Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

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.’

angel.grief_mj

 

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:

screen-shot
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.

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 107: Character

October 11, 2016

lincoln_charcter

Before I start writing these essays, I usually ask myself why I think anyone really cares what I think about the world…

Back when our first child had been conceived, I started writing her letters. Most of what I wrote about, I figured would have little interest for her until she was a teenager. I continued the process by writing to my sons, as well, when they first appeared. Many of the later letters ‘cheated’ in that I wrote the same letter to all three kids.

To a large degree, these blogs are a continuation of that process. I’m still writing for my kids; but the audience appears to be larger now, based on comments I receive…

 

If I had the opportunity, I would vote for ‘Jed’ Bartlett or Andrew Shepherd; since both are characters written from the mind of Aaron Sorkin, I’m out of luck. In The American President, Andrew Shepherd makes the following statement:

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I’ve been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.

I don’t want to vote for any of the four names I believe will be on my Oregon ballot for the Office of President of the United States.

I would not vote for Portland’s Mayor, or anyone on the City Council for President; even if they had run for Governor. I don’t feel that a couple of terms on the City Council would qualify someone for the Office of President. I worked for the City Council for 14 years; that doesn’t qualify me for national office.

I don’t support the Libertarian Policy goals.

Given another option, I would never vote for HRC as the Democratic candidate. We had another option; the DNC never supported that option. This is sad. I think he would have made an excellent President.

If my teen-aged granddaughter came up to me and said she had the opportunity to work as an intern for Donald Trump, I WOULD NEVER give my approval.

If it was ‘locker room banter,’ it was the locker room in high school where I might have heard it. I avoided the high school locker room.

I heard this ‘banter’ in Freshman or Sophomore college dorm rooms where the participants were mostly stoned or drunk, and were trying to impress other stoners with their imagined exploits. It was the ‘banter’ used by a medical student who wanted to become a gynecologist. I hope he never achieved his career goal. His goal was to assault women; but he never thought of it as ‘assault’; women were merely sexual toys.

Did I object to this sexually-charged language? No; I didn’t know any better. I thought the people making the comments were asses, but I thought most of the people that I was around were asses. I generally had a low opinion of people; but I had no ‘moral center’ from which I could stand. I was a snob, more than principled. ‘The Donald’ might have approved of the dorm T-shirt I designed; although I refused to follow the design literally. It was based on ‘the Donald’s’ comments, long before he most recently made them.

Trump’s comments weren’t made in a locker room or dorm room. It was the passenger seat on a media bus, probably filled with recording equipment.

He wasn’t running for President in 2005.
No; his first Presidential Campaign was in 2000.

Being President of this country is entirely about character…
I wouldn’t want that character in my house, much less the White House.

Too bad Condoleezza Rice isn’t running. She’d probably win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 105_McFarland

September 27, 2016

hurdles

I watched McFarland USA [2015] tonight; one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/McFarland-USA-Kevin-Costner/dp/B00UI5CU6Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1474960345&sr=1-1&keywords=mcfarland+usa+dvd

IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2097298/?ref_=nv_sr_1

McFarland, California, in 1987, was a place where the townspeople were there because they had nowhere else to go. Pickers, mainly; not unlike the people of the San Quintin valley of Baja, Mexico. Kids waking up at 4:30a to go pick in the fields until it’s time for school; after school they run to the fields and pick until dark, so that their families can survive. They don’t get paid by the hour, they get paid by the field. They pick because their parents pick, and that’s the only life they’ve ever known; and the only life they ever expect to have. Pickers, all of their lives.

Here, in America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

We forget this, those of us who have lived with the electronic luxury of America all of our lives. I am of the opinion that we will have to address this forgetfulness when we stand before our Creator.

A high-school coach named Jim White [Coach Blanco] came to McFarland because he had a temper management problem; and it was the only job he could find. After a couple months he watched these kids running through the fields and decided to create a Cross-Country running team. Seven high school kids who had been working their hearts out for years, and happened to be very fast. White convinced these kids that they had more heart than any of the privileged Cross-Country teams competing in California; and that they actually had a chance to become winners.

The kids, through a LOT of hard work, realized they could be something no one else in their town’s history had become—a champion. The kids changed the town. And the town changed the Coach and his family; they learned the true meaning of Home and Family. The father’s role to eat with his family, and to listen to the stories of their lives, rather than making other things more important.

I didn’t watch the debates tonight; there is nothing that either candidate could say that would change my opinion of them. They don’t represent McFarland, or any of the hundreds [thousands?] of McFarlands scattered across this country. The people who have been ostracized by privilege; the people who harvest the food this country eats. Many/most of them have brown skin. Many won’t ever own land; many won’t ever have the luxury of a television—it isn’t needed; many won’t read books. A book won’t help you pick crops. I spent an incredibly long/short time on a wheat ranch in Eastern Oregon when I was 16; my Dad wanted me to learn how to work. His old friend, a wheat rancher who probably followed in his family’s steps, could never understand why I carried a paperback book to read when I’d finished a chore; I don’t know that he ever read. I couldn’t get the idea that I was supposed to go from one chore to the next one. I learned how to stall a caterpillar tractor in a steeply-plowed field. Also learned to crawl into a Combine, and replace bad ‘teeth’.

The experiment wasn’t successful.

My brain is full; I really don’t know how to end this one.

condon-1930sJones History; Near Condon, Oregon  ca.1930s

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 102: Bravery

August 26, 2016

whosoever saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind

Krissy's spice 4 life_smlI would like you to meet Krissy.

She’s one of the bravest persons I’ve ever met. I am not at liberty to tell you her story; it has a lot of bad parts, and the ‘bad’ isn’t over yet. She has countless reasons for giving up; and no desire to do so. She has a spices-and-food-related products business that she has begun to crowdfund. More about that when I know more.

You can find her products at:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/krissyspice4life

https://www.linkedin.com/in/krissyspice4life

and email her at:

krissy.spice.4.life@gmail.com

she can also be twittered at: @krissyspice
We are living in strange times; difficult times filled with pain and betrayal and heartbreak. And yet… and yet… There are stories of heroes.
PBS tells of the Syrian volunteers who rush to bombed buildings to save victims:
Once tailors, bakers, pharmacists, some 3,000 ordinary Syrians are now the unwitting heroes of the Syrian war. Nicknamed “the White Helmets,” members of the Syrian Civil Defense work under the harshest conditions to claw through the remains of buildings flattened by barrel bombs, the Syrian regime’s weapon of choice…
We meet some of them now, thanks to special correspondent Marcia Biggs, who reports from Turkey.

MARCIA BIGGS: We all saw this heartbreaking video, 5-year-old Omran pulled from under the rubble of his flattened home, his photo going viral. Stunned, bloodied, and caked with dust, his face a symbol of so many others.

But the faces you didn’t see in this video are of those who have been pulling people out of the rubble for five long years. This is the call to work for the brave members of the Syrian Civil Defense, an ad hoc grassroots first-response unit within rebel-held Syria.

Over the last five years, they say they have learned, saving almost 60,000 lives, working throughout all parts of one of the most fractured areas on Earth. Even some of the most radical groups allow them into their territory…

MARCIA BIGGS: Abdul Rahman, a 30-year-old volunteer from Aleppo, says the food shortage is a main concern and half of the men in the unit are trying to learn to farm.

Are they worried that they might starve? Are they worried that they’re going to run out of food?

ABDUL RAHMAN, Rescue Worker: Of course, but they’re still working, because we believe in our job. They lost the hope. This is the bigger problem. Now, in Aleppo city, all the world see the besieged. And all the world just watching what happened, and no one do anything.

MARCIA BIGGS: Despite all the deaths and the failures of the international community, the White Helmets soldier on.

RAED AL SALEH (through translator): It’s difficult to talk with our team every day, and most of the time, we have no answers to all the questions they ask. We are doing an important humanitarian job, and we will be rewarded by God.

The Koran says, in the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful, whosoever saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. If you save a human who was under the rubble, it’s like you saved all mankind.

Do you feel proud when you wear that?

For Radi, his uniform a symbol of pride, and for the young man who dreamed of one day getting out of Syria, a renewed pride in his country, which he and the others hope to someday rebuild.

RADI SAAD (through translator): Before the revolution, we didn’t have a sense of belonging to this country at all. But now we feel that, if we don’t build this country, no one will.

MARCIA BIGGS: A small glimmer of hope for the future. For now, every airstrike brings more devastation, and the men, like this one, Fares Mohammed Ali, who dig with their hands and their hearts to raise people out of the ruins and into the light.

One can only wonder how long this light of hope can burn. Fares died last month after an airstrike.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/syrian-volunteers-rush-bombed-buildings-save-victims/?google_editors_picks=true

 

I was going to write more words, but at the moments words are failing me.

Fhff7_4

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 101: Reinventing Oneself

August 26, 2016

INCREDIBLE STORIESIllustration Envy…

Society 6, the company that hosts my retail store https://society6.com/mjartscom has ads floating all over the Internet—you’ve probably seen them—for a terrific artist that has created a bunch of comic-book-nouveau images. Unfortunately, that artist isn’t me. The company tells me that a few of my images are in their catalog [something like 1000 images of the 10,000 images in their ‘warehouse’; I haven’t seen them published in their advertising. So, acting upon the “I can do that,” message that floated through my brain, I fabricated the above from some images in my stockpile.

I watched Chappie a couple of weeks ago, a sci-fi story that takes place in a future Johannesburg, where no person in their right mind would want to live—unless going somewhere else wasn’t an option. To solve their crime problem, they bring in an army of robot droids. The lead designer of the police droids, in his off-hours, is attempting to create a computer program that will become conscious—a sentient robot that can think for itself. The experiment gets hijacked by some gang bangers, and the experiment goes seriously awry. However, Chappie is born—a computer with the mind of a child; a mind that can learn exponentially.

What caught my attention was the fluid grace of Chappie’s movements—a robot that moves exactly like a human. Motion Capture has grown exponentially, as well.

There was a moment—certainly not much more than a moment—when I felt like I could see the front of the digital art pack—we commercial artists who are running a marathon with no fixed end. I was at an SCBWI Conference in Seattle, wandering around some hotel, drinking a $7 glass of Guinness [I kept the glass]. I passed by a guy who was working in 3-D [early 3-D], who was explaining how one needs to draw all sides of a character, not just from one viewpoint. I had realized then one of the shortcomings of my illustration career—that moment when I realize the character needs to be in a different spot in the frame, and because of that, the character can’t be facing the viewer. Do I do the ‘correct’ image, even though it means I have to do a lot more drawing? Or do I live with the original idea, even though it’s ‘wrong’? It would be so much better to have the character in 3-D, so I could ‘simply’ rotate the character…I have 3-D software I’ve never used.

I wandered by another conversation that night, where the [presumed] art buyer was saying, ‘I like that character, but can you make it digital?’ At that time, when the last dinosaurs were dying off, ‘digital’ characters were easy to spot—they all had a ‘look’. By that time, I had learned that I could digitize my hand-drawn illustrations and manipulate them digitally. The conversation was about a cartoon image, and I really don’t do cartoons. My brain doesn’t think in ‘cartoon;’ my brain doesn’t think in ‘whimsy’—the reason I’ve largely quit marketing my work in Children’s Book venues with the expectation that I’ll get hired. The Art Buyers I was running into at SCBWI events wanted ‘whimsy’. And my work ‘wasn’t photographic enough’, ‘it wasn’t accurate enough’—yet they loved Nightmare Before Christmas—go figure.

Then the rest of the pack came running past me; and I’m now among the slower-moving of the digital art world [as I am in the real world]. I’m a member of a CGI website, but feel like I’m too ancient/too unskilled to participate much…I did just enter some stuff of mine into a Competition—attempting to boost my ego.

 

I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want my blog to be about stuff I didn’t know about. One can find any kind of advice all over the Internet on ‘reinventing oneself’. I can provide input as well, but I have to make the disclaimer that I don’t necessarily feel successful in my reinvention. The experiment is still running…

My father reinvented himself throughout his adult life; business ventures failing through unexpected disaster or unexpected lack of ability on his part. He ended his working life in a settle-for career; he might not have used that language. His last career was fairly successful—just unexpected, and nothing like the one he wanted when he was making dreams for his life.

I’ve mirrored his efforts to some degree; the ‘success’ of this present life is more by the Grace of God than by my efforts. I nearly killed myself by working as a Public Servant rather than as a City Employee, and I now get paid for breathing. I got older, and again get paid for breathing. For all this breathing I ‘bring home’ less than half of what I would be earning if I had continued to work for the City. Because I’ve borrowed so much, in order to adapt our life to that ‘half-income’, I still need to bring in money; it just isn’t the main goal of my life anymore.

So what can I share of value?

  1. You are what you think you are.
    You will never improve your circumstances while keeping the same old thoughts in your head. You have to learn to think in better ways, ways that will enlarge your self-image, before you begin to experience more favorable circumstances. Through a sales organization [I only had modest success in sales—I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’], I took a five-year ‘course’ in possibility thinking. I read books about imagining a new life, and listened to taped [dinosaur] seminars all the time; tapes by people who had changed their lives.
  1. You can never ‘fake it ‘til you make it’.
    You can ‘fake it’ in order to get through the door; but you’ll have to actually become someone different in order to survive in that situation. I faked my way into my job with the City. I ‘exaggerated my skill set’ [lied about my abilities] in order to get my job; and at the same time knew that I was replacing someone who hadn’t made it through their probation.   So I began studying the Building Code in the same manner that I made it through my Structural Engineering courses—I took notes, and I took-on the job no one else wanted—answering Building Code questions over the phone. In that way I could look up the answers [‘let me call you back in five minutes’] in the book; and I started highlighting the sections that people often asked about. In time I had a color-coded Code book; one that kept getting revised every three years. I found myself having to copy all of color-coding because I have a visual memory [‘the answer to that question is on the page with three yellow stripes and a green one’].
    I had to become good at my job just to keep my job.
  1. The job has to become a job about the people you serve.
    Everyone has a job that involves customers in some fashion. Every business has to have repeat customers in some fashion. No one will come back if they receive crappy service—unless your job is with the Government—people ‘come back’ because they have to. The Government has a monopoly on some business functions; people have to deal with the Government, and only the Government, in order to get something done. We had awful clerical people working for the Bureau where I worked [not always, just often], and they were able to keep their jobs simply because they met the minimum standards. In Real Life, one doesn’t continue with a job by meeting minimum standards. In today’s economy, there are PhDs working at fast-food joints because it’s the only job in town. There’s always someone who can do your job better, waiting to take your job. You have to become better than average; and you can become better than average—but it requires work on your part.
  1. The Law of Sowing and Reaping.
    It’s found all through the Bible, because it’s found all over the world. You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow. Put a kernel of [uncooked] corn in a good patch of ground, water it, tend the shoot that grows into a stalk of corn, and when the corn is ripe you’ll reap hundreds of kernels of corn. Great example of how banking and interest worked, generations back.
    Not all ground is equal, not all corn is equal. Droughts and flooding and freezing occur; sometimes tornadoes. There are a bunch of fables that used to be taught in school, about humanized insects and animals who save for winter, and exemplify ‘sowing and reaping’. The teaching used to be hard to avoid. Boring… and I bet it doesn’t happen in today’s world.
  1. “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”
    My favorite Steve Martin quotation. Not-being-ignored doesn’t automatically mean success. If you are so good that you can’t be ignored, someone will mention you to someone else. Possibilities.

the universe in his hands_1

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 100: More Politics

July 29, 2016

More PoliticsAn Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Nixon was President when I was in college; the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the Nixon Presidency were where I lost my ‘political virginity’. There I learned that nearly everything I’d learned in school about our political system, nearly everything I’d learned in Cub Scouts, nearly everything I’d learned during the years of attending American Legion functions with my parents, was fictional. When I watched “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” I realized it wasn’t fictional; it was a true story. Power Corrupts; Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

When I first started paying attention to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, I was skeptical. In time, I realized that Diogenes could put out his lamp; an honest man had finally been found, and we were going to elect him President.

Tonight I read the Rolling Stone interview with Jane; where she makes the statement that you knew you wouldn’t become President on June 7th. Today is July 29th. Maybe we were dense; it’s taken us nearly two months to figure out what you already knew. We believed that you believed; and we are told that belief can move mountains.

The scenario you embedded into the hearts of a million young people, people who had been politically disenfranchised, but thought they’d discovered something different in Bernie Sanders—that you would take the Delegate Fight to the Convention Floor, and Hillary would be defeated on the second vote. That scenario vanished when you resoundingly endorsed Hillary for President. This wasn’t a ‘well, this is the best we can do; and Trump mustn’t win’ endorsement; this was a ‘Hillary MUST Become President’ endorsement.

For months you have carefully, thoughtfully and sincerely putting forth the message that Hillary Clinton must NOT be elected President. Her ties to corporate America are too deep; there are too many policy issues she favors that will not help the working poor of America succeed. You did your job very well. We researched the non-Mainstream media, and discovered that Hillary is a lousy candidate for President. In recent weeks we learned from the FBI that she perjured herself before Congressional Committees when she said there was no classified information on her private, basement, email server. The FBI clearly stated that there was classified information on her server, and her email shows she knew about it. It appears that no one in Congress is seriously concerned about Perjury, which is a crime, for those not named Clinton.

The FBI stated that if the person being investigated was anyone else, they would be subject to Administrative Disciplinary Actions. Clearly, Ms. Clinton is answerable to a different set of standards than those answerable by Naval Lieutenants:

[ https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/weekly-updates/clinton-email-case-update/#anc3 ]

Do you seriously believe that Hillary has made a 180° turn and become a Progressive, because you endorsed her? That by adding Progressive planks to the Democratic platform, that the platform won’t be scrapped when it becomes inconvenient?

My favorite personal scenario died tonight when Hillary was coronated. I had hoped that Assange would do his fabled ‘next leak’ which would pull the plug on the coronation, and Bernie would be pulled in from the bench.

You’ve stated that the Progressive Movement you inspired, the Movement that brought tens of thousands of young Progressives to rallies all across the country, wasn’t about you. The Progressive Movement must continue into State elections, and the morons who are currently serving in the House and Senate [“Congress of baboons”] need to be removed, in order for change to occur. If Bernie was elected President in November, and Congress remained the same group of baboons, Bernie could accomplish nothing.

President Obama, the first President in my 64-year history to be scandal-free [Carter was vilified over not going to war with Iran over the Hostage Crisis], hasn’t accomplished the stuff he said he would. Given the Congress of Baboons, I doubt that any Democratic President could accomplish what he promised, even if he wasn’t African-American. He promised Change We Could Believe In. Not so much. I have a serious moral problem with his Drone War. I’ve been reminded that I don’t know what happens in the White House War Room.

We have a Black President, and a noble First Family; and White Supremacy is stronger in the US than it has been since I was a child. That idea didn’t work, either.

Movements need a leader.

When you endorsed Hillary, after all of the hours of speeches about how she should NOT become President, you gave up the role as leader of the new Progressive Movement. And now you want the people who valiantly supported you to vote for Hillary; and to not seek a candidate among the Independent parties that have Presidential Candidates. Why would you have that expectation? The Progressive Movement has gone back to being leaderless.

A million young Progressives lost their ‘political virginity’ this week.

Welcome to political life in the 21st Century. Maybe Diogenes needs to relight his lamp.

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 99: Politics

July 17, 2016

PoliticsI had somewhat decided that I was going to avoid politics in my blog for a while; the air is too thick with the smell of a feed lot. However, I’m helping my son and daughter-in-law with painting at their house; and house painting provides a lot of time to think about things…

I fill part of my mind with what I call ‘Brain Food’ while I paint—a collection of songs whose lyrics speak in the way I want to think. Lyrics from ‘popular music,’ for the most part, don’t contain the words I want to hear coming from my brain—they aren’t useful. Clapton is a great guitarist; “Cocaine” isn’t a song I like listening to. I enjoy the blues; but find few blues musicians I can stand to listen to for very long. Eric Bibb is a notable exception. I have a great fondness for baritones—nearly the only place one can find baritones is in country music, and I really don’t want “my girl done left me, my dog don’t like me, so I’ll go have a few beers while I drive around in my pickup” running through my brain. Most of the music I listen to is ‘faith-based,’ with the exception of some Opera arias, and ‘New Age” instrumentals and traditional jazz; but even in faith-based music I find a lot of lyrics ‘about God’ that I can’t tolerate. I’m a music snob…

Since he kept slaves, clearly, Thomas Jefferson didn’t really think that “all men are created equal” or, he didn’t think that people of color are ‘men’. But the Founding Fathers put the language into Law. I love the concept that America is built on the Rule of Law; one of the few things I enjoyed about working for the City of Portland. I had Law to rely on, with its restrictions and its limitations. In the movie, A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More is arrested for treason by King Henry the Eighth because More, a devout Catholic, would not acknowledge the legitimacy of Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn—and the subsequent start of the Church of England. A scene in the movie shows More asking his daughter for the exact language of a certain proclamation, to see if the words of the proclamation provided an ‘out’. More could accept the provisions of the Proclamation, if the proclamation was written in such a way that the words did not conflict with More’s personal beliefs. Politicians often do not proofread their legislation carefully; one can get around legislation, including City Codes, if the language allows for deviation.

“All men are created equal”. Our Supreme Court, on a number of occasions, has affirmed that “all men” means “all homo sapiens born in the United States, and those naturalized as citizens.” I don’t think Jefferson would agree with that interpretation. There are still far too many in this country who believe that “all men” ONLY refers to White males. The Constitution and its subsequent statutes created through a governmental process are also intended to apply to “all men” as stated in italics above.

What a country we find ourselves in; the two Presumptive Candidates for the President of the United States, from the two major parties, are a racist lunatic who appears to never think about what he is saying before he says it; and a champion of women’s rights, and hailed as ‘Mama Clinton’ in Third World countries; who apparently believes that the Law that applies to a Naval Lieutenant does not apply to the Secretary of State. The Presumptive Candidate is said to be under possible indictment for fraud and perjury; and a request has been made by the GOP for the removal of all of her Security Clearances.

Neither of these candidates deserves to hold the Office of the President of the United States.

Then we have my formerly-personal favorite, the Democratic Socialist who seems to have abandoned his principals by endorsing the woman above. Note: Bernie Sanders is still an active candidate for President; he did not concede to Ms. Clinton. In his endorsement speech he caused her to ‘smile and nod’ while he listed all of her concessions to the Progressive Movement he inspired. She would have to deal with all of these concessions. During his first 20-minute speech for Ms. Clinton, he didn’t mention her name once. His endorsement could be a political ploy that makes it possible for him to still become President, should Ms. Clinton be indicted before the General Election; it could be a ploy that will enable him to be the Democratic Candidate after the upcoming Democratic Convention. However, his many statements about bringing his campaign “to the floor of the Democratic Convention” were negated by his endorsement of Ms. Clinton. To endorse something means to accept that it has value. It appears that Bernie, too, after decades in Washington, has determined that Truth and Promises are flexible commodities when it comes to politics. Maybe Bernie should have paid more attention to the words he used.

There are other viable Presidential candidates to whom I have paid little attention. The first President I voted for was Richard Nixon [for which I am eternally regretful]; the last Republican Presidential candidate I voted for was the incumbent George W. [another eternal regret]. During those decades, Independent candidates were never elected. While it may very well be Time for a viable Third Political Party, I don’t have faith in the American electorate as a Third Party people. Which Independent Party would be chosen?

How did we get here? The religious blame the current political situation and the waves of violence that wash over the world as evidence of our collective “turning away from God”. I won’t argue with that idea, but I think the idea is inadequate. Buddhism and non-Abrahamic faiths predate most of Western Culture. There was a lot of World before Abraham.

I think the major problem of today’s world is that we collectively have decided that Honesty and Honor are flexible commodities. ‘Honesty is only worthwhile when it benefits you.’ For much of the history of this country, at least in more rural times, “I give you my word” meant that it was a ‘done-deal’, forever sealed. If I went back on my word, I was forever shamed. My knowledge of Asian history comes mostly from Asian “hero movies” [the definition of which will escape many]. To Dishonor someone or to Dishonor one’s family is a crime of epic proportions. Perhaps it’s mythical. I like the myth.

Those people who decry our ‘turning from God’ do not acknowledge that the Muslim world prays to the One God who is the Creator of the entire Universe. That when you ‘dial’ Allah, you are “dialing” Yahweh, the God of the Jewish Nation. The Primary tenant of the Abrahamic faiths is that there is One God Alone. Those same people seem to forget that Jesus was not Christian; Jesus was a Jew. I believe that our entrance into Eternity is based ENTIRELY on the fact that Jesus died on the Cross and was Resurrected. As a somewhat-Lutheran, I believe in Salvation by Faith Alone and not Salvation by Works. Jesus NEVER told anyone that they were going to Hell because they did not believe He was the Messiah. In fact, when people called Him Messiah, He asked them to keep that information to themselves. He apparently knew that “Messiah” had overtones, perhaps political, that did not apply to His purpose on earth.

If one spends enough time reading Facebook, one finds that a lot of people seem to believe that if God receives enough ‘Likes’ it will mean that God is real. The Earth is a flyspeck on the backside of the low-rent portion of the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s barely visible across our Solar System. The portion of the Universe that we can see with the Hubble is filled with millions of Galaxies. All created from the Mind of the Creator. I have a great advantage over most people—I spent much of my life designing things and then making the effort to build them. Creation is not accidental, is not random, nor the product of Fibonacci Spirals and the like. Look at a helicopter, and the thousand parts that make up the machine; then look at this guy:

dragonfly“Dragonflies are predators, both in their aquatic larval stage, when they are known as nymphs or naiads, and as adults. Several years of their lives are spent as nymphs living in fresh water; the adults may be on the wing for just a few days or weeks. They are fast, agile fliers, sometimes migrating across oceans… they have a chitinous exoskeleton of hard plates held together with flexible membranes. The head is large with very short antennae. It is dominated by the two compound eyes, which cover most of its surface. The compound eyes are made up of ommatidia, the numbers being greater in the larger species. Aeshna interrupta has 22650 ommatidia of two varying sizes, 4500 being large. The outer part of the ommatidium is overlaid with a transparent cornea. Each ommatidium is innervated by one axon bundle (usually consisting of 6-9 axons, depending on the number of rhabdomeres)[2] and provides the brain with one picture element. The brain forms an image from these 22650 independent picture elements.” Wikipedia

Hatched as an egg, starting life as something like a worm, and growing into this wondrous creature. No flying lessons, and yet can fly across an ocean. An eye made up of 23000 separate ‘lenses’ providing a constant stream of video information; with a brain the size of a grape seed. I’m sorry; I do not have enough faith in science and evolution to accept the possibility that there is no ‘design’ involved in its creation; that this is simply a product of centuries/millennia of selective adaptation.

mites_eyeThe Creator has absolutely no need for our approval of [His]* existence. We are like mites crawling across the head of the wondrous creature above. And yet, as the Bible tells the story, the Creator was willing to become one of these mites in the form of Jesus, so that He could teach us how we are supposed to live. Through some mysterious ‘changing of the rules,’ Jesus’ death on the Cross can be applied to each one of our lives, if we so choose. Jesus died and was resurrected so that we can do the same. No matter how badly we screw up our lives, Jesus died so that we don’t have to; He has taken any punishment we are due, in His own body. I don’t understand how this works, any more than I understand the wonder of a flying bug. The bug is real; so was Jesus. Hundreds, thousands of people died because they believed it as well; murdered for their faith.

Thomas More believed it. Henry the Eighth couldn’t have cared less. Anne Boleyn’s opinion didn’t count, she was little more than a slave. Simple fishermen became orators. An Enforcer for the Jewish government became one of Christianity’s greatest evangelists, changing the course of history and Western Civilization.

All who seek the Creator with their hearts and minds and their spirit will find the Creator; regardless of the religion they follow. Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. His life and His death was foretold long before Judaism came into being. Christianity could only spread as far as the Roman roads would take it.

…And politics in America has become a crap shoot, embodying everything Mark Twain ever wrote about politicians. Politics in America is an extremely bad joke; and the worst part of the joke is that there are people who believe that the inherent importance of the Survivors and those with the Most Talent; that living their lives for video games and Games of Thrones, is more important than attending to the activity of those who are running our country.

And I am as guilty as anyone else.

 

* I use [His] because I don’t believe that gender applies to the Creator. The Bible refers to the Creator as ‘she’ when speaking of Wisdom, or the Holy Spirit. Jesus was definitely a “He”. I believe He had XY chromosomes, and was the result of the Creator implanting a single cell into the womb of a teenaged girl. Christian theology speaks of the Creator as being Three Persons, but One individual. Sort of like [visually] broccoli or a 3-leafed clover. Jewish theology can be read in the same fashion, but they generally don’t.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 97: God as a ‘helicopter parent’

June 30, 2016

Fhff7 crop
One of the PBS shows I enjoy watching ended a recent episode with the main character entering a church for the first time in years, and ranting against God and his claim to be a loving father…‘What kind of Loving Father would allow evil to happen?’

People seem to want God to be a ‘helicopter parent,’ always intervening in their lives… and yet no one likes ‘helicopter parents.’ We want our freedom from our parents; we don’t want our parents telling us what to do. We want to cheat on our taxes and not get caught; and not receive a lecture from our parents. We want to drive faster than the speed limit; and not get caught; and we do not want to receive a lecture from our parents. We want to live our lives in happiness; and we don’t want our happiness shattered by a man with a gun…

People ask God why [He]* allows evil to occur, and why [He] does nothing to stop it.

I watch a lot of ‘cop shows’—stuff that friends of mine would not watch because it doesn’t follow Paul’s direction as to how Christians should think, and what they should fill their minds with. Paul is correct; it would be much better if I didn’t watch cop shows, and a lot of the movies that I watch. The ‘problem’ is that most of the world is watching this stuff all the time, and far worse. I believe there is a great disconnect between Believers and the World that causes great misunderstanding as to the motivations of those who follow Christ. It’s better when I can believe the best in people. I can do that more readily when I am filling my mind with better things. It isn’t that I am better than anyone else; it’s a matter of choosing what I fill my mind with. I watched three movies the other night in 15 minutes; I turned each of them off after the first 5 minutes—I’ve watched a thousand movies in the years since the eighties; movies have standard plot devices—people aren’t that creative—I could tell that the behavior of the protagonists was only going to get worse as the movie progressed.

It’s a matter of choice as to how I want to think.

My wanting to think this way does not mean that people who make different choices are bad. I think it makes it harder for them to find hope in the world; there’s very little hope in what they see.

In a world where death becomes a video game, there is little cause for hope.

I just watched a PBS documentary about an optometrist traveling through Indonesia, without revealing his identity, to confront the men who butchered his brother during the genocide that happened in the Sixties; a genocide to ‘fight Communism,’ encouraged by the American government. He asks leaders of communities, people living in comparative wealth and authority today, if they have any remorse for the evil they did, and for the evil they condoned. His interviews included his uncle; a guard in the prison where his brother was taken before being butchered. Absolutely no remorse. ‘It was political. I didn’t actually do the killing; it was ordered by men who had more authority; it was ordered by the government; it was ordered by the Americans.’
Two men captured on film, explaining in graphic detail exactly how they had butchered his brother, finding humor in the situation. They did not appear to feel the slightest remorse. ‘The past is the past.’ They were under orders; they have no remorse. ‘If I had refused, I would have been killed, too.’

Genocide is happening today. I know it is happening; I am doing nothing to stop it. I am no better than the men in the documentary. I want to pretend that there’s nothing I can do; therefore, I have no responsibility for these crimes. I believe that when I stand before the Creator at the end of my life, I will have to accept this responsibility; and that all I can do is fall on the Creator’s mercy.

I believe that the Creator vomits when [He] witnesses the Evil that WE do. I believe [He] vomits over the fact that we don’t vomit.

And we want [Him] to bless us with prosperity.

Jesus didn’t just talk about behavior being evil—such as the act of adultery or theft being evil—Jesus said that lusting after some other person, coveting their stuff, was itself evil. Intentions can be evil, motivations can be evil; and that part of Jesus’ teachings we aren’t comfortable with. We want to be able to justify our behavior based on the behavior of someone else; not because some book says we should behave differently.

Psychology suggests that our brains really can’t tell the difference between an actual event, and a vividly-imagined event. The same brain activity occurs…it’s only the self-governing portions of our thinking processes that separates the two.

We don’t want to believe that we are evil, or are capable of evil…
Civil Religion called ‘Christianity’ has little to do with Jesus.

Donald Trump supposedly has recently become a “Born Again Christian” [a concept in itself that will become hateful to most Trump haters]; the dark part of me assumes that this is a method to gain votes. If Trump is serious about his faith, and his pronouncements don’t start sounding like the words of Jesus, I think his philosophical concepts shouldn’t be part of his rhetoric. I think the biggest problem for Evangelical Republicans today is that ‘their’ candidate is supported by White Supremacists. Where does that leave them?

The only candidate who is using the language of Jesus is the ‘atheist Jewish’ guy… How ironic.

 

Jesus doesn’t edit the words that are spoken from Church pulpits. Ideally, the preacher will prayerfully submit his sermon to Jesus for ‘editing;’ using the teachings of Jesus as the source of the preacher’s wisdom. Preaching doesn’t automatically create Church doctrine; but from a functional perspective, most ‘Christian’ teaching doesn’t come from the Bible, it comes from the pulpit, or from the songs that are sung in church, or the ‘dumbed-down’ versions of the Bible that are taught to children. From what I’ve observed over 40 years, in different congregations and denominations, most Christians’ ‘Bibles’ really only have a few chapters—the parts of the Bible they like. They ignore the parts they don’t like or don’t understand. The same observation applies to me.

So where does that leave us? The majority of the world either wants God to be some sort of magic genie who will protect them, but knows He probably won’t; or they give no thought to God at all, because they can see no evidence for God.

I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens again last night; I continue to believe that The Way of the Creator is far closer to ‘The Force’ than most people can imagine. And like most people in that far away galaxy, a long time ago, it is only a strange few who actually believe the Force exists…

Jesus shed his authority as the One through Whom the Universe was created, to become like one of the beloved creatures over whose behavior He vomits, so that He could walk with us through our tortured lives; trying to speak love and hope into our broken minds…He died, mutilated, so that we don’t have to. He rose from the dead, and said that we can, too. Real life isn’t here; this life is simply a bad parody of the Life we were designed for.

Brendon Manning, that Ragamuffin Saint, believed that the only question we will be asked, when we stand before our Creator, is, “Did you believe that I loved you?”

Joshua Ryan Butler, another Ragamuffin Saint, wrote that when we stand before our Creator, the only question we will be asked is, “Will you let me heal you?”

ecstacyEcstasy, Maxfield Parrish

 

* I don’t believe gender applies to the Creator; it’s somewhat important to written English. I prefer [He] to ‘Shim’.

 


%d bloggers like this: