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November 24, 2015

For the past four weeks I have been teaching a class at our church in which we have discussed religious diversity, religious extremism, and the path to peace.  On this week of Thanksgiving it seems appropriate to pray for peace, so I share my reflection, a brief summary of my presentations at Immanuel. (About two pages in length.)

As difficult as it may be for some Christians to accept, God loves other nations as much as he loves the USA. Arabic and Islamic nations are now being torn between opposing ideologies, Western secularism which holds the promise of freedom and democracy, and Islam which holds the belief that Allah has given us laws by which to live. Conservative Muslims continue the call to Jihad, a struggle against all worldly forces which would separate us from Allah, including American interference in political and economic issues. Moderate Muslims see the possibility of maintaining the faith in a pluralistic culture. Radical Muslims believe their faith represents the truth, and all the world should be converted to Islam. Ironically, the same divergent views are held by moderate and conservative Christians, equally committed to either co-existence in a pluralistic world, or to a mission of conversion for Christ.

All human beings, of every race and religion, are the Creator’s children (for those who believe in a Creator). All human beings are paradoxically good and evil, holy and sinful, wise and foolish. The problem is not “religion,” as some scientists and atheists contend, but in ignorant or naïve, extreme or unenlightened expressions of religion. Every religion needs to warn its observers of the dangers of zealotry. Passionate, well-reasoned beliefs are good. There is nothing inherently wrong with commitment, sacrifice, and dedication; but when taken to the extreme, these virtues can become distorted and twisted into spiritual blindness and evil passions.

Our friends of the Buddhist faith encourage all souls to seek enlightenment. Science and religion seek truth. What is enlightenment? What is truth? These age-old questions are being explored in new and relevant ways. Science has given humanity a new perspective on many aspects of reality, on the nature of the universe, on how our world has evolved and changed, on how things work, and often, why they are the way they are. Religion is being forced to come to terms with these facts, findings, and theories (which, if not proven, provide the most logical and consistent explanation for many phenomenon).

Most scientists exhibit humility, acknowledging that the more we know, the more we realize is still unknown. Proponents of religion have also been humbled by the amazing discoveries of science. We might say we are awed by how much control and responsibility the Creator has entrusted to humans. A smug, know-it-all attitude, whether exhibited by a scientist, religious leader, or street thug, is a sure sign of ignorance and lack of enlightenment.

Enlightened individuals are becoming more and more aware of the value and necessity of dialogue. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all lay claim to “divinely inspired scriptures.” These writings tell of our origins, ethics, and beliefs about God. We must find ways to explore the truths within these writings which do not deny the truth within the scriptures of others. For example, within the Christian tradition, one common sense principle of interpretation is that: “Every verse or portion of scripture should be interpreted within the context of the whole.” Another example is that of historical context and on-going or progressive revelation. Some laws of the Old Testament or Jewish scriptures no longer seem relevant or valid because history (or God) has so changed our human community (slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, etc.).

In our world community, communication has changed the way we interact with other cultures. Most of us are “products” of our nation and religious heritage; but we are broadening our perspectives and beginning to realize that in order to co-exist, we must acknowledge the validity of other cultures and religions. In medieval times, Christians referred to Mohammedans as “infidels,” the same term Muslim extremists now use for Christians. This commitment to dialogue must become part of the mission of each of our world religions. The arrogance of religious extremism and absolutism must be renounced. Perhaps the greatest evil facing our world today is not unfaithfulness, but ignorance.

Faith is more than believing something is true without proof. Faith is the trust I place in God and in the promises God has made through the prophets and through Jesus. This faith of mine is a personal choice and commitment, and I am as certain of this truth as I can be of anything that is beyond verifiable. I cannot prove any of it, nor will I try. It works for me; it seems good as well as right. At the same time I acknowledge the value of many different faiths for those who practice them.

I recognize that others hold their beliefs with similar passion. And I believe they should have the right to do so without interference from me, from any religious institution, or from any state or government. The only exception might be religious practice which is self-evidently harmful to life, society, or the environment; or which flagrantly violates just laws. Terrorist killings such as we have witnessed in Paris and in New York on 9-11 are clearly evil acts of murder for which there is no justification in any religion.

And finally, I believe that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God, and that nothing but good can come from humble dialogue, discussing what we believe about the one true God of justice, mercy, and compassion, and why we believe as we do.




July 17, 2015

It has been challenging and fun, and given me something to do when the temperatures are really hot outside. My latest scissorcuts will be shown at the White Oak Gallery in downtown Silverton during the month of November. Here are a few I have recently completed.

Eagle over mtn - framed

American Flag 2Canoeing in the Adirondacks

Owl at Night

April 24, 2015

The White Oak Gallery opened in downtown Silverton in March. I went in to meet the owners, and was invited to display my scissorcuts and other artwork in their gallery.  I was delighted with the invitation and discussed a possible showing as featured artist in November.  All pieces displayed must be for sale, so I am busy trying to get some new work done.

“Owl at Night” is complete and ready for framing.  I intend to mount it on a light gray, with a full moon above the owl. Should be quite stunning. Another recent cutting is of Al Anderson’s primitive art. If you are interested in purchasing any of my work, please drop me an email: at Al Anderson 3-2015

Owl at Night

Owl at Night


March 16, 2015

It was exciting to try a three-color scissorcut and see the finished piece. The three layers were cut as separate pieces of paper but had to be aligned so the shorelines matched, and the snow on tree branches allowed white to show through. After cutting the three layers, they were delicately glued together with touches of rubber cement from the tip of a toothpick.  I was pleased with the final result, especially the exquisite detail of the trees and ripple reflections on the lake. I matted and framed (16×20) the piece on Saturday, March 14. Friends at church said it reminds them of the lakes in the Cascade mountains of Oregon, near Mt. Hood or Mt. Jefferson.

Glacier Lake


October 13, 2014

Seagull and Trawler
Finally felt inspired to do another scissorcut and finished it on October 12, 2014.


July 31, 2014

June 29 we were in Fairmont, Minnesota, to celebrate three birthdays. Carmen’s brother Gary, his son Mark, and Mark’s daughter Nicole were all born on June 29. It was great to see Gary and Susan, Carmen’s niece Lori and Jeff Joyce, Tyler and Andy, Aunt Iris, Scott and Cindy.

Gary, Mark, Nicole

Gary, Mark, Nicole

Gary Stevens family 2014

Gary Stevens family 2014

July 5 we were in Spokane, Washington, with Neal and Tiina Buckaloo, to celebrate Bill Anderson’s retirement from the Spokane County Clerk’s office.
Bill Anderson's Retirement

Bill Anderson’s Retirement

July 17 was the date for the wedding of Kay Brakowski (Jim’s aunt) to Tom Verdensky. Jim drove 2880 miles to Vail, Colorado, for the wedding. It was an honor to perform the marriage, and a privilege to meet many of Kay and Tom’s friends. Kay’s daughter and son were the bridesmaid and best man.
Christina, Tom, Kay, Eric

Christina, Tom, Kay, Eric

Crow on the fence post

March 15, 2014

Crow on Fence 3

I wanted to see if I could do a scissorcut of a barbed wire fence.  The old crow sitting on the fence post seemed a natural, and as I sketched the fence I decided that an old tractor tire would fit the scene.   A little different subject matter than my usual mountain and forest  landscapes.  Let me know what you think.   Thanks for stopping by.