Guns for Jesus

It’s called an Open Carry Church Service and not only does the Valley Station Road Church want you to carry your gun to church, they’ll give you an opportunity to win a handgun and listen to operators of gun stores and firing ranges while enjoying patriotic music. A red font resembling splattered blood is used on a promo poster, but it’s not meant to glorify bloodshed. The main impetus? Fear Obama will restrict guns.

Valley Station Church to Hold Gun Service

I love it that they insist the red bloodshed font is just “a font that somebody developed”, nothing more.

I’m looking at their website right now. It states the purpose for their church is growth in grace and “empowering people for service”. Their goals for 2009 include Ministry Outside the Box and Creating a Culture. The sermon available for download is “Greater Love” as in, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. In the news article the pastor states, “Not every church is pacifistic,” so I guess this greater love thing is down the order of “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends in a glorious gun battle blaze of glory”?

Now, I think I’m going to watch something intentionally ironic.

Ding dong…

The blogs are abuzz with Jerry Falwell’s death.

We decided not to watch the video on the Great Wall of China at Netflix because I read a review by someone who knows better (is from China) and they were lambasting it for misidentifying time periods etc. So we watched a video on Vienna and some art there (what a way with words). Next up, a video on Jason and the Golden Fleece, a favorite myth of H.o.p.’s…

H.o.p. just now glued a paste jewel to the middle of my forehead. Then he belches and remembers he needs to take his vitamins.

Oops! The sound you now hear is millions and millions of cribs being pushed back down pearl-encrusted streets, away from heaven, to the asphalt streets of limbo, but at least they're not on the rhinestone streets of hell (or maybe they are)

Well, concerning my previous post on all those millions and millions of babies (plus my sibling twins) being released from Limbo, apparently there was someone scrambling around Technorati looking for blogs that brought the subject up because This is the Catholic Church, and its teachings on this issue haven’t changed for its entire existence, and they’re not changing now. Or so they insist on their blog and they left a comment letting me know that the progressive media dogs were wrong, wrong, wrong. In other words, if those millions and millions of unbaptized babes in Limbo were watching CNN and said, “Wow, look, we’re not supposed to be here after all! Let’s roooooooll to Heaven!” they were soon disappointed by Faithful Rebel heading them off at the pass and kicking them back down to exactly where they belong, and it ain’t with God, so there!

I guess. I mean, even though I never said in my post that the media had announced that Limbo didn’t exist (as far as I know, Moses and Abraham et all are still playing dice in the Limbo of the Fathers), Faithful Rebel came scrambling over to let me know it most certainly does!

As for those babes, Faithful Rebel notes on their blog:

Either way, it is Catholic teaching that those who die with original sin (only) at the time of death DO NOT enter heaven. And the Pope or the ITC has not said that God removes the original sin of infants. We simply don’t know what God does, but we do know that if the original sin is not remitted, there is only one option, and that is that the child does not share in the beatific vision. When and if that happens, there are only two options, either the baby suffers pain of sense or does not suffer pain of sense. Under St. Thomas’s teaching on Limbo, there is no suffering of pain of sense on the part of those only with original sin. When they die, they enter into a perfect state of natural happiness. That is because their souls have not been reborn in baptism and enabled to share in the height of supernatural happiness, the vision of God Himself. So they are, of course, limited to the joy proportionate to their nature.

All that the ITC has done is to issue a non-magisterial document advising the Pope on Limbo and saying that there are serious reasons to “hope” for the salvation of unbaptized children, which would have to mean that God may have erased their original sins in an extraordinary way. The Pope has accepted the report. That doesn’t mean that any “teaching” has changed or that Limbo is false. The examples that I have given of horrible coverage of the Church in the media still stand, and are even more strikingly apparent in this latest fiasco.

SOOOO, there you have it. The Church still teaches apparently that those with Original Sin don’t enter Heaven, and the Church never changes its teachings, but there is now a non-magisterial document advising reasons to hope for unbaptized children and maybe god erases their original sin in an extraordinary way. Or not! Whatever, the Church has never ever changed its teachings, not one bit, never changed at all, and the nonmagisterials (should I hyphenate that or not, I can’t make up my mind) are just trying to reconcile teachings that cannot change such as the Council of Florence’s 1439 instruction that “the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”

And aren’t we all glad we got that CLEARED UP! The kiddos go straight down to HELL (or Limbo) and that can’t be changed because the Church doesn’t change its teachings, but there may be some nonmagisterial reason to believe the kiddos might have been supernaturally sprinkled and are in Heaven, except, y’know, the Church is Fast and Firm and never changes (being the Rock that it is) and as the babes weren’t sprinkled they probably do not share in the Beatific Vision because they simply aren’t capable of that joy. Which, I take it, means, in other words, that as Faithful Rebel was Sprinkled and those kids were not, Faithful Rebel doesn’t want to look down and see them in their cribs next to Faithful Rebel’s seat in the great auditorium that is Heaven. Not even in the Nose Bleed Section does Faithful Rebel want them in Heaven if it would toy with the Council of Florence’s 1439 instruction. Because Faithful Rebel paid the FULL TICKET PRICE LEGITIMATELY and those of you who didn’t can go to, y’know, Hell, or Limbo, or wherever your ability to parse joy lands you. But it shouldn’t be next to Faithful Rebel, I guess. I say, I guess, because based on Faithful Rebel’s post on how the Church doesn’t change, you go to hell or you don’t, but you most certainly do, or to Limbo, but the nonmagisterials say maybe not but they have no authority…well, I’m just sitting here blowing my nose with not a clue of what’s up or where all those cribs belong.

Whatever, there you have it. I feel like I’m at a soccer game and Faithful Rebel (a one time liberal who converted to political conservatism and became a Traditional Catholic and is attending Thomas Aquinas College as a third year theology and philosophy student) is down there guarding that Heavenly Goal and the babes are balls and he’s gonna guard the integrity of the Church and Heaven and God by making sure they don’t make it home!

One thing Faithful Rebel didn’t comment on was that BIG CAKE! The one I posted a picture of with the Pope smiling gleeful upon it. The one I said equaled lots and lots of cups of rice. And, certainly, if I was THAT concerned about the eternal damnation (or not) of unbaptized infants, as a Pope I might have said All That Fancy Cake Money should instead have gone into pediatric medicine.

Now, should I have ignored Literalist Faithful Rebel? Yes, of course, I should have ignored Literalist Faithful Rebel. I should not be making this post.

But I have had no fun at all this week and to me, at his moment, making this post is an enjoyable past time. I’m frolicking! I’ve got boxer shorts on my head and pencils are dangling from my nostrils. To top it off, I just put my hand in my armpit and made fart sounds.

Because that’s the kind of philosopher I am.

That sound you hear is millions and millions of cribs rolling over pearl-encrusted streets toward heaven

Well, aren’t we all going to rest easier about all those little babies, stretching back to the dawn of humankind, which died before benefit of sprinkled baptism? Rome has decided that they all aren’t gurgling in Limbo cribs, eyes attempting to focus on the restrained delights of a distant heaven dangling from a mobile just beyond reach.

When I was eight years of age I asked my CCD nun, what about my sibling twins, who had died soon after birth? I knew she’d say, “Limbo!” I told myself, “What’s the use in asking when you know what she’s going to say?” But I had to ask anyway. Some times you just have to hear the cruel rejoinder rather than assuming it.

“Limbo,” she sternly replied.

Which wasn’t cruel to me personally as I wasn’t a believer in the benefits of baptism. I’d been baptized, by then, at least twice. My first baptism had been at about four or five years of age into some Protestant church. At the age of eight, the Catholic church saying the Protestant first baptism didn’t take, I was sprinkled into the Catholic Church, and though I was only eight I sniffed politics and used to joke about how Really Clean and Heaven Ready I was.

The reason I asked the nun my question is because I wanted to hear straight from her mouth her cruelty. It didn’t hurt me, but I wanted to hear it straight from her mouth, how she would respond to an eight-year-old who had lost siblings, wanted to hear from her mouth how her vision of her church would respond. I suspected how she would respond, but I wanted to give her an opportunity to pause, to say she wasn’t sure, to incline to comfort rather than condemnation. As I anticipated, she didn’t pause, she didn’t hesitate.

“Limbo,” she said.

When my mother picked me up, I told her what the nun had said.

My mother cried. “Why are you hurting me like this?” she asked.

I hadn’t intended to hurt her. I had just wanted her to know the kind of people I was hanging around at CCD.

She later wised up.

* * * * * * *

Credit: REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

Not to bash anyone having a good time on their birthday, but we see above Pope Benedict XVI with his birthday cake this past week, and I think to myself, y’know, that seems an awful waste of money for a purportedly charitable organization. You and I both know that’s one damn expensive cake. And it’s very easy to get around that kind of ostentatious display by announcing beforehand, “No gifts for me, please! Instead give to the charity of your choice.”

Though insanely expensive, everyone in the above pic can rest easy that it doesn’t come close to being one of the most expensive cakes of all time…like the 1.65 million dollar diamond fruit cake of 2005, or the 2.16 million dollar cake of 2006 celebrating Mozart’s birthday, or the 20 million dollar diamond wedding cake of October 2006 at the Luxury Brands Bridal Show on Rodeo Drive.

While we’re at it, click here to give a cup of rice to some hungry people.

(Yes, in other words, those cakes are lots and lots of cups of rice.)

OK. Enough of that.

* * * * * * * *

What else was I going to write about? I was going to write about something and it wasn’t going to be a boring rant about this HELL of a cold (well, not hell) that just won’t stop. I keep thinking it’s “finally clearing out” but today I’m taking some OTC cold medicine to help with the congestion and cough (no, not a chest cough) and general unpleasantness. I hate cold medicine because it makes me feel so weird. Even weirder that Benadryl.

One of those colds that compels you to not do anything that you don’t absolutely have to do.

I’m looking right now at a picture of a very dead, upside down swordfish trapped in a tuna net, on the cover of this month’s National Geographic. The title is “Saving the Sea’s Bounty”. It’s not making me feel any better. It’s not supposed to make me feel better, I know…but today of all days I don’t need a dead swordfish poking around my brain.

* * * * * * * *

Now what?

I dunno.

The cold medicine has completely stopped the cough and blowing of nose, it seems, but I now have a searing headache (that dead swordfish, I told you I didn’t need it) and have to keep picking my head up off my right shoulder to which it keeps gravitating.

H.o.p. is calling me to watch “Redwall” with him. I have no use for that cartoon. He loves it. The sacrifices we make. I will now go in and watch “Redwall”…sideways…my head sitting on my right shoulder like it is.



Oops…thar she blows!

Here I have in my Netflix-borrowing hands a DVD of “Cat Women of the Moon”, which far surpasses any expectations I had for it, and I’d planned to blog my giddy, glorious wonder of this film on Friday. But then I opened up the Bloglines and what met my eyes but Pharyngula’s “Demand higher standards for homeschooling!” post, filed under creationism and academics.

Said Pharyngula, who’s all hot and bothered by the Creationists,

At my department, we just got the requirements for state licensure of education students, and we’ve been given the task of making sure our course content delivers what future teachers will need. It’s not trivial getting licensed to teach; but any idiot can declare themselves to be a teacher for purposes of homeschooling, and apparently many idiots do.

Please. Can we bring those laws back?

I’m serious. We need to stop this. I think any politician who professed to be concerned about educating the children of this country, by supporting the NCLB, for instance, ought to be required to support increasing the qualifications and standards for homeschooling…and if a district doesn’t have the resources to monitor the competence of homeschool teachers, they ought to simply refuse to allow the kids to be pulled out of school.

Then I began to read the comments, which were about what I expected.

As I’m not a Creationist, one might think this wouldn’t concern me too much. I do homeschool, and one might say well if you’re doing the job you ought to be doing then you won’t mind stricter standards (which vary by state), and if you don’t have a degree (I don’t) then you must certainly understand, as a reasonable progressive, our concerns. But I’m not going there folks because that’s not what it’s all about. If you know how to cut through the fat then it’s not too difficult to see this hasn’t much to do with Creationism at all, and doesn’t even have a thing to do with a desire to edcuate–at least not outside of what is required for maintaining a certain world of status-quo prejudices.

I have mellowed some over the years. Used to be I had almost no use whatsoever for academics, to the extent that if I showed up at a party of a one-time friend who lacked the instrument but could play the hell out of an air guitar (that’s one way of putting it) and I smelled a nest of his co-worker academics in the vicinity then I’d promptly leave. I was almost kind of fine with them as long as they stuck to the dining room table gossiping about department politics and left the rest of us alone to pursue some bonafide conversation–and they’d almost 100 percent comply as they certainly didn’t want to mingle outside their clique, because, after all, what was the use in their mingling when, as far as they were concerned, they had nothing to learn or gain? Yeah, there are academic bloggers now who let it be known how cool they are, really really how cool they and their musical tastes are as well (come sit at my feet my fellow academic bum-licking friends so we may self-congratulate ourselves on our corporate but oh so individual coolness) and love to blog-party and toy with tittilating the whatnot; and what can I say but hey, things sure haven’t changed, because they’ve always been around. But in pre-blog days my experience was that they tended to get too drunk too fast and were really happy with sitting around and bitching about everything and assessing where they were on the king of the hill playground slide between the persons on their left and right.

In the above instance, the number of academics at the parties grew and as they grew they began to feel more secure with elbowing for the respectful distance due them so the numbers of the rest of us dwindled. The third year I dropped by it was almost all academics (though sometimes not immediately distinguishable individually, this is not the case en masse). Eventually the parties were probabaly all composed of academics. They were happy to have the room to themselves and I was happy to not bother them.

Again, used to be I had almost no use for academics, but I like people and I like to find things to like about people, at least when they’re cut off from their herd, though if you’re not secure enough to stand alone then I’ll give you that chance in your preferred environment. I like to give people a chance, a second and a third, even to the point of shutting my voice off and politely, gamely listening and nodding my head after I’ve fully sized the situation up–which is usually just a matter of mapping out someone’s narrow-minded halls and figuring out the concretized (pro or con) conversational points they’re programmed to run. As all that some prefer for a conversation is a party of one then I don’t mind too much sitting back and simply watching the show and experiencing your world and enjoying you, your face, how you move, how you speak, the stories you’ve accumulated. Indeed, most everyone wants others to experience their world, though some people want only that ultimately. Not too many people are that interested in experiencing another person’s world outside of what the price of a shot glass of cappucino demands of them. Even if they imagine they do, they show up at the table with a bag of regimented prescriptions and run through the doctor’s recommendations twenty times before the bladder asks for a break. And they’ll not have a clue. I know that and it doesn’t bother me as long as you’re not abusive. I can look at a good many people, apart from the herd by which they may define themselves, and find much to marvel about in the individual. One thing you learn from listening to many different people’s stories and asking them about things so they tell you even more, enough to give some idea of landscape or what they see the landscape to be, is, of course, how much people are the same and, of course, how different they are. There’s a lot to be learned from really listening rather than just seeing the world and every encounter in terms of scoring points.

Blogworld, and most worlds of conversation, discussion and debate, are not where you can begin to change the regimented prescription and doctor’s recommendations. Nah, you show up to pat on the back, share a tidy story and sometimes play a regimented role of rebuttal, preferably in the matter of a very few one-liners as that’s about as much time readers and commentors can commit to from their work place seat, which we all know as most people play 9 to 5 and blogworld shuts down on the weekend. Most people who comment at blogs don’t even take the time to read the thread of comments preceding their own, much less the comments that follow. When I first began blogging I’d hoped it might be otherwise but learned quickly enough those were the rules and that blogworld is stranded in a world of prejudices and the exact same power jockeyings that rule the real world. Doesn’t mean the internet isn’t a grand tool for disseminating information. No, making information available, the good and the trash, is where the internet excels. But it’s not much of a place for changing opinion through dialogue, just as in real world conversation.

I thought several times about posting a comment at Pharyngula and politely running through some of my views, but anticipating how the comment thread would run I held back. Well before the thread reached 338 comments, I was glad I’d gone with the judgment of not participating.

Nor am I participating by commenting on the post here. I’m not doing a trackback. I don’t want anyone from there to come over here and read and comment. No, I’m instead remarking on why I chose not to particpate, which is the same reason I don’t want anyone from there to come over here and read and comment.

There, that’s all the thought I want to waste on this right now. I’ve got “Cat Women of the Moon” to possibly blog before returning it to Netflix. But all my browser windows are open to slips of documents concerning Sac and Fox mixed bloods that I want to copy into a database and there are 10,000 other things I need to be doing right now so I might not get around to it. But I will certainly try.

I threw away my paper prayer rug and today I regretted it

Yesterday I threw away the paper prayer rug “Saint Matthews Churches” and Rev. Ewing sent me in the mail. And today I regretted it, realizing the prayer rug would have fit the space above the toilet in the bathroom perfectly.

Saint Matthews Churches please send me another paper prayer rug! But make me the second recipient of the “one for two” rug rather than the first. Because I’ve become fixated (though not very) on the idea of finding evidence of the promised second recipients. I want the envelope that reads, “Yours second!”

Damn, the space above the toilet is glaring at me (from behind my back, in the other room, I don’t blog while on the toilet as I don’t have a laptop) saying, “I can’t believe you tossed the prayer rug! You wouldn’t have four years ago. What’s happened to you? Where’s your sense of humor?”

The prayer rug

We used to get this kind of thing in the mail all the time but haven’t since we moved into this building several years ago. So much to our delight the other day we opened the mailbox to find, packed away in a neat little business size envelope, our personal prayer rug. Which comes with instructions printed at the bottom and on the back. The prescription is that we are to stare at the prayer rug until Jesus opens his eyes and stares us down. Then we’re to kneel upon the rug in private, make our prayer, then return the prayer rug with a list of our needs checked off on a handy enclosed form. The prayer rug must be returned, it must not be kept in our possession, because its peculiar so-stated destiny is to be mailed to a second home that needs it.

So it is not our personal prayer rug after all. It’s a two-for-one special prayer rug (or one for two). Which kind of sucks, because I so do like rugs and a paper one wouldn’t gather dust.

I couldn’t possibly have faith in this prayer rug as Jesus isn’t dripping blood from his crown of thorns, but I read the accompanying letter anyway, that tells me about the many who have received blessings through the church, that they are loaning me this prayer rug and that I must return it within 24 hours and that this timing is very important. If I don’t return the rug the next morning then my neglect will break the flow of power. The prayer needs I’m to check off have also a place where I can check mark, “Enclosed is my seed gift to God’s work of $_________”.

I look at the envelope again and see that on the front it reads, “Yours first!” I would be more interested to be the recipient of the envelope that read, “Yours second!” and examine the prayer rug for signs of wear. If any one gets that envelope that reads, “Yours second!” I would love to have a scan of it. ‘K?

The ministry is “Prayer by letters, Saint Matthew’s Churches, P.O. Box 22065, Tulsa, OK”. Their website is here and apparently they’ve had some problems with people accusing them of being…well…scammers. And they must, y’know, be honest folk since they deal with the issue forthrightly on their website.

Saint Matthew’s Churches receives tithes and offerings based on the Scriptures, and uses church donations to buy postage and printing of gospel sermons, books, magazines, and other literature that we give away free of charge. Saint Matthew’s Churches does not sell anything. In its mail sermons, it preaches that God answers prayer, which cannot be construed as a mail scam or mail fraud.

However, the published sermons and sacred literature sent free of charge by Saint Matthew’s Churches crosses the paths of atheists; communists; drug dealers; criminals; the lunatic fringes of society; those who hate the United States, God and Christianity and those who hate us because we are gospel missionaries. They accuse all churches which mail sermons of mail scams and mail fraud.

Now, I would have thought that they would want their prayer rugs to cross the paths of criminals, drug dealers, the lunatic fringes of society (like atheists and communists) and those who hate the United States and God and Christianity, because what an opportunity it would be to minister to us poor sinners. But us sinners apparently just cause them problems then they want nothing to do with us.

Golda Meir, the third Prime Minister of Israel, once said, “We will not roll over and die just to make our enemies happy.” The same is true of Saint Matthew’s Churches and all other churches which are wrongfully accused of mail scams and mail fraud.

Thousands of people are blessed by the church’s mail sermons. Saint Matthew’s Churches understands that not everyone wants to receive our literature. Some who receive one of the gospel books or sermon letters that we send free of charge – and we emphasize “free of charge” – hate gospel literature; from their hatred comes false accusations of mail fraud and mail scams. Honest people just throw the literature into the trash if they do not want to receive it; the literature costs them nothing. St Matthew’s Churches pay all of the costs for printing the literature as well as the postage to mail it. However, some are compelled by their hatred to try and harm the church with false accusations of mail fraud or mail scams.

There are many hurting people who believe in biblical teachings and prayer, and who are grateful to receive St Matthew’s Churches church books and sermon letters free of charge. They don’t believe the false accusations of mail fraud or mail scams. These people write back to Saint Matthew’s Churches requesting prayer; they know that God answers prayer. Because Saint Matthew’s Churches is based upon Christian teachings, St Matthew’s Churches form a friendship with those who are interested in receiving free of charge more of the gospel of Jesus Christ, His saving grace, and His Second Coming. Hundreds of thousands have joined the church and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.

They may, as they insist, be honest and have a perpetual motion machine sitting in their back yard to boot, but their prayer rug isn’t anointed with the inky blood of Jesus, so I simply can’t have faith.

Besides, since I have kept the prayer rug in my possession two nights, I have broken the flow of power. There is someone else, supposedly, who will not receive the blessings of this prayer rug because of me. Because I’ve kept it in my sinful hands. I even scanned the thing.

It is not a very attractive rug. If you scroll on past it I’m offering a free internet prayer rug in which Jesus’ eyes are already open (for the instant gratification crowd).

Here is my “Pearls of Wisdom Free Internet Prayer Rug”.

Be careful what you wish for. But I think impeachment of Bush is always a good choice. If you are inclined to take the prayer rug and scribble “Impeach Bush” on it then I would consider it to not be theft but an example of multiplying loaves and fishes.

The atheists not accepted here standard

I was doing a quick glance through of Georgia QCC standards and came up with the below one which will be interesting to atheists.

Quality Core Curriculum Standards
Character Education Citizenship (all grades)
Strand: Citizenchip
10 Topic: Citizenship
Standard: Respect for the creator: our most basic freedoms and rights are not granted to us from the government but they are intrinsically ours; i.e., the Constitution does not grant Americans the right of freedom of speech, it simply recognizes that each of us is born with that right. This is to say that the founders of the republic recognized a higher authority, a power greater than themselves that endowed every human being with certain unalienable rights that no government or legal document could ever revoke or take away. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson names this life force that permeates the universe and from which our unalienable rights stem the “creator”, “nature’s God”, and the “supreme judge of the world”. If we are to respect life, the natural rights of all people and the authority which the founders based their legal opinions on concerning our separation from Great Britain then there must be a respect for that creator from which all our rights flow. This cannot be interpreted as a promotion of religion or even as a promotion of the belief in a personal God, but only as an acknowledgment that the intrinsic worth of every individual derives from no government, person or group of persons, but is something that each of us is born with and which no thing and no one can ever deprive us of.

There is, as of yet, no lesson plan associated with it on the QCC Standards and Resources website.

But there’s no lesson plan, in any grade, associated with the below one on Democracy either.

Quality Core Curriculum Standards
Character Education Citizenship (all grades)
Strand: Citizenchip
1 Topic: Citizenship
Standard: Democracy: government of, by and for the people, exercised through the voting process.

Perhaps these “Character” standards are being phased out? The website is unclear. It gives a link to go to for the newly proposed GA performance standards for language, arts, science, social studies and mathematics.

The Columbia County website however has “The State Board of Education mandates a comprehensive character education program for levels K-12. Twenty-seven character traits are addressed.” It gives a PDF of Character Words of the Month. Under November we have “Citizenship: Tolerance, Patriotism, Loyalty, Respect for the Creator.”

One can hope that the “creator” standard is one that’s being phased out.

Cameras steal souls

I love doing digital portraits, and despite that I’m one of those peculiar people who believe cameras have the capacity to steal souls. Something I’ve thought about since I was in my early 20s.

Was reflecting on this only partly because of the death of Richard Pryor and reading a sundry comment here and there about his MS. One person wrote that would always be the first thought that would come to their mind, Pryor with MS, how bad he looked compared to the dynamic man of yesteryear, they couldn’t get past that.

Step in the camera that steals souls. We’re not just the high points of our lives in terms of public vigor. We’re the beginning to end round-up, tough and objectionable as that may be. But the camera leads many to believe in one moment of time as a person’s life, representing them, and sets up an ungiving standard of comparison. It’s not good at letting life flow through and on, unless one treats the snapshot and video as something quite apart from the individual. My father-in-law said once, what many believe, that the camera tells the whole truth. Which it doesn’t. Certainly not in respect of what he was talking about. A person’s face and body are complex, are thousands of muscles working in concert, what you see are multiple fractions of instants of the interplay of planes with light, and the camera never can get that just as neither can a movie take in the sum of a person, not even what’s up front visually. It’s why there are photographers and good photographers and a good photographer has the knowledge and intuition to seek to convey something of the heart and it’s hard going. Or forget the heart, instead the image may have nothing at all to do with the individual and everything to do with the person behind the camera, and I don’t mean just that what they capture may be their own creation, but that an archetype is a figment of the archetype’s own imagination.

Muhammad Ali cut a powerful figure in the 60s and 70s. He has Parkinsons, which was clearly evident at the Summer Olympics here in 1996. It was the same Ali, yet also not. You know, it would have taken a considerable bravery for Ali to do what he did, for how many people might be watching, he knew, that would say, “Sad, not the same as he was.” Though a number of people would also be watching who would say, “Not the same as he was. He is more.” In the modern, televized world it was a rare act of compassion, that Ali was selected to carry the torch when the Olympics celebrate physical achievement as our glory in the sun, when corporations and audiences demand record-breaking performances which may be available only at the expense of dangerous drugs, and beauty has been idealized to ridiculous surgically-sculptured extremes operating within narrow perimeters.

The other night PBS had this show in which motivational-inspirational guru was rattling off the usual tripe (someone Dyer, he wrote “The Erroneous Zones”), the whole business about you attract your life to you and was passing around a lot of stuff popular in AA which is similar to the Oral Roberts faith seed business. And then here was PBS saying to give (of course they’d like to use this guy during fund raising) and one of the PBS people even said to exercise your “faith” and give. Hmmmmmmm? Wha….? Anyway, I always wonder whether these guys have brainwashed themselves or are just good old regular charlatan businesspeople who so don’t give a damn that they don’t have to believe anything they say.

He held up quantum mechanics as proof that if you believe the universe is good you will attract the good and if you believe it’s bad then you attract the bad. The whole changing things by witnessing them idea. He overlaid it on his message and morphed it to mean….well…whatever…he’s a rubbery speaker.

He was also giving himself a way out by encouraging everyone to see the beauty in everything, including the homeless pissing in the streets.

He is wrong, I think, about seeing the beauty in everything. It’s compassion. Seeing with compassion. Seeing the beauty in everything is not the same as seeing with compassion.

He mentioned a book written by the psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor. I read the book when I was about 20. Anyway, he was throwing out a lot of cut and paste quotes from poetry etc. and finally this book. He said Frank had determined he must survive the holocaust and that he did so by seeing the beauty in everything. When a bowl of soup with bugs and a fish head was placed in front of him, he could see the beauty in the soup, and that made him survive.

Funny, what I remember from the book was foremost Frank’s guilt. He said that the best died in the camps. And he talked about finding meaning in a life restricted by external forces etc. Responsibility. I have the feeling he’d be a bit appalled by someone adding him to their “believe and virtually anything is possible for you” spiel. Viktor Frank talked about living responsibly in the moment, acting with empathy toward others, pursuing one’s heart as one can while also meeting the demands of the day. Basically. If I remember. I would have to read it again.

Everyone is restricted by external and physical forces. Some more so than others. Don’t know how one can ignore this when saying “Believe and virtually anything is possible, now send in your money.”

Seems if one lives their life focused on the realization of one passion then they will be less likely able to respond with unique self-awareness to every moment, and less likely to really listen to and interact with others. Like the salesman who’s always looking for a buyer.

Which is how the camera can steal souls as it sometimes thieves the potential of responding with unique awareness to every moment. The person who watches a video and expects the person of twenty years ago to be the same today and rues that they are not is denying life. And it can be difficult not to do this. Especially if one doesn’t know the individual and through knowing them can be aware of them as a person of corporate dimensions.

Life happens. We’re born and die living. To me the wisdom that is the Pieta is the mother holding on her lap the next generation born into this cycle of life and death and her compassion and pity for them. Michelangelo sculpted her young and rather dispassionate, observing and matter-of-fact. Later he sculpted her inseparable, struggling.

I wrote the following a while back in a private email to a friend. It suits the subject.

The Vatican Pieta is quieter and more idyllic–Mary is a young woman holding the body of a dead son who is a full grown man (when young, I was so accustomed to a certain iconography of images that the import of this didn’t occur to me until later), and her posture is suggestive of an offering to humanity in a gesture that speaks more to associated archetypes than the artist having a full personal acquaintance with the emotional challenges the archetypes embody and carry. Whether or not Michelangelo’s ultimate intention, the Rondanini, left nearly featureless, is more personal, and, in contrast, the Rondanini depicts instead an elderly Mary unable to support her son’s body–Michelangelo stated this himself, but this is known without resorting to his words, apparent in the work. Mary’s left hand is uncertain.

As to whether Michelangelo was dealing with a crisis of the soul while sculpting the Rondanini, certainly his relationship to the subject matter had changed in accordance with his age and experience. To me, with the Vatican Pieta he is “presenting” the subject, where in the Rondanini he has become the subject and melded with it. Nearing death, his physical strength diminished, coming and going, it is awe-inspiring he was able to work as he did, but he must have felt his mortality represented in the question mark of the perished Christ, as well as in Mary, Michelangelo’s physical body unable to support him any longer. Indeed, Mary’s legs are almost only apologetically present, diminished, and she leans forward in such a way, Christ’s arm upon her thigh, that the longer one looks the more one may get the impression that it is instead the dead Christ supporting and even carrying his mother. Then again, they seem as though two bodies grown of the same tree trunk.

It’s a strong work because of the contrasts. That uncertain hand of Mary, distant in that it is unable to support, and yet crumbling into the body of her son so that they are melded together. Had the work been “finished”, polished, it would have been untrue. I think it was finished and that Michelangelo continued to hack at it because he was alive and by then was using his artistry to keep from undoing the truth of the piece with each strike. And that if the sculpture seems tortured it’s because the truth of the Pieta had embraced him wholly, which is why it is also a gentle piece, transcendent, generation after generation collapsing into each other as they move on to–what?–leaving for the earthly observer the remnant material, the chrysalis, which is the only physical knowledge permitted those who have not moved beyond the mysterious veil.

Being Christian, Michelangelo may have kept in mind the physical resurrection of Christ while he worked, but in the piece he communicated what he saw in nature.

And so it goes.

As Vonnegut says.

Summing up with a quote from Viktor Frankl:

For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”

Good Start!

Here’s something I did up a few years ago and am giving it a rerun here:

Every so often in the mailbox in our former neighborhood would appear one of those booklets that’s 60 or so pages of “Send me your dollars and god will send you dollars/make you well” etc. A prayer cloth (1 by 1 inch square of white cloth) was sometimes enclosed. I’m sorry I ditched the booklets when we moved because we don’t get them here. The graphic itself is from one of those booklets.

This is a children’s crusade

The following article is on how Rep. Obey’s wanting examined allegations of Christian proselytizing and religious intolerance in the US Air Force Academy, was the trigger for Hostettler to go off on how Democrats are demonizing Christians and that they want to erase every vestige of Xtianity from Amerika. I was thinking about doing a graphic on it and found some old illustrations of Xtians burning at the stake a few of the 40,000 to 100,000 “witches” who met a similar end, and the Spanish Inquisition contorting the bodies of infidels into tortured pretzel shapes and roasting them over flames. But the illustrations had the effect of taking some of the already listing zip out of me and the boat went down. Over the past two thousand years, tens of thousands killed here and hundreds of thousands there, a few million killed here and there as fitting the call to Xtian Public Service, and, well, I got lost in the numbers thus no graphic.

Continue reading “This is a children’s crusade”