Documentary: Solomon Kane

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"Gone To Hell... Be Right Back..."

Oct. 24 - Nov. 1
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Quantum Physics Show


"Lockup in the sky with diamonds"

Houston Chronicle
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Good Vibrations Metaphysical Magical Mysteries In Art

when: June 27th, 2009
where: Betz Art Gallery
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Artist's Saloon

when: May 21, 2008
where: SpaceTaker
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Psycho-Spirituality Under the Black Lights

when: May 24, 7:00pm, 2008
where: H Gallery
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when: Sept. 8 - Nov. 15, 2007
where: ArtCar Museum
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"One Show"

when: July 21 - 28, 2007
where: Elder Street Gallery
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Art in City Hall

when: April 26, 11:30am
where: City Hall Annex
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December's Children

Six established Houston artists
when: Dec. 14, 6pm
where: Lynn Michaels River Oaks Salon
3637 West Alabama

Online Shop

Reproductions of the Artist's work can be purchased online.

A Question of Religion

Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. Only the hand of divine power can deliver mankind from this desolating affliction. The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light are these words: You are the fruits of one tree, one branch. Deal with one another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He who is the daystar of truth bears me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The one true God who knows all things, Himself testifies to the truth of these words.
          - Baha’I Faith : Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

Understand that through saving others you shall also be saved.
          - Shinto: Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki 3.47

Rendering help to another is the function of all human beings
          - Jainism – Tattvarthasutra 5.21

Truth has many aspects. Infinite truth has infinite expressions. Though the sages speak in diverse ways, they express one and the same truth. The ignorant say, “What I believe is true; others are wrong.” It is because of this attitude of the ignorant that there have been doubts and misunderstandings about God. It is this attitude that causes disputes among men. But all doubts vanish when one masters the self and finds peace by realizing the heart of Truth. Thereupon dispute, too is at an end.
          - Hinduism: Srimad Bhagavatam

Wabisah ibn Ma’bad said, “I went to see the Messenger of God and he said to me, ‘You want to question me on the subject of virtue?’ ‘Yes’ I replied, and he went on, ‘Question your heart. Virtue is that by which the soul enjoys repose and the heart tranquility. Sin is what introduces trouble into the soul and tumult into man’s bosom-and this despite the religious advice which men may give you.”
          - Islam – Forty Hadith of An-Nawawi: 27

You won’t see signs of the coming of the kingdom of God. It won’t be a matter of saying “Here it is!” or “There!” Look – the kingdom of God is within you.
          - Christianity: Luke 17: 20-1

Rabbi Tanhuma said: “A man’s soul informs the Recording Angel of his every deed. It is like a nobleman who has married the daughter of his king. Frequently the king admonishes him: “You have done this and that.” The nobleman asks the courtiers: “Who among you has informed against me?” They laugh at him, “Are you not wedded to the royal princess?” By the same token, man is wedded to the soul, who is the daughter of God and informs him of all secret deeds.
          - Judaism: Pesikta Rabbati, 8:2

Like the bees gathering honey from different flowers, the wise accept the essence of different scriptures and see only the good in all religions.
          - Hinduism: Srimad Bhagavatam

One perfect nature pervades and circulates within all natures. One all-inclusive Reality contains and embraces all realities. One moon is reflected in every expanse of water. Every reflected moon is the one moon. The essence of all the Buddha’s is in my being. My essence is in their being. The Inner Light is beyond good and bad. Like space it knows no boundaries. It is here right now, within us, always full and serene. Only when you hunt for it do you miss it. You can’t grasp it, but you can’t lose it. It winds its own way. When you are silent, it speaks. When you speak, it is dumb. There are no obstacles. The great gate of love is wide open.
          - Buddhism – Zen Master Yung-Chia Ta-shih

"Better an honest atheist than a dishonest believer."

The following is being presented for public comment, so please feel free to post your feelings, responses, and comments (you can do that here). Not only is this an art site, but it is also an attempt to reconcile certain philosophical questions of religion and what might be referred to as 'common sense'. (Of course, those that know me will question whether I actually have any to begin with, and being forewarned, you can skip the whole mess). Whether this can really be done to anyone's satisfaction is doubtful, though this won't stop my meager and futile effort to do so. This originally came about as an explanation for those friends of mine who might not understand or accept my embracement of Judaism over Christianity. Please remember that obscenities are large thoughts expressed by small minds and will be edited accordingly-though the ones who would do such things will probably not understand what I'm saying anyway.

"Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using it and spending it are endless. What would grace be if it were not cheap? Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian 'conception' of God."
          - Dietrich Bonhoeffer - The Cost of Discipleship

There is a question concerning which religion among the hundreds in the world is the correct one, and it is usually directly related to whichever religion one currently belongs to. The determination of a belief system is the responsibility of the individual, not the social class system, nor any other public group community. Popularity, convenience, ethnicity, and social standing, (or in my case, lack thereof) should have little or no influence on such an important decision, but whatever the determination, and for whatever reason it is made, it is the sole responsibility of the individual. The acceptance or rejection of a Divine element within or without the physical world as we know it rests solely upon each and every individual who exists within it. I refuse to judge and consign anyone to hell or anywhere else, just because they have a different belief system than I do, or no belief at all. To do so is to violate one of the most important underlying divine precepts and one which can be considered a universal principle if there is a higher power, i.e., that of eternal judgment. If God exists, then it His/Her job, not mine to determine the eternal destination of each and every one whom He/She created.

If one does accept that there is a "God", then that thought will influence all thought processes, and if one doesn't accept or believe in any higher power other than mankind, then that, will always remain their point of reference. A truly open mind is a rare commodity and one that might be hard to sustain; though without one, it might be impossible to arrive at the truth. A true atheist would never consider that there is a possibility that there might be a higher power outside of ourselves, no more than a person who believes in the existence of God could conceive that there is no God and that life is a random process, uncontrolled and evolving. Regardless of either position, life is a process through which we learn and should continue doing so until we die. However, learning does take some effort to do, and speaking as an American, there are a lot of lazy people who do not wish to expend their energy in such pursuits. And yet, it seems to me that if ignorance really were bliss, a larger majority of the population would be happier than they are.

I am forced to admit in the very beginning, that the questions and the answers I have found can really only be applicable to myself, if I am really going to be honest and objective, and my conscience gives me no choice but to do so. If there is some other pertinent information that you feel I am missing after reading this, please post it. Life is a continual learning process for me and will be until I die. I am not afraid of facing the truth, but I must determine the veracity and validity of each and every statement made before I can decide to accept or reject it. I try to keep an open mind, and I would hope that you would too, though my experiences throughout the last 4 decades have worn away much of my optimism. There is a song that goes "only a fool believes", and another, which says that "fools rush in where wise men fear to tread." As much as I would like to deny it, my foolish days will only end when my body loses its life force. I feel that as we all go through life, the song that says, "everybody plays the fool" describes anyone of us at certain times. Anyone, who doesn't believe that, it is only fooling himself or herself.

My thoughts and opinions might or might not be accepted by you, but regardless of whether you accept them or if I believe in them, the fact remains that there is only one truth. If there is no such thing as God or a higher power outside of ourselves, all the 'believing' in the world will not cause Him/Her to suddenly appear. The opposite is also true in that if there is a Divine Entity, it will not disappear because I refuse to believe in it. But beware the hypocrites on both sides. Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and theologian, once wrote that the less one had to do with organized religion, then the less sin one had to answer to before God. I find myself agreeing, more than disagreeing with this. At the same time, there is something about being a member of a community or finding like-minded individuals, which fulfills a definite need of that part of our social existence. No man or woman is an island so to speak.

Faith is something that transcends both knowledge and reality. It doesn't always have a connection to the truth nor is the truth necessary for it's existence. There are many people who have faith in things that have little or no basis in reality for their actual existence or occurrence in history. Of course, one can apply this to the actual existence of God. One cannot logically prove or disprove the existence of the Divine, so the next question might be, why is so much time wasted on trying to convince someone of something which is impossible to do? In fact, it really cannot be done and I do not wish for this to become another vain attempt to do so. I have my convictions and belief system and they are subject only to me, not what anyone else might think or say, unless I choose to change them. My beliefs do not contain a requirement to badger and harass others to distraction trying to get them to accept what is my own thinking. There are those who attempt this in the belief that they are 'saving a soul from hell.' Much as we might like to think we could, in a noble effort, prevent what might be perceived as an eternal catastrophe, the truth remains that the created is accountable to the Creator. I fell prey myself, to such delusional thinking, never realizing that the God that I believed in wouldn't be fooled by what would circumvent any responsibility that might be placed upon his creation. A distinction must be made that affording one the opportunity to acquire a thing, is not the same thing as the thing itself. Instant gratification and salvation are relative terms in some cases. How we define a word determines our perception of it's meaning, but one must be careful to correctly define it.

There is a great amount of comfort and stress relief found within religious belief systems, but there is also a great potential for abuse. From Heaven's Gate to the Branch Davidians there seems to be a never ending parade of those who seek to control and those who seek a controlling element in their life. Unfortunately, the consequences of their coming together can be disastrous. The last and saddest at this time and place is that of Andrea Yates, the mother who killed all 5 of her young children to save their souls from hell. The evangelist who planted such comforting thoughts in her mind and their reinforcement from her husband had more than horrible results. That tragedy is now compounded by her conviction and life sentence.

It is wrong and can be devastating to one's spiritual health to be forced by doctrine to determine the eternal destination of everyone else, even though I was under such false assumptions at one point in time. Taking something on faith without question might have described my condition. This is where the problem lies, some religious person might say. If you constantly question what must be taken at face value and accepted regardless of the rational thought process, you might never believe in anything. However, I must reply that if you do accept something without questioning or challenging it, then you create other problems, problems even more serious than the first. The problem it seems, is that by solving one problem or question, the answer only leads to other deeper questions. Kind of like an onion, (or an ogre) one layer leads to another. Perhaps this is the reason some people don't want to begin a deeper search of spiritual matters. We might find that our entire lives have been spent in the pursuit of the answers which can only be found when we cease to exist. And, no matter how you might look at life, there are going to be questions, which can be answered, along with those that can't, but the answers might not be what we want them to be. Do we accept the answers and continue looking, or do we change the answers so that we hear what we want to and deliver ourselves from the effort and trials that confront our existence?

It is easier to rationalize away a problem than confront it and struggle to work through its solution. It is definitely much easier and less dangerous to faith if one just accepts something and never challenges its veracity. To determine an accurate answer might entail a lifetime of seeking. Since truth is not a necessary part of faith, or even symbiotic to it, it is always easier to be content with that tiny amount that we do have. I am not sure whether ignorance is bliss or not, but it is definitely much easier to obtain than knowledge or wisdom. The problem is that one cannot approach God with anything less than the truth. So, you might ask, am I saying that the majority of those people who feel that they have a relationship with God through religion, but remain in ignorance and contentment, are merely fooling themselves with their own imagination? No not really, and perhaps this is where art comes into play. As I state in my 'artistic conversations within the divine', imagination is a gift and perhaps a mirror of creation. Though, this is where I remember the saying that "to whom much is given, much is required, but to whom little is given, little is required."

People seem to generally want the easy way out, which is one of the reasons that cults are so full of volunteers. It is a fact that you cannot sell someone something unless they want it, and it doesn't take much persuasion if the desire is already there. The world is full of evil and good, and no one wants the evil, only the good, but what might be good for one might be evil for another. However, there are absolutes that are universally good, while others are universally evil. Murder, robbing, stealing, are violations which come to mind for examples of something that is universally wrong. Helping someone in need, loving others, giving, and sharing might be considered universally good. However, the distance between those absolute concepts is sometimes hard to measure. In forcing someone to convert or accept a particular religion or sect, the people doing the forcing might consider themselves doing what is right in the sight of God, even when it comes to taking another human life. Either one might be ridding the earth of an infidel, or saving a soul from eternal damnation, but no matter how noble one feels, murder is still murder, and wrong is still wrong. We can only avoid the truth temporarily, eventually we will be forced to confront and accept responsibility for it and ourselves.

I volunteer at the local Crisis Hotline and one day a woman called and stated that she didn't know what to do and she needed some help. Her son was repeating the 10th grade for the second time and he refused to help around the house or get a job. All he did, she complained, was sit around with his friends, play video games, and smoke dope. Then he would eat everything in sight and go hang out with the same undesirable friends all night long, coming and going as he pleased. She had found a program that was willing to take him, but her crisis was that she felt guilty about sending him to it. She was very worried that he would be mad at her and not love her anymore. Somehow, she was oblivious to the fact he was already acting that way. I asked her how she would feel if her son and his friends go out and do something that harms some innocent person and get themselves thrown into jail for the rest of their lives? Would she feel any better? Who had the ultimate responsibility here, the parent or the offspring, the one who enabled the situation to exist or the one who took advantage of the situation as it existed? Of course, her son was old enough to be responsible for his own actions, and as long as he was allowed to sit around, smoke dope, eat up all the food, and do what he wanted without any repercussions or accountability, why would he do otherwise? I mean, that's not a bad way to live if you can get away with it. It kind of reminded me of the religious situation in America. Yet, it must be said that only one realized that there was a problem, while for the other the problem would only just begin in the solution. Perhaps this situation mirrors the entire religious question, at least for those of us who live in a fairly wealthy country. Who is responsible for the horrible things in life, the one which allows them to occur, the one who fails to prevent or stop them from occurring, or the actual perpetrator of the event? There are terrible occurrences in life, most of which consists of people perpetrating atrocities against their fellow man, though some due occur naturally or accidentally. Do we view God as some type of cosmic parent who fails to intervene when the offspring misbehaves or who fails to prevent an unsafe condition or protect his children from unnecessary harm? Can it be said that because there is no intervention or prevention of life's calamities, therefore, there is no God? What of our responsibility to our fellow man or woman? Sometimes the questions have no clear answers, and yet there are other times when we refuse to accept the obvious.

Anyway, returning to the subject at hand, there was a Jewish man who lived in the Middle Ages and who tried to bring both the rational mind and the religious mind together. His name was Azariah de Rossi and "he wrote for his coreligionist who 'drinks thirstily' the words of the sages, but who is also endowed with human reason." His book was a treatise on the Talmudic aggadah (or commentary) of the Hebrew Bible, sometimes using non-Jewish sources and common sense. He was branded a heretic for his effort and his book burned and banned within his lifetime. Thank God he was Jewish and not Christian, otherwise he might have met the same fate as his book.

Many people know whom John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian Church is, but not many know of his dealings with a fellow Christian theologian, Michael Servetus. Servetus was a fellow Protestant Christian from Spain, who was a scientist and scholar, and who discovered the circulatory system among other things. He was in favor of returning to the original Hebrew in order to understand what they referred to as the Old Testament. Calvin considered him a 'Judaizer' and a heretic of the first order. After deceiving him into coming to his headquarters in Zwingli under the pretense of discussing his 'theories' after church, he had poor naïve Servetus seized and barbecued after services. I don't think they advertise this in Presbyterian circles, no more so than the Lutherans advertise Martin Luther's birthday celebration of Kristalnacht by the Nazi's. Hitler was a big fan of Martin Luther and his later writings, such as On the Jews and Their Lies- (1543) – where Martin wrote in Christian love " …set fire to their synagogues or schools… that their houses also be razed and destroyed…-instead that they might be under a roof or in a barn…that all their talmudic writings, in which idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them…that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on a pain of loss of life and limb… that safe conduct on the highway be abolished completely for the Jews…that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them…..". It must have slipped his mind that the principles that are the very foundation of Christianity originated in Judaism. From a business standpoint, if one wants to have a monopoly, one must first destroy the competition. This was something that the Catholic Church had learned long ago.

Anyway, returning to Azariah and his book called "Me Or Einayim", or "Enlightenment of the Eyes", he tried to rec class="green"oncile faith and reason. The saddest thing is that no one was interested. In fact, he created more problems for the established religious society than he solved. Religion, ever since the beginning of time, has always been big business. And as any good capitalist knows, anything that interferes with the profit line is not a good thing. Nor is anything, which might promote freethinking. George Orwell knew what society is capable of, just ask his big brother.

Where does art fit into all of this? Besides being in the same pathetic and hypocritical place that religion resides in, for me, it contains part of the solution to the puzzle of our mundane existence. Anthropology recognizes that one of the determining factors in the advancement of a civilization is its ability to produce art. What that says about a society that considers re-cycled garbage, images made with human or animal feces, and totally indistinguishable shapes and forms, refined art, remains to be seen. My own background is a Christian one, starting from birth, a Methodist, to an Assembly of God (Pentecostal/Charismatic), to a Southern Baptist, to an almost agnostic, and now to a Jewish one. Along the way I have also explored Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Islam, Eastern religions, and history. I have friends from all spectrums and viewpoints. I lived in Israel for almost an entire year on a Kibbutz, worked on a volunteer basis with the mentally ill for the last 23 years, and lived with hardened criminals for the most part of the last 10 years. I am a volunteer crisis counselor, hostage negotiator, published author, a religion and history student, and an artist. My life has been influenced by the literature that I have read, the history I have studied, and the people that I have come into contact with. I have seen the best and the worst mankind has to offer, and they were not always wearing the respective clothes that you might think they would.

This entire paper is being presented for public comment and enlightenment, and so please feels free to post your comments. As for me, I find myself as Soren Kierkegaard expressed it in "Attack Upon Christendom" --referring to the hypocritical clergy -- " I am not a Christian, but I can prove that you are even less a one than I am." At the end of this posting, I will attach a page of my previous works, titles, and quotes, which generally support my feelings and position, but come from other authors. You may also post your comments and the end of this section.

A certain problem exists, referred to by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as 'easy believism' or 'cheap grace', and one which he resisted and fought against. He gave his life for it, even though his participation in the conspiracy to end Hitler's murderous reign was the actual cause. This doctrine can be found in certain places within the New Testament, and is especially inherent within certain Pauline Epistles. John Calvin called his version of it 'predestination,' and it is an awfully handy doctrine if you are going to commit acts contrary to the Divine or harmful to other human beings. It doesn't matter what atrocity you commit, because you go straight to heaven when you die anyway. You were predestined to go to heaven before you were even born. Martin Luther subscribed to a partial interpretation of this himself, which is a good thing for him if you ever read some of his sermons against the Jews. This particular Protestant doctrine might come in handy if you ever commit murder as John Calvin did. You might need this type of doctrine if you trick someone into coming to visit your church and then burn him or her after the services. Poor Michael Servetus never realized what people would do to protect God and others from what they determined to be heresy. God ordained it, it's written in the bible, and I believe it, so, don't confuse me with the facts. Thanks anyway, but my minds already made up.

Sainthood no matter what you do or don't do can also be arranged with certain doctrines. You just have to ignore the part of the bible where it is written, "God is not mocked, what a man sows, he will reap." If anyone tries to confuse the issue by raising that or other similar statements which are written within the same bible, you can always claim that we don't really understand it, and that it is beyond our comprehension, or other such nonsense. It's the same as it was in the time of Soren Kierkegaard when he observed how very ingenious some men were in order to get a bible text to apply to their situation. He observed that this was to treat God as a fool who had committed something to writing and is forced to accept whatever the lawyers make of it.

This underlying theme of justification by grace, has led to all kinds of misunderstandings, including the 'once saved always saved' doctrinal position. Of course, some Pentecostals and Charismatics believe that the common cold is an affliction of the devil or the result of some sin in your life. God wants you to be healthy, wealthy and wise, so you should stand on faith and claim your victory in Jesus. I can still remember a small 'spirit filled' revival, which took place on a Wednesday night in an old dilapidated 2-story house, which has since been demolished. A mother was desperately searching for a cure for her small terminally ill son. She had been going from tent revival to tent revival, searching out one faith healing preacher after another. She had yet to be able to find that miracle she so desperately needed to save her child's life and she didn't find it that night either.

People believe what they want to, usually to justify their own actions and decisions, or to sanctify themselves in the sight of God. However, there are those who believe what they don't want to because they have been taught to do so, by those that they look to for guidance and instruction. The greater sin lies with the one who knows more and is in a position to teach others, not because they believe what they teach, but because it elevates them above the others and makes them important. Those that make a profit off of religion, either monetarily or emotionally, are not likely to disrupt the system or terminate their own position by speaking or teaching something that contradicts the norms established by their faith. The bible contains many writings and it should be considered a collection and interpreted so, but if it was done in that manner, it would be harder to justify certain behavior. It might also impart more responsibility on the reader to actually live in a certain higher moral fashion than one might be accustomed to.

(I realize that there are those few individuals who really serve God from an honest heart and to those few, this paper or thesis does not all together apply. But to the greater majority I continue to speak.) All the fun parties where we hang out with others of our own social and economic caste system might have to be replaced with actually going out and helping the poor and down trodden. Thank goodness, that in our doctrinal and religious sophistication, we are above all of that. Exposing ourselves to dangerous situations or coming into contact with the 'lepers' of our world is not exactly going to bring in the tithes and donations needed to maintain the houses of worship where everyone likes to sit so comfortably in a climate controlled environment. We can still feel good about ourselves and please God by passing out the little propaganda tracts that explain how heaven is only a phrase away. We don't even have to do this in person, we can anonymously leave some on the grocery store shelves, or on car windshields in huge parking lots. For an extra blessing, we can shove them into the hands of unknown people passing by, especially targeting those unfortunates who don't have the good sense to dress like we do or, God forbid, bathe.

The next time you come across someone suffering from mental illness or a terminal disease, a child with a disfiguring birth defect, a victim of a horrible crime, or even the common homeless person sleeping on the street, just repeat John 3:16 to them and see how impressed they are. Perhaps they will even understand that God gave His only begotten Son, but they might be having a hard time trying to figure out why He sacrificed them.

To whom much is given, much is required, but to whom little is given, little is required. This statement sums up my philosophy in regards to religion. It is from the Christian New Testament and attributed to a Jewish man during the Roman occupation, who possibly lived sometime between 6 BCE to 33 CE, (depending upon which source you agree with). He has been variously described among other things, as a carpenter's son, a great moral teacher, a Rabbi, a prophet, a revolutionary, the only begotten Son of God, and even God. I will let you decide what you wish to believe, unlike some others who would argue with you until you either agreed with them or cried mercy. There are even some who expend a great effort to be seen on television at various sporting events with a large sign which reads John 3:16 and are considered a modern day saint for this. I am sure this individual or individuals believed they were doing something to glorify or obey God by this type of evangelism, but somehow I can't see God being too impressed with this type of 'sacrifice'. However, it might be rather handy if one already enjoys sports, thereby making the actual viewing a 'holy sacrifice dedicated to God'. Of course, compared to the priest who gave of himself until he contracted leprosy trying to help a leper colony in Hawaii and died from it, attending so many Superbowls could hardly be considered dangerous. It kind of reminds me of some individuals who were involved in a 'ministry' that picked up day old baked goods from a store to give to the poor. They always picked out the best for themselves and their friends at church before they delivered them.

There exists in the world individuals who have faced terrible ordeals and gone through unspeakable atrocities. There are also those people who have contracted terminal illnesses and who are dying a painful death even as I write this and as you read it. Others are living in a situation where they face constant abuse; physical, emotional or both. An active slave trade exists in the world today and a majority of the earth's population lives in poverty. I live in a state that spends billions annually, but where there are not enough beds for the mentally ill, nor money for the treatment or medication of those that don't have insurance. There is a whole sub culture in America, the home of the free and the brave, which most of us never have any contact with. We rarely see them, barely speak to or about them, and definitely never have any contact with them if we can help it. Has God forgotten them, or have we?

I cannot forget that slavery, denial of civil rights, and the concept of 'separate but equal', all took place in a country, which claims to be Christian. Neither can I forget those that stood up 'in the name of Jesus' to proclaim their version of truth, all the while injustice and poverty raged through those neighborhoods of a different culture and skin tone. There are still some that talk the about separate races of mankind, while at the same time claiming to believe that the bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God. Of course a selective memory does come in handy for those who wish to believe what they want regardless of the truth. Even science now recognizes through DNA testing and research that there is really no such thing as different races, but only one common ancestry for all. There are some religions which claim the name of Jesus, but speak against what they call inter marriage between races, denying the very concept of creation found in the bible. There is also the greater question of God.

Can we conclude that God doesn't exist because poverty, suffering, and unfairness exist, or can we conclude that those whom God has blessed with the ability to correct many of these evils don't exist? If God exists, and if one accepts the existence of Him/Her, then one must accept that everything that has been created exists by a type of divine permission. If evil exists without God's permission then He really isn't in control and therefore, neither is He omnipotent nor even God. On the other hand, how can a loving God allow such things or the evil, which is found, within the world? Perhaps an allowance has been made for those with the ability to correct the wrongs and injustices of our society to correct them. Just because they choose to selfishly ignore the plight of their fellow human beings doesn't mean that there is no such thing as God. Our understanding is limited by our perception and if we only understand with a temporary or mortal understanding, how can we comprehend the eternal? What looks impossible within the mere physical world, might be understood when placed in it's proper perspective of the infinite. Spiritual matters sometimes need more than human understanding or comprehension, but that does not relieve the responsibility we are given at birth. The fact that the world and many of its residents are in dire need of some of the basic commodities of life only reinforces the obligation of those that have more than they need. It is not an excuse for the non-existence of God for those who don't wish to accept the possibility of some Supernatural Divine Presence, but neither it is an excuse for those who do believe in God and feel that they are assured a heavenly home, to do nothing.

In Judaism, there is a concept called Tikkun Olam, which means healing, or restoring the world. It is said that God does not hold one responsible for finishing the work, but He expects and requires everyone to begin. To fail to do so is a sin in the eyes of God. He expects more than just a 'sinners prayer' from mankind and a faith that excludes the wholeness of the world and all of the people whom He created, including Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, and atheists, etc. Is it right to banish those that for whatever reason haven't 'accepted Jesus Christ as Lord' to eternal damnation or hell? True righteousness, helping and loving others are not Christian concepts, but morally correct and expected of all people regardless of religious affiliation or faith. Does God love Christians more than others, or Jews or Muslims for that fact?

For those who don't understand why certain people cheered the not guilty verdict of O.J. Simpson, it was because now money could also do for the African Americans what it had been doing for certain wealthy whites, buy justice. The color of justice is green and for certain poor individuals who are facing the criminal justice system in America; the system is stacked against them. Yet, considering most other countries in the world, our system is better by far and it has been my personal experience that for the most part, the prisons are full of a deserving population, but power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and America is a very powerful country.

I can only speak for myself, my opinions are my own and I have arrived at them from a life of experience and study. At one time I accepted what the church taught as 'Christian doctrine', but the more I read, learned and studied, the more questions I had. The circular logic of using the same source to prove that source correct drove me to seek further and read other things related to, but separated from the source. I would trust an atheist farther than I would the general 'believing' Christian on the topic of biblical truth, for he would be more impartial than the religious person and probably more educated. My art is a reflection of myself and it has always been a part of who I am, but perhaps more importantly, religion, or a belief in God has also played an integral part. All of this information is extraneous and unnecessary for viewing 'normal' art, whatever that might be, however, the most important element in this or any other aspect of life, is simple honesty. It is the same thing that we must face life with, in order to really understand it. Honesty is also the first requirement before we can even begin to look for God or approach the Divine.