Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 132: Katrina again.

September 28, 2017

P45_mj

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katrina again.

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

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

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

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

Lynching, again.

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

Liberty_mj

 

 

 

 

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

September 21, 2017

Lincoln_mj_

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

I get it.
You work hard for your money.

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

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

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

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

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

US military budgets

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

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

 

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

 

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

September 18, 2017

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

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

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

Saturn's Rings_Blue Marble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine a baseball stadium…stadium

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

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

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

We aren’t what we think we are.

So, what are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A friend asked:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

June 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The computers have changed, the mess remains…

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

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

Some of my more recent images:

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

A BeeGees CD album for a private collector

Thank You, Mazza Museum Tour 2017!

 

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

April 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The Ashes of Hiroshima

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, there is hope.

“Doubting Thomas” by Caravaggio

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 120_The Night He Was Betrayed…

April 13, 2017

Garden of Gethsemane/Malchus’ Legion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 23, 2017

Cover Illustration, The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

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

Doctor Watson’s Thyroid

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

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

He asked if I ever to medical illustrations…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

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

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

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 22: Recent Images

November 9, 2012

 

Photoshop Humor

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

cropped version:

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 10: Advent

December 16, 2011

[“Adoration of the Magi” acrylic, inspired by a Norman Rockwell painting: http://www.mjarts.com/port_1a.htm ] Chris Tomlin: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Did you know that Jesus wasn’t a Christian?
He was a Jew. All of His followers were either Jews or were seeking something More for their lives. These believers were later called “Christians,” but they referred to themselves as “followers of the Way.”
He probably wasn’t born in the Winter.
The “Wise Men from the East” didn’t arrive at the stable and the manger. Jesus was probably around 2 years old, when the Wise Men arrived. After the Wise Men left Herod the King, having told him about the birth of the promised Messiah/King, Herod ordered the deaths of all of the male babies 2 years old and younger.
But it makes for a good story.
For today’s times, I prefer this Advent Allegory by Jonathan Gray:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOlVheWcfhA

The Emperor Constantine legalized/”officialized” Christianity in the 4th Century. The Church has been messed up, ever since, confusing the Way of Faith with the ways of commerce and politics.

When the Holy Roman Empire moved into northern Europe, the priests re-purposed  the ‘pagan’ religious winter festivals into Christian feast days, so that Christianity would be more palatable to the folk they found there. This is human nature. Parents do it with their children all the time.

My Christmases, when I was a child:

This was taken in the mid-1950′s. I’m the kid looking at my cousin, Carol [Sunny]. Not sure why I wasn’t looking at the camera. Sort of symbolic, in a way, I’ve always looked in directions the rest of the world doesn’t. I still have the bear on the floor in front of me. These days, with my messed-up peripheral sensory nerves, I miss flannel-lined jeans [my cousin Jim, on the right, is wearing a pair]. My cousins, Bruce and Wendy are between Jim and I.

My first Advent was in 1973. That’s the year that I learned that the Eternal and Infinite Master of the Universe had, at a point in history, entered Time and Space. Seemingly impossible, unless one is Omnipotent. In 1973 I realized that this event was sort of  similar to my lifting up a rock, and deciding to become one of those crawly things scurrying around, under the rock. Only on a Much Larger Scale…
For 30 or so years, the incarnate Eternal apparently didn’t do much that one might expect from the Creator of the Universe. Jesus did the same sort of stuff that we do. Our Creator knows what it feels like to be human. Our Creator knows our struggles. At the same time, our Creator knows that our time here on earth is like an eyeblink in the span of Eternity–the existence for which we are created.
For three or so years, Jesus did the sort of things that the Creator of the Universe might be expected to do, and as a result, the religious leaders of the day arranged for His crucifixion. They wanted Him gone; only He came back, and told His followers that death wasn’t The End, it was simply The New Beginning…

I try to live with the message of the incarnation in my life, every day, as much as I can. It’s a little harder at this time of year. So many people are madly involved in celebrating Something Else. When our children were small, we got more involved in “Christmas”–there is something magical about the expression on a child’s face, their belief in the ‘magic’ of the lights, the presents, the wonder of the whole thing. A shadow of what the shepherds might have felt when they were in the presence of angels.

I told our children about Saint Nicholas, the real bishop, whose story somehow got transformed into Santa Claus. One year, to my complete incomprehension, there really were parallel lines on our driveway, and little round spots mingled among the lines…I still can’t come up with a more plausible explanation than the impossible presence of a sleigh and reindeer.

Advent. The time that marks the coming of our Creator into the world, with a message of forgiveness. We don’t have to continually beat up on ourselves, or beat up on other people in order to make our lives work better. We are accepted, the way we are; all we need to do is live in that state of acceptance. We can also become better than we are, because our Creator’s Grace can live inside us. Not so that we can experience magic, but to create wonder.

And, like Malchus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can be healed.

A blessed winter time of celebration, to you all.

Peace, and good will toward you all. May the coming year be filled with Hope.

Marty

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 7: Vision

October 22, 2011

    I am fascinated by perception. What I see is not what you see. What you see is probably similar to what I see; but not exactly the same. On top of that, what we see isn’t really seeing, at all.

     Light reflects off of the candle; the image is reversed by the lens of our eye; and the light hits the rods and cones–light receptors–of our retina. The electrical impulses caused by the the light image reacting on the rods and cones, travel to our brain via the optic nerve. Our brain then translates the electrical impulses into a ‘virtual image’ that ‘appears’ in our brain. That ‘image’ seems to be similar to what we see on a TV or LCD screen; however we don’t have a screen in our brain.

    A particular shade of red may not be the same to me as it is to you. People with red/green color blindness have that which “…is the inability or decreased ability to see color, or perceive color differences, under lighting conditions when color vision is not normally impaired. “Color blind” is a term of art; there is no actual blindness but there is a fault in the development of either or both sets of retinal cones that perceive color in light and transmit that information to the optic nerve.”[wikipedia]

    People with Irlen’s Syndrome can only see the ordinary printed page properly through colored light or when colored paper is used. Black letters on a white page send scrambled signals to the brain. With my astigmatism, I can’t see lines clearly unless the lenses of my eyes are corrected by glass lenses worn over my eyes.

    Animals seen in an entirely different manner, both structurally–in the nature of their eye construction; and in the wavelengths of light that they see. Many animals see in the ultraviolet and infrared ranges of the color spectrum. [see list] They see things we cannot see without the use of technology–night vision goggles, etc.

     To take this a step further– our brains, our eyes are composed of millions of atoms. If one were to enlarge an atom to the size of a football stadium, the nucleus of the atom would be the size of a grain of sand. The electrons orbiting around the stadium would also be the size of a grain of sand. All the rest of the atom would be empty space filled with electromagnetic energy.

    Our brains, like the rest of our body, are really composed mostly of empty space [yes, those people actually were correct]. That which we know about our bodies is mostly comprised of electromagnetic energy found in the visible range of the spectrum. The visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is only a small portion of the entire range, which extends from low frequencies used for modern radio communication to gamma radiation at the short-wavelength (high-frequency) end, thereby covering wavelengths from thousands of kilometres down to a fraction of the size of an atom. In principle the spectrum is infinite and continuous. In principle, we are infinite and continuous.

     Isn’t this what faith leads us to?

forward to:
www.mjarts.com


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