On Respecting Authority or Differences in Opinions and Considering the Harm Done If We Choose Otherwise

"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:
1. To vote... for the person they judged more worthy.
2. Speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side." 
- John Wesley, English cleric, theologian, and philanthropist
The following are questions I entertain and often, given the current climate of our country:
  • What does it mean to really respect instituted authority, respect entities, and respect individuals despite encountering drastically differing opinions, values, or personalities?
  • What does it mean for our mental and emotional states when we choose to do the opposite?
Surely the thoughts we express can be of potent criticality without adding to toxicity.
I wake up this morning desiring to understand how to do this better and authentically in all circumstance… how about you?

My Faith Grounded Musings:

Romans 13:1 on Submission to Governing Authorities

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

As a Christian, I can rationalize the validity of this command or “rule”. When one considers the grounding tenets that define Christianity, a quick survey will reveal some very constant albeit complicated narratives that frame our faith: an everpresent dance and balancing act between the subject of God’s sovereignty, having free will and its impact, and the concept of time that is not linear or as we see it according to modern physics. Following God is not about always having the answers and the whys to everything from the start (I would say I struggled with this question as a believer my whole life until maybe about last year!). Sometimes a situation requires obedience before we are able to see and understand 20/20, even with a controversial verse and command such as this that many Christians either outrightly ignore or struggle with (including myself!)

The fact of the matter though is that God’s word is God’s word. When we say we give our life over to him, we are surrendering our right to picking and parsing things we like and dislike, accept or reject, and that includes where we stand on the merits of the Bible’s commands. When one accepts the truth of the Gospel, the only requirement for being “Christian,” this implies a full and total acceptance of the Bible as the living word (Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”).

*For context, the word of God referred to the written or spoken word of God, and the Bible is accepted as the word of God.

Day at the Museum: Rijksmuseum

I really attempted to make the most of my short days here and I ambitiously set out to the Rijksmuseum to see as much art as I could. I believe I really did get through almost all the art excluding the Middle East room, as exhausting and unbelievable as that sounds!

I was laser focused.

Below are the pieces that really struck me one way or another for various reasons:

 

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Portrait of Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, Anne Louis Girodet Trioson, 1805-1809, oil on canvas

Hortense caught my eye for her beauty, but also because of her relation to Napolean. I read up on her husband recently (step son of Napolean, son of Napolean’s first wife, hence my familiarity with Beauharnais his name), and the house of Beauharnais caught my attention as I read the placard to see who this painting’s beautiful subject was. Apparently she did not like the environment of the Netherlands, so even as a ruler there, she spent most of her time in court in Paris. huh.

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Sibylla Erythrea, Maarten van Heemskerck, 1564, oil on pastel
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Sibylla Erythrea, Maarten van Heemskerck, 1564, oil on pastel

Sibylla caught my eye for her beauty, and for her having been recorded in classic antiquity as having given prophesy about Jesus coming. This is news to me. I am excited to read more on it.

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Woman Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, 1663, oil on canvas
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Children Eating a Pie, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1675-1680, pastel

This looks so mischievous, and it made me smile. And so it’s here. Being nostalgic for the things we used to do as kids is good. to a degree. hopefully we can all continue growing up with it kept instead of looking back to mourn what’s good that’s been lost.

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A Rembrandt x Diego Valesquez special exhibition was up, and exhausted as I was by the end of my main museum roundabout, I could not miss this. It ended up being a little questionable. Not the works themselves, but the way they were curated, described, and the way the curators developed the narrative [dare I say it!] was poor, misleading, and unclear– like me during my high school days trying to write essays just to meet deadlines and pass with absolutely Zero intention of actually desiring to convey a point. That is really what it felt like.

The lamb (symbolizing Christ) was great though.

Other Rembrandt pieces were technically lovely, and I felt honored that I was able to see more of his pieces in person, but I’m not adding them here because they didn’t move me. Otherwise that would be an act of compulsion influenced by prestige, which is no bueno.

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This a scene depicting Bethsheba and David (in the castle peeking out of the squared piece) desiring after her. It’s a Bible scene (basically for anyone who does not read the Bible or does not remember, David fell in love with B, but she was already married to a guy that was under his rule (as king) so he sent the dude off in “war” (to be killed really) (and there goes another Bible story of how humans as great as kings make terrible, terrible mistakes)

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I loved this painting for its raw sensuality. It just jumped out at me and called me. Venus and her son is asking Adonis not to go. I love the way Adonis holds onto her lips tenderly like that, and that lovers’ gaze is real.

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Venus et Adonis, Ferdinand Bol, 1658, oil on canvas
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Satyr and Nymph, Gerard von Honthorst, 1623, oil on canvas

While this is definitely the more hedonistic counterpart to the former, I still find the scene very beautiful. Love, or love as it moves reveals itself in different forms and ways and meets different ends. While satyrs were mainly negatively characterized in tales of old, there is the wildness and freeness of them that I look to with positivity in part. I just love the play I saw. Even if it probably foreboded some very bad news bears between satyr and nymph (like when Pan chased after a nymph to the point she had to turn into reeds!).

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Lot and his Daughters, Hendrick Goltzius, 1616, oil on canvas

While this painting was technically rendered incredibly beautiful, the substance of it disturbed me very much. It recalls a Bible story of a time people were punished for their mistakes and so all the men were kaputed, except Lot. These are his daughters, who feared not being able to bear children, and so they got their father drunk and seduced him to bear. It conjures in me many thoughts too (like how sometimes, we’re *so* for getting to the end, we forget about the means that we’ve taken to get to the end).

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William II, Prince of Orange, and his Bride, Mary Stuart, Anthony van Dyck, 1641, oil on canvas

“The 14 year old boy is married with the 9 year old girl, and a kingdom is elevated.”

My thought ^ : basically opened a can of thoughts. So many ramifications to be unpacked

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Boy with a Drawing Book, Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, 1772, oil on canvas

This just makes me happy 🙂 And it reminds me of me, inside.

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Portrait of Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck and his Family, Pierre Prud’hon, 1802-1802, oil on canvas

This reminds me of a family I would have liked to have had. Nuclear.

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Storage mirrors of the Netherlands

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Model by Johann Ernst Gotzowsky, 1750-1755, hard paste porcelain
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Ivory

 

 

Money Shot by Judith Bernstein

 

My friend Christine and I stopped by the Paul Kasmin Gallery yesterday to check out this LOUD art show, which represents the works of Judith Bernstein, a New York based artist, mainly known for her phallic symbol infused works and her ardent devotion to feminism.

Money Shot is a visual manifesto of some very explicit political commentary (truly, a no holds barred, lacking zero subtly situation). Asides from the strong messaging, the artist used fun and creative mediums like fluorescent paint and light for this exhibit to the delight of myself and the many other art goers that walked into the gallery (Exhibit A: it was fun to see anyone with hair lighter than brown with heads literally lit, and seeing men walk in with their stiff collared shirts noticing in surprise that the collars peeking out of their sweaters were brilliantly highlighted in spacey purple light).

Do I see a Darth Vadar, a skull, and a generic demon here or is it just me?

 

The Trinity Schlong

 

While this artist clearly shows her bias for the strong left, I believe this show is worth going to and seeing– regardless of one’s political affiliation, and preferably with an open mind.

It is worth mentioning and acknowledging the creative and intellectual risks this artist has made to voice out some very controversial and sensitive opinions, and the gallery that chose to represent her with this recent installation.

I applaud you, Paul Kasmin Gallery.

This show runs until March 03, 2018. @ 293 10th Ave., NY.

My 5 Favorite Books of 2017

2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for me. I took on a new job, learned of some big family news, and also confronted some health issues and personal demons of mine..
One of the biggest and most constant sources of joy to me this year was when I read.

I love books [really any form of great writing, short or long form]. I like them for the following reasons:

  1. I can escape into them: On a good, restful day, taking the time to read for myself helps me achieve an even higher state of zen, and on a crazy, tiring day, I can escape the traps of “my depressing life” thinking and jump instead into the world of the book I am reading, and this gives me deep solace and strength. Sometimes they even help me cry and grieve for the things I’ve probably been meaning to cry for, and they help me bring my guard down even if it’s for only a minute to feel what I have been feeling that day, that past week or the past year. Sometimes they bring a greater joy to the things I’ve been experiencing in my life by offering up similar and parallel scenarios that add more color and zest to the contexts of my real life stories.
  2. The authors help me live lives I’ll probably never have the chance of living with this one body. You can’t be in three places at once, but with books– you can! Limits to time, geography, and resources are blown away like “chaff from the wind” (sorry, I had to add in the Biblical reference – har har). I can imagine myself in the village of Combray, France, or find myself the next day in Middletown, Ohio on the suburban streets. I can bring myself back to post-war England in the 1940’s, where the last of true aristocracy habits were finally coming to an end. I can put myself in the shoes of the invisible black man of the early 19th and 20th centuries, of the white man experiencing discrimination from those that cry out “down with white privilege!” or even of the young Irish orphan in Tuam, relegated to a life of social marginalization and impoverished youth.
  3. Books elucidate thoughts I’m thinking and am grappling to understand better. They give me a deeper wisdom about the things out there and add another puzzle piece to the mental “map” I have about the kinds of people, lives, and thoughts I see co-existing in the world at large, from Chile to Cambodia, with time unbound. They tell me I really don’t know much, that I only know so much, and that I need to learn so, much, more in order to do the things I think I’m meant to do in this life (apparently according to the Social Security Administration, I have about 61.6 years, 739 months, or 22,484 days left to figure life out- time’s a tickin’). Every book, every line of well written prose gives me a deeper understanding for the human experience, of the brokenness amongst our global communities, of the complexities of our problems and our progress, and of the shared experiences we as humans all go through, sometime and somewhere on this Earth.

For those who’re not too much of a book reader, I’m sure you probably experience the same kind of things through a different medium. Maybe it’s art. Maybe it’s music or film. Maybe it’s through your career vocation, I don’t know.

Anyways, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2017:

 

  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

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2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

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3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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4. Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter by Barbara Leaming

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5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (recommended by friends Max and Sewon)

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If you’re interested in seeing what else I’ve been reading, feel free to check out my Reading List, with a list of the books I’ve read from 2016 to present, and Wordy Treasures, which includes my favorite excerpts and aphorisms.