Getting My Hopes Up…

I truly believe that I am an optimist at heart but being one is down right depressing at times, especially these times.  I have been thinking a lot about this lately and I have come to the conclusion that looking back ony seven plus decades on this earth can maybe be summed up by one word.

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I know at first thought that is kind of sad commentary on any life, but let me explain my version of disappointment.  All my life I have had high hopes. I always want everything to turn out the best it can be. As a result people, including myself, often disappoint me to one degree or another.  As a young boy I looked up to my father as the epitome of what a good person should be. Then one day I saw him do something that shredded that image. That might have been my first disappointment but it certainly would not be my last. Many many others would follow. One of my primary life lessons in this regard is that things are never as good as you hope nor as bad as you dread. Sometimes that helps ameliorate the situation but…

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In the end it just comes down to the fact that I expect too much from others and even myself.  I think that is because of my optimistic nature and that is something I proudly cling to.  Getting my hopes up does often result in disappointment but sometimes it results in joy and celebration.  I would rather have that than to go through life expecting nothing from anyone or anything in order to avoid disappointment.  Now, that would be a depressing way to spend my time, especially what I have left of it.  The celebration of the successes in life far outweigh the disappointments even if disappointment comes more frequently.  It is as simple as that for me.

Wage Slavery…

2017-09-17_10-36-44.pngI know this post is way overdue but it is still important to understand that the observence of Labor Day which started in the 1890s was to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations”. This was also the time of the “Robber Barons”. That is, those industrialists who were accumulating great wealth primarily on the backs of their workers.  It was not until a Republican named Theodore Roosevelt came to the White House that their monoplies were broken up.

Labor Day was born in the late 19th century, during a time of raw fear about the path of economic development.

Opportunities for decent, middle-class livelihoods seemed to be shrinking, and the “laboring classes” confronted a grim future of what many called wage slavery. Conservatives held most of the seats of power, but reform-minded politicians, activists and policy mavens were thinking big about labor’s rights and wrongs….

During and after the New Deal, unions were essential to forging a broad new middle class — not only because they raised wages and benefits, but also because they countered corporate and financial political power, which today is the greatest impediment to serious change. Without a rejuvenated labor movement, it’s almost inconceivable that breakthrough reforms will come to pass…

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/opinion/labor-laws-workers.html?

As mentioned above the laboring class had a grim future of wage slavery. This would start to change as workers started banding together to demand their share of the profits of the company. But since the corporate owners controlled most of city, state, and even national government and law enforcement the workers simply didn’t have the power to get what they wanted. Strikes were bloody with the local police taking their orders from the ruling class conservatives.

The main point of the NY Times source article is that the labor unions of one hundred years ago are just not applicable to today’s times.  A new version needs to be discovered for today and the sooner the better..

Rendezvous..

ISOA BannerAbout a week ago I spent the day at the Des Plaines Valley Rendezvous near Chicago. It was a smallish event but maybe one of the most accurate ones I have been to. Here are some pictures of some the the recreators. It is sometimes difficult to think of Chicago as once being s fur trapping rendezvous. They certainly had a lot of enthusiasm for what they were doing.

click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

My View Of The Bible— Part 2 .. What I believe (con’t)

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This post continues with my fundamental beliefs about the Bible. I have not come to these beliefs on a whim. They are the result of many years of thoughtful prayer and study. I am also not trying to prove anyone wrong. Everyone should come to God in their own way. So let’s get on with the final four areas of my view on the Bible.

Some words of the Bible have infinitely more significance to our lives than others— The words  through Jesus’ lips are the most important. Every other word is secondary at best. This is a major sticking point for some. It has to do with a concept that I have coined “the slippery slope”. I will get more into that on the next post. To say that there are no words in the Bible that are any more important than others seem nonsense to me.

The Bible might contain words inspired by God —  But is not THE Word of God… Many call the Bible the word of God but I personally along with other Christians agree with John’s opening in his gospel.  Jesus is the word of God, not a book assembled by man even if much of its writings might have been inspired by God.  To give a book that status is making an idol of it.  To put every word and circumstance mentioned in the biblical text in the literal grouping just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.  When Paul insisted that women were not to be over men in any circumstance he was speaking first century words. When he told people to be happy as slaves owned by others he was speaking first century words. These words were not intended for eternity. Yes, much of the Bible was written under the inspiration of God but it is at the same time a very human document.

The Bible contains stories passed down from one generation to another, allegories, parables and myths. To insist that all the words in the Bible are absolutely without error and are absolutely literally true as so many evangelicals do is beyond my understanding. I am convinced that even many of the writers of the books were not willing to put that status on all their own words. The Apostle Paul made it a point in one of his letters collected in the Bible that he was speaking of his own accord. I wish he had done that more frequently. Since I don’t put much study on the Old Testament I will not be discussing those books here. But even the New Testament of which much was written up to forty years after the fact certainly contained things that were remembered but not necessarily factual. In many places Jesus himself identified his stories as parables. I believe that the use a parables and allegories was a very common occurrence in many of the biblical writings whether the authors said they were or not.

Not all the inspired words from God are included in the Bible. I have done some studies of some of the text that was considered but finally excluded from the official bible when it was formulated by King Constantine’s council. The books of Thomas and Barnabas in particular I am convinced were also written a degree of inspiration from God. There are probably several others in that category. We Christians should consider all the writings of the time to see where we can deepen our understanding of God. I also believe that God continues to give inspired words through some of us Christians even today. All of us must constantly be listening for those inspirations in our daily lives. But it seems that “listening” is a difficult thing for many of us to do today. Moses in the Old Testament did not believe he was worthy to relay words from God but God used him as a mouthpiece all the same. So I believe that God’s continues to give simple men personal revelations from time to time.

 

Breaking Gridlock…

Hey, I’m not ashamed to give someone credit for things that are accomplished even if it was only by accident or maybe serendipity. So, congratulations President Trump on starting to break the gridlock that has kidnapped our nation’s capitol for far too long. The GOP is starting to scream “He wants to work with the DEMOCRATS!!!” “WE HAVE BEEN BETRAYED!!” To all that I say It is about time.

We knew going in that Trump was neither a Republican or a Democrat. The only thing he is for is to make himself look good. Nothing else really matters to him and I mean nothing else. That fact is obvious to anyone with an objective take on this alternative reality. But who says two wrongs don’t eventually make a right? Putting Trump in office and letting him betray the party that put him there just might solve some of the fundamental problems inside the beltway.

Bernie Sanders and others have brought forth the proposition that an independent in the Oval Office who is not of either party is someone who can force the two bickering parties to “play well”. He can propose legislation that at least some of both parties can accept.

canstockphoto9691431.jpgSo, I celebrate Mr. Trump’s success in making a deal with the Democrats even to the total dismay of the GOP.  Maybe this is the beginning of a successful Trump strategy.  I am certainly a dreamer aren’t I? 🙂

If nothing else these limited successes, however long they last, will show us what an independent and competent  person could do with Oval Office power and that just might give an independent a chance in the 2020 election..

 

Wind Farms..

Snippet BannerIt is so nice to see that despite the GOP resistance that renewable resources are replacing carbon based fuels.  In more and more of my travels InSearchOfAmerica I see wind farms such as the one in the photo below. It is nice to see us harvesting wind the same way as the corn and soybeans in the fields below them.  This one was taken in the northern part of my home state of Indiana. I am even looking to put solar panels on my micro-RV in the coming winter season.  They cost just a fraction of what they did a few years ago.

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Playing With Light…

Light.jpgI just returned from a four-day road trip InSearchOfAmerica to the Chicago and Rockford IL area. It was quite a trip and made up for the very disappointing one that preceded it.  One site I just came upon ended up one of the most enjoyable.  It was at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. The special exhibit on display was from the artist Bruce Munro.   From his book that I purchased it stated that he captures light based themes. I will be talking more about that in some coming posts but for now I wanted to give you an idea of what that description means.

I became very fascinated by the idea of using light as primary artistic medium and hopefully will be trying my hands at it in the coming months.

The one picture below is kind of my version of playing with light. The octagonal shapes and sparkles are from a Munro picture on the wall and all the other things in the picture are actually reflections off the picture glass of the other objects in the room.  Kind of neat, if you ask me..

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Eerie Place..

On my recent road trip I came across an eerie place.  I try to avoid Interstate highways whenever possible so that means that I come across the “bones” of America so to speak. By that I mean towns and other places that have been left to the ravages of time.  I will admit that sometimes I get depressed by taking this route across America. To see towns that are now not more than a couple of occupied houses surrounded by abandoned buildings. If I understand it right that is where most of Mr. Trump’s supporters come from.  But that is a different story…

When I drove by the site just outside a small town in northern Illinois I took a double take. Up near the road was what appeared to be a hundred year old abandoned mansion. That is somewhat unusual for an area like that but what really got my attention is that it was surrounded by razor coiled wire. I hit the brakes and did a U-turn to investigate. It turns out that I had discovered the Dwight Illinois Correctional Center.

Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

Dwight Correctional Center was an Illinois Department of Corrections maximum security prison for adult females. It is located at 23813 E. 3200 North Road in Nevada Township, unincorporated Livingston County, Illinois, near Dwight. Prior to the 2011 abolition of the state death penalty,  Dwight Correctional Center housed the State of Illinois female death row…

The prison was originally opened on November 24, 1930 as the Oakdale Reformatory for Women. It sits on 100 acres of land. The facility was closed at the end of March 2013.

In the last four years time is starting to take over that abandoned facility. Weeds are growing everywhere and tree limbs are scattered on the ground. Well that is enough of a description. Let’s get on to the pictures…

Click on any picture to see an enlarged slideshow view

It’s Never Too Early..

Some might say I am jumping the gun but to me it is never too early to start looking for a replacement for the current Oval Office holder. I have no doubt that he will go down in the history books as the worst president in history. He has set the bar so low for qualification for that office that anyone, including me, could be a viable candidate.

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Power to the People

It’s never to early and I have set my sites on who I think would do the best job. I have been following her for some time now. She seems to almost mirror my beliefs about life. That person is Elizabeth Warren. In fact I really wanted her to replace Hillary as the candidate the last time around.  If that had happened we would be in a very different place right now as a country.

I know what some are going to say here.  “But She’s a Liberal!!” I don’t like labels, plain and simple. If by liberal you mean that she thinks that government and business are here to serve the people and not the other way around then you are right.  She strongly believes in “power to the people”. I’m sure I will eventually get around to that idea in another post but for this one I want to concentrate on her view of spiritual things.

Let’s get in a quote from her about that subject:

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” Warren said, quoting the Gospel. Then she shared her interpretation: “He’s saying to us, first, there’s God in every one of us, there’s Jesus in every one of us — however you see it in your religion, that inside there’s something holy in every single person.”

Jesus is calling people to act, Warren continued, “to get up and make a difference. . . . I think that’s the place where we start this conversation.”

Source: Religion is constant part of Elizabeth Warren’s life – The Boston Globe

The words above almost exactly mirror my views on this topic and this wasn’t the first time she spoke of Jesus nor will it be the last.  “There is God in every one of us” sums up the meaning of life for me.

There is so much about Elizabeth Warren that I like. She definitely believes in power to the people with at much furor as many in the GOP believe in power to the wealthiest.

I just hope that when the next president is elected more of us will be paying attention. We can’t afford to go through these times again.

 

 

 

Instagram, Here I Come..

I will admit up front here that I have no idea of why the so-called social media is addictive to so many people, especially our younger generations.  But then again due to my Asperger’s characteristics I am not really attuned to much of any form of social interactions. 🙂 But that doesn’t keep me for chiming in on this issue.

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s I was never aware of much social pressure in my life. I tended to live inside my own bubble and was just not that affected by what others thought of me. I did have trouble making friends, especially the female type but I took that as being just the way it was for me. Like most teenager males in the 1960s I was into cars even if I could not afford one of them.  Even today, show me a picture of a car made in the 1960s and I can likely identify its make, model, and year.

Getting back to the subject at hand, from what I understand social media plays a very big part of a teenager’s status now days. If they don’t have high enough “friend” counts they are evidently scorned by their peers. I know that even as a seventy year old I frequently get “friend” requests from very young people who I don’t know.  Some will do anything to get their friend count up. From my limited research I have found that Facebook is by far has the largest membership but others are catching up.  Here are the top five:

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I do check in with Facebook almost daily but until now I have not done much with the other four sites.  YouTube occasionally pops up on my radar screen when I want to learn how to do a particular thing. Because of our political times I won’t get within a mile of Twitter.  That leaves Instagram as next on my “conquer” list.

From what I understand Instagram was bought out by Facebook in 2012 and when that happened it catapulted to 150 million monthly users. Now I will admit that I really don’t understand its purpose? So many claim to be so overstressed by all the things they have to do in a day but still millions find the time to take, upload, and publish Instagram photos that supposedly their friends and neighbors will want to immediately see.

Maybe that overstressed population is just us old people, that is people over 30 or so. 🙂 Getting back on subject I have decided to make my presence know on Instagram. I don’t want to be accused of being behind the times. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I am currently just not convinced that a picture without some explaining text is of much value.  It just seems too frivolous to me right now. But I am willing to learn.

I have had an Instagram account for at least a couple of years now but until recently it has laid dormant. I recently polished it off and even published (or whatever you call it) a few pictures for practice.  I know you are supposed to take and immediately publish a picture but I kind of like the idea of going into my Lightroom albums and publishing from there so that will likely be my modus operandi.  If I put a comment on a picture about getting the full story from my blog maybe I will get more views there. Maybe that is my purpose for Instagram.

Instagram here I come..

https://www.instagram.com/rjscorner_myviewoftheworld/

 

 

My View Of The Bible ..

For the next three Sundays I want to bring over some slightly edited posts of things I discovered about the Bible while blogging at RedLetterLiving.net. These posts were from early 2014 but my feelings about the topic really haven’t changed all that much.

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about the Bible and my experiences with it over the last decade or so. Around 2003 I decided to take up a serious study of theology and in particularly those around the words of Jesus. I naively thought I could get some clear directions for my spiritual life if I just understood why the Bible seems to mean so many different things to so many people. What I have discovered over this period of time awakened me. I did not get the concrete answers I was looking for but I did glean some surprising discoveries.

It seems that as I have gotten older I am losing my sense of embarrassment about saying what I believe. I have grown to the point, and  I do mean grown, where I feel I can now openly discuss the personal insight I have come to understand. I simply no longer really care if it upsets some.  Maybe in the long run I am hoping that it does just that and as a result a few will see that truly following Jesus has nothing to do with their self-proclaimed “faith” in the Bible but instead it is about faith in him and doing what he told us to do.

Let’s face it the Bible is not a book that you can causally, or even seriously, pick up and glean some ready-made answers to life’s problems.  Especially in times of personal conflicts. In fact much of it (meaning the Old Testament) is quite boring and not understandable in today’s context. Yes, if I search hard enough I can find a verse, usually taken out of context, that might console me a particular situation but for every one of those found there is another which disturbs me. Psalms is a ready example of that. There are places where God’s love clearly shows through and then there are other places where is he supposedly commands genocide such as the 137th Psalm.

All of these conflicting stories and thoughts make some degree of sense when I see the Bible as more of a history book written by man rather than words dropped from heaven. Christianity like much of the world’s history is messy and the Bible if you  look at its contents objectively reflects that fact. That understanding is critical to finding its proper place in Christ’s church.

In a nutshell, following Jesus has nothing to do with idolizing the Bible itself. The purpose of the Bible it to point us to Jesus. It is to tell his story, nothing else.  When that task is done it becomes very secondary to our walk with Christ. Next time I will talk a little more about reading the Bible and what should be gleaned from that process.

Epilog September 2017:  I have discovered since this post that Biblical Inerrancy is pretty much a Protestant/Evangelical thing.  Catholics have been moving away from the concept for much of the last century.

Shaker Symmetry

I have always been attuned to Shaker furniture and symmetry.  It is probably the most beautiful form to me.  This picture was taken during one of my many trips to Pleasant Hill Shaker Village near Lexington KY.

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What’s It Feel Like For a White Man To Be A Minority??

canstockphoto22042668.jpgI know one of the reasons that we have the current incompetent in the White House is that too many white men are afraid of becoming a minority.  They are afraid of what will happen when their say is no longer the dominant one but instead one of many. For the most part white men have been dismissing minorities for decades and don’t want that to happen to them. They are afraid of many things but this is probably one of the major ones.

If none of the clues on RJsCorner have given you a hint then I will bluntly say I am a white man.  But I am a white man who has been in the minority most of my life.  I know what it means to be discounted in one form or another. I know what it means to be ignored.

Social Situations – All my life I have had characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome which is part of the Autism Spectrum. Since early age I have had difficulties with social situations that most just take for granted. It was always difficult for me to form friendships especially with females. I just couldn’t, and probably still don’t, understand what they want from a relationship.  Even friendships with other guys has been difficult. I simply can’t do eye contact so that makes me suspect to many first time acquaintances. I have always been a minority when it comes to social situations.

Being Deaf – I have been significantly hearing impaired since my teenage years and completely deaf for the last thirty years.  That puts me in about 1% of the population and thus a minority. I struggle on a daily basis against all the deaf stereotypes.  You would be surprised just how many people still believe in the “Deaf and Dumb” thing! Many basically tell me to go away instead of trying to accommodate me in any fashion.  In the old days I used to ask them to write me a note, but most won’t even consider that. I have always been a minority because of hearing loss.

I am an Independent Thinker – I frequently get into trouble because of this.  I was kicked out of a church for saying what I am sure 80% of the congregation thought. I questioned the “profession of faith”, that is those things I am supposed to believe without any real evidence to prove them. I am “Blue in a Red State” and that makes me a definite minority.  Being an independent thinker I am driven by logic in a very illogical world. Being an independent thinker makes me a minority.

As a result of all these things I don’t fear being in a minority. I am not afraid of the barbarians at the gate as I am one of them.  To all my friends out there I want to tell you that being a minority in some ways is a very freeing thing. It helps you relate to all those you once feared. It gives you an additional dose of empathy. It makes you a better Christian if that is your flavor of spirituality.

Happily join us and that alone will relieve much of the stress in your life…

 

A Bunch of Marbles & A Box of Eggs..

Sometimes beauty show up when we least expect it.  That is the case with the pictures below. Who would have thought that marbles and eggs are beautiful?  But, at least for me, these pictures prove that they can be.

I really don’t know how I came to associate these two pictures together. The marbles were taken at a prairie museum in a high plains State and the eggs were taken four years earlier at a Des Moines museum. Somehow they both crossed my mind simultaneously to make this post.

If we just stop and take the time we can find beauty in many unexpected places.

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