Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

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 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 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 115: I’m sorry I’m interrupting your puppies and kittens and desserts…

January 28, 2017

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

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

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

Your life was never about you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fallen-liberty

 

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

January 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are many who raising their voices.

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

November 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

What are we coming to as a nation?

What did the Greatest Generation fight a war for?

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

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

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

October 30, 2016

REFORMATION DAY 2016

I’m not a big believer in coincidence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARTICLE 16.

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

What am I talking about…

The North Dakota Pipeline Protest

north-dakota-pipelineDAPL map overlaying Treaty Lands

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

Beating unarmed protestors.

On their own land.

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

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

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

That our promises matter.

That our honor matters.

That Justice matters.

That how we treat people matters.

May God have mercy on our souls…

 

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

October 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

 

4th-doctorDoctor Who art for book jacket

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two explorers engage in a brief philosophical discussion:

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

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

 

What about God? Do you have a god?

Explain.

An all-powerful being. A force underlying everything.

Electromagnetic forces underlying all.

No, l mean an intelligent force… God.

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

All the same?

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

 

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

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

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

Then the closing narration:

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

Words we need to hear now.

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

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First Contact; with Klaatu and Gort:

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

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

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

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

 


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