Who Knew Modern Art Was Communist?

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I’ve been reading a book about abstract expressionism, and one part really made me laugh. I am a nerd, so I’m not sure if others will find this as amusing as I did, but I felt I would share anyhow.

The amusing part of the book was about how modern art was shackled to communism back in the early days, and the proof of that was summed up succinctly by a speech from Congressman George Dondero in 1949:

“As I have previously stated, art is considered a weapon of communism, and the Communist doctrinaire names the artist as a soldier of the revolution. It is a weapon in the hands of a soldier in the revolution against our form of government, and against any government or system other than communism….

The art of the isms, the weapon of the Russian Revolution, is the art which has been transplanted to America, and today, having infiltrated and saturated many of our art centers, threatens to overawe, override and overpower the fine art of our tradition and inheritance. So-called modern or contemporary art in our own beloved country contains all the isms of depravity, decadence, and destruction.

What are these isms that are the very foundation of so-called modern art? …. I call the roll of infamy without claim that my list is all-inclusive: dadaism, futurism, constructionism, suprematism, cubism, expressionism, surrealism, and abstractionism. All these isms are of foreign origin, and truly should have no place in American art.”

So apparently, all my favorite artforms are communist weapons lol. Who knew? Just label me a Russian agent I guess.

Gun Arguments & Mental Illness

I try to not be overly political on my blog, because I don’t want to chase off readers who may have different views, but this whole gun regulations argument that is raging is really wearing me down. I’m not going to go into exact specifics of what I personally believe, although I will say that I both support the American right to protect yourself and your family, while also believing that some regulations and societal protections are not at odds with the spirit of the 2nd Amendment as written.

What I really want to talk about today though is how horrible some of the gun arguments being thrown around right now really are. So many of them totally lack any sense of logic or consistency. So many people are digging their heels in and refusing to give an inch or even consider an alternate point of view for even a second. On one side you have those who may honestly over-vilify all guns, but on the other side you have those who practically worship at the altar of firearms.

On the more personal side, as the wife of a teacher, the whole “arm teachers” idea is one that horrifies me. There is so very much that could go horribly, tragically wrong with that game plan. I also feel like those who suffer from any form of mental illness (like myself) are all collectively being thrown under the bus as violent, evil creatures by some of the media. There is a huge difference in my opinion between immaturity combined with selfish or narcissistic rage and true mental illness. Plus, many of these shooters just seem to buy into violent ideologies, which isn’t in itself a mental illness.

A Few Words About Applying for Government Disability Benefits

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(The below was written out of simple outrage from what I have seen happen to fellow human beings who are genuinely too sick and weak to work, but are expected to wait years for any help from the government programs they have paid into all their lives. I am fortunate to have other resources to survive on while unable to work, but not everyone is so lucky. Many homeless you see on the streets are actually disabled veterans and citizens who deserve so much better…)

Applying for government benefits, even those you have worked for and earned yourself, can be a ridiculously long, complicated, and humiliating process BECAUSE they design it to be so. They want to break you down, make you give up, make you give in. They expect the sickest and weakest among us to jump through hurdles on command, knowing it is almost an impossibility unless there are others propping us up.

Honestly, I think they hope that you will die on your own before they have to do a damn thing. I can picture Uncle Sam with fingers crossed, hoping you buckle under the stress and poverty, or even end up taking your own life from the hopelessness and despair of feeling useless, discounted, and vilified by a media that touts how “easy” it is to fool the system and labels those who are disabled as leeches or lazy.

Apparently discrimination laws don’t apply to the government either, since they clearly indulge in age discrimination, something every lawyer will blatantly tell you up front. Even publicly, you can find legal representatives in the field explaining why you are simply fucked if you dare get too sick before age 35, 40, or even 50. So if you are a young adult or middle aged person struggling with a chronic illness or severe pain condition, you had better tell it to get lost and come back in 10 or 20 years. Yeah, that works. After all, young people aren’t allowed to be sick or disabled.

You know, it is really funny, that many of the same people who are so public about being pro-life are also always trying to cut social safety net programs like disability or make them harder to access. If they could, I think sometimes that the government would perform adult abortions on those too weak or sick to continue to prop up their sick, twisted system. Getting rid of us all would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

Political Posturing and Endless Arguing Do No Good

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As I watch the massive amount of political posturing and relentless fighting come across my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages daily, I get sick of all the mudslinging, unfair attacks and hateful commentary that accomplish absolutely nothing. I’m not saying that it is wrong to have political ideas and feelings or to stand up for what you believe, but when both sides become so rigid that they won’t work together at all, everyone suffers in a multitude of ways.

When I see all the pointless arguing and hateful vendettas waged by certain politicians and their followers on both sides, I often think of a poem I wrote a while ago and included in my last book “Searching for the Truth“. I would like to share it here in hopes that people begin to keep the bigger picture in mind and not get bogged down with every ridiculous detail or distracted by every political tantrum.

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The labels we give ourselves –
Democrat, Republican,
conservative, liberal –
why do we let these
names
fool us
into believing
that’s all we are?

The truth is
we need each other
like it
or not.

Left to ourselves
and those of our kind,
we lose balance
and perspective.

We forget

that there’s a whole world
outside
of our own narrow view.
A world of trouble,
a world of tragedy.
A world that
desperately
needs our help.

A world
that doesn’t benefit at all
from another pointless debate.

5 reasons why I’m glad I left fundamentalist Christiandom behind

“Crick in the Neck”, mixed media 8.5″ x 11″. Breaking free of old chains!
“Crick in the Neck”, mixed media 8.5″ x 11″. Breaking free of old chains!

Before I get into my list, first I want to state that not all people considered fundamentalists or conservatives are like the fundamentalist Christianity I am most familiar with. I’ve known some evangelical Christians who are extremely kind, loving people. However, I grew up and struggled with a very strict religious tradition (where women weren’t allowed to wear pants, makeup or cut their hair, tv was considered evil and everyone who thought the slightest bit different than us was going straight to hell). After I grew up and married I went to a denomination that was somewhat less strict, but still as a whole was definitely conservative. I try hard not to judge those who believe differently than myself, although it is hard when I see people who let their religious beliefs overcome their human compassion. Having come from such a strict background and choosing to walk away from it has made me a little sensitive to criticism and rejection from those who believe like I once did, but I still try to see the good inside of them, because almost all of us have good shining through if you look for it. As you read this post, please keep in mind that these are the things I struggled with and am glad to have changed, but they are not meant to be stereotypes of all conservatives.

Anyhow, with all that said, here are 5 of the biggest reasons I am thankful to have left behind fundamentalism:

#1 – I no longer live in fear of going to hell or of those I love suffering eternal torture in hell. This does not mean that I don’t believe in justice and that if you live a horrible life you may not face some karma or discipline or whatever you choose to call it. However, I do not believe in a cruel God who would eternally torture or punish those who happened to live a short lifetime with some mistakes or with the “wrong” beliefs. Personally, I tend to believe that our greatest judge of our misdeeds after our death may be our own soul, not a higher being. It always interested me that in most near death experiences, when people went through their life review, they didn’t feel any judgement from God or Jesus for the wrongs they did, but they felt all the pain they had caused others through their actions and this truly changed their outlook and heart.

#2 – I don’t have to exclude anyone. I don’t have to believe that anyone is worth less than anyone else or that some of us are “better” than others. I don’t have to turn away gays, liberals, infidels or anyone else. I can be around people who drink or smoke or are openly sexual without fearing they will somehow “contaminate” me. I can focus more on my own spiritual growth rather than focusing on any perceived lack of spirituality in others. I can love and befriend anyone without trying convert them.

#3 – I don’t have to read the cringe-worthy bits of the Bible and try to find some kind of reasoning for why it is ok. I can look at the Bible and see that it was written by humans who were trying to understand and please God, but who were still just plain old humans after all. I can see that in the context of certain cultural beliefs and time periods that things may have once seemed much different. I can see that just like all ancient cultures, the Jewish people tended to see anything good happening as God acting on their behalf and anything bad happening as God punishing them. They didn’t completely understand the idea of chance or even some of our most basic scientific laws. I also understand that much of the Bible (particularly the old testament) was written down long after the events happened and just like with any society, centuries of oral tradition passed down can greatly change or exaggerate a story.

#4 – I can be a woman and not believe I am inferior or subservient to men. I can be married and have an actual partnership with a husband who respects me just as much as I respect him. I don’t have to feel bad about my gender because “Eve messed it all up”. I don’t have to believe that a woman’s body is something to be ashamed or afraid of. I can choose to be modest because that is what I desire, without judging every woman who dresses differently than myself. I can see how ridiculous the belief that women invite rape by dressing sexy really is. All of us have a responsibility to control our own actions and it is never right to blame our wrong actions on another. I can believe that all of us are born innocent and that it is our experiences, choices and actions that determine if we grow up to have a positive or negative influence on this world, not some curse put upon us all because of the bad choices of two humans eons ago.

#5 – Lastly, I am so relieved to leave the fear behind. The fear of never being good enough. The fear of always being evil at the core. The fear of trying to live a good life but still being thrust into hell for any unintentional mistake. I can look at life and people with the view that we are all different and will never see everything the same way, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be compassionate to one another and work together to solve problems that affect us all. Without fearing so much about everyone’s eternal destination, I can instead focus on the here and now – on learning to love others unconditionally, healing the pain of the past so I can forgive & move on, growing spiritually and trying to give back to the world in positive ways whenever I can.

Admit that you can be prejudiced…

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I know this is a sensitive subject, but I want to be honest about it. First off, I know that the last thing anyone wants to admit to is having a racist or prejudiced thought. For some reason, we think that if we have a wayward thought or idea about this subject even once in a while that it automatically puts us in the company of the KKK or other hate groups. However, I believe that if we live long enough, all of us will have at least occasional prejudiced/racist/stereotypical thoughts or ideas. It is unfortunately a part of living in the culture we exist in. By pretending that we never have these ideas, we are actually making the problem worse, not better. If we could identify our prejudiced or stereotypical thoughts and recognize them for what they are, then we could consciously decide to change those beliefs and ideas. That is the way we could really get rid of the damaging effects of prejudice.

For instance, most of us have at least some stereotypical beliefs. Even positive ones (like that Asians are all super smart or that African Americans are better athletes) are still stereotypes. I admit that I occasionally have stereotypical beliefs, so when I do, I have to consciously grab them and think them through to decide whether they are really true or not. For instance, watching the news makes it easy for me to think that all conservatives look down on the poor and are greedy. Of course, this is not always true, but it is a stereotype I see frequently. On the other side, I know many people stereotype liberals as being wimpy and lazy. The trouble is that most of the time these beliefs are not critically analyzed and we only look at one side of the story (the one we happen to agree with). We are all victims of bias and perception, but we refuse to see it.

As a child, I honestly do not remember prejudice or racism. I grew up in an urban Indiana neighborhood that was very much a melting pot. My elementary school was probably at least 50% minority, although back then I never even thought about that kind of stuff. My mom dated guys outside of her race and for a while one of those guys was like a second father to me and lived with us. My older sister’s first real boyfriend was from a minority as well. I think my first real look at prejudice came around the age of 11 when I moved to a small town in Georgia. In this small town minorities were rare and in my middle and high school, racism definitely existed. Most minorities stuck to their own kind. There wasn’t a lot of intermixing and the town was almost set up in a segregated fashion (clearly marked minority neighborhoods and even a separate cemetery for non-whites). This new culture was certainly a shock to me, as were some of the hateful comments I heard. Of course, these people would have denied being prejudiced if confronted, but behind the scenes they were definitely not shy about their beliefs.

As an adult, I definitely try to be open-minded and not stereotype people or groups, but I will admit that I am not perfect. For instance, one night I remember my husband and I going to a local White Castle and noticing that we were the only “white” people in the crowded restaurant. I hate to admit it, but I experienced some momentary discomfort and just felt kind of “out of place”. However, as I sat there, I thought about the fact that minorities probably often find themselves in this kind of situation. I’m used to looking around and seeing lots of other people who look like me, but many others don’t regularly have that experience. Thinking the issue through, truly gave me an entirely new perspective and made me sympathize with those who often find themselves surrounded by others who are different from them in some way.

I’ll also admit that the first time we took in a foster child from a minority that I was a little more anxious than I should have been. When we accepted that foster placement, we didn’t even know he was from a minority, so when I first saw him I was surprised a bit and also a little worried. My first thoughts were to question whether I could do a good job raising someone from a different culture, however, once the child moved in and we got to know him it was soon clear that underneath the exterior differences he was just like every other kid we had taken in. Soon I was going to bat for him against others who were stereotyping him or treating him like he didn’t exist.

In the end, my point is that when we do have thoughts or experiences that bring out the “prejudice” or “racism” hidden inside of us, it can be an opportunity to learn and grow if we face it head on and think things through. However, if we just sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist, we only help to perpetuate the problem.

Good Luck Charlie…People are Crazy

The "Good Luck Charlie" Lesbian Couple
The “Good Luck Charlie” Lesbian Couple

So I have seen a lot of stuff on social media and the news about the “Good Luck Charlie” episode on Disney Channel that introduced a gay couple. I watched the episode myself and thought it was handled well, without making too huge of a deal about the whole thing or getting too political or religious. The family wasn’t walking in a gay pride parade or out protesting gay rights. All that happened was that Charlie (played by Mia Talerico) happened to befriend a little girl who had “two mommies”.  The lesbian couple comes over when their kid is having a play date with Charlie. Amy and Bob Duncan (Charlie’s parents) try to treat these parents like they would any other kid’s parents.

Well, after the show ended, I figured there would be a few people mad about it, but nothing like what happened. Christians banning Disney Channel in their home, extremist crazies sending death threats to the little girl who plays Charlie on the show, tv watchdogs jumping into the mix, etc. This is just ridiculous to me, especially those making threats against a poor, innocent five-year-old girl who had nothing to do with what they decide to put on the show or not put on the show. Although, even with those who are peacefully angry about the whole thing…I just don’t get it.

In today’s world, some kids do have openly gay parents. I know several gay couples personally who have kids and/or grandkids. Even back in the 90’s when he went to college, my husband shared a room with a kid for one semester who had a gay mom…and this was at a very conservative Christian college! So this does happen. Unless you tell your kids they are not allowed to befriend kids that may have gay parents (which to me seems prejudiced)…they may just end up doing that. You may find a kid in your home who does have gay parents, just like the Duncans did.

My question to those who are angry is…what did you expect the Duncans to do in the episode? What would have made you happy? If they slammed the door in the face of the lesbian parents? How about if they went on a rant about how the kid’s parents were going to end up burning in hell forever? Or maybe they should have just told the kid to go home, that “their type” was not welcome in their home? To me…that kind of unkindness and disrespect for one’s fellow humans is what would have made me lose my temper.

Judge not lest you be judged – quotes about true tolerance

Ok, I normally don’t get all political on my blog posts, but all this stuff going on lately is really bugging me. All the hate between the liberals and conservatives, all the hate between those in favor of Chick-Fil-A’s stand against homosexuality and all those who think it is prejudice, all the namecalling and mudslinging that goes on in election races…all this stuff really bugs me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion and God gave us free will and the choice to make our own decisions for a reason. BUT, does that mean we have to be filled with so much anger and hatred towards those different from us or who (gasp!) don’t agree with our beliefs? Both sides talk about love and tolerance, but you don’t see much of either of those attributes when people fight. The truth is, when you start tearing others down, true tolerance goes out the window. Tolerance DOES NOT mean you have to agree with what the other person thinks, but it DOES MEAN that you show them the courtesy and respect every human being deserves.

So in the hope of furthering true tolerance and unconditional love, here are a few quotes I thought we might all need to consider, starting with a couple from Jesus himself.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7

“When we judge others we leave no room to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us.” ~ Edward Wallace Hoch

“All we see of someone at any moment is a snapshot of their life: there in riches or poverty, in joy or despair. Snapshots don’t show the million decisions that led to that moment.” ~ R. Baach

“We are all stumbling towards the light in varying degrees of grace at any given moment.” ~ Bo Lozoff

“God Himself, sir, does not propose to judge a man until his life is over. Why should you and I?” ~ Sammuel Johnson