Church Shootings, South Carolina, President Obama, and Podcasts

SSPX0076 (2)

There is a line I quote a lot, but it’s because like many quotes, it’s a truth in it that endures, and is applicable to many. And it is definitely applicable to me.

I’ll quote it here again…

“You writers live too much out of the world.” –Graham Greene’s THE THIRD MAN.

Here’s the thing about the world, there is always some new atrocity the 24 hour news cycle is waiting to feed you. Someone’s misfortune that, with crocodile solemnity, they are eager to spread before you like some banquet, some forbidden feast, for you to put your snout in and snuffle.

I know people who make a home in-front the TV when the latest atrocity breaks, and they ‘tsk’, and ‘cluck’, and they make the expected exclamations of “horrible” this, and “what’s this world coming to” but you get the feeling it is more rote than real.

SSPX0087 (2)

That ‘real’ left town many atrocities ago, and they have yet to notice that what remains is something that watches for reasons less altruistic than information, and more hungry than concern.

I can’t do the 24 hour news cycle. I gave up on networked TV a long time ago and haven’t looked back, or particularly missed it. Too much of CNN or Insert News Station here, and I have to get away, I have to move, I can’t watch people suffer.

I’m old school that way.

I believe in heroes to rescue maidens, and Knights to slay dragons. And I’m fool enough to believe we can all be heroes… all of us. In small ways, and personal ways, and local ways.

But the 24 hour news cycle inundates you with a world’s wrongs, many wrongs too horrific and large and endemic for you to change.

So there becomes a war within you between the desire to change what you can, and the 24 hour news cycle that indoctrinates you, numbs you to a world beyond your time, or means, or scope to change… a news cycle that tells you “relinquish hope, relinquish the idea of days without horror, relinquish the lie of action, be a spectator, be a consumer. Live in the world we give you, the way we give it you.”

And reduce all your rebellions to a tsk here, and a shake of the head there. That’s what the 24 hour news cycle says to me if I watch it too long.

SSPX0086 (2)

I have to pick my battles. I have to pick my fights. I have to narrow my atrocities. And some days I have to have no atrocities at all. It’s the only way I can live without rage all the time.

I have to have the courage to change the things I can, the strength to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Not being a part of the 24 hour news cycle, using the Internet to consume news in my time in my way, means sometimes, if I’m embroiled with my life, and the people in it and around it, the real news, then I may not consume another man’s definition of the news… for days on end.

I find I’m a better man for not being suckled every moment on the teat, and rage, and hate, and horror of Rome the metaphorical. I find I’m a better, calmer man, and people find me a calming, even soothing presence, and it’s because the nightly news is not on the back of my eyeballs when I look at them, I look at them without the media’s biases or fears, I do not fall asleep to Rome’s tirade, and I do not wake to her gnashing.

And that has made all the difference.

I think too many, especially the young, who not yet having learned the value of their own life much less anyone else’s, internalize Rome’s madness, drink deep and long of it, and adopt the American past time of mass murder; as if it was no more than a fashion you could put on. Killing for hates handed down to them like ill fitting suits, and reasons not understood by them, killing with no real sense.

No real sense.

Not understanding really, that killing is easy, but the hole it leaves is large, and affects so many. That every life… even the most paltry, took a million million miracles to breathe air into, and you can never know how even the most unworthy life, might, if no more than via tangential fate, give us a painter or poet or astronaut or hero. And with one bullet you can unwind innumerable tomorrows, kill innumerable tomorrows, and we are all the poorer for all those doors closed. All those lives changed. All that unneeded pain, piled upon all our souls.

We are all… by these atrocities, broken and put back together, broken and put back together, broken and put back together. But each time there is less of us, and less of us, and less of us.

Until, we are so removed from every step we took toward the light, we find ourselves mad, hopeless animals, penned in a coliseum, screaming for the fall of blood. Our souls are fragile things, that can bloom or wither, depending upon what they are fed.

So resist the 24 hour news cycle. Resist assumptions. And seek out things that will feed the better angels of your nature.


You might find the link below, a thing for feeding your soul. I did.

I must first state I am not a President Obama apologist. As an Independent I have taken him to task for what I feel is the dismantling of Liberties, and his paying back his corporate backers by selling generations of Americans into debt, to bail out a stock market comprised of companies that should have been allowed to burn.

That said, even with those we disagree… we must find that common ground where we can, so if we can not agree with their choices, we can at least perhaps understand the making of those choices.

If we can relate to each other as more than ‘them and us’, see politics as less bloody warfare, and more people all honestly looking to make their home, their neighborhood, and their nation better… if we can see ourselves as tied by our commonalities first, then our differences become strengths rather than sticking points, ripping our nation and our world apart.

So I ask you Republican, You Democrat, You Independent, You Man, You Woman… to listen to the following pod-cast.

And take away from it, the parts that will make you better.

I was feeling such insufferable rage in the wake of the Church Shooting and what I saw in the media’s handling of it… However, I listened to the below pod-cast, and the easy grace a President of the United States brought to a moment devoid of all grace… and I could breathe again, easy deep breaths. And I could see beyond the pumping of my own rage.

A long term fix? No.

But only death is long term. In life we must take the fleeting moments of grace when we can find them. And use that grace to empower us to end atrocities one person at a time.

You might find in the below pod-cast something hopeful.


Image of the Day : As if from a Great Height


Images from the stunning Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America located on 45+ acres in Washington, DC. One of the areas hidden gems, even people who have lived their whole lives on the east coast tend to be unaware of this historic and spiritual architectural gem.

The mission and mandate of the monastery was to recreate the moments and places of Christ’s life in the Americas, to be a pilgrimage to the Holy Land recreated in the new land; and as such its importance is at once regional, national, and international, and undeniably spiritual regardless of your religion.

The guided tours, taught by informative (and in our case) witty guides are just a must to attend when in the area, as are the rolling and beautiful grounds that cover over 45 acres. It is more to see then you can take in on any one trip, but what you do take in on that one trip… will stay with you.

IMAG1498 IMAG1485 IMAG1528

Artist of the day: Edwin Lord Weeks and The Hour of Prayer

I had the great pleasure to see an Edwin Lord Weeks painting in person recently, and in a museum filled with artwork of the ages from Innes to Tanner to Sargent to Parrish, the Weeks painting remained the highlight. His paintings are oft of incredible scale, particularly the one I saw that took him a year to finish. Just a glorious painting.

I would be roaming the museum, in other rooms of that section, and the painting was positioned so that, even from a distance, it commanded attention. There are no decent pictures of it online, and even the best picture I’ve found, can’t really reproduce colors or brightness (typically too dark, poor contrast in the images) or the brush strokes or the gravity of looking up and into this painting of oil on canvas, that has seen the fall and rise of two different centuries.

The painting does not just capture a moment of culture and history that is quickly being westernized and bombed away, the painting is culture and history.

The painting I am describing, it is called THE HOUR OF PRAYER. Its full title is ‘The Hour of Prayer at Muti-Mushid (Pearl Mosque), Agra’,

I am quite enamored of it, one of the best paintings from Edward Lord Weeks, one of the preeminent American artists of the Moorish and the Oriental.

Here’s a bit of the history on the painting, with some specifics regarding dates courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Edwin Lord Weeks, born 1849, began work on what would become his most celebrated painting sometime in 1888, at the modest age of 39. He would begin, early in 1888, tossing oils on a canvas that, measured the insane size of 118 1/2″long by 79″ high. It was a monstrous and daunting empty space to have to fill, even by one of the acclaimed painters of his day. A year later in 1889, he would put his last bit of oil in place, and the endless painting, would be ended.

Edwin Lord Weeks, now 40, after a year of fighting oil and canvass and God and man, would step back from the painting that many thought would be his folly, and found it good.

The world agreed. As it was a painting that, unlike many works that meet with derision or indifference upon first viewing, was from the first… acclaimed.

THE HOUR OF PRAYER, from the first its brilliance by all who viewed it… could not be denied.

I quote from its auction description in May of 2007:

“The Hour of Prayer at Muti-Mushid (Pearl Mosque), Agra, is one of five monumental scenes of India which secured [Edwin Lord Weeks] reputation as America’s most celebrated Orientalist painter of the late nineteenth century. Based upon the artist’s second of three extended trips to India, in 1886-1887, ‘The Hour of Prayer at Muti-Mushid (Pearl Mosque), Agra’ won a medal at the 1889 Paris Salon where it was displayed to enviable advantage. Six years later, Weeks chose this expansive sun-drenched view of the inner courtyard of the Pearl Mosque to represent him in the colossal “Empire of India” exhibition in London in 1895, where his achievement as the premier painter of Indian scenes was lavishly acknowledged with a medal of distinction, a monetary prize, and a special display of 78 of his works. From the time it was sold by the artist’s widow in 1905, the Salon-scale Hour of Prayer at Muti-Mushid has had only two owners-the Brooklyn Museum of Art (1905-1947), which deaccessioned it at a time when academic painting had fallen sharply out of fashion, and a private American collection (1947-present).”

In May of 2007 The painting THE HOUR OF PRAYER, went up for sale for only the third time in the 114 years of its existence, selling for the very healthy sum of $850,000 (including buyer’s premium,taxes and fees). Less than a couple hundred thousand shy of a million.

The painting can currently be viewed in all its glory at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. And it is a trip worth making if just to see that painting in person. Because failing that, owning it would seem to be a possibility for only the wealthy few, and even then you are talking about, if history be our guide, a wait of decades before it next goes up for auction.

And I’d be willing to wager that in a future world where so much precious art, particularly of or depicting the Moorish influence has been lost, the painting will sell for astronomically more than its 2007 sale price.

I do wish however the Richmond Museum would put the painting behind glass. As much as I adored being able to see the painting at close proximity, it is a painting of some import and fragility, I noticed some damaged areas on the massive painting, and I, as a security minded person, would really feel better if it was behind glare-free and acid-free glass.

But that to the side, onto the final words on the painting.

in summation Edward Lord Weeks’ THE HOUR OF PRAYER is one of the most striking paintings I’ve seen in person in years, I’d think I’d have to go back to my first time seeing a Caravaggio or Rubens to get that same sense of… captivation. It is something of a reminder to those of us who are sometimes made unfeeling in this world of metal, and bombs, and death and indifference, that if we can not be cured by art, we can at least be… refreshed by it.

I’ll leave you with a few other striking Weeks images:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And for books about and by Edwin Lord Weeks, see the following:
The Art of Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903)

From The Black Sea Through Persia And India…

And for more on the Virginia museum of Fine Art go here!