nine or so months; the way that a President who ran a campaign based on racial bias has encouraged the country to become more racially biased; how angry people have taken the statements of an angry man, and found them to be a justification for violence. A few weeks ago, Portland, Oregon was leading the news stories, after the murder of two men who were defending two girls of color from my local high school, girls who were being verbally abused by a known White Supremacist.

Portland, Oregon, my home town, has never had a history of racial tolerance. The State of Oregon was created to be entirely white. Portland was largely white until World War II, when the city became home to the building of Liberty Ships. In order to find workers for the shipyards, people of color were imported to Portland; the community of Vanport was created as an integrated place for them to live. Vanport was flooded in 1948, and hundreds of people of color needed to be relocated; they were sent to the part of Portland with the lowest property values. My Dad worked in the shipyards; I assume that this is where he learned racial tolerance. I grew up in Portland, oblivious to the City’s efforts to keep people of color ‘in their place’. I am mindful of the words of Charlie Black, one of the thirty or so lawyers who had worked on the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared school segregation unlawful and thus began the end of the old Southern racist regime. He tells of his first encounter with Louis Armstrong, at a dance hall in Austin, Texas:

He was the first genius I had ever seen. That may be a structurable part of the process that led me to the Brown case. The moment of first being, and knowing oneself to be, in the presence of genius, is a solemn moment; it is perhaps the moment of final and indelible perception of man’s utter transcendence of all else created. It is impossible to overstate the significance of a sixteen-year-old Southern boy’s seeing genius, for the first time, in a black. We literally never saw a black man, then, in any but a servant’s capacity. There were of course black professionals in Austin, as one later learned, but they kept to themselves, out back of town, no doubt shunning humiliation…
Every person of decency in the South of those days must have had some doubts about racism, and I had mine even then—perhaps more than most others. But Louis opened my eyes wide, and put to me a choice. Blacks, the saying went, were “all right in their place.” What was the “place” of such a man, and of the people from which he sprung?

We are better people than we, as a country, are presenting ourselves to be. We can improve.

 

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 120_The Night He Was Betrayed…

April 13, 2017

Garden of Gethsemane/Malchus’ Legion

“On the night He was betrayed…” From the Words of Institution of the Eucharist, or Communion, for the more informal Church. Tonight is Maundy Thursday, named for “the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor” [dictionary]; especially commemorating Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet on the night before His betrayal. Sometime after Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He led them to the Garden of Gethsemane; and in the Garden, He was arrested by the Roman soldiers who would later torture Him and crucify Him. In the name of Justice. Jesus threatened the Roman government by His existence; claiming that He was the son of the Creator, and therefore, the High King.

On the Sunday before all of this occurred, Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey [not riding a horse, as a Conqueror might do], to the cheering of a crowd, who covered his path with palm branches—Palm Sunday. They expected Jesus to be the promised King who would lead an uprising against the Romans—at least that’s the way they read Scripture. In less than a week, that cheering crowd would be a crowd yelling for Jesus’ Crucifixion. Not unlike modern American sports crowds. One week cheering for a player who does something spectacular, and the next week yelling at him for demonstrating his resolve in protesting the actions of his government. We are a fickle people.

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples—the act of a common slave—to prove that He wasn’t superior to the least of those in Jewish society. Nothing was beneath Jesus; the One through whom all things were made—a concept that people today have trouble believing.

Is it a betrayal, when you know that you are going to be betrayed; or is it the fulfilling of a promise?

While I am a man of Faith; I’m not particularly religious. I’ve attended Maundy Thursday services in the past, rather than staying at home writing about Maundy Thursday—a valuable, symbolic act by the Faithful. Not all churches do the feet washing; many believers feel ashamed of their feet, and won’t ‘display’ them in public. Scripture says that the Creator has known us from our mother’s womb; that there is nowhere we can go that hides us from our Maker. The Creator knows about the condition of our feet; the places our feet have taken us; the real or symbolic lives we have stepped upon. And we are loved by our Creator, without regard to our own self-worth.

Jesus told many parables—stories filled with truth; stories that one had to think about to understand—so that His listeners would have to figure out what He was talking about. He was teaching His listeners to listen—one of the most valuable traits a human can have. The ability to listen, rather than waiting for our turn to speak.

One of His parables tells of a young man who told His father that He wanted his inheritance now [a polite way of saying he wished his father was dead]. His father gave his son half of all he had [yeah, that would be complicated]; the other half remaining, for the elder brother. The younger brother took his newfound wealth and spent it in a far country, reveling in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll… Eventually the money ran out, and this Jewish kid found himself working as a servant, feeding pigs [Scripture doesn’t say if the irony was lost on him]. One day he realizes that the servants on his father’s property were far better off than he was, off in the far country. He decides to admit his stupidity, and to beg his father to allow him to work as a servant. He probably rehearsed his lines for days, as he walked home.

Meanwhile, the father searches the horizon every day, hoping for a sign that his son was returning. One day he spots a familiar shape walking along the road. The father starts running toward his returning son, robe flapping around his age-bent legs [it was incredibly crude for Jewish men to be seen running]. Before his son can finish the first rehearsed sentence, is father is grabbing him and shouting that the son he thought he had lost had returned! When they get home, the father tells all the servants to prepare for a party! The son he thought he’d lost had returned home! Bring out the best robe, and put a ring on the younger son’s finger…meanwhile the elder brother sulks in the corner; once again ticked off because his upstart little brother is the center of attention. I’m told brothers can be that way; I’m an only…

Later the father reassures his older son that he could have had parties anytime he wished; all he needed to do is ask. The elder son continues to sulk.

 

Half of the people in our country who were eligible to vote decided it wasn’t worth the effort. They didn’t see the value in any candidate running in the last election. A couple months into the rule of P45, lots of people are seeing that the election of this particular President was a huge mistake. As our fleet sails toward the Koreas, P45 is preparing to take on an overaged toddler running around North Korea with nuclear weapons. P45 has dropped “The Mother Of All Bombs” [not my title] on the mountains of Syria; having launched about $60 million worth of cruise missiles last week, that did very little damage to the Syrian government [not ISIS]. Apparently, the launching of bombs makes one Presidential. A House and Senate that refused to allow President Obama to target Syria, after chemical weapons were used against its people by the Syrian government in 2013, is now cheering P45 for his Presidential behavior.

Two thousand years and we’re still pulling the same, stupid…stuff. We never learn. Somehow, the Creator, who knew from the moment of Creation, all of the holocausts that humans would rain upon each other over the centuries, knew that we are worth the effort. He found us so worth the effort that rather than coming to Earth as a conquering King, Jesus came as a single cell in a teenage girls’ womb. Jesus came to live among us; to share in the *stuff* that humans do to each other; to be arrested, tortured and hung on a cross as punishment for being ‘the King of the Jews’. Had it ended there, it would be an awful story; and probably lost in history.

On Sunday, churches around the world will celebrate Easter; the day of Jesus’ return from the dead, alive, and still living today; living in the hearts and minds of people who simply ‘walk through a door’ into Faith. We are accepted; not by the pained lives we bring to the Creator; not by our stupid decisions; accepted simply because we are loved by our Eternal Father; who tolerates—somehow—the awfulness we sometimes bring to the world. We are accepted; not by a Conquering King [still a popular concept], but by the One who knows all of the *stuff* we have to live through. The Creator knows, because the Creator became one of us. Jesus shows us that the end isn’t really the End. In the End, we are loved.

Irreverent; I know. However, theologically profound, if one gives it some thought.
The idea isn’t original; I ‘borrowed’ it from Facebook…

 


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