Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges is an art museum in Bentonville Arkansas created by the Walton Foundation. It gets 3 million visitors a year and is free admissions.  It is a celebration of American artists including significant contributions from Native Americans.

For this Artsy Saturday, I want to give you some photos of the buildings themselves. They are works of art and deserve their own accolades.  If you visit the musuem I suggest you do so during a weekday. The crowds on the weekends are almost insufferable, at least to a guy with some Aspie traits. 🤣

More Myths Americans Need to Unlearn About America

Let’s face it, we can’t simply ignore the problems and hope they go away. That seems to have worked for a long time but in reality, it has just allowed the problems to fester and get worse.  America is collapsing and if we don’t do something about it soon, it just may be too late. Just because we have gone-to-the-edge before and survived doesn’t mean it will happen again. Here is the myth for today that we need to unlearn:

Myth:    America isn’t collapsing!!!

Life expectancy is falling, the vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, they can’t raise $1000 for an emergency, mass shootings are a regular event of daily life, people have to crowdfund basic medicine, suicides are skyrocketing. I could go on. If your bar for collapse is Mad Max meets the Strain, then, sure, America hasn’t collapsed yet…to that point.

But it has collapsed in three key ways, which are the real, genuine and true kinds — not the stuff of science fiction end times.

◉  As a rich society — most Americans don’t live in one anymore.

◉  As a democracy — it doesn’t really represent people accurately anymore.

◉  As a society — Americans have no social contract, really, that unites them, as we’ve discussed — because virtue has not culminated in the public good .

In those three ways, collapse is as real and lethal as climate change. You can disagree with me, sure — but reality doesn’t care about what I think, or you think. It laughs at we “think”, and goes on being what it is.

Source: https://eand.co/eight-myths-americans-need-to-unlearn-about-america-560fa10ddba6

I wonder if Rome ever recognized that they were in decline? How about the Great British Empire, do superpowers ever know it when it happens? What was originally known as the Middle Class has evaporated from our country.  Yes, there are 10% of us who are doing pretty well. We went to college or trade school and obtained skills needed in the 21st century. We are doing OK.

But there is the almost 60% of us who now stuck in low paying, soon to be automated,  jobs that pay low wages.  Many continue to dream that somehow they will find their golden egg and get rich but in reality that is also a myth.

They have gerrymandered and restricted the vote so much in recent years to pretty much guarantee they cling to power even if they can’t manage to get the majority vote. 

Maybe the worst thing is our social fabric is disintegrating. We are locked into our clans and will simply not listen to anything else.  If that is not a fundamental threat to our democracy I can’t imagine what is.

I pray that it isn’t too late yet , but somehow something needs to happen… and soon.

Seeing Them For Who They Are…

For this “Seeking-Wisdom” post, I want to try and bust a few bubbles before diving into this category much further.

We all must recognize that the inspirational figures in our lives are for the most part like all of us in that they are multifaceted. They have characteristics beyond those that inspire us.  For instance, Thomas Jefferson is one of my top sources of seeking wisdom. Even today, 200+ years after they were written,  his writing and insight simply astound me!  But then there is the fact that he was a slaveholder who likely fathered several children from his “visits” to his slave quarters! Does that take away from his writings? In some ways, it has to but we need to realize that our heroes often lived in different times and standards. It’s not much of an excuse but… 

Then again, sometimes the history books just got it wrong for one reason or another. They say the history is written by the winners in all conflicts and the “truth” often reflects that fact. One of the primary examples of this is Christopher Columbus. It is now known that he was a money hungry bigotted tyrant who had no respect for the inhabitants he encountered.  In cases like this and possibly the southern Civil War “heroes” we need to disenfranchise ourselves from those who didn’t deserve it in the first place. 

To close these thoughts out, we need to see our heroes for who they are, not what we want them to be. Sometimes that is incredibly hard one for me to do.

Who Are You??

Like most of us, people often ask me who I am?  When we are in our employment years we often answer with our current occupation.  For me, that was an IT/Database developer. Depending on who is asking we sometimes give a different answer.

But in reality, it takes years and often an entire lifetime to determine who we really are. Throughout our lives, we struggle with one thing or another and those struggles are a big part of what forms who we are.

They say that diversity builds character and I can certainly attest to that fact. Living in poverty and financially struggling through college gave me an extra dose of empathy for those who had it worse than me.

Changing the subject slightly, as our constitution says we all have the right to our “pursuit of happiness” but just what is happiness? Does it come in bursts or is it more long lasting? I’m not sure I yet have an answer to that but I do know that I am now a joyous person. It has taken years to get here but finally, in my senior years, I have accomplished being joyous.

If we think about it enough we can come up with the perfect answer to this common question of who we are.  I think I have finally found my answer:

I live a joyous life of a nuanced skeptic

That is who I am. But how did I get here? I will save that for a near future post.

How about you?? Who are you?

Greenfield Village Re-visited…

I wanted to visit Greenfield Village once more before we close out another year. This visit is a gallery that shows no evidence of the 21st century.  That is one thing I truly enjoy about Mackinac Island, no cars allowed). Nantucket is a great place to visit but it is kinda ruined by all the cars that have flooded the island. 

Anyway, here is my version of Greenfield of the 20th century:

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop…

Actually, I’m waiting for the first one to drop on this whole Trump fiasco. Meuller has been investigating this crooked swamp for what seems like an eternity.  It is more a question of how many felonies were committed during his campaign and since, not if.  The anticipation is nerve-racking.

I know, given that he still controls the Senate that impeachment is impossible but just seeing so many smoking guns will be satisfying enough for me.  I know he will scream FAKE NEWS but I again hope that at least some of his ridiculously loyal base will actually see the truth once it has knocked them to the ground.

I have some pretty high hopes for America in the Post-Trump era:

 ◉ I look for the day when the term “Evangelical” might have an ounce of respect again but I kinda think that word needs to remain on the ash heap of time to be replaced by something else that is truer to its founder.

  I look for the day that morality and truthfulness once again return to the Oval Office. Where we don’t have to put up with bullying tyrannical tweets on a daily basis.  Where we don’t have to see that face ever again.

I look for the day that principles will reign over party. I know that is a very long-term wish but it has to start somewhere.

  I look for the day where I can once again turn on the TV and instead of the 24/7 swamp coverage I can actually be informed about what is happening in the world that day.

Churches Are Misleading….

For my winter 2018/2019 project, I have decided to study the topics of philosophy and spirituality and how they intermingle. I am starting out this study by reading a book entitled “Belief without Borders” by Linda A. Mercadante. I will be putting out numerous Sunday posts about it in the coming weeks. Associated with that study, I have also been visiting some of my more than 500 posts over at one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net 

This post was originally written on February 18, 2013. 

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All of this makes me wonder if pews are misleading in churches. They trick people into thinking that Christians learn best by sitting quietly in rows, listening to lectures, and memorizing ideas about the faith. But churches should not be lecture halls. 

The above quote grabbed my attention. It is from a book by Diane Butler Bass entitled Christianity After Religion.  I came to the same conclusion a couple of years before I read these words.  Churches, in general, are very misleading of what Jesus expects of us. Yes, I know some of my Christian friends believe that all we are supposed to do is to accept Christ as our savior and then spend the rest of our lives laying back and letting his grace flow over us.  To me, nothing could be further from the truth.

I am not one to have memorized the Bible so I can’t say for sure but I don’t believe that Jesus put much emphasis on us being passive followers. I suspect the folks who are aligned with that belief can quote at least a verse or two that if you twist it just right might infer that we are supposed to be passive.  I know I read the red letters frequently and what I see is Jesus telling me again and again to actively love my brother and to love God.

Getting back to the quote at hand, I think churches in general do trick people into thinking they are following Christ by just spending an hour a week sitting in the air-conditioned churches listening to  lectures and memorizing selected words to back up their static beliefs. To be quite frank, I just can’t understand all the lavish cathedrals built through the ages by the church. I believe in my heart that Jesus never intended that to happen.  I totally agree with Ms. Bass that churches should NOT be lecture halls and that includes lectures by the clergy of your favorite flavor.

If we truly want to reflect the heart and message of Jesus we should shut down our lavish palaces we have constructed in his name and move out into the community as he taught us.  Jesus did spend a few sparing times in the synagogue but he did not live there, or hide there as Christians today seem to do.  As a matter of fact one of the most visible bible stories is about Jesus going into a church to upset the local traditions of the time. He upset a lot of carts in that story and I think we need to do the same for him today.

Let’s quit spending all the money we collect in God’s name on ourselves and instead put it out in the community. Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us Christians to make more of a difference in the world today. If we want to be a follower of Jesus we should take his examples to heart and get out there loving the tax collectors, prostitute, poor and destitute in our day as he did in his.