Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Proposed Government Economic Rescue Plan Should Include the Arts

Of course, as an artist I’m going to say that money pumped into the economy must be spent on the Arts as well. Never the less, I firmly believe the title of this entry to be correct. The Arts are also necessary to education as they train youngsters not only to be independent and creative, but they present problem solving skills so necessary to everyday life and to solving the problems we have inherited in our Twenty-first Century democracy. Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped artists, composers, and musicians with Federal One in the New Deal, which was included with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) all of which was nibbled away as quickly as possible by a conservative court system and a coalition of conservatives in the House and Senate. By the time of the Second World War most of the programs were gone with the exception of Social Security, the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), Fanny Mae, and one or two others. However, FDR’s Federal One is responsible for sponsoring murals throughout the country including work by the greatest mural artist of the 20th Century, Diego Rivera. As well, The Section of Painting and Sculpture (among others) was controlled by the Treasury Department, later became the Section of Fine Arts and continued until dismantled by the coalition of conservatives in 1942. In relatively recent history we remember the evisceration of the National Endowment for the Arts by conservatives back in 1989-90. It seems the conservative forces in our culture are constant in their vigilance of government programs to benefit the arts.

I am also reading today of Republican criticism, led by John Boehner, of the “no tax” rescue package being created as promised in the recent election by Barack Obama. I would caution Boehner and the other conservatives that the poor who would benefit most from “no tax” are most likely to spend money obtained immediately because they need the basics; that is shelter, clothing, and food. Boehner and other Republicans also criticize the public works projects being considered because as they say these will take too long to implement and that the impact on the economy will be so spread out over time as to be diluted of any immediate bearing. Well, I have news for these conservative folks, the descendents of the conservatives that dismantled so much of the regulation, and / or infiltrated what was left of the regulation put in place by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the First Great Depression. First, let me remind Congressman Boehner that Obama won the election by a huge majority. Second, the current economy didn’t fall apart in one year, it was destroyed by greed and conservative profligacy over nearly two decades, and it is going to take more than one year to put it back together again!

And, while we are at it, why not provide a few hundred billion in aid for green energy start-up businesses, such as wind, and solar energy, clean coal (maybe), electric and/or water hybrid automobiles, as well as public transportation such as railroads (reads high speed and new commuter lines), all of which are necessary to creating a more green and efficient, less oil dependent economy. Actually, I believe we need all of this more than we need additional aid for banks. Why not cut a great deal of the aid to banks and dump it into green start-up business and include some for the Arts as well. After all, FDR’s programs for the arts in The New Deal did provide seed money, as it turned out, for some of the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century, including Thomas Hart Benton, Paul Cadmus, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Marsden Hartley, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Ben Shahn, Mark Tobey, to mention but a few.*2 The Arts not only report on what is important in our culture, but the Arts often lead and gather focus for that which is important to create constructive change in our culture. It is also necessary to mention the usual philosophical and aesthetic ploy that the Arts provide grace and beauty.

My conclusion, we need money for the poor, less money for Banks, more green public works projects, money for green start-up businesses, as well as aid projects for the arts in order to gradually lift us out of this, the Second Great Depression.


∆“… 1934, The Fleet’s In! was a harsher look at sailors ashore, and caused a furor, followed and exploited by the press.
The painting was included in a PWAP exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York, which specialized in American art, and then traveled to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. Glanced at without comment in Manhattan, in Washington The Fleet’s In provoked the anger of Admiral Hugh Rodman…” *

The ensuing Brouhaha was based on the man in the painting’s left hand quadrant. He wears a red tie (a known covert signal gay men used to alert one another), but not the drunken sailors in pursuit of prostitutes in the right half of the painting. As such the painting is a perfect example of New Deal Art that helped keep known artists afloat during the First Great Depression, as well as the kinds of controversies government funded art can and do inspire. I feel it necessary to add that without the controversy inspired by Admiral Rodman, the extremely talented Paul Cadmus might never have risen to such prominence as an American artist. Thus the new deal had unforeseen positive consequences.

{This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, and Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright.
Note: This only applies to works of the Federal Government and not to the work of any individual U.S. state, territory, commonwealth, county, municipality, or any other subdivision. This template also does not apply to postage stamp designs published by the United States Postal Service since 1978. (See 206.02(b) of Compendium II: Copyright Office Practices).}

*2 I'm not linking all these artists. If a cyber-void reader should be interested, it is easy enough to "Google" each.


*Leddick, David, Intimate Companions: a Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, and Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle . Macmillan, Stonewall Inn Editions (2001) p. 47.

Roosevelt University, Center for New Deal Studies, “Chicago and New Deal Art,” © Roosevelt University, 2006. Viewed 9:20 EST, Tuesday, January 27, 2009.

Delahunt, Michael, “New Deal Art,” in ArtLex: Art Dictionary, © 1996-2009, Michael Delahunt, viewed 9:27 A.M., EST, January 27, 2009.

National Archives and Records Administration, “A New Deal for the Arts,” “This online exhibit is adapted from A New Deal for the Arts, an exhibit that was on display from March 28, 1997 through January 11, 1998, in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.” Viewed 9:20 A.M. EST, Wednesday, January 28, 2009.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Direct Response to Christian Troops in Iraq

Below is my response to an article published on the Comcast Website Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 7:08 EST. Tim Cocks of Reuters wrote the article titled, “Some troops unhappy about Obama’s pledge on Gays.” The article summarized some evangelical Christian troop response to President Obama's statement, and I'm paraphrasing, that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" should be canceled as official military practice. In the article one of the troops says, “I'm Christian, so I really don't believe it's a good thing. But if it happens, there's not much we can do,"

First, let me say that I’m Christian too.
Second, it is not a Christian value to believe that Gays are not OK. Instead, it is a prejudice.
Third, Jesus Christ himself was inclusive. The good news of the Gospel is that the apparent prejudices contained in the Old Testament are no longer valid.* Jesus Christ proclaimed his heavenly Father to be a God of love. Not hate. His teaching is very clear about love v. hate. There are to be no exceptions. It is not OK to be prejudiced against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people! Just as it is not OK to be prejuced against Jews, Muslims, other types of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, or non believers.
Fourth, you have been taught values by your specific institutionalized church that are prejudiced and not actual Christian values.

Finally, if Jesus Christ returned today, he personally would give us each the opportunity to accept all the people of this earth regardless of their color, race, ethnicity, religion, and / or sexuality. I pray that we would each be able do so.

* Biblical scholars still debate the translation and cultural meaning of many of the statements evangelical Christians interpret as being anti-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes We Can!

We interrupt this blog to bring you a very important message.

In two hours and one minute Barrack Hussein Obama will be President of the United States. In two hours a new era in our history begins. Hope springs eternal, and we the people of this country have placed all our hope and trust in this man. I believe it is possible that he may be the greatest president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and I look forward with anticipation to the next four years despite the huge laundry list of problems the second Bush administration leaves us with. I won’t point a finger at this time. O-o-o-o-o-p-s, I already have.

Let’s just stop there with another resounding…


Friday, January 16, 2009

What I Believe: Part II

To summarize my last entry in one sentence – Jesus Christ existed on this earth, and I believe was the Son of God, born of Mary, who was not a virgin in the sense that the institutionalized Church professes. A-r-g-h!

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
To be seated at the right hand of the Father,
From whence he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Catholic Church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. AMEN.

We were taught to say the Apostles Creed. We said it every Sunday in church. I memorized it by accident, mouthing the words without thought. The statements contained therein were to be taken as articles of faith, literally. As I continue to examine the Christian beliefs given to me by church and parents, these statements come to mind, rewritten. However, I do know that Jesus was one among several brothers and a sister (?), at least one of whom was older than he. If such were the case, Mary could not possibly have been a a life-long virgin. Additionally, the other siblings are mentioned in the Gospels.

*Mark 6:3 "Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the Brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."

As I examine my conviction that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ is a Church grown belief, I have actually been encouraged because this idea makes Jesus more like us - a real live person, born of a man and woman. He lived and died as a human being, not a semi-divine part of God. Jesus Christ was a man who preached his knowledge about his heavenly Father, to his neighbors, the people of ancient Judea, and through shear force of personality pulled together a group of men and women who were to pass his teaching on after he died. These folk were a diverse group, and included some that would be outcast even in today’s church. He was tried, punished and died under Pontius Pilot because he could not possibly be completely of this earth, though in every physical sense a human being. Seen this way, Jesus Christ becomes more heroic, not less so. The tragedy of his crucifixion, and the wonder of his visitations with friends and disciples three days after that death are made all the more poignant and miraculous. Was his body reanimated after three days lying dead? I doubt that a rotting body can come back to life. How disgusting! But I don’t doubt that Jesus’ spirit visited his loved ones.

That “Jesus ascended into heaven and sat at the right side of the Father” is metaphoric. First off, the statement totally anthropomorphizes God in terms of the culture of the church. Does God really have a throne, and is there a chair on the right side of that throne just for Jesus’ human form to sit upon next to God? And, does God look just like man, a creature evolved on an out of the way planet in a mediocre galaxy in a vast universe?


God is not a man pure and simple. I personally don’t know what God looks like, what sex he / she / it is, or that it is possible to discern a form in an all knowing all powerful God who encompasses all things. No, we do not look like God! However, God has given us the ability to think, to love, to be brave, to be caring toward one another, and all the other good and wonderful things that make us human. The Plane crash in the Hudson River yesterday is a perfect example of God's love working through the pilot, crew and the men and women passengers on the boats that rescued all 150 airplane passengers from the floating wings and frigid waters of the River. These are the things that make us most like God. It is in this way that we have been made in God’s image. And, I’m sure that the spirit / soul of Jesus has returned to God. However, I doubt that the two of them are sitting on golden throne and chair together, two men, one ancient and wizened, both with flowing white beards, dressed in white robes somewhere in that ethereal space we call heaven - that empyreal place which we have totally anthropomorphized, so that God, heaven, Jesus, the angels, cupids, harps, gates, and all else are part of a brobdingnagian heavenly city, a glowing white paradise floating above a huge glittering staircase in the clouds.

I will end it there, leaving the rest of the Creed, and more blasphemy to my next entry.

* Painted 19th century Tibetan mandala of the Naropa tradition, Vajrayogini stands in the center of two crossed red triangles, Rubin Museum of Art. I found this image in Wikimedia Commons,,_Vajrayogini_stands_in_the_center_of_two_crossed_red_triangles,_Rubin_Museum_of_Art.jpg. Viewed Friday, January 15, 2009 at 7:08 EDT.
This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to the United States, Canada, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I Believe

Not that it’s that important to anyone but myself – However, I’ve been giving a great deal of thought lately to my religious belief and practice. As I’ve stated in more detail in a previous entry (way back in Isaac Stolzfuts’ Journal), I gave up the church back in the 1970’s as it seemed increasingly to be interested in my income, and attaching a sizable portion thereof to it’s need for an ever larger edifice in which to incorporate worshipers by the thousands. Yes, I’m a material guy, and so is the church, so it has always been, and so it always shall be (H-m-m-m-m)! Never the less, as more and more protestants have turned to evangelical, or what passes for the institutionalized Postmodern version of that type of Christian, I have become increasingly dismayed by my own faith and turned away from the church. I canceled my religious practice and did not give it a thought for two decades. I remained spiritual, and acknowledged the presence of a higher force for good in the universe. I understood that there is evil present in the world and that, sometimes evil masquerades as the force for good. I also knew that there were extremely rare moments when the force for good or God was very present to me, though I did not know how close God actually was.

Then came Reverend Phelps and the true hate mongers of the religious right. I must thank that evil (BLEEP!) because in some bizarre fashion he has allowed Jesus Christ to come back into my life. Reverend Phelps forced me to reexamine my Christian heritage, and though I have found much to reject, I have found much more to accept. First, I no longer question that a man named Jesus existed, that he was a Jew who lived near the Sea of Galilee. Most scholars agree with me on that. At the same time, I also believe that he, Jesus was able to remain in contact with the original innocence we all come equipped with at birth, and that “Innocence” is the presence of God in our lives. Perhaps I need to stop, and define that “Innocence” as I understand it, for you see, this is an intellectual process as much as a practice of faith for me. My understanding is not something that came to me in a flash, directly from God. It is something born of struggle, much careful search, and finally prayer and meditation. I do not talk with God as some evangelicals claim. However, I do exist with God. The innocence of which I speak is what remains in us of God as we enter this world. It is free of attachment to culture of any kind, and we begin to lose it the minute our mothers and fathers name us. I don’t believe that Jesus’ birth was virginal in the sense that the institutionalized church professes. I do believe that he survived the process of enculturation that begins with being named. In that sense he was born of Mary, but not of his earthly father, since, at the time, it was the father who named the child, and dominated him/her and the family in all matters. Thus, the virgin birth is, in my mind symbolic. We are all born with Jesus Christ, in God. However, most of us lose that innocence that marks the Son of God, never to regain it, except in brief flashes of insight that transcend our diurnal existence. Instead, Jesus of Nazareth either retained that innocence from birth, or was able to recapture it as he grew in understanding of his relationship to his family, the Judean Roman world in which he lived, and perhaps a strange but divine sense of “otherness” that was the indirect cause of his remarkable life’s work.

So much for the beginning of my conflict with the belief system of ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all Christendom – I’ll continue from here, further into blasphemy next time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Naughty Mary Yeti

Mary's Footprints

During the Christmas and New Year Holidays I spent more than two weeks at my illegal in-laws in Marianna, Florida. They are not my legal in-laws because I am denied all marital privileges granted to married heterosexual couples by the new amendment to the Florida State constitution. Be that nasty - and I think illegal - amendment as it may, we all had a wonderful time, wrapping presents for two days, piling the red, green, white, gold, silver beribboned packages knee deep under the tree as well as on one side of the living room, and then spending one hour on Christmas day ripping them apart. Of course we did a great deal between Christmas and New Years. We played parlor games, went for walks in the local park, and up and down the hills through the Chipola College campus, watched umpteen bowl games in which I, as the stereotypical gay male, have no interest whatsoever, though my partner could watch college football till the cows come home or better still, until the gay players form their own “Lambda Football Association” (H-m-m-m-m!). We also ate gourmet meals prepared by my illegal brother-in-law, took naps, played cards, told jokes, and occasionally listened to Christmas music. I also meditated and did my prayers in spare moments.

If by some strange chance you regularly read my journal located in this remote corner of the Cyber-void, you know that I am a camera maniac, always toting the digital monster everywhere. * So, when my partner, his sister and I went to the local Jackson County Park to do some fast walking on New Year’s Day I had my trusty shooter with me. As we walked around the southwest corner of the mile-and-one-half pathway through open meadow and woods, we discovered strange footprints in the gravel road. We joked that they had to be made by the Marianna Sasquatch, better known as the Chipola River Swamp Critter, and A.K.A. as the Mary Yeti. “What would such a critter look like,” we asked, and invented all kinds of bizarre descriptions one of which sounds exactly like the photograph I took of the creature that posed for me at the next bend in the road.

Indeed, she was pleasant looking though she almost made me drop the camera as she plugged her ears with fingers, and let out an ear-piercing screech. I was so startled that I spun on my toes and ran, never to see Naughty Mary Yeti again.

I look forward to confirmation of the sighting by other residents of Jackson County, Florida.


*”Remote corner of the cyber-void” – interesting concept – can there be a corner in a space that doesn’t exist, at least, not in the 3-D physical sense – rather a space made of bits and pieces, strings of electronic encoded seemingly random on-off, splattering, scattered among a bunch of memory banks tied together by satellite?