OREO’S & THOMAS MERTON (or 2017 THE YEAR IN REVIEW)

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What I learned from the year 2017 since the year of our Lord.

  • A. Lighthearted observations
  • B. Deeper observations
  • C. Top Ten Reads/Films of 2017
  • D. Inspirational people of 2017

A. First world lighthearted observations:

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  1. Whoever invented Oreo’s is a genius (Sorry vegans.)

A. When eating Oreo’s, crush them into a glass, add two spoon fulls of milk, drink from glass. Experience Oreos in a bold, fleeting hedonism.

2. There still is no federal law on having lawn mowing day the same day a week for zoned areas, as is garbage day.

3. The human ego can always be revealed by observing shopping cart traffic or mall /stadium walking traffic, or any kind of driving on any road.

4. Water melon is only a summer food.

5. Maple bars seem worth it at the moment, and about 10 minutes after, only.

6. Chicken Caesar Salads are universal meals. (Sorry vegans.)

7. Ted Kaczynski was right about red lights but we don’t need to blow anything up to convince anyone.

8. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do if you have the right people to do it with. You can read more insights from turning 30 in this previous post.

B. Deeper observations: 

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  1. A high number of people want to be right more than they want a dialogue. Many people are pundits without a skill of active listening or arrive at immediate dismissal. I think part of this is the disastrous point of view promoted by Meryl Streep, “On top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” That kind of thinking is the opposite of an open minded, non-dualistic environment.

Example: Kevin Spacey is accused of wrong doing. An individual in identity politics writes a Facebook status that appears in your news feed saying that it takes dozens of women to bring a heterosexual predator down, but it only takes one male for homosexual wrong goings to be immediately believed. If I respond to the fifteen points that challenge or provide context to that, (see examples from last months post) people take their trained ear to go mute. By being an opposing view point I am the ‘other side’ in their binary thinking. I am the problem and must be eliminated. We saw this in divisions between members of the same political parties in the 2016 primaries. When it comes to the outcome of world events from either candidate taking office, my predictions so far pretty accurate. Take a look.

One woman accused the captains of the Duke Lacrosse team of rape in which they were defamed and humiliated without merit.

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One female feminist author of Rolling Stone Magazine claimed a proven false gang rape occurred on the Virginia University Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

One woman destroyed Bill Clinton’s second term in 1998.

One woman got 32 million in private settlement’s from Bill O’Reilly causing speculation as to why after it leaked to the press.

Who are the aggressors and victims without stone facts confuses us back into our judgement problem. (Discussed more here.)

2. A high number of people are binary thinkers stuck in identity politics.

3. Capitalism is broken, flawed, outdated, and designed for the repackaging of greed.

4. Capitalism leads to isolated individualism, four walls, and time gets sucked up by “zero.” Zero is the one of the three fears of the west. “There is always a danger that hermits will only dry up and solidify in their own eccentricity. Living out of touch with other people, they tend to lose that deep sense of spiritual realities, which only pure love can give.” (Thomas Merton, New seeds of Contemplation 1972.)

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5. Paul Tillich writes in his works “The courage to be,” three types of anxiety. The anxiety of fate and death originating out of classical world Greece and Rome. Second the anxiety of guilt and condemnation which belongs to the medieval age and the beginning of the reformation. Third, the anxiety of meaninglessness, which is in numerous problems we face modernly today, according to John Douglas Hall. Thomas Merton writes in, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, published in 1966:

All has become one, all has become indifferent, all has been leveled to equal meaninglessness. . . . It is not that all is “one” but all is “zero.” Everything adds up to zero. Freedom is then to live and die for zero. Is that what I want: to be beaten, imprisoned, or shot for zero? But to be shot for zero is not a matter of choice. It is not something one is required either to “want” or “not want.” It is not even one something is able to foresee. Zero swallows hundreds of thousands of victims every year, and the police take care of the details. Suddenly, mysteriously, without reason, your time comes, and while you are still desperately trying to make up your mind what you imagine you might possibly be dying for, you are swallowed up by zero. Perhaps, subjectively, you have tried to convince yourself and have not wasted time convincing others. Nobody else is interested. What I have said so far concerns execution for a “political crime.” But death in war is, in the same way, a kind of execution for nothing, a meaningless extinction, a swallowing up by zero.”

(The Hebrews long discuss this, like in Lamentations and Job, questions and complaints to God. See Ecclesiastes.)

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“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, which I sent among you.” –Joel 2:25 

6. What was eaten by the Locust, time taken from being blind or on lower levels of consciousness, being stuck in the binary or a traumatic experience (the feeding of the false self) will be returned to us. Like a Caterpillar becoming a butterfly our mind is renewed. (Romans 12:2) We look on with a new pair of eyes, scales removed. (Matthew 6:22-23, Ephesians 1:18Acts 9:18) We finally just are, “I am, therefore I think.” We just are divine beings learning to be human as our true self in the Crucified and Risen Christ. God is always doing something new, “With the fullness of time.” (Galatians 4:4-7)

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We search for our identity, as faith proclaims by faith and experience that, “God is with us.” To the general population, that doesn’t translate to the same level of consciousness/awareness. Which begs the question…  Does the latest Ryan Gosling film, “Blade runner 2049,” Define Thomas Merton, or the other way around? See the film and decide. Here’s a quote from Merton’s 1966 Raids on the unspeakable:

“We are drugged by entertainment, numbered in billions massed together. As the end approaches there is no room for nature. The cities crowd it off the face of the earth. The city lives in it’s own myth. Instead it’s a stubborn and fabricated dream. Constructed a world outside the world, against the world, a world of mechanical fictions which condemn nature and seek only to use it up, thus preventing it from renewing itself and man.”

The films themes of, role of fear, search for longing and identity, desire for authentic love, the folly of capitalism, greed, labor, and pursuits of idleness or amusement. Dualism between status quo and resistance, man vs man, man vs nature.  Men playing God with life and death and rule over governing.

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“The Last Jedi” will be released around the world the second or third week of Advent. Calculated to capitalize on the western ‘Christmas break’ blue laws.  The bill to make Christmas a holiday was introduced into the House of Representatives by Illinois Rep. Burton Chauncey Cook. It passed the Senate on June 24, 1870. President Ulysses S. Grant signed it and declared Christmas a federal holiday in 1870. The themes of the Star Wars franchise echo the Gosling film. What is our identity, purpose, in the past, present, and future? How does love play a role in everything?

C. THE TOP TEN NONFICTION BOOKS OF 2017:

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  1. Adam’s Return, The Five Promises of Male Initiation, Richard Rohr OFM.
  2. The Great Themes of Scripture, Richard Rohr OFM.
  3. The Way of St. John of the Cross, Dr. Susan Muto
  4. Trump and a post-Truth World, Ken Wilber
  5. Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Donald S Connery
  6.  The Art of Letting Go, Richard Rohr OFM.
  7. Luther’s Theology of The Cross Alister C. McGrath
  8. Killing England, Martin Dugard & Bill O’Reilly
  9. Henry David Thoreau, A life: Laura Dassow Walls
  10. Goodness and light : readings for Advent and Christmas

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Best Films of 2017: Tie between Breathe and Dunkirk

Best Actor of 2017: Andrew Garfield, (Breathe)

Best Actress of 2017: Jennifer Connelly (Only the brave)

Best Director: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Inspirational Athlete of 2017: Aaron Judge

2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby

“For 175 years we have sailed with those winds at our back, and with the tides of human freedom in our favor. We steer our ship with hope, as Thomas Jefferson said, “leaving Fear astern.”

Today we still welcome those winds of change–and we have every reason to believe that our tide is running strong. With thanks to Almighty God for seeing us through a perilous passage, we ask His help anew in guiding the “Good Ship Union.”~ John F. Kennedy: Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union.,” January 14, 1963.

 

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THE CULTURAL FOOD FIGHT FOR A SCAPEGOAT OF EXPOSED SEX ABUSE

Spotlight on Hollywood:

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In light of a row of actress women coming out against Harvey Weinstein, the following twitter exchanges occurred as an example of the national consciousness in reaction to sex abuse:

Let’s deep dive the opposing viewpoints on why sex abuse conversation has become a food fight over who to scapegoat. First we need some context on some things these tweets brought up and media coverage before twitter had such high voltage.

Vocabulary Origin:

These two greek words diabolos (meaning adversary or enemy) combined with kategoros (one who speaks in a derogatory way of another) create the English word, “Accuser.” The original Hebrew, “Ha-Satan” is traditionally translated as, “the accuser.” (To obstruct,  or oppose. See Numbers 22:22, 1 Samuel 29:4, Psalms 109:6.) Sykofantis, the greek meaning for slander (scandalum in Late Latin) shows up later.

The Catholic Church: 2002-2010

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Between the dates of May 1 and August 31st of 2002, The mainstream media published 1,636 articles in four months time on the sex abuse cover up culture of silence. Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston and other bishops across the United States had shuffled accused abusers from parish to parish without informing the police or public. That’s 77 Articles fewer to be published in 2010, when abuse allegations had re-emerged in Europe.  On NBC’s Today Show airing March 29, journalist Stephanie Gosk reported on assignment live from Vatican City on hundreds of new allegations against Catholic clergy in Europe. 2.1% of American news coverage in a four month period was spent on the story. That is twice as much as any topic in religion usually receives in an entire year. However, twitter and other new media didn’t care about the story. It didn’t trend like we see other stories do just seven years later.

Irony: 

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Will Hollywood make a movie on Weinstein?

According to the Pew Research study:

“Compared with the media coverage of nine other recent scandals, the focus on the pope does not appear unusual. The nature of the other scandals varies enormously, and some are intrinsically more personal than others. But they help to illustrate the media’s penchant for personalizing big stories. Following the marital infidelity of golfer Tiger Woods and the arrest of filmmaker Roman Polanski, for example, nearly 90% of the coverage focused on Woods and Polanski personally, rather than on, say, moral standards among professional athletes or Hollywood celebrities in general. At the other end of the spectrum, coverage of steroid abuse in Major League Baseball did not zero in on any one player; the biggest single newsmaker was Roger Clemens, who figured prominently in less than a quarter of all stories on the subject.”

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The Duke Lacrosse Case:

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On March 14th, 2006, Crystal Mangum a then student at North Carolina Central University did adult entertainment as a side gig. She reported that morning that on the previous night that three Duke University students (two of which were captains of the men’s lacrosse team) had allegedly raped her after hurling racial slurs at a private house party in Durham. Time would prove the allegations to be false. The case rocked the university and academic culture both on and off campus. Jolting the press, shaking the world of college sports, and sparking controversies on racism, class, and criminal justice in America. All driven by media coverage. It became an important modern precedent of cry wolf in an age of hyper feminism in journalism trying to hijack and use anything for it’s agenda and cause of exposing and banging the drum of misogynist privileged men. Cynicism was found at a rate of 7 of 10, 6.5% in negative newspaper outlets sampled by a news coverage analysis thesis by a college study.

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Open Questions:
  • Does the precedent of the Duke case that one is guilty until proven innocent really the new reality in news media and court of public opinion?
  • Do facts matter in a post trump post truth internet matrix?
  • Does the scandal of the Catholic Church, Fox News Channel, excuse the silence of Hollywood elites that protected Harvey, or the NBC executives that benched the story?
  • Knowing that Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek tweeted experiences without naming names, are they complicit in keeping them hidden like Pope Benedict?

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Will the news media rest until all of Hollywood is swept of victims and their predators? Or does that only happen when the accused are captains of a lacrosse team, or that infamous Catholic Church?

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Conclusion:

It’s a part of the perennial mistake and the original sin for us to always want to blame others. We all start out with that nature. Until we transform our consciousness, it will always be “we are right.” It will always be, “the problem is over there, with those people.” Until we can identify that we are one humanity, we will continue to make, “The Dark Knight” a prophetic movie:

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What the VIETNAM WAR and the CTE CONCUSSION CRISIS HAVE IN COMMON (Or the spirituality of unknowing)

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AP Photo/Splash News

In the last week of September, results on CTE research came in on the brain of controversial NFL player Aaron Hernandez. I wrote about him in this past post . This is the latest development in a rush to judgement culture that is the sports pundit world.  Opinionated editorial blogger Alan Schwarz was quick to light up cannons in a manifesto response regarding the tweet of a Pro Football Talk host Michael David Smith:

It just baffles me that we continue to have such divisive figures debate something for which deciding undetermined facts remain absent. Michael is more cautious to conclusions in that we don’t know enough. Alan leaps to conclusions. You decide who’s right. It’s not so much about being right or wrong in the discussion as to getting to the facts. The fact is there is insufficient revelations from studies to draw a conclusion one way or the other. Hernandez is controversial, so a quick fuse on reactive opinions is not a mystery.  We should admit what we don’t know. Anything else raises bias, or agenda.

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Ken Burns series on the Vietnam War is playing for free on public broadcasting websites and television. I remember watching an award winning documentary “Fog of War”  years ago of an interview with Robert McNamara reflecting on his life.

The theme from the interview for me was we thought we knew way more than we actually did. The question like always is do we, the humans, ever really learn from history? Track records suggest not. Non violence is the only way to prevent incalculable escalations in our cold war 2.0. Isolation isn’t an option either as I’ve written before. The current issues as long as nuclear weapons still exist on our planet will remain a paradox.

Additional reading: Deep Dive on the threshold of transformation and unknowing:

Spiritual emptiness as a seed for violence in our culture:

  • Where are you on the journey of transformation?
  • What do you do with your pain?web

“All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. Pain that is not transformed is transmitted. The two Virtues of Equanimity and Compassion become more available to the person whose ego-shell has been smashed-either by great suffering or by great love-or by both.” ~Rohr

  1. We have to experience pain to understand and discern maturity in our spirituality.  (See Matthew 5 )

” We must experience pain to understand the depths of scripture, especially the eight beatitudes. The inaugural announcements from Jesus are absolutely assuring that you will experience rejection, failure, and vulnerability. That’s why we read them on all saints day and ignore them. Grieving, meek, weeping, and low in spirit? Who wants that? Nobody, so we ignore it. All initiation rights have to go through necessary grieving. Any young man who cannot cry is a savage. You have to teach a boy the tears of things. You have to teach him how to get down into the pain of the world because his whole intention when he is young is to grow up in power, fame, ambition, and greatness. A young man who cannot cry is a savage, and an old man who cannot laugh is a fool. At the end of some journey’s you see what is real and unreal about things. If you can’t laugh you haven’t been transformed, you are taking yourself too seriously. When you see your failures don’t matter but are the great school, transformation is occurring. Success has nothing to teach you after 30. You just need a few successes to get started that’s all. That’s why Jesus wisdom language is not of ascent but descent. The fundamental rule of the divine game is he who loses wins. It’s in the losing experience that you in fact understand everything and success has almost nothing to teach you. Can you see what trouble we are in this culture where everything is about success? All our youth are being told success is where wisdom lay? There’s not one spiritual teacher in any of the great world religions that would agree with that. We are on a deadly toxic course. No wonder we have shootings. It’s an incoherent world. It makes no sense. It has all the wrong goals and definitions of what power really is. So we seek lethal power because we do not have spiritual power that is the true self.” ~ Richard Rohr, New great themes of scripture, Disc 5, Track 10, 2012. 

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2. The lack of true power leaves a vacuum for false power. (See Psalm 49:16-17)

“The psalms show over and over again riches as a false sense of power. We have to arrive at the powerless of not knowing. Religion had always meant predictability and we want to know today will be the same as tomorrow. That we’ll never have to go outside our comfort zone. We prefer a performance model. Earning our worthiness. Spiritual reality in revelation of experience and the bible gives power through relationship seen in Jesus refusing dominant power and restoring relational power by persuading, non violence, radical compassion and forgiveness etc. We are externally focused when we don’t have the internal, transformed self.” Richard Rohr, New great themes of scripture, Disc 5, Track 10, 2012. 

3. Experience and unknowing is necessary for a contextual and relational transformation of the true self’s reunion with God. (See John 16:10-15, 33) 

“It’s dangerous to have people reading scripture when they haven’t experienced transformation. The beginners mind must get to a point of unknowing. Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of “Christian” cultures that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I’m afraid. People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before the paschal (the birth, life, suffering, teaching, death and Resurrection of Christ) mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all (the trinity) in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind.”
― Richard Rohr  Breathing Underwater, Spirituality and the 12 steps.

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“The Deepening layers of faith at Turning 30 years of Age.”

“The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived. Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

 Oregon Coast Spiritual Retreat 2017

 

In 13 days I will reach the Gregorian calendar age of 30 years. The calendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October of 1582. Sources from the 1800’s to early 1900’s age period of the world put average life expectancy between 30-32 years old. So for many ancestors, this time period would be a row of final seasons.

 

 

 

Truths: 

  • Reward/punishment theology is in the past.
  • Heaven is here now.
  • God is alive and amidst us now.
  • God is love.
  • Money is nothing.
  • All is fleeting.
  • You are going to die.
  • It’s not all about you.
  • If it’s true, it has come from the Holy Spirit.
Source: The Divine Dance, Rohr OFM.
  • You already are everything you’re ever going to be. (Isaiah 43:1) 
  • Life is difficult.
  • You are going to suffer.
  • God desires nothing but good for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • Only our identity (the immortal diamond) in God will last forever. (“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Luke 21:33)
  • Christ has no hands or feet but yours.
  • You are going to reach a midnight hour during the dark night of the soul.
  •  Morning comes.
  • You are going to be raised to eternal life.
Season of Lent  2017

In 2017 I have been slow to realize that individuals on social media now do a photograph to mark their birthday in which the caption is, “This is what (enter age here) looks like!” With a mesmerizing photo of 6 pack abs, or doing something fancy, the caption strikes a sense of eternal optimism. This feeds the notion that ‘it gets better’ as you get older. It being, the worlds definition of a “successful life.” How would you define that?

There is today this notion that trials, or suffering, or search for identity, are in the past after a certain age. That the tower of success and the ladder of ‘adulting’ leads you to your destiny, which is to have finally arrived at this “place of success.” To have finally become the ‘adult you’ with status, prestige, and more stuff. That you now graduate from growing up because you’ve reached a prime golden age, or, will in the next ten years if you haven’t yet. Thomas Jefferson called this, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What he didn’t write was how or that we would actually ever obtain it, when the grass seeming green on the other side isn’t. Or keeping up with the Jones’s only halts in disappointment.

Our search for our authentic self cannot be found in the lyrics of a Lady Gaga song. Our search for identity as the whole, cannot be found in who is on our Facebook friends list. Our search for purpose cannot be found in the grandstanding of our dream of career, or our dream of how our live was always supposed to unfold in how we’d imagined it. We must dig deeper. We must ask: Is our life a personal monologue, with us at the center? Or do we have eyes for the eternal, our life pointing to Sola Deo Gloria? (The Glory of God alone.)

“19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” ~Ephesians 2:19-22

 

   (Source: Thomas Keating)

 

Spiritual Retreat 2017

By age 30, we should be layers deep in our faith. We have experienced dark nights of the soul. Maybe not the midnight hour yet, or, the last period of unexpected changes or loss, but the path of descent should have begun. God is revealed in the passion of the Christ, revealed only by the eye of faith, discerned, yet concealed. Revealed yet hidden. Humilitas Fidei – before man can raise to heights he must descend to the depths… (at our wits end.)  the cross shatters human illusions concerning capacity of human reason to discern God. Thus Luther arrives at Sola Fide. True christian faith doesn’t reach all answers, but goes deeper into mystery. This is experienced at the level of The Divine Indwelling.

Source: Rohr, Luther.

 

The mystics, Diana 20 years later, and the path of descent. (Or love is learning how to lose.)

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

Is life about winning? Have you read the mystics lately? They are timeless writers for a reason with little gems hidden in their spiritual classics. The only way to rise up is the path of descent, for example. St. John of the Cross, “In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.” Darkness becomes light. Julian of Norwich, “First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall. Both are the mercy of God!” Fall becomes recovery.  FR. Richard Rohr, “You will and you must “lose” at something. This is the only way that Life-Fate-God-Grace-Mystery can get you to change, let go of your egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey. Deep mature faith is the ability to lose graciously.” ~ “Falling Upward.”

Singer Shawn McDonald writes a lyric in a song on his latest album that goes, “Love is learning how to lose.” Have you sung something like that recently?

NFL player Tim Tebow in a memoir, “Shaken” describes being asked to turn down a one day appearance commercial for $1 million, the day before being cut from his then drafted team. He went on to be signed to another team. He goes on to write that he had learned how to lose graciously, to rise after falling in adapting to a plan or dream changed from what he originally had imagined. Rohr continues, “It is not only the loss of persons that leads to grief, but also the loss of ideals, visions, plans, places, relationships. It all depends on whether we are willing to see down as up.” That, “Where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold.” ~ Jung  What have you fallen from in your life?

Do all of us get to the flip side?

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We come to the 20 year anniversary of the unexpected accidental death of feminist sensation Princess Diana. She used her white privilege to show the rest of us how in her own descent one could rise and give back to humanity in ways never seen before. Especially in awareness to land mines and the first to confront stigma of the HIV/AIDS breakout. And then there came an early morning in a tunnel. It is here where theologian Fr. Richard Rohr doesn’t address the shock and awe of the unexpected. “Dying must be allowed to happen over time, in predictable and necessary stages, both in those who die graciously and in those who love them. Being present at live birth and conscious death are probably the supreme catechism classes and Sunday schools that we have available to humanity. And yet we have turned them largely into medical events instead of the inherently spiritual events that they are.” But what about the unpredictable and unnecessary death’s that happen in a flash, that are so shocking that are almost unconscious in the stages of grief, “Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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In all the experiences I have had, shock and awe unexpected death is not the predictable necessary stages. It is a total maddening poison to any spiritual life in the traumatic experience of the ineffable. Certainly what the disciples must have felt running away from the cross as Christ hang bleeding. I don’t think we are ever prepared Golgotha in the way we can accept the fate of Lazarus.  Shock and awe is a different kind of grief, one that may never fully heal in the fleeting speed of a new reality, and the weight of finality. Does the weight get lighter? Prince William and Harry still grieve after all this time. Yet their actions in charity lift millions of lives up.

Author Brene Brown in Rising Strong writes, “When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”  Where are you in your story? I can’t think of a better film that demonstrates this then “Manchester by the Sea.” Read my review of the film here.

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Do all who descend fall upward? Are there forces that try to pull and keep others down when they are down? OSU baseball pitcher Luke Heimlich had a past in which he persevered a successful treatment program. A slimy local newspaper brought it up in the middle of the playoffs. Pressuring the coach, school, and team to ‘send the message’ that it would be better for him to quit. He stepped aside and the undefeated team lost the college world series. What kind of a message does it send to those in the way of descent that as you try to rise strong a judging world may not be on your side? “One only needs to gasp at the criminal justice system in the parole violation hamster wheel to see we are ignoring root symptoms with mere jail time.” ~Sgt. Michael A. Wood Jr. Baltimore P.D. {Ret.} Luke is rising strong, our unforgiving society failed him.

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It just seems that some people start hiking to the summit at different depths of the mountain. The monastic mantra of equality doesn’t apply. Some share in the suffering of Christ a lot more than others. I cannot pretend to begin to understand why. If love is learning how to lose, then many have a much deeper love that finally brings them to the top. And that is an extraordinary spiritual happening that isn’t often noticed by anyone other than God.

“Faith is a dark night for man, but in this very way it gives him light.” -John of the Cross

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, & THE LIGHT THAT CANNOT GO OUT. (Or, The Band goes on.)

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Chester Bennington’s final Performance in Birmingham, England during the UK leg of the “One more Light Tour” July 9, 2017.

Time has a way of showing us in a moment’s time, how incredible value is unchanged despite the tides of providence. What we have spent our value on becomes bolder, louder, and in a sense timeless. With chaos theory and the butterfly effect it becomes complex. We cannot go back, we have left a presence in the present, and it ripples long into the future.

Chester Bennington was not absent in the choir of deep, serious, artistic messages in Linkin Park’s musical expressions. To the why so serious crowd, the lead singer gives a response in every song. Humans feel. Some can leave their brain at the door, but the Chester’s cannot. We care deeply about each other, about the world, and about our own internal experiences. Not to think too much, but not to be mindless either. There is logic’s trails, and paradoxically spiritual truth’s that go beyond logic and reason. So in that context how do we interpret a life changing artists tragic death? Well always a few corny cliches. We don’t truly see what we had until we no longer have it. I’m not convinced that cliche is as true as some take it to the extreme.

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Especially in terms of Christianity and incarnational theology. The presence of Christ is in the breathing hands and feet next to us. We have to be careful with grandiosity but at the same time acknowledge the incredible gifts that God bestows onto individuals, and that ‘Christ like phenomenon-ism” of a single presence being so powerful in contrast to others. Like a band has a lead singer, so the body of Christ has many parts.

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The trinity includes this to have anything that is true, is from the spirit. This means a writing of Atheist Alan de betton if true, comes from the spirit. This means if Islamic leader Harris Zafar teaches truth at a community college it is from the spirit. This means that the writing of Thich Nhat Hanh and Tara Brach if true, are from the same spirit. Even if our opposing friends Dershowitz or Krauthammer reach truth, it is the same spirit. This means if Newton’s laws of physics are true, it is from the spirit. This means that the lyrics of a Linkin Park song, if true, can be from the spirit. The spirit of truth is from the same one source. God is that big. This means if something is not true, in a teaching, in a lyric, in a writing, in a performance, then it is not from the same spirit. Team love speaks with one voice.

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We know it when we see and hear it. When people ask different folks throughout history different questions there is more writing on what is not true than what is. This is because the truth in most all cases is made plain as the sun in the sky, even if people only see clouds. One spirit can have difficult moments in dogmatic doctrines, principles of academia, and man made rules of logic. One spirit truth may also be victim of deceit or deliberate propaganda and spin.

“and there is no new thing under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.” ~ William Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet 

“If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We’re quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do.” ~ One more light, Linkin Park

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Video playing on repeat: Linkin Park, “What I’ve done.” 257,221,627 Youtube views.

“So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done
I’ll face myself
To cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done.”

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The arrival of Christ, who lives in the pumping heart next to you, came to face what we as humanity had become. In his mercy, he let go of what we did. We must erase our ego, while accepting the incredible gift of being in the words of Richard Rohr, “Immortal Diamonds.” <— (Check his book out on finding our true self.) The somewhere we belong, is here, and now. Which is why there is somewhat urgency to the Amazon forest, to the violence in Chicago. To the drug war, and weapons deals. To the greed and corruption of capitalist isolationism in the name of freedom. To the chambers of oppression around the planet. Team love has many voices, many from the spirit of truth, and we do care not when a light goes out, but when it crosses over. Always shining, we have seen a great light, a light that no darkness can overcome. Even in the deep waters of various chapters of our lives. (See Isaiah 43) The band plays on, so that more and more of our neighbors can feel, and heal, and feel somewhere to belong. 

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“A shakeup of focus, The Silver Lining of politically coordinated Sabotage, and the paradox of the internet.”

Disclaimer: While this critiques the left wing, I also critique the right wing in another blog post: here – I do not choose to identify with dualistic partisanship identity.

Corporate Media fallout:
O’Rielly prophecy on the group that would campagin against him:

The campaign staff that successfully defamed and sabotaged BO’R:

 

Mary Pat Bonner, (Hillary Super Pac Donor) David Brock,  Emily Steel (NYT) and George Soros were behind the ousting. It involved paying protesters to fake outrage outside fox news head quarters and  to call sponsors to drop support. Lisa Bloom, (Celebrity feminist attorney) came out with press conferences of alleged women Bill Clinton style. It lead Rupert Murdoch’s son to take the bait and terminate BO’R, which to date the absence has cost FNC over one billion dollars in profits after a fall of prime time ratings.

Independent media reaction:
Joe Rogan (a YouTuber) discussed the far left wing superpac firing of 20 year run highest rated cable TV host Bill O’Rielly. Rogan smells a bit of B.S. on the controversy and can’t take a stance either way. “Women seduce men in the workplace for bait and switch to cash” he said. Sarah Palin in the national inquirer calls fox accuser women, “staying around for the paycheck.”

In the next suggested video on my youtube computer screen was an interview with Rogan and a Michael A. Wood JR.

Suddenly the hour or so interview was playing and I was not prepared for such a reality check to echo my own life experiences. Through the Matrix I could instantly relate to half of what he had been saying. Wood a former Patrol SGT. for Baltimore P.D. was exposing the code of silence that exists within the law enforcement culture and more importantly digs down deep to discuss it’s root problems, a distinction of merely just symptom talk.

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He describes himself as a servant, though many would call him an activist after leading thousands of Veterans to show up at the Standing Rock oil pipeline protest where he personally engaged the Army Corps of Engineers in a dialogue.

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M. Wood at standing rock for Veterans Stand.

In an interview with a liberal youtube channel, Michael had discussed the challenge of so many different groups with their own intentions and agendas that filled the vacuum of grievances under one single banner “Standing Rock.”

THE EVOLUTION OF LEFT WING CAUSE GROUPS (2003-2017)

This immediately reminded me of the time I observed in the Occupy Portland Camp. Another nationally funded effort against wall street corruption that led local grass roots and minority populations to congregate on two public parks for up to 90 days. In those 90 days the group could never have one single coherent strategy or explanation of the goals, purpose, and policy changes as a gathered cause. There was no official term for BLM then it was just anti police demonstrations against the Portland Police Bureau ovepast POC officer involved shootings or inmates they felt should be immediately released. This brings us to what is now hash-tagged as the anti-trump movement, dubbed in jest of World War 2 and now star wars franchise phrase, “The Resistance.”  The goal is to obstruct, oppose, undermine, and propagandize anything and everything related to the 45th Presidency of The United States based on ideological partisan lines and denial.  In 1980, Howard Zinn wrote “The Peoples History of The United States.” It is the most pessimistic narrative interpretation of the national narrative that sets the USA as inherently bad and basically irredeemable. Around the second term of Obama, a safe space revolution occurred on college campuses nationally.  “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” first appeared in Peace and Freedom Magazine, July/August, 1989, by Peggy McIntosh. These two terms had taken MSM attention almost simultaneously.  As academia campuses spread the course material took new 6611199national levels of cable and tabloid media narratives. “Race” had been repackaged once again into the national psyche. A post Obama inauguration branding by the  mainstream media’s coverage of it bleeds it reads strategy then went back to black VS. blue. Of course, that we have all seen before during Vietnam, MLK, and the original activism against Richard Nixon. From 2015 to present, Many black lives matter groups became the new banner to hijack for other political causes. Anarchists, anti-police, global warming, no more blood for oil (resurrected from 2003 at the vista ridge tunnel protest) It’s as if someone went into each college campus and threw out every book that wasn’t Zinn’s or Peggy Mcintosh’s publications. It’s as if Occupy Wall street had never happened after Trayvon Martin. The soup of the day selective outrage, which is technically hyper in the moment apathy under the mask of grandstanding, continues to unfold. Create a narrative, spin the narrative, duplicate the narrative. Motivate the narrative to lead to action. In this case that action is not allowing conservative authors or pundits to speak on campuses. To obstruct any and all Presidential events. To block nominees, to second guess everything and above all else innuendo in the partisan press  with mostly anonymous sources.

PROGRESSIVES VS: LIBERALS OR GRANDSTANDERS VS: ACTIVISTS

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Michael Wood JR. Took his powerful narrative to welcomed audiences. On August 4, 2015 he went as far as to write, “Do we want to spend our money, sacrifice the lives of our loved ones, imprison our fellow human beings in cages, criminalize those in need of mental/medical care, pick up the bodies of youths lost to the inevitable wars of prohibition, and imprison our lives in fears of the others? Or, do we want to band together and strive towards the visions I speak of along with, DeRay McKesson, Bree Newsome, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and many others. Our future is a different one altogether. It is a world in which human beings return to being one.”

Independent media begins holding itself accountable:

Recently that call for unity has found to be shaky.

There is now a split, like at occupy PDX, like at standing rock, like in the activist independent media circles. A distinction between Liberals, and progressives. Prophesied by Malcom X on establishment power holders:

Conclusion:

This current crossroads echoes what I wrote in late 2014 and in the spring of 2016:

In October of 2014, I posted a paragraph critiquing the critics and pundits we are inundated with during current events, specific issues, specific people, grievances, complaints, whining, and opinions. I shared a quote from a recent book: “I find that we may produce analysis of culture around us but critique and analysis very rarely change culture at all. The academic fallacy is that once we have understood something, analyzed and critiqued it, we’ve changed it. But academic libraries are full of brilliant analysis of every facet of human culture that have made no difference at all beyond the stacks. The only way to change culture is to make more of it. So if we seek to change culture, we will have to create more of it, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our proposal.” (“Culture Making” by Andy Crouch, page 67-69, 2008.) Andy nailed it. While these changes are so apparent and concerning, it needs to be said that critique only goes so far. We can talk all day about what we observe and what to do about it. Critics are certainly in no short supply. We can make observations, and provide insights to current trends, but we must do something about it. Until we implement change we won’t see results. We won’t see change. It’s all just talk and meanwhile time passes and everyone keeps going through the motions. Change must begin with us collectively, not individually. If only one individual changes, the rest of the whole is unchanged, and the individual is isolated. Andy says we must persuade our neighbors to join us, and only then can the tide begin to turn. I expand on this in my march 2016 post.

Silver lining: Downfall of MSM Corporate media becomes the discovery of Independent Activists.

Paradox: The downfall of the cable industry is the rise of the power struggle over the internet, which I don’t think could ever possibly unite for any single cause.

As always I close with:
Six minutes of Richard Rohr on our judgement problem:

The worst day of the Syrian War, and the world sleeps.

Humanity is in a crisis of denial. The Syrian genocide like Rwanda, is being totally ignored. If less than a dozen people die in USA or U.K. It’s wall to wall coverage. If the worst event in a 6 year war occurs well, that’s just war “over there.” We said never again as a League of Nations at The United Nations.

Today we are reminded that those nations have failed to prevent mass casualties and caused the biggest migration crisis since World War Two. Barrack Obama and Donald Trump, David Cameron and Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau all have let Vladimir Putin run wild.

In a non partisan conclusion – Mitt Romney warned the world in 2012 about Russia in the infamous Candy Crowley debate. The sitting president laughed. While trump may or may not have a clue, he revealed in a February 60 minutes interview that Obama in the limo ride of the inauguration shared a real concern about “a certain country in particular” which neither men have revealed. I think we all know which one it now is.

The presidencies of both Obama and Trump will now be completely tied to the unchecked actions of Putin and the international consequences. How many bodies later has yet to be written.

That is the story of history and politics of this decade. News leaks, hacking, emails, etc, won’t even make the textbook. The pressure will mount on the West to confront Putin. If we fail to do that, in the name of preventing war, it will lead to war anyway. There is no wrong decision at this point.

Burke rings true, ” All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” History is repeating itself at the expense of our apathetic ignorance. The solution is for six party talks to reach an ultimatum. Will that happen?

“THREE CROSSES, AND OUR CONTINUED JUDGEMENT PROBLEM.”

“Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.” 1

Left Cross:

Aaron Hernandez is a former professional football player for the New England Patriots. He is accused of murder. In his trial which is taking place at this moment in time they brought to testify the accused defendant’s tattoo artist as evidence against him. The prosecution is arguing that a tattoo entitled, “God forgives” was tattooed on his hand after the murder. A tattoo they are arguing is an admission of guilt – a false salvation in their mind, a symbolic gesture merely. A mask that Hernandez must be wearing. Innocent or guilty, the state seems to argue that God forgiving Aaron is a joke worth pointing out.

Right Cross

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Brett Foreman is a random person being quoted on facebook for saying the following in commentary to a prison serving convicted rapist (Brandon Vandenburg) describing his strong faith in God:

“A 23 year old white male accessory to rape considers self ‘outstanding citizen’ and ‘strong Christian.’ Does anybody else wonder how many rapists can hide behind the cross before the world loses any respect for it?”

Well in order to hide behind a cross and respect it, that would have to have been true for Jesus. Which obviously it was not. Was his cross respectable? So no ones is respectable then. We all have nothing to offer that is respectable except in denying ourselves, taking up the cross, and following. Anyone that takes a cross after Him, has given up themselves. To the world that isn’t exactly respectable. Certainly not in America. The self is all there is in capitalism. To the record amount of property and money one could attain for themselves as the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The misguided aim of hedonism.

Center Cross:

“Golgatha” by J. Kirk Richards

The world never respected Christ. He was given a purple robe to bleed in after what was customary in the cruelty of the roman empire for prisoners to be flagellated as to increase and achieve maximum suffering before death. Purple the ancient roman color of royalty made from Bolinus brandaris, the mucas from sea snails that had to dry in the sun for a precise amount of time. In fact the cross was so much of a joke that INRI was inscribed. Latin for here is the, “King of the Jews.”

We and those before us failed to see that The Christ was speaking of a kingdom that isn’t known to this world, at least yet. Or where it is now after the commission, is not complete. We are the kingdom. We are his body. We are his light, warmth, compassion in a world that needs logic, signs, or miracles on demand. “If you are he, come down from the Cross.” (Matthew 27:40, Luke 23:37) Loss of respect? Can it be lost if it was never given?

Six minutes of Richard Rohr on our judgement problem:

 

“JOINING ‘THE RESISTANCE’ & The end of Epiphany 500 YEARS AFTER MARTIN LUTHER”

 

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Every knee shall bow” oil painting by J.Kirk Richards

A Star Wars franchise recently rebooted the duality of the story in the dark side VS. the resistance. Opposition to the 45th President of The United States has been dubbed by groups, “The Resistance” with signs to “Resist.” Dissent, and objection most notoriously known to two of the most written about figures in human history. One of them not even being fit to untie the other ones sandals. Nevertheless, Christ, the original resistance. Though he did not resist the law, instead taught on the merits of star_wars_the_force_awakens_resistance_by_watchall-d9kwmudthe spirit of it’s letter and thus to fulfill it. And then Martin Luther, to which forever after would be coined the term, “Protestant” which means: “A member or follower of any of the Western Christian churches that are separate from the Roman Catholic Church and follow the principles of the Reformation, including the Baptist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches.” Allow me to paraphrase: The Resistance.

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In Luther’s large catechism is an exegesis of the ten commandments. He there observes that the biggest weapons used by human beings is too often words and judgments. “Thou shall not kill” includes what you say. That would involve thinking. To see beyond the ink of the letter, to the spirit of the letter. “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”1 is one of the most difficult disciplines. There is so much in a free society that we feel we are entitled to express. Add that to some extreme misunderstanding of Martin Luther King Jr’s catch 22 of “Not remembering the voices of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” Love covers a multitude of sins, sometimes taking more on instead of letting go can be worse. Sometimes what you intended to be passive and defusing can be a trigger. TTrump Immigrationhe perception of ignoring a person is still “saying something.” The neighbor can’t immediately decipher intent. So in everything, even in how we walk away from something, must be done with a deliberate consciousness as to the sensitivities of our neighbor. Enter binary agendas in a politically correct or incorrect culture and we get nowhere in dialogue very fast.

 

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“Christ” J.Kirk Richards

Christ became an expert at interpreting the law. “It is written…. or you have heard it said, but I tell you….”  There is the letter of the law, yet again there is the spirit of the law. The spirit always comes to reveal the truth. It isn’t on the page merely. It takes a breathing and living person to reach discernment. It takes the images of parables to extract symbolic meaning towards in some cases, action. Not in any one action, but as an entire way of life.

500 years later the Catholic Church not only had returned to the letter of the law but had added in some of their own. A parallel image to Christ’s confrontation of the pharisees.  It took Martin Luther’s imitation of Christ to spearhead a mounting change in revealing once again not the letters, but the spirit that must be present and alive to discern, “What does this mean?”

Take the law of proportionate response in Exodus, chapter 21. Moses was making way for control of turbulent chaotic situations. Christ rebukes this in turning the other cheek, to be passive with nonresistance. 

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Ecce Homo, by J.Kirk Richards

To resist, is not to resist. To instead endure, forgive, as many times necessary. Peter asked Christ, “Lord how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? Seven times? ” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”  To resist not the letter of the law by applying the spirit of the law, one protests the earlier understanding which is still wide spread. The other resists to not resist,  any action to which the opposition would throw at them. Be it crucifixion, or excommunication. Be it “Ecce Homo” 4, or “The diet of Worms.” 5

I think Lutherans can sue both the Walt Disney company and The anti-Trump movements for stealing the trademark and patent rights. ” Only one man said adultery comes from the heart. Only one man said our God is a god not of condemnation, but of Love. Both were from, “The Resistance.”

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Lutherhaus museum in Wittenberg  “The Diet of Worms” 

Do you resist people who seem to know a different Jesus than you? A Jesus that loves only under certain circumstances? It might be time to resist.

Do you resist anyone that says God doesn’t love _____ because ______? It might be time to resist.

Do you know anyone that has such a misunderstanding of the difference between spirituality and religion? It might be time to resist. After all, by resisting, you aren’t following the letter of the law. You have been led by the spirit. 2017 years later, 500 years later, we see how long that spirit still steadily and firmly persists. And so it shall persist.

 

Pilate to Christ: “What do you have to say, to all these accusations?” 6 Christ passively did not answer. Instead, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” 7

Reverend father, will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?” Luther responded affirmatively. Luther also quoted John 3:16 and Psalm 31:5. In his last prayer he said to God, “Yet I know as a certainty that I shall live with you eternally and that no one shall be able to pluck me out of your hands.” 8

Resistance means faithfulness. So much so that The Christ went into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days and 40 nights, to resist evil and all that it’s empty lies try to persuade. Can you ponder the cost of faithfulness for that long? God walks with us in our birth, and in our coming of age. In prosperity, and times of trial. In aging, and from death, to eternal life. What should we resist a long the way and are we enjoying the journey? Pause for reflection.

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“Crucifixion” Oil painting by J.Kirk Richards