Posts Tagged ‘intolerance’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 140: The Strangest Year

January 19, 2018

portland spring

The problem with being busy at work is that I don’t have time to write about the things I think about during the day. Doing work with my hands leaves an opening for my brain to fill ‘thinking time’ with stories I want to tell.

The above image doesn’t have much to do with how I feel the moment; except that I’m listening to a concert by John Denver, in London, back in the October of 1982

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bg7pfxxMAk ]

If you aren’t familiar with John Denver, you might consider learning about him. A prophet of peace, one might say. He entered the music scene during the Seventies when the US was going to hell. And here we are again…

John Denver – Peace Poem Lyrics

There’s a name for war and killing
There’s a name for giving in
When you know another answer
For me the name is sin

But there’s still time to turn around
And make all hatred cease
And give another name to living
And we could call it peace

And peace would be the road we walk
Each step along the way
And peace would be the way we work
And peace the way we play

And in all we see that’s different
And in all the things we know
Peace would be the way we look
And peace the way we grow

There’s a name for separation
There’s a name for first and last
When it’s all for us or nothing
For me the name is past

But there’s still time to turn around
And make all hatred cease
And give a name to all the future
And we could call it peace

And if peace is what we pray for
And peace is what we give
Then peace will be the way we are
And peace the way we live

Yes, there still is the time to turn around
And make all hatred cease
And give another name to living
And we can call it peace

John Denver was on a commission one time, looking at the problems of hunger in the world. Hunger in the world could be completely eliminated. The problem isn’t a lack of food being produced; the problem is the lack of political will to make it happen.

Our government does not need to add one dime to its Defense/War budget—we outspent every country on earth, when it comes to ammunition of War. The President wants to increase the Defense Budget to create more nuclear weapons—‘low-yield’ weapons that can be used on individual cities… Like the ones used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  1. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO NEED, WE BEING THE ENTIRE WORLD, TO EVER USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS AGAIN.
  2. THE U.S. ALREADY HAS A HUGE SURPLUS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN STORAGE.

The President is said to have asked a General, before the man became President, ‘why do we have nuclear weapons, if we aren’t going to use them?’

America used to be a model of democracy for the world. Imperfect, but slowly improving. We have taken such a downward turn that even George W. is concerned about where we will end up.

 

 

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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 139: On a New Year

December 31, 2017

milky way

Our Western New Year is an artificial construct.
In the Hebrew calendar, December 31, 2017 is the 13th of Tevet, 5778
The Chinese New Year for 2018 is Friday, February 16
“The Chinese calendar has over 100 variants, whose characteristics reflect the calendar’s evolutionary path. As with Chinese characters, different variants are used in different parts of the Chinese cultural sphere.” Wikipedia

In the Maya calendar, “…transformative events would occur on or around 21 December 2012. This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar…” WikipediaIn Iran, the Solar Hijri year 1396 goes from 21 March 2017 – 20 March 2018

For a long list of world calendars, go here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_calendars

Even though I know that our calendar date is an artificial construct, I’m glad that 2017 is nearly over. The last few months have been difficult.

We like beginnings and endings; we are people of story…
The reality is that tomorrow may be exactly like today, dependent upon hangovers, etc.

All the same, tomorrow can be the beginning of something new. The beginning of new growth, the beginning of change. For Portland, Oregon—not relying on the Weather Channel for accuracy—our sunny weather today could well be ice in a few weeks, as it was last week at this time. My wife and I live on the side of a volcano; when our driveway ices over, we generally stay inside, watching DVDs. Appreciation to my son, Rob, for removing limbs that threaten our electrical connection to the larger world.

greentree3

I’m reminded today that growth requires time. Like most of the Western World, I lack patience, and I want my goals to be accomplished tomorrow, or maybe the next day. I have a head full of ideas; if I knew all of those ideas might take years to complete, I might quit. One of my recent disappointments is a Grant that I applied for, but did not compete adequately. There were 200 applicants for a fixed amount of Grants, and my project didn’t compete well with the other applicants.

One of my illustration acquaintances, someone I wish I knew a lot better, has invested two years of drawing and painting, on a contract, for a book project that recently died. I hope that the contract included some sort of payment for that amount of time, but money doesn’t necessarily address the loss one can feel when a project that has taken time to create, suddenly won’t be created.

How we deal with difficult loss can be a measure of strength. Sometimes our strength fails; and the ‘strength’ then, is getting back up.

There’s a passage in the Newer Testament that talks about putting on the ‘armor of God’—in order to stand. That’s it; stand. Any good motivational speaker would go on about ‘getting back on track,’ ‘setting new goals,’ ‘wiping off the dust;’ or like in the Rocky saga, getting back up in order to be pummeled again.

Getting back up, fully-armored, in order to stand. Much of the Apostle Paul’s ‘armor’ is mental; feeding the brain with the stuff that strengthens. Even if all we ever do is stand, we’ll find the world coming to trample us, without much effort on our part. If we keep standing, keep doing the stuff we know we need to do, for our own mental health, we will find that the difficulties we FEARed* will eventually be behind us.

* False Evidence Appearing Real

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

The Creator did not have to come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent crrop

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

December 6, 2017

Adoration of the Magi and a Time Lord

Adoration of the Magi, and a Time Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Della's Brain

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

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

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

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

The Christmas Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, endeth the sermon.

Saint Nicholas 2

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

I swear, I did not put them there.

It would have been a great idea…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 135: The Consent of the Governed

December 3, 2017

the consent of the governed

America in Distress

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” The Declaration of Independence

“A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 49 percent of people who were aware of the measure saying they opposed it, up from 41 percent in October.”  (Reuters)

“Half of Americans oppose the plan, a 6-point increase from September. Only 33 percent support it. Among Democrats, 79 percent oppose the plan, while 75 percent of Republicans support it.”  (ABC News-Washington Post)

“…independent analysts have concluded that this bill would add roughly $1.4 trillion to the deficit, according to estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office. In the Republican party as recently as 2010, that would have been considered an absolute non-starter. Pre-Trump, lowering the deficit by curtailing government spending was a central, unwavering principle of conservatism.”  (http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/02/politics/tax-bill-analysis/index.html)

The Founding Fathers must be ‘rolling over in their graves’.
People who read my ramblings probably think that I’m a Democrat; incorrect. I’m a ‘Progressive Moderate’ who believes that the role of Government is to promote the general welfare of its citizens; and where necessary, provide the funding for social improvement programs where the citizens refuse to do so. I believe that healthcare is right, not a privilege; I believe that homelessness needs to be dealt with by providing homes for those who are unable to support themselves. I believe that we need stop sending teenaged-‘heroes’ off to war in other lands; and to stop considering those returning home in boxes ‘heroes’, while ignoring those who were broken by our practice of Endless War.

I believe that the job of Government is to provide jobs, when the Private Sector refuses to do so; or in the case of National Emergency. We are currently in the midst of a National Emergency and have a huge potential workforce that can serve a new WPA or Civilian Conservation Corps.

So, what do we do about it?

We need to vote. We need to remove from office every Senator, every Congressman who put the needs of the already-outrageously-wealthy [not from work, but from hedge funds] above those who can only put food on the table by working 2-3 jobs.

The already-outrageously-wealthy do not need additional tax cuts; the Trickle-Down theory has never worked the way that President Reagan said it would; and as every Republican administration since, has so promised.

FDRr-fireside chat_mj

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 134: More Need for Hope

November 6, 2017

Sorrow for the Americas2

US Mass Shootings 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus wept.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 132: Katrina again.

September 28, 2017

P45_mj

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katrina again.

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

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

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

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

Lynching, again.

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

Liberty_mj

 

 

 

 

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

September 21, 2017

Lincoln_mj_

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

I get it.
You work hard for your money.

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

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

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

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

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

US military budgets

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

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

 

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

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 127: Brokenness Can Be the Beginning

July 2, 2017

Independence Day Holiday, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

June 15, 2017

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

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

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

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

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

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

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

Donald on the Road to Damascus By Claire Palmer

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

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

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

…and eventually King Nebuchadnezzar repents and returns.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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