Wednesday, March 12, 2014
happy birthday, william lyon mackenzie. you were born this day in 1795, which would make you 219 years old today.
you were international long before it was him. you were born in scotland, became a canadian citizen, an american journalist, and then the very first mayor of toronto. i wonder if you are rolling around in your 153-year old grave now that this man is sitting in your swivel chair:
you were one of the leaders of the upper canada rebellion of 1837, and for that, canadians everywhere say, "thank you, eh."
also, your grandson mackenzie king became the 10th prime minister of canada, and the longest serving, so you have certainly offered a great deal to your country. but he also upstaged you, since he is remembered fondly, and is on the canadian 50 dollar bill. so when canadians think of mackenzie, they mostly think of him, not you. sorry bud.
finally, your middle name is lyon, which, when said with my awful french accent, sounds uber-cool. it makes me wonder how it would be if my middle name was "lion" how awesome would that be? gregory lion.
so happy birthday, bill the canadian lion, with your fourteen (fifteen?) children, your love of reading, and your constant money troubles. may you be a happy lion.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
"father forgive them (lent 2014, 1)"
mixed media collage (acrylic paint, gel medium, glue, vintage papers, image release paper, photocopies)
8" x 10"
gregory a. milinovich
as i have in the past, i have decided to document my lenten journey this year with a series of collages that are are a response, or more accurately, a dialogue with our worship series through the season. for this lent we are examining the final words of Jesus from the cross, as recorded in the four gospels, and so i will be making a collage dealing with each one.
we began on sunday with a look at Jesus' wonderfully selfless words, "father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
here in the thick of his execution, with the ugliness of humanity in his face in every possible way, Jesus somehow found it in himself to respond with prayer, and not for himself, but for the very ones who were executing him: soldiers, religious leaders, political leaders, and sinners of every ilk and age.
that means you and me.
yes, we are sinners. of course it isn't popular to talk about such things. people hate to hear about their sin, and Christians are afraid of offending anyone by talking about sin, but to say that Christians talk too much about sin is like saying your doctor talks too much about health.
if you went to your doctor with chest pains and and shortness of breath and a pain in your left arm, your doctor might suggest immediate testing to see what is going on with your heart, possibly even surgery. you probably wouldn't respond by saying, "oh, you doctors are always so negative, focusing on what is wrong instead of the positive. don't be such a downer! this is why nobody likes doctors." no, you would likely be so grateful that the doctor caught the problem in time and was able to recommend a remedy.
the same is true in christianity. if we focus on sin, it is only because we won't to point to the remedy. the remedy is the incredibly mercy of Jesus, made evident by him as he died on the cross, praying for your very soul.
i don't know about you, but that feels enormously powerful and important. it begs the question, at least for me, "what am i going to do about it?" will i dare to believe that i am lovable and forgivable? will i risk receiving God's mercy and grace, even if i feel like i don't deserve it? will i follow God's example and learn to forgive myself and others? or will we choke on our pride and our stubbornness? father, forgive us.
Monday, March 10, 2014
note: today i am beginning a new recurring theme here at the unlikely orange, in which i will occasionally offer a random person a happy birthday. i will scour the internets for someone you may not have heard of who is celebrating a birthday that day, and tell you a little about them. its just for fun, so don't be so serious about it. but it is also to meet some new people, to discover even more of the width and breadth of this breathtaking world and its stunning diversity.
happy birthday, val logsdon fitch.
you were born in nebraska on a cattle ranch on march 10, 1923. you served our country in world war II, learning a great deal about experimental physics at the time. in 1964 you and your partner jim cronin discovered what you called cp violation (charge parity violation), for which you and jim won the nobel prize in 1980, and which continues to help astronomers and physicists understand the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe, among other things.
also, you name is val. which reminds me of this guy,
who played a really awful batman, so, in the battle of the val's, i'm giving the nod to you, mr. nobel-prize winning physicist. thank you for helping other particle physicists better understand weak interactions. also, you worked in princeton, nj, which is one of my favorite towns in the world.
so happy 91st, birthday, sir. i hope you don't have any weak interactions trying to blow out those 91 candles.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
i have several idiosyncrasies, and i suppose some might say that makes me an idiot, and maybe they wouldn't be wrong. who knows? but whether or not i am in idiot is not germane to this particular post. instead, i want to talk about the way i greet people, and what it says about the world.
we all have our way of saying hello. if we greet a good friend out on the street, we may embrace, or at least shake hands and grin and engage in conversation, but if you pass someone you do not know on the sidewalk, or in a store, or while changing clothes at the gym, how do you say hello? some may give a cheerful "good morning," or afternoon or evening, whatever the case may be. some may choose not to greet at all. there are some who engage in that traditional exchange, "how are you?" which is meant to induce the response, "fine, and you?" others may simply nod, but there's nothing simple about the nod as a gesture, since it can be accomplished in a variety of ways. one may sharply nod the head downward, in a staccato gesture of recognition, or slowly raise the head upwards, as if to raise the countenance in blessing. there are even those who practice double nods, or vigorous head shaking, but those people are generally over-friendly and a bit creepy.
and then there's me. when i greet someone that i don't know, i proclaim out loud, and with a certain kind of assurance in my voice, "alright." it isn't so much an exclamation as it is a declaration. and it may be in a response to "how ya' doin'?" or it may not. i will often nod to the stranger, and before they say anything at all, i offer a decisive, "alright" as if answering a question they might have had in their minds but chose not to speak aloud. i don't use the word "alright" with a tone that suggests that things are nearly good nor bad, but just sort of in between. instead, i use a tone which suggests that all is right.
the other day i was leaving the gym, cold and sweaty in the bitter winter air, and i was passing a man who was on his way into the gym. we shared quick nods, and while i was finishing my nod, in that brief nanosecond of greeting, i uttered my standard greeting, "alright." as i got into my vehicle to to leave, i began to reflect on this greeting of mine. why do i do this? why do i seem to answer a question that hasn't been asked? and then it occurred to me.
my distinct way of greeting isn't simply an answer to an unspoken question about the state of my being, but it is a succinct way for me to speak the truth of what i believe. it is, in fact, a confession of my faith, and a kind of creed, however brief. i may only get one word to speak to this human being, and i so i say "alright." it is to say, in only one word, that everything is going to be alright. that despite the cracks in this sidewalk we are walking on, and the sweat and blood that build it; despite the plants and animals that cannot live because we need to park here, and despite the brokenness that limits our relationship to a staccato nod and a hopeful word, i believe that everything is going to be alright. it is one word that, at least to me, as i proclaim it to strangers outside and doubts inside, affirms my hope in redemption, resurrection, and renewal. it's not just that i'm alright. it's that the world is going to be alright in the end, because of love.
you may think it is a nod and a bit of an odd greeting. but it is so much more! it is my worldview in a nutshell, a kind of good-news-telling soundbite. it is a hopeful word uttered carefully, not idly, into a broken universe. i might shout it from an ocean shore, or into a mountain valley, as much as utter it to a passerby. it is my stubborn faith, finding its way to the surface: it's going to be alright.
so maybe i am just an idiot. but at least i am an idiot with a hopeful word.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
"ash wednesday 2014: the wealth of nations"
mixed media on stretched canvas (acrylic paint, vintage papers, photocopies)
10" x 8"
gregory a. milinovich
we are not as strong as we think we are.
that is the phrase that perhaps best sums up what ash wednesday is all about for me.
it is a reminder to stop for a moment and recognize that we are just as broken as the dust in our lungs, the earth that holds us, and the ash, that at least for one day, we will wear on our faces as if to proclaim this truth for us, since we seem mostly incapable most of the time.
we would rather ignore our brokenness, and continue the charade of strength and self-sufficiency. wait? i am going to die? i am a sinful, broken person? i think i'll just keep playing the "i'm alright, you're alright, we're all alright" game, thank you very much. and we do play that game, don't we. we are like kids playing the game of life, gathering spouses and children and fake money all on our way to easy street, we hope.
but ash wednesday is a necessary reminder that this is no game, and that the paper money of our games will all go up in flames, and the coins that jingle in our pockets will all be melted down, back to the elements. the wealth of nations, says the prophet habakkuk, is all ash, in the end.
and so am i.
oh, except for easter. there's that whole resurrection thing. but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
below is a little collage to show you some of the progress of this year's ash wednesday's collage, called "the wealth of nations."
and can you believe that i've been at this for 8 years now? i can't. below you can see part of each of the 8 collages i've made.
have a blessed beginning to your lent. may you linger awhile in the wilderness, surrendering your illusions of power and control, so that you might discover real, abundant life at just the right time.
Monday, March 03, 2014
yesterday was my birthday. it was really great to turn 27.
or something like that.
but seriously, i had a great birthday weekend. my parents came, my sister and her two daughters came, and despite some stomach bug going around, it was a very nice weekend. i got my favorite white cake with hungarian chocolate icing, some great time with family, and some lovely presents, including a couple of t-shirts (this millennium falcon one and this bacon one). i also got the first two seasons of a particular british period drama that i love, which i will be rewatching on sunday evenings to restore the world to its rightful order. i got a few other things as well, which is all far more than i deserve, but i will receive it all with satisfaction, as i receive the gift of the whole congregation of Catawissa Avenue UMC singing "happy birthday" to me yesterday, and the pixel-load of 'happy birthday' messages that caused by facebook cup to overflow. i receive it all with joy and contentment, because i believe that i am loved, that i am God's child, and that each person ought to be celebrated as God's workmanship; God's unique design. what joy! what wonder! life is beautiful!
yes, it was a happy birthday, thank you all very much.