Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 126: America, welcome to Broken

June 25, 2017

“What kind of a country are we if anyone can come before you and talk about cutting health care for children with disabilities in order to give tax breaks to the richest people on earth?
Bernie Sanders, June 2017

“This is the first time that we are aware, that a black professional, in law enforcement, himself being shot and treated as an ordinary black guy on the street,” Tate told Fox News. “This is a real problem.”


“Welcome to Broken, America”

The other day I wrote the first three words to a woman I know; a woman who had the courage to write that because of the pain she is in, from a damaged body, that she isn’t able to live up to the expectations that she probably learned from her mother and her mother’s friends and families. Expectations about how a home should operate, how it should look, and what a hostess should be expected to be… All guesswork on my part; I don’t know her well enough to explore her background and expectations.

I never put much stock in those expectations, although I learned them from my parents. Like so many other areas of my life, I chose not to comply.

I choose not to comply.

Probably a mantra of my generation. Most clearly portrayed in this photograph, from the 1968 Democratic Convention:


It is so important to remember that this photo was published during the Democratic Convention; not during the Republican convention where Nixon became the Republican candidate for President. I wonder how many of those pictured above ended up on Wall Street?

1968 was a Hell of a year…
http://cds.library.brown.edu/projects/1968/reference/timeline.html

There was a time in America, [for most of my lifetime and before, when the President of the United States would stand [or sit] before the citizens of the country, and attempt to bring some order out of the chaos. History shows there were a lot of lies, behind the scenes. These men were far from perfect. However, they understood the importance of Leadership.

Two days ago, the New York Times published:

Trump’s Lies

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So, we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.
By DAVID LEONHARDT and STUART A. THOMPSON
JUNE 23, 2017
“https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html

Recent polling implies that 38%, the same 38% that is unaware that Trumpcare will give $600 BILLION in tax breaks to the wealthiest in America by stripping $600 BILLION in benefits from the poorest in the country [Because, of course, Congressional Rules state that new acts have to be budget-neutral. Every cut in taxes has to be offset by a cut in services].

That 38% very likely believes that the last two paragraphs are ‘fake news’ because that is what the President has brainwashed them to believe.

TR was correct. “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of individuals and nations alike.”

I met a man with character on Friday, a guy who owns a service station. One of the few persons who ever ask to see my ID, even though it’s written boldly on my debit card. “Anyone I catch not checking for their customer’s ID, gets fired from my station. I owe that service to my customers.” I haven’t heard those kinds of words for a long time. From his accent, I expect that he is an immigrant.

It seems so long ago since I watched a President stand up before the American public, tears in his eyes, speaking about the most recent hate-crime murder victims…

“I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that. And that’s terrible to say. And it can change.”

Two months after that speech; and again, two months later; and three months after that and four months after that:

“It was at least the 14th time that President Obama spoke to the nation in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting — and the sixth time within just the past year.
“Obama himself has acknowledged that his remarks have become all too predictable. “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting has become routine. My response here, from this podium, has become routine,” Obama said last October, following the shooting at an Oregon community college.”
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/06/12/14-mass-shootings-14-speeches-how-obama-has-responded/85798652/

And then the shootings by the police…

“These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues.
“According to various studies, not just one, but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years, African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over.
“After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.
“Last year African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites.
“African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites; African Americans defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost ten percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime.”
http://fortune.com/2016/07/07/obama-sterling-castile-speech/

And our current President says almost nothing. He tweets a lot.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable,” President Trump said on Twitter. “The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

In the following quotation:

“This is the first time that we are aware, that a black professional, in law enforcement, himself being shot and treated as an ordinary black guy on the street,” Tate told Fox News. “This is a real problem.”

I’m not positive that the speaker understands that shooting is not supposed to be the treatment of ‘the ordinary black guy on the street’.

America, welcome to broken.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 125: Thank You, Mazza Museum Tour 2017!

June 16, 2017

“…for I am in the way if being an amateur chemist; that is to say, I earn my living with it on the side, my real profession being the writing of poetry, at which I have had considerable success. Only last week I sold a poem to a magazine for $12, and the month before I received checks for $7.50 and $5.00 respectively, for verse…”
Edward Ansley, in Paul Gallico’s “The Glass Door”

The business of the making of Children’s Books is not often like the stories contained in Children’s Books. I have found the business of the making of Children’s Books to be unlike any other business I’ve engaged in…earning a living from making of Children’s Books is a difficult thing to do, and is frequently unrewarding.

Then, as in a Children’s Book, the Unlikely sometimes happens:

A parting shot—one of those photos one wishes they would have taken a better version of, if they had thought about it—of some of the members of this year’s [Year 23] Mazza Museum Tour; a busload of retired teachers and librarians, all of them docents at the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio. “The Mazza Museum is the most diverse collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators in the world.”
https://www.mazzamuseum.org/

Every Summer [it really is Summer, somewhere in this country], these folks travel across the country to visit the studios of Children’s Book illustrators; purely for the love of Children’s Books.

I’m still not sure why, but I was honored by being invited to join this group for lunch this afternoon, along with Carolyn Conahan, a fellow illustrator located here in Portland. Last year I received a phone call  from Benjamin Sapp, the Director of the Mazza Museum, asking ‘how would I like to have a busload of people come to my studio to watch me work?’ I explained that my ‘studio’ is full when my wife is in here with me, and that I’m not sure a busload of people would fit inside our house…

So, this afternoon I told a busload of Children’s Book lovers about my haphazard journey as a Children’s Book illustrator—the illustrator of Children’s Books that ‘no one has ever read’…Exaggeration for effect. One of the visitors had a copy of “Oregon At Last” with her, so I’m not entirely unread— http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016T82HDY —it merely seems that way.

For the benefit of those who did not have the opportunity to visit my tiny, cluttered ‘studio’, some links—

A very old PowerPoint presentation of my office and my work:

http://mjarts.com/samples/MJ%20Arts%20Illustration%203%20parts.ppt

The computers have changed, the mess remains…

My youtube channel, containing a number of videos, and an interview on Back Page:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GspLTb3Qbq8&index=1&list=PLNGfGb77KAQh4TVIktKvkxCYGNGPXVylU

Some of my more recent images:

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship featuring the 10th Doctor [precursor to the 11th Doctor’s visit]

A BeeGees CD album for a private collector

Thank You, Mazza Museum Tour 2017!

 

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 123: Ordinary people who risk their lives defending freedom…

May 28, 2017

Portland, Oregon, my home town, the place that has been my residence for 65 years, has once again made national news; and once again, for something both shameful and heroic.

On the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, a white supremacist murdered two white men and injured another, who is recovering in a local hospital. White men who were defending two brown-skinned girls; three heroes who moments before were strangers on a MAX train. I agree with Dan Rather:

“Their names were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best. One was a recent college graduate. The other was an army veteran and father of four. I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them. They were brave Americans who died at the hands of someone who, when all the facts are collected, we may have every right to call a terrorist. A third brave man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded in the knife attack.”
https://www.facebook.com/theDanRather/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

The murderer has been arrested.

We used to have a President who cared what happened in this country, on his watch; rather than petulantly obsessing about how the press is treating him.

We used to have a President who took to the podium in the White House newsroom, and spoke about the heroism of ordinary people who risked their lives defending freedom.

We apparently don’t have that kind of President anymore.

Thousands of people gathered at the MAX station last night for a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen. At this point in time, nearly $800,000 has been raised for medical treatment and the expenses of those involved in the attack.

Christ, Have Mercy

 

 

 

 

 

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…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 119: Today I met a most remarkable man

March 23, 2017

Cover Illustration, The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

Very few comments about politics this week… although I could write more. Please read this article by Thomas L. Friedman: Calling On a Few Good Men

Doctor Watson’s Thyroid

The only thing the image above has in common with my thoughts is the first word in the title…

Today I met a most remarkable man; a doctor who listens.

He asked if I ever to medical illustrations…

My current medical journey began 9 years ago. Mine is mostly a journey of inconvenience; I don’t have anything that appears to be life-threatening. While I consider myself ‘partially disabled’, it’s mostly a description of circumstances…

I had a GP of 30 or so years; he retired about 11 years ago. He wasn’t a great listener, but we had a shared history. Gene helped birth my two sons; he was the first long-term doc for our daughter.

I’ve lost track of the number of docs I’ve seen since Gene retired. I could look up the number, but it isn’t worth my time. I have a neurological problem; at this point it has no name, only a description: Idiopathic Polyneuropathy, In layman’s terms: ‘your nerves are screwed-up, and we are clueless as to why.’ Life has been getting more uncomfortable lately; more pain, less control of my limbs. So, my latest Primary and I decided it was time to see another Neurologist.

I started describing the course of my Neuropathy: how 8 years ago, two numb spots on my feet traveled upwards to my lower jaw over the course of a few days.
“That’s not Neuropathy”

How almost exactly two years later, the Neuropathy took over the rest of my head, wiped out most of my taste buds, and altered the way my gut functions. It also dropped my blood pressure dramatically.
“That’s not Neuropathy”

I started explaining some of the other changes over the last 4 years, and he stopped me, saying: “Look, they’ve sent you to the wrong doctor. I do Neuropathy; what you’re describing isn’t Neuropathy.”

“Then why in the Hell have the 15 docs I’ve seen over the last 9 years called it ‘Idiopathic Polyneuropathy’?”
“Because it’s easy.”

So, we’re back to more tests, more scans. But I’ve found a guy that listens.
And, here’s another illustration, if you are reading this…

People don’t listen today. Mostly people wait for their turn to talk.

Over half of the White Evangelicals in the country voted for P45; I think it’s because they weren’t listening.

One can’t be empathetic to the plight of those who lack, while talking garbage. One can’t talk garbage about a person while having the ‘other’s’ best interests in their minds. One can’t be concerned about injustice toward women while insulting women at the same time. One can’t be concerned about injustice toward minorities while being afraid of them at the same time.

P45 expressed concerns shared by a large segment of White America; his solutions were based in fear, not in faith toward ‘our fellow Man’ [that gender-neutral term].

The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

From Facebook. Someone commented that the students were using their smart phones to learn about Rembrandt’s painting.

When one is standing before a Rembrandt, one can’t learn about the painting by looking at a device. One learns about Rembrandt by looking at the painting.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 118: We are already there

March 11, 2017

From Facebook:

Photoshopped landscape of the Standing Rock Sioux March on Washington

They wanted a businessman for President.
“He’ll run the company like a business.”
“He’s a billionaire; he must have a good head on his shoulders.”

Friday night, my wife and I watched an excellent performance by actors in the David Douglas High School theater program: the play called “These Shining Lives”. The story tells of four women who were hired in the 1920s to paint the radium numbers on clocks and watches; to create dials that glow in the dark. The play parallels other true stories that take place in different parts of the country. The women die, a dozen or so years later, from radium poisoning. Before death, they contract various forms of cancer. The Corporations who create the clocks and watches deny responsibility for the radium poisoning, even after the truth becomes known to the companies’ management. Company doctors diagnose the health problems as ‘nerves’. The women lose their jobs when their performance degrades. Fortunately, there are doctors who are willing to stand up to these Corporations, and lawsuits are filed, and eventually won, after years of trials and appeals. Workplace safety laws come about. But these shining lives are ended. They all die.

They wanted a businessman to run the country.

I was a businessman, but I really wasn’t a very good businessman. I failed as a businessman. I was a good craftsman, but a poor businessman.

Nobody who wanted the Businessman to run the country seemed very concerned about the Businessman’s business history. They ignored the multiple bankruptcies and the lawsuits; they refused to demand that the Businessman’s tax records be produced. They accepted his self-definition of being a ‘Billionaire’, but never checked it out. In the late 90s, the Businessman lost nearly a billion dollars in a business deal. A UK publication, The Independent, published information that a new study suggests that the Businessman’s businesses owe $1.8 billion to more than 150 different institutions; in a variety of countries. The current Forbes 400 has the Businessman pegged at $3.7 billion.

The primary goal of Corporations is profit.

The Businessman has filled his cabinet with Businessmen from Wall Street, whose main goals are to get rid of all of the pesky rules that increase the cost of doing business in America. All those Environmental Protection rules that drive up the cost of doing business. Eliminate the regulations, profit goes up.
To hell with Climate Change, to hell with Science, to hell with the Arts. Profit. Drive up fossil fuel production and destroy the environment; the goal is profit. To hell with the communities who no longer have safe drinking water.

To hell with the First People. Our country has written Treaties with First Peoples for over two centuries; breaking those treaties before the ink had dried. What’s one more Treaty? The pipeline going under the Missouri River is too dangerous to be located near the State Capitol; it’s just fine near the Standing Rock Sioux tribal lands. There aren’t any Whites to worry about on the Res.

The Majority party in both the House and the Senate seem to be quite content with all of the destruction; their concerns are the those of the Corporations who fund their campaigns, and line their pockets with business deals. The .01%.

To hell with Conflicts of Interest; they are given no place in our government. The goal is profit.

What does it profit a country to gain wealth and power, but lose its soul?

My new heroine; The Fearless Girl standing before the Wall Street Bull

Of course, the Fearless Girl will be flattened if the Bull charges. The dream is that the Bull will be intimidated by the Fearless Girl’s Resistance.

There are George Carlin videos running around the Internet where he talks about ‘the owners of America,’ and they aren’t us. The profanity turns off many White Americans of my age range; they probably don’t listen. The information is probably correct. Portions of an article on salon.com:

The .1 percent are the true villains: What Americans don’t understand about income inequality
http://www.salon.com/2016/04/14/the_1_percent_are_the_real_villains_what_americans_dont_understand_about_income_inequality_partner/
By 2015, the wealthiest 20 people owned more wealth than half the American population… the ranks of the very top are no longer filled by mainly by entrepreneurs or even financiers who are self-made. Increasingly, they are populated by people who, thanks to several decades of regressive tax policy, have inherited their wealth; names like Walton and Koch have become common at the apex of wealth. This is the new hereditary aristocracy of means and power.
Figuring out exactly how the very richest spend politically is hard, but it’s obvious that big contributions from the 0.1 percent are sharply rising in importance. It used to be that these gazillionaires would make their donations and then simply pick up the phone and tell Congress what they wanted done—as Jamie Dimon did when he and other bankers wanted a key part of Dodd-Frank to be rolled back in 2014. They tend to get what they want (Dimon did), and above all, what they want is not to pay taxes or have their activities regulated. That’s why you will continue to hear politicians insist that the paltry amount you can expect in Social Security is too much and that “we can’t afford” to send kids to college without plunging them into debt peonage.
Inequality of income and wealth has fed back into the political process in dramatic fashion this political season. Tycoons like Donald Trump are abandoning their behind-the-scenes positions and stepping right onto the political stage. We may be entering a new phase of American politics where the 0.1 percent more regularly takes on the mantle of public servant to run the show directly, highlighting the brokenness of our system of democratic representation. Bernie Sanders, who has made political revolution focused on wresting control from billionaires as a central theme, is clearly focused on the power of the 0.1 percent. The revolution he calls for will not likely happen unless the 99 percent and the lower-uppers can appreciate their common ground and common threat.

Our common threat: living in a country that is run by a handful of people of enormous wealth, who don’t want their activities regulated.

The problem is that we are already there.

 

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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.


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