Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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

June 15, 2017

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

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

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

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

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

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

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

Donald on the Road to Damascus By Claire Palmer

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

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

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

…and eventually King Nebuchadnezzar repents and returns.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 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 118: Making the Truth Great Again

February 26, 2017

making-the-truth-great-againFebruary 26, 1973.

The date my life changed. At least, it’s the date I wrote in the Bible given to me by the man who led me to Christ. I was raised an atheist; my parents had been active in church until their early twenties[?]; legend has it that my Dad even preached a sermon in a church once [can’t imagine it]. Something happened; I don’t know what. My dearly beloved Grandmother called us heathens; I didn’t really know what it meant. It didn’t seem to be something positive. My guess is that my parents’ leaving the church was somehow related to this kind lady that was raised in Norway in a ‘hellfire and damnation’ Lutheran church [I can’t really imagine this either—I’ve visited ‘hellfire and damnation’ churches—they weren’t Lutheran]. Maybe if my grandparents had emigrated to the Deep South…

When I told my parents, the summer after my third year of college, about my new experience of Faith and Grace, I thought they’d at least be interested. They let me know that they never wanted to hear about it again. I honored their request; until my Dad was in a coma on his deathbed. I told him about my relationship with the Creator of the Universe, even though I wasn’t sure he heard anything. My Mom started attending a small Presbyterian Church in the last phase of her life; we joined that church when we realized she was starting to slip away from the “Mom” I knew. She heard about Faith and Grace; I don’t know that she ever really understood. I believe they both understand, now.

In the Apostles’ letters to the churches, in the New Testament, instructions are laid out for Believers, instructions for living a new life—it’s really clear that this behavior is totally voluntary, it isn’t a condition for Salvation—those who have messed up their life at some point in time realize that this drastic change of life makes sense. Those who have messed up their life have discovered that the ‘instructions’ given to us by the world so often lead to despair. I’ve found the greatest examples of Faith in Recovery groups of various types. People who have been broken, and know they are powerless to help themselves.

Christians are the only fishermen in the world who try to clean their catch before it’s in the boat. In spite of the fact that it never works.

Perhaps it’s because there are so many Christians that don’t want their children to follow dangerous paths, that so many Christians grow up with a list of behaviors that are ‘bad’; and their children will be judged to be Bad, if they follow these behaviors. I’m ashamed that there are Believers whose children were raised in the church, baptized in the church; and those Believers say that their children are going to Hell because they don’t follow their parents’ beliefs. My faith in the Creator is larger than that small idea. I’m an example of one who was baptized as an infant in a church, NOT raised in the church, but became a follower of Jesus. As a dear saint in a Lutheran Brethren church once told our pastor, “his parents may not lived up to their part of the bargain; God lived up to His part of the bargain. Marty is here among us.” I came to Faith by acceptance and friendship.

These parents don’t seem to check back with their children as they grow up, to see if they really understand why following Paul’s instructions makes sense. They grow up in a ‘subculture’ that has a really hard time accepting the notion that Christianity isn’t supposed to be a set of rules that are to be followed—this is the problem that the Pharisees [the Religious Right in Israel, First Century] had; overcoming this attitude is what Jesus struggled with; and eventually that attitude got Him killed [His death was His own choice, despite teaching to the contrary].

The Jews didn’t kill Jesus. He was Jewish. For the first decades of that which was called The Way, the followers of Jesus practiced Judaism. It was only when Gentiles began following Jesus in larger numbers that the Jewish leaders of the early church had to decide how ‘Jewish’ one needed to be, in order to follow Jesus [incredible irony]. Jews had strict Codes of behavior to follow, and those Codes were covered over by additional codes that acted as a ‘fence’ around the Laws of Moses—if you learned not to break the ‘fence’ you wouldn’t break the Law. At least, that was the idea. What happened is a huge religious mess. The leaders of the Way had very few Jewish rules for the Gentiles to follow—“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” End of instruction.

 

“I felt a deep disturbance in the Force” in November of last year; and I feared something terrible had happened. Only it wasn’t in a science fiction movie, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Through some means that I really don’t understand at all, church-going people who deeply desire to follow Christianity elected a President who seems to have made it his life goal to break every one of the rules these friends of mine have taught to their children—thanks to the digital world we live in, there is audio and video evidence to support this accusation—interviews, news reports, magazine articles. All there for anyone to read who will make the time to read. And these people seem oblivious to the evidence; they don’t even want to read the evidence, because P45 has convinced them that it’s all lies and ‘fake news’. P45 has been ‘anointed’ by the son of the Evangelist; other famous evangelists apparently preach to thousands of people each Sunday that P45 is ‘anointed’ by God to lead this country ‘out of sin, and into the light’. Fortunately there are students in seminaries across the country that are willing to stand up to the hypocrisy of their leaders.

P45’s Political Strategist, a man who now sits on the National Security Council, is a White Nationalist who stands with the KKK and White Supremacists throughout the country—again, allegations that are supported by documentation for those who are willing to take the time to read.

This isn’t about Political Parties, it isn’t about Hilary; I was a lifelong Republican until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied to Congress and invaded Iraq for a reason they knew didn’t exist. I registered as a Democrat in order to vote for Barack Obama in the Oregon Primary. I learned one evening at my church that the illustration/poster I was creating to commemorate the election of an African-American as the leader of this very racist country, would not be appreciated by my congregation. I found this out in person, when I took my son on a Mission Trip to Mexico. I brought him along so that he could see the Spirit of the Creator at work, in person, among fellow Believers. He’ll never come back to our church again, due to the judgmental attitudes he encountered on that trip.

It’s about Character, and following Jesus. It isn’t about a list of rules.

My life changed forever in 1976 and the years that follow; irrefutable evidence occurred in my life; experiences that happened to me alone. Stuff that I know was True, but can’t use to prove the Truth to anyone else. This is the nature of Truth—it only becomes evidentiary when it is grasped by another person.

I was fortunate in high school—I was taught the concept of Critical Thinking by ‘Captain Bob,’ my Senior English teacher. Today it would probably be called AP English. We wrote papers every week, studying philosophical concepts; their strengths, their weaknesses. I was one of those students who enjoyed the History of Western Civilization in college—the texts, not the boring lectures. Today I study theology; at present I’m reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, a work cut short by his death in one of Hitler’s death camps. It seems appropriate reading today, when our country is being led by an authoritarian government, at war with the Media. The Founding Fathers valued the media of the day, and called it the Fourth Estate. “In 1841, Thomas Carlyle used the term to describe the reporters’ gallery in the English Parliament as a “Fourth Estate more important” than the other three estates represented there. The importance of the press in a representative democracy is twofold: it informs the citizenry and also serves as a feedback loop between the government and voters.” https://www.reference.com/world-view/press-called-fourth-estate-d9eee0cb98632d05

Not so much today. P45 calls the Media the “Enemy of the People”—google the phrase; it’s instructive.

As I begin this 44th year of my new life, I find myself among The Resistance, among Activists. I don’t ‘march,’ due to my neurological condition; I don’t spend a lot of time on my feet, and my ego hasn’t yet accepted the idea of a wheelchair. I type. I schlep video equipment. I publish information on the internet. I support those who march.

And I pray for our government.

history_and_grief_congress

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 117: Do not be a bystander

February 23, 2017


newsroom
http://mjarts.com/samples/Newsroom%20excerpt2.mp4

I’ve seen a series of articles in the last four weeks which are profoundly disturbing to me:

Bannon vows a daily fight for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state’

The reclusive mastermind behind President Trump’s nationalist ideology and combative tactics made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist and intellectual force behind Trump’s agenda, used his first speaking appearance since Trump took office to vow that the president would honor all of the hard-line pledges of his campaign.
Appearing at a gathering of conservative activists alongside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon dismissed the idea that Trump might moderate his positions or seek consensus with political opponents. Rather, he said, the White House is digging in for a long period of conflict to transform Washington and upend the world order…
Priebus celebrated Trump’s administration as “the best Cabinet in the history of Cabinets,” and Bannon said that many nominees “were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/top-wh-strategist-vows-a-daily-fight-for-deconstruction-of-the-administrative-state/2017/02/23/03f6b8da-f9ea-11e6-bf01-d47f8cf9b643_story.html?utm_term=.127792e35359

Prince Charles issues veiled warning over Donald Trump and return to ‘dark days of 1930s’

Prince Charles has issued a warning over the “rise of populism” in a veiled apparent reference to the election of Donald Trump and increasingly hostile attitudes towards refugees in Europe.
The Prince of Wales said there were “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s”, adding that “evil” religious persecution was taking place across the globe.
“We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s,” he said.
“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”
Citing UN statistics, he added that a “staggering” 65.3 million people abandoned their homes in 2015 — 5.8 million more than the year before.
“The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land,” he said. “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/prince-charles-donald-trump-warning-right-populism-dark-days-thought-for-the-day-a7489876.html

Reuters orders reporters to cover Trump like an authoritarian regime: Expect ‘physical threats’

David Edwards
01 Feb 2017 at 10:10 ET
The Reuters news agency this week recognized the challenges of covering Donald Trump’s presidency by comparing it to authoritarian regimes like Egypt, Yemen and China.
“It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists ‘among the most dishonest human beings on earth’ or that his chief strategist dubs the media ‘the opposition party’,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler wrote in a message to staff on Tuesday. “It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration.”
He cited the organization’s work in “Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia” as an example of how to report on the Trump administration.
Adler said that reporters could use experience learned in “nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists.”
http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/reuters-orders-reporters-to-cover-trump-like-an-authoritarian-regime-expect-physical-threats/

Iran’s supreme leader ‘thanks’ Trump for revealing the ‘real face of the United States

“We actually thank this new president! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to a transcript posted on his official website.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/07/irans-ayatollah-thanks-trump-for-revealing-the-real-face-of-the-united-states/?utm_term=.99ba9ff6825d

Steve Bannon: ‘We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt’

Only months ago Donald Trump’s chief strategist predicted military involvement in east Asia and the Middle East in Breitbart radio shows.
The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.
Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/02/steve-bannon-donald-trump-war-south-china-sea-no-doubt

Washington Post By Dana Milbank Opinion writer January 27, 2016
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-age-of-trump-grim-warnings-from-holocaust-survivors/2016/01/27/c65ea38c-c549-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html?utm_term=.2bc13a13ec85

“International Holocaust Remembrance Day is always a somber time for Auschwitz survivor Irene Weiss. But this year’s observance had an additional layer of grief: For the first time, Weiss is worried about her adopted homeland.”
“I am exceptionally concerned about demagogues,” the 85-year-old Weiss told me at Wednesday’s commemoration at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “They touch me in a place that I remember. I know their influence and, unfortunately, I know how receptive audiences are to demagogues and what it leads to.”

At this time of open hostility to Muslims in America, museum staff arranged for Johanna Gerechter Neumann, who fled with her family to Albania after Kristallnacht, to talk about how Muslims protected them from Hitler. Her father, a patriotic German and World War I veteran, “certainly thought that it could never happen in Germany,” she said. “It did happen. Slowly, but it did happen.”
And now the aging survivors worry it is beginning, slowly, to happen again. “It is repeating itself, and it is again the inattention that people pay to real cues that one should understand,” said Margit Meissner, almost 94, who fled on foot through the Pyrenees from occupied France.
“It’s not Weimar,” she said, “but it could become Weimar Germany if you have Mr. Trump here and people keep believing what he says. .
.. I think one has to speak up. And thats the one lesson from the Holocaust: Do not be a bystander.

When Holocaust survivors start getting alarmed, I start listening. If one reads the entire article the alarm becomes more chilling.

tr-characterI see a lot of articles saying that I should simply “embrace our new President”. I can’t embrace a man who is stealing much of what I hold dear about this country.

For years I have listened to Conservative Christians tell me that the United States is a country ‘blessed by God.’ Having read a lot of US history in conjunction with my work as an illustrator, I have assumed that the people making such comments have somehow remained oblivious to American history, and our shameful treatment of people not of Northern European ancestry.

With the advent of Facebook and other Social Media, I’ve changed my ideas. The only explanation I can come up with is that our country has a large population of racist bigots who haven’t had the courage to admit it; until they saw the ‘Leader of the Free World’ spouting fear of ‘the other’. This country, ‘blessed by God,’ is filled with people who live in fear of people who are not like they are—people with brown skins; people who worship the Creator in a different manner than they; people who love other people in a manner they do not understand.

Based on Stephen Bannon’s comments above, P45’s Cabinet selections become more understandable. He wasn’t making the absolute worst selections possible—people who have been committed to the opposition of those agencies they were selected to head—they are individuals selected to destroy the agencies they rule over.

I worked in a governmental regulatory agency for 14 years; the City of Portland’s Bureau of Buildings [now, Bureau of Development Services] was tasked with the job of requiring compliance with the Building Code, and its companion Codes. Codes designed to promote building safety. Hard as it may be to believe, there really are contractors out there who don’t care about building safety; all they are concerned about is how much money they can charge to do work using the cheapest methods they can find. Developers who don’t mind lying about their buildings, if it’s profitable.

Raise this exponentially: companies that don’t want to comply with environmental regulations because those regulations raise the costs on their development. Companies that don’t care what kind of impact their construction may have on the environment. Coal companies that can dump their excavated waste into local streams, because it’s so much cheaper than hauling the waste by truck; and they don’t care that the watersheds are damaged.

A Secretary of Energy whose only energy interests are in fossil fuels—the most damaging and inefficient form of energy production there is.

A Secretary of Education who has no interest in improving the quality of the American school system; instead she wants to eliminate public schools altogether; without regard to inner city schools who won’t be able to afford to the private education model she desires.

“Draining the swamp” of Wall Street advocates in the Presidential Cabinet; now refilled by Managers of Goldman Sachs, the architects of the Economic Collapse of 2008.

We now have an Executive Branch that is so insensitive to security—National Security briefings in the middle of a crowded country club restaurant—that the Intelligence Community is withholding information from the President. They are concerned that top secret information will end up in a midnight ‘tweet’.

I was raised to believe that we were a country of laws to protect the downtrodden; a country that welcomed the refugee; a country that believed in justice for all; not merely justice for those with wealth.

Raised as an atheist, I decided to become a follower of Jesus; the teacher who said,
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

I am ashamed of what my country has become.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 115: I’m sorry I’m interrupting your puppies and kittens and desserts…

January 28, 2017

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

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

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

Your life was never about you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fallen-liberty

 

Save

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 113: Pay No Attention to the Man…

December 12, 2016

pay-no-attention“We wanna fix up our infrastructure bigly. That includes – and who’s better at that stuff than me? Believe me. Hey I don’t need your vote anymore, but I’m telling you I’ve very good at that. That’s right I don’t need your vote, can you imagine that? Four years, I’ll need your vote.”
Donald Trump, 12/11/2016

Approximately 59% of the eligible voters in the US chose to vote. Approximately 40% of the eligible voters chose to abstain. Of the voters who chose to vote, approximately 48% voted for Hillary Clinton; approximately 46% voted for Donald Trump.

Approximately 27% of the American voters sold the country to Donald Trump.

“He’ll shake things up”

“He’s going to run the country like a business”

Yeah. He’s going to run the country like a business. He’s going to run the country like HIS business; he’s not going to run the country like YOUR business. It appears, from the words of ‘The Great and Powerful Donald,” he now owns one of the world’s largest businesses, ‘Trump America’.

From what the talking heads have said, as they justify his selections for his cabinet, the primary quality they have is that they are “successful”.

Successful at what?

Successful at making money? Is that what being “successful” in America has come to mean?

The reality is that we don’t even know if ‘The Great and Powerful Donald” IS successful…We know that he has a lot of property with his name on it, property all over the world. But since we spent all of our energy focusing on Hillary’s email, we never really found out if Donald is even solvent. He has been afraid to show us his tax returns. Given his out-of-court settlement for his Trump University scam, and the cost of the election campaign, he might have run out of cash…until this last couple of weeks, when his business capital has expanded mightily, cashing in on “President-Elect”. Now that he’s been elected [in theory—the Electoral College has not voted yet; he has not won ANY Electoral Votes, they are merely committed to him], he has absolutely no reason to show us his financial records.

He apparently plans to charge the Secret Service a million dollars a year to protect him—the cost of renting a floor of Trump Tower, in New York, where he plans to do much of his business during his time in office. He only wants National Security Briefings once a week; does this mean he really only plans on being in the White House once a week?

His apparent selection for Secretary of State is a man who has serious financial ties to Russia—‘he knows all the players’. His proposed selection for the Environmental Protection Agency is a man who is committed to ‘de-regulating’ the EPA—meaning, getting rid of all of those pesky rules that prevent Corporate America from making a profit.

“Air pollution in India is so bad that it kills half a million people every year…”

The Washington Post, May, 2016

“New Delhi is the most polluted city on Earth right now…” CNN November 2016

“China tops WHO list for deadly outdoor air pollution…” The Guardian, September 2016

“Paris winter air pollution is worst in 10 years…” France 24, December 2016

Even if one is mind-boggled enough to doubt that “Climate Change” exists, such as people like Donald Trump, the reality is that the air in China, the air in India, the air in Paris…

IS OUR AIR.

There is only one AIR on planet Earth.

The polluted air of the other major land masses on Earth will soon find its way here. There is nowhere else for it to go. Particulates will pollute the ground we walk on. The Earth’s vegetation will convert the carbon dioxide to oxygen; but we are rapidly defoliating the Earth. The plants won’t scrub the toxins from the air; the heavier toxins will enter the ground or cover the buildings and the pavement, or land in the water.

When the 2017 EPA Director comes into office, what will happen to the DAPL; and the one victory for America’s First People in 200+ years of history?
What will happen when the Missouri River is polluted by petroleum? What will happen to the aquifer under the Dakotas, when it is polluted with petroleum?

We can’t drink petroleum. I guess we’ll have to buy water from Nestle’s…

There are dead places at the bottom of Earth’s oceans—places where nothing will live again. Sea life can’t drink petroleum, either.

Trump’s cabinet is being filled with people from Goldman Sachs—the very people Trump complained were Hillary’s allies.

It seems that 27% of the American voters chose to ignore the character of the man. We were told about his character; but his character apparently wasn’t as important as the claims he was making during his campaign. “Lock Her Up!” was a major claim; one he now says was ‘for show’. What other campaign ‘promises’ were simply for show?

I grew up in the fifties and sixties, being told that Character was the most important quality in being an American. When I came to Christ, I was told that Character is the most important quality of a follower of Jesus.

What happened?

 

 

 

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

October 30, 2016

REFORMATION DAY 2016

I’m not a big believer in coincidence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARTICLE 16.

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

What am I talking about…

The North Dakota Pipeline Protest

north-dakota-pipelineDAPL map overlaying Treaty Lands

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

Beating unarmed protestors.

On their own land.

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

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

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

That our promises matter.

That our honor matters.

That Justice matters.

That how we treat people matters.

May God have mercy on our souls…

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 107: Character

October 11, 2016

lincoln_charcter

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

I don’t support the Libertarian Policy goals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 105_McFarland

September 27, 2016

hurdles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The experiment wasn’t successful.

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

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

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: