Get Ready….

I really doubt anyone has noticed that my brother and I haven’t exactly posted a blog in a while. But we’re making a comeback.

I am going to Portland in two days for a conference that is happening on the campus of Marylhurt University. A place I didn’t know even existed until a few weeks ago.

Pretty, eh?

I’ve been up to a TON since the last time I posted. And so has Dan. For example, I have gotten myself involved with some of the coolest people on the planet writing a bunch of smart stuff about teaching.

See – here’s my name:

And Dan seems to have got himself accepted to underwater welding school in Seattle. No. Seriously. He’s moving to Seattle. For like the next 7 months while he does his fancy diving school. So get ready. One of us (maybe even both) will be posting a new blog where we actually get to be together in the same city. It’s been a while. Pretty much since our first blog post.

 

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I’ve been up to something. It just hasn’t been writing.

My sister has been nagging me about posting something new for some time. I have resisted until now on the principles of laziness and not being that interesting.

So here is some uninteresting drivel for you folks. I hope you enjoy.

R.I.P. Eddie Bob

My friend Joanne’s very charismatic french bull-dog passed away recently. We will all miss his saliva and pungent flatulence. He was taken to a taxidermist and little beetles ate away all of the flesh on his skeleton. She showed me the rest of the skeleton as well as his skull as seen (pictured below). On this day I learned that dogs have a penis bone. Its like a little trough for the lipstick to come out of . I know what you’re thinking , gross right? Yes very gross indeed. It goes to show you, just when you thought dogs couldnt get any grosser they up and die on you and you’re stuck holding the penis bone.

I went camping with Aaron, Miette and Steve. We had a lot of fun although I didn’t catch any fish all weekend. There was a thunder-storm, rain and drunk rednecks. They thought we were helpless city folk. They gave us some of their wood and a few pointers. Very nice for hill folk. Here are some photos.
This is the biggest Miette can smile. I know because she tried. I was worried she was going to hurt herself.
Sleepy time steve smells just like not sleepy time steve.
There are zero fish in this lake.
My friend Amy sent this Photo to me. In some strange way it is comforting to me. Its like The universe is telling us no matter what we do, no one else gives a shit. So that means its party time right?……. Right? Ok that’s as heavy as ill get. I promise.
I did catch fish a couple of weekends ago in the Pacific coast range. My friends and I stayed out there for a few days trying to beat the awful heat wave that was afflicting us at the time. When people tell me they like it when its hot, I don’t entirely trust them from that point on. I find sunshine painful and bright. Its hard to see and it burns me. Why on earth would you want to be uncomfortable? Flawed judgement must accompany heat seekers. I don’t like being burned. I feel like the sun is a show off and it should know better by now. After all its 41/2 billion years old at this point, I think its time to take it down a notch. more photos and less ranting………alright!
He doesn’t look huge now , but you know the camera takes away ten pounds.

I’ll leave you with some bar bathroom wisdom,
and a glimpse into my futire…..in moderation I promise Mom.

Art is What I Make it is

I got the go-ahead from my brother-dear to post an art project I made about a month ago. I plan on doing this periodically so you at home, and anyone who’s interested, can see what it is I’m working on.

Anyone who says that their art isn’t influenced by someone outside themselves is probably spending too much time at a coffee shop talking about the books they say they’ve read, and not spending enough time actually reading. Kenneth Burke tells us this about form: “form is the creation of an appetite in the mind of the auditor, and the adequate satisfying of that appetite.” (Counter-Statement, pg. 31, 1931). This is about 1/million(s) of what Burke has to say about art, and I quote him here because I’m taking a summer course on all-Burke-all-the-time, but it’s a good one for me because I happen to be the auditor here. I have an appetite in my mind (to make something particular) and I satisfy that appetite (by making). Later in this same essay, Burke claims – “we are… all nouveaux-riches in matters of culture… [and] aesthetic judgement” (32) – and he blames the influx of our bloated sense that science is somehow more right than art, for the atrophy of our (Americans, and Westerners in general) ability to discern what it is we are doing/looking at when we make/view art.

I am not claiming to be any kind of great artist here. I am certainly rather “nouveaux-riches in matters of culture,” never mind my BFA. I’ve only scratched the surface. All my drawings look kind of like rubber. I don’t paint with oils because I hate the chemicals. I am what I might call ‘crafty’. And I don’t feel the need to create ‘art for art’s sake’. I get it – Ruskin v Whistler, blah blah, fight for your right to make whatever you want. That’s all well and good, but it’s not what I do. I need a muse. And I’m not talking a beautiful woman with her breasts exposed singing to me about how my ship should probably sink so I can live with Davy Jones forever…

I mean someone I know who needs a little art in their life. I have discovered that if I spend several hours of my life creating something for someone that is made uniquely for that person… it makes the aim (that person) feel about as special as I can make them feel.

The following is an art project I did for my friend Emily’s birthday.

When I was first getting to know Emily, I found out 2 things about her:

1. She likes maps. There are maps all over her house in adorable little frames. And I’ll confess: The first time I used her bathroom, I spent most of the time looking at the giant shower curtain map rather than actually going to the bathroom.

2. She thinks the show Portlandia is hilarious. And I do to.

Just a side note – if you have been with us from the not-so-long-ago beginning, you’ll know that this blog (just one letter away from the show) has nothing to do with the show. We intended to name the blog Portlanta (more telling I know) but it was already taken.

Knowing these two things, and also having received my paint box in the mail (my lovely mother shipped it to me for my birthday all the way from sunny AZ), I set out to make art.

I found this fabric in a cute little store on the Westside of Midtown at Whipstitch – the lady behind the counter was really nice and the whole set-up of the store is pleasant and user friendly. And they have classes. The website is linkable above. Anyway – I found the fabric and stole the idea to sew it to a canvas from another series of paintings I have seen all over Atlanta recently.

Here is the first step:

This is not actually sewn on yet. I laid down a hefty layer of gesso (which I tested on the cloth first for bleed through) and then stuck the cloth on. It’s hard to tell,  but that’s a map of Paris. And see that little dark shape in the upper right hand corner? Emily doesn’t even know this (though she will know now) that it’s a picture of a sailing ship. Sometimes I like to stick secrets into paintings. I guess that’s a little art for art’s sake slipping through. Who knows.

Many of you already know about my affinity for cut-outs. I do draw well enough to make pretty awesome 2D stuff on paper that I then figure out how to cut out into one contiguous shape (ask my bf to see his turtles and you’ll see exactly what I mean, or maybe I’ll post them here some time).

This is the bird I drew to ‘put on it’, as it were.

And then I cut it out.

For those of you interested in cutting out stuff, knives work much better than scissors. My only regrets are that I can’t travel by air with them, and so cannot bring projects along as I’m bouncing around the U.S. Bleh. I also am having troubles with the #1 Exacto Refill. Anyone got any tips? Did I just get a bad batch?

Anyway, the next thing I did, once the gesso was firmly dried and I had got to do the super-fun cutout part, I sewed the fabric onto the canvas. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular – Emily is hopefully going to just hang it on the wall and call it good. So this is what I managed:

I have been doing some sewing by hand over the years though, and it does take some practice, so you may want to do some test runs first, if you’re going to do this.

Now, the next step took a little thinking. I thought about getting the bird onto the fabric by sewing it, which would have worked okay had I used an actual canvas. It would have created some cool stitching, as I would have used some well placed x’s in embroidery thread the same color as the map lines. I did chose to use a canvas board though, which I like a lot, and so I was going to need to glue it. You might be able to imagine how much I’ve worked with glue since I like paper a lot. And glue is just not the most powerful substance in the universe. I once glued quarters to the ground outside the window of the Wherehouse Music store where I used to work so that we could watch people try to pick them up off the ground… and even 1000 lb apoxy eventually gave way.

So I decided to superglue the bird on. I could have painted it, as I’ve found that acrylic paint tends to work better than glue, but I didn’t want any paint residue slipping out from under the bird. So super glue it turned out to be. That’s hard though because you have to be fast, accurate, and not mind the fact that you will painfully stick to everything you touch for the next 1-2 minutes.

But it turned out well.

So there it is… but it still needs something up in that left hand corner.

After some thinking and asking around, I stole a phrase that gets tossed around for quite some time –

And cut the letters out from a bunch of magazines we had read poolside right after the semester ended.

And I called it, “Put a Bird on It 1”, I think.

We threw a surprise party for Emily and I gave it to her, so I can’t remember what it was called exactly.

But it was fun. And I’ll probably do another one similar soon. Let me see real quick if I can get those turtles up here so you can see them too.

That’s just paper on paper, but the turtles are all connected. The quality of photo is very hard to get because the paper is metallic.

Required by Law – Faith

As promised, though somewhat later than I intended, a blog on faith – as I discovered it to be.

Let me recap:

I had this project to do for my History of the English Language class – and I decided to do a word study in the Holy Bible. We were raised in the church, and we know too much about Biblical ambiguity, so what better project to do in order to cover the history of the English language. Especially, I learned, since it was the Bible that kind of ‘saved’ the English language, if you will.

There’s a really great docu-film on this topic called The Battle for the Language of the Bible (52:00) – I would link you, but you need to have access to ‘Films on Demand’, which is only good if you attend a university and they have rights to it. So google it, or use your login for your school or whatever, if you’re interested in watching it.

Anyway – I called my brother (the other blogger here) and he chose ‘faith’. Please visit the previous blogs for this conversation.

Anyway – I told you all I would reveal my findings – one of you commented that we appear to be at odds on this topic. I think that’s not so much the case as we’re approaching this from very different angles. I’m not so much concerned with truth, especially not Truth, as I am with knowing more about this curious word.

And my conclusion, based on some simple cross references in the various translations of the Bible is that ‘faith’, before the advent of the Son, was merely an insurance policy God required of the Jews. Or anyone really. But since the Jews were God’s chosen people, I’m going with the Jews.

Essentially, I took a look at 4 scriptures in the Old Testament –

–          Genesis 44:32 – King James –

For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.

–          Deuteronomy 32:20 – King James –

And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no FAITH.

–          Proverbs 11:15 – He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.

–          Habakkuk 2:4

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his FAITH.

And I compared them all to Genesis 15:6  – which is the scripture where Abraham is considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord because he believes. This is the same as ‘faith’ according to a lot of scholars – but I disagree that it is the same sort of faith used in the rest of the Old Testament. I argue that ‘belief’, as scholars see it in Genesis 15:6 – is directly influenced by New Testament notions of faith as it is seen with the advent of the Son.

Now, you can tell above, that not all of the scriptures actually have the word ‘faith’ in them. I am only providing you with the KJV, here. The KJV is VERY similar to the Douay-Rheims Bible, or the Catholic Bible, as some of you may have grown up with that version. It’s a translation of the Vulgate. The King James, I learned, was the first sanctioned translation that did not involve anyone getting quartered, burnt, or thrown into a river. You know those Christians love to kill them some heretics. MMhm.

It was the Old English Hexateuch and the Wycliff versions that have the ‘faith’ words in the original. Well – not really the Hexateuch, because there is no Old English word for faith. There isn’t even an Old English word for truth, as I believe I posted earlier.

It was really fun working with the Hexateuch – I got to go to the Special Collections and they have all these great rules that make you feel like Indiana Jones on an expedition. I really want to put a picture or two of the Hexateuch up here, but I’m not allowed to by copyright. I have to get permission from the Special Collections library. Let me see what happens if I google it though. Hold please.

Here’s one from the Lessing Photo Archive – which has a bunch of other cool stuff on it, if you’re interested.

This is even better, actually, because the photos I have aren’t in color like this.

Anyway – the point is, to get to the point quickly – that faith isn’t as ambiguous and crafty as some other bloggers might believe. If you have faith in something, you prove your surety. And in the Old Testament, you could have surety in a person, or provide surety FOR them. In a sense, you were providing safety, or insurance for their well-being. It didn’t even have much to do with God at all – in the beginning. So then Jesus came into the picture, and we got the insurance that he is going to save our souls and make sure we transfer our consciousness into some really pleasant eternal landscape.

Like the great roller-rink in the sky. But no children.

The question that remains to be answered then is not, ‘what is faith and why the fuck?’ but ‘What is the soul and why do we care so much?’ If you’re like me, you have to believe that your consciousness will continue after your body is dead, or what is the purpose of being… conscious?

I’ll let my brother give that a stab, since it’s his turn.

Next time, I’ll be documenting a painting I threw together that makes fun of Portland and Portlandia.

In the meantime, let me leave you with this funny comic I found about faith:

Now replace ‘insurance’ with ‘faith’, and see how that works out.

Cheers!

V-

Faith Hold-Over

Hey Readers!

I am soon to post a response to Dan’s last blog – but I’m a little swamped with a work project and an English department party, and a roommate moving out (I’ll miss you Thomas), and all that life stuff.

But I just heard this story on NPR (I’ll try to vary my link posting habits in the future, I swear), and it goes really well in this conversation.

It’s called

From Minister to Atheist: A Story of Losing Faith

So have a listen to this – and I’ll post again in a couple of days.

Valerie

Drivin’ that train high on cocaine……CHOOOCHOOO!

Image

As the faith train speeds down the line I wonder who’s manning the controls. Has logical thought and reason been bound to the tracks by a handle-bar mustached villain in a top hat and cape? What does faith mean these days, and where are we headed with this harbinger of thoughtlessness? As with other words in the English language, “faith” has taken on more than one definition. For our porpoises I’ll separate the two. I’ll explain why one use of faith can be used with some level of logical reasoning and the other is total bullshit.

I would say that I have faith the sun will rise in the morning. This would be an objective claim based on reason. The sun has risen every day until this day, so it stands to reason that it will do so again tomorrow not withstanding some dramatic change in the status quo. We can all agree on this. Anyone claiming otherwise better have some outstanding evidence to the contrary.

The religious among us, on the other hand , claim to have “faith” that their god is the one true god based solely on antiquated holy texts. The Bible, Torah , and Koran do not prove the existence of a god or validate the suppositions contained within them. These holy books make definite claims about reality without any supporting evidence. The believer is told to have faith and that a dogmatic stead fast belief is some how virtuous.

Question with boldness even the existence of god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear

-Thomas Jefferson 1786-

There are more devout people in this country, right now, than there have ever been. For a majority of these people faith in their god and the dogma that accompanies the particular brand of religion dictates how they view the world and how they vote. This terrifies me. Lets put it simply. Faith is the belief in something without reason. Their votes will influence legislation according to what their people behind their pulpits demand, without any critical thought. This puts very real power in the hands of very few persons.

Sounds like good old fascism to me.

In this political climate guys like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson would never have been elected President. And no wonder Franklin didn’t even want to run… he was smart. He knew that even back then, the religious right would demonize them into obscurity. Never mind there also was no ‘right’, and no ‘left’. Forgive me for being guilty of mad presentism.

To follow faith alone is to follow blindly.

-Benjamin Franklin-

The non-believer has literally dragged the faithful, kicking an screeching into the technological present. Lets not forget who was burning who at the stake for claiming that the spherical earth revolved around the sun. Faith, the word, has become a sort of magical trump card that the believer can hide behind when confronted by arguments differing from their own views even if they are supported by testable factual information.

I say bullshit loudly, and so should we all.

Faith has lead us no where and is no longer an acceptable answer or reason for the believer to make erroneous claims about the nature of our universe. Using a faith defense is nothing short of saying you don’t have any evidence for the case you are making for god being at the helm. The word faith , in this context, should be replaced with delusion, and the faithful should be referred to as delusional.

Because George Michael Says I Got-Ta Have It….

I am embarking on a new journey. It is not a journey of sight, or of sound. It is a journey of the mind. This… is a journey… into… a project on Faith.

Let me give you a little background:

I am taking a class called The History of the English Language. It’s super interesting. Even so, I didn’t come up with a paper topic until about a month ago. This is unusual for me since I am kind of a search and destroy idea generator. But come up with an idea, I did. With the help of my brother, who runs half this blog.

The next few blogs are not for the sensitive. They are for those of you who like to explore your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and general qualms and quandaries with this, our American culture.

The project I am about to embark upon is a study of faith. Literally.

I am LITERALLY studying the word faith.

At first, I just knew I wanted to do a word study about an ambiguous topic in the Bible. Who do you call when you have a question about Biblical ambiguity? That’s right. You call Dan.

Poof! I had a topic. Here’s an approximation of what he said:

“Well… why don’t you look into ‘faith’. I mean, it’s a possession, right? But you can’t buy it, or sell it. And you can have a lot, or a little, or none. You can’t see it or touch it, and you can’t even prove that it’s real. Yet somehow, it’s supposed to be able to ‘save’ you, in some way.”

And so I dove in.

Originally, I thought: I’ll look into this business. I’ll find out what it is about ‘faith’ being a possession you can’t actually possess.

And then I started researching.

I went here, first:

The funniest part about this – at lease it will be to Dan – is that the library of congress call number is BS – not kidding.These are Biblical Encyclopedias. They have a lot of great information on the word Faith in them. There’s a bunch of stuff about the translations from Greek and Hebrew, and how many times the word ‘faith’ appears in the Bible.

This is where it gets interesting.

Turns out that the word ‘faith’ comes from the Greek word pistis and it appears in the New Testament (NT) as a verb, or noun over 240 times. It appears as an adjective 67 times. According to someone with the initials L.M., who wrote the ‘FAITH’ entry for The New Bible Dictionary, edited by J.D. Douglas, in 1962, if you have ‘faith + that’, you have a ‘faith’ that is concerned with the facts. However, if you have ‘faith + in + object’, you have a ‘faith’ that accepts something as true. L.M. does not specify whether this is ‘truth’ or ‘Truth’, however, but does say that “there is an intellectual content to faith” – a statement he does not back up with much.

Having learned this, I became somewhat frustrated. Fortunately for me, God decided to write the word ‘faith’ only 2 times in the Old Testament (OT). Once in Deuteronomy 32:20 and Habakkuk 2:4 – in the King James Version – once you step outside the KJV, you get all sorts of shit.

Deuteronomy 32:20 says: And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 says: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

So I began to wonder – as I pulled the books off the shelf and broke the rules and got a study room in the library with less than 2 people:

And I found out that if I’m going to look into why the word ‘faith’ only appears two times in OT, and add to that the fact that there is no Hebrew OR Old English word for ‘faith’, I had better look into the words ‘belief’, and ‘trust’.

The thing I like best about this old research is these old books. They’re kind of pretty:

They tell me lots of stuff about the words and where to find them. And they make me kind of want to hide in a corner with a flashlight. The print is really small and I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing.

Then I found out that ‘trust’ is also not an Old English word. But ‘belief’ is. Well… sort of. So the English – those crazy Anglo Saxons, they had a word for believe – Yleve, or some spelling variation. And that pretty much took the role of the other two words, ‘trust’ and ‘faith’.

So now I’m wondering – what is it about this word ‘faith’, that makes it so popular among Christians? Why would the very first Bible translation borrow this word ‘feith’ from the Latin vulgate and not use ‘yleve’ instead? Why does it have to be faith?

And thus, my research gets more complicated. You see – in the VERY first English Bible translation, by this guy called John Wycliffe, the word ‘feith’ (pronounced the same way), is also in Proverbs. He uses ‘faithful’ and ‘faithless’ and ‘faithfulness’ all over, but I’m going to focus only on ‘faith’. I found out it’s also in Proverbs 11:15 – “He shal be tormetid with euel that doth feith for a stranger” – and that’s just Middle English. Remember, there’s no ‘faith’ in Old English. That shit sounds like Old Norse.

I don’t know if you can decipher that, but it essentially says, “if you lend money to a stranger, you’re going to get in some big trouble”. Let’s see what the KJV has to say: “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.” WTF, mate??

Let’s try a newer version: The NIV version says: “He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it, But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.” — no wonder my parents would never co-sign for anything. I AM really strange. Might as well be a stranger. It’s IN the Bible, folks!

But why ‘faith’? Why does Wycliffe use ‘feith’ there instead of ‘guarantor’? I don’t get it.

Now – I shall pass this inquiry off to my brother and see what he has to say. Maybe… just maybe… we can get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime – I have dredged up some interesting tidbits to listen to that you religion fans might get a kick out of.

Atheists Seek Acceptance Following Hearts, Not Faith

When God Talks Back’ To The Evangelical Community