Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Church or State?

Kentucky Kim the Conservative Christian County Clerk - sounds like a cartoon character. In reality there is nothing funny in the way Kim Davis is conducting government for Rowan County Kentucky.

If you have been in an isolation chamber since June you might not know who Ms. Davis is. As the elected clerk of Rowan County Kentucky it is her $80,000 a year job to issue licenses, collect fines and court ordered fees. She is responsible for enforcing and overseeing misdemeanor cases in the county.  Her job is making sure the law of the county is carried out.  


Since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of granting same sex marriage in June, Ms. Davis has refused to issue ANY Marriage license, to anyone wishing to be married in her County. Although her job is to carry out the law, She is refusing to obey this particular law.  Her reasoning? She is obeying God's law. 

Kim Davis should be the poster girl for the Separation of Church and State.  The situation in Kentucky is created when zealots in power try to blur the line between church and state. America is founded on the idea that the will of the people trumps any Religious authority.  It was Liberty and Freedom from the authority of Religion that lead us to settle this country.  Religious rule in Europe was a failure, so we chose to be a country of law not mythology.
There is no attack on Religion in America.  The attack is coming from Christian zealots trying to dismantle the separation of Church and State in America. It is the same battle in the middle east, Isis is not a political ideology of laws.  Isis is not a rule by the people, but it is rule by Religion.  It is a draconian way to govern and its failure is guaranteed.

Tomorrow... (Thursday) Kim Davis and the other clerks, some of them related to her, will appear before a Judge.  We will find out what laws that Judge has chosen to obey.  Being an unauthorized friend of the Court, I submit this brief in letter form for the record,  if anyone chooses to read it at the hearing.

Open Letter to:


Rowan County Clerk

Kim Davis

kimberlyb.davis@ky.gov600
West Main Street Room 102
Morehead, KY 40351


You Go, Ms Davis:

You go and practice your piety without impunity from anyone. This is America... you can do that. The laws of the land guarantee that you will be free to follow whatever rules your God demands. Because we have a right to freedom of religion in this country you are well within in your rights to believe whatever you wish. No court, no government, no Governor nor group can tell you what to believe nor keep you from your own belief. You are free to worship and believe anyway you wish.

However, If your job as an elected County Clerk is conflicting with your religion you have two choices.  

1) Do the job you were elected to do and find a way to make it work with your faith, or  
2) Quit the job as County Clerk  and become secretary at your Church.  You can not have it both ways.  You can not keep a job that administers the law then decide which laws you will obey or enforce.  In your own words you say you will not resign, and will not issue any marriage license. Sorry, Lady you have to choose.  The court says it is time you decide. 

As for me, I have decided paying Income taxes to the United States government is against my religious values. God said very clearly, "Do Not Kill".  It is a big Christian NO NO.  Bigger than this same sex marriage thing, which didn't even make God's list of  Top Ten "Thou shalt nots".
The United States chooses to send thousands of soldiers around the world to kill and be killed with the money I have sent to the government.  God will punish me if I am implicated in the act of killing. So assuming your interpretation of theology, County Clerk Kim Davis... I don't have to pay my income tax, right?
The offense rests.

As you were,
Jay



Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Brookledge.. Performing Arts

©2015 - Jay Johnson- Jaysons Imagination
I performed at Brookledge last Saturday night.  I have written about the phenomenon known as the Brookledge Follies  several times before.  To those who know what Brookledge is, no explanation is needed.  To those who don't know... it is an amazing story.

You can CLICK HERE   and  HERE  to read a couple of the essays on this subject from over the years at this URL.

The performing experience is unique as is the legend of the Brookledge private theatre in Hancock Park.  The green room is really green. It is a patio table under the massive trees beside a brook that runs through the back yard and under the theatre.  When it is your turn to perform you take the stairs up to the stage door which puts you in wings stage right.
Part of the magic of the evening is the crowd that attends a Brookledge Follies Show.  Invited guests and fellow performers come to see a show that can't be seen anywhere else.  I have met some of my all time hero performers there.  You never know who might be in the audience. In the early days of Brookledge Orson Wells would have been sitting on the couch in the back. It is still referred to as the Wells couch.
©2013 - Jay Johnson- Jaysons Imagination

This time rather than write it myself, I think I will let a professional observer do that job.  Bernie Shine, who writes for the Huffington Post, was there on Saturday.  For full discloser Bernie, the Writer, Lawyer and Magician is also a friend.  He knows more about the house, the theater and magic history than I do so his article is most informative.  Here is a link to that:

The Huff Post - Bernie Shine

Thanks Bernie.
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

NO more History in your Future

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015,  disciples of the newly declared Isis Caliphate in Syria beheaded 82 year old Khaled Asaad.
Isis is known for executing scholars, teachers and intellectuals when they conquer a region. Knowledgeable people threaten their medieval beliefs.   Khaled Asaad represented  those kinds of thinkers, which makes the cost of his death all the more Delphic.
Roman Temple at Palmyra - Destroyed August 23, 2015
Khaled Asaad was the antiquities scholar and curator of the Palmyra Museum. He spent years protecting and studying the ancient artifacts and ruins of the fabled City and called the Palmyra site, "One of the most beautiful in the world."

Mr. Asaad was in conflict with the Isis Caliphate from the moment they took over that area of Syria in May. He refused to reveal the whereabouts of the valuable artifacts of Palmyra. 

Mr. Asaad was executed in the  public square of the Palmyra Museum and his headless body hung on a traffic light. 
   
Yesterday, Isis used bulldozers and dynamite to flatten the ancient Roman Temple in Palmyra.  The 2000 year old structure  was destroyed because religious leaders declared it was a "symbol of Paganism".  The newly formed Isis Caliphate destroyed not only the historic site of Palmyra but by killing Mr. Asaad they eliminated the story of its history as well. An ancient shrine destroyed and de-Storied, all done in the name of organized religion.


But Wait there is more No more History
Buddhas of Bamiyan - before and after
Demolished in March 2001
This isn't the first time Muslim Extremist have purposefully destroyed antiquities in the name of Islam. In March of 2001 the Taliban dynamited the Buddhas of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan. The two statues of Vairdcana and Sakyamuni called the Soisoi were carved into a Sandstone mountain near Kabul.  They stood there for 1700 years, and marked an early trade route on the silk road. The Taliban religious leaders declared them to be "Idols:  and They were demolished. 

The deliberate destruction of these amazing antiquities makes me realize something about the teachings of Islam as practiced by these destroyers. 

Any religion, philosophy, race, people or creed that confuses Paganism and Idols with Art and Architecture is wrong. 

Isis is a fascist regime justifying itself as religion.

This is the very reason the American Government must remain "religion neutral".  We have forgotten how important the concept of Separation of Church and State is to our success as a Nation.  It is the First Amendment to the Constitution and top of the Bill of Rights. It defines America.  It is an inspired concept of government.
Religiously the United States is asexual. We are not an atheist Nation nor are we a Theocracy.  We were not founded by a Religion nor do we prohibit the free practice of any. Religion is part of our Liberty and Freedom. No person is obligated by a mandatory subscription to a single idea about God. We are an open Nation accepting and protective of all religion.  
They say the freedom to swing your fist ends when it contacts my nose. The same with Religion. Freedom of religion ends with the conflict of my own personal beliefs. As an American I have the right not to be preached to, converted, belittled, philosophically saved, protletized nor discriminated against for the way I choose to worship my God.  
The current fight for Americans is not the fear that the Washington Monument will be torn down because it is a "pagan symbol of ancient Egypt". It is a fight to keep our basic rights from being torn down by religious belief. The right to chose, the right to marry, the right to be different, the right of free expression, all are being assaulted by home grown Religious zealots.  These rights must be protected from all dogmatic religious beliefs be they foreign or domestic. 
Our rights, like the Roman Temple at Palmyra and the Buddhas of Bamiyan, can be destroyed very quickly no matter how long they have been in existence. Once they are eliminated, it is impossible to put them back the way they were. 
I am sickened by the loss of these historic treasures.  Their destruction is a dramatic example of a cautionary tale of our own future. 
As you were,
Jay

Sunday, August 23, 2015

American Extremism

First a disclaimer and clarification.  I am not an atheist nor am I an evangelized religious zealot. There are shades of faith in-between and I think most American people practice their faith in that zone.  By whatever definition you wish to use, other than sect specific dogma, I am a believer.  But to engage in a conversation about religion we have to have more than tradition, mythology, blind acceptance and exclusion to back up the Truth.  

Because of my religious belief I am as rabid about separation of Church and State as the NRA is about the right to bear arms.  Here is how I felt back in April. Separation of Church and State.  (If you get past the essay to the comment section you can read the statements of a lady who is the very delusional demographic  that I am afraid is out there.)

In a rally for Ted Cruz over the weekend, Ted stated there is an "assault on religion" in this country and if elected he would "Obey the laws of God over American Law."  He also said he would recruit a preacher in every county and district to rally support in their capacity as religious leader to campaign for him.  To me this is a clear violation of the separation of Church and State.  

If Mr. Cruz were trying to get elected as a Southern Baptist Minister his rhetoric would be radical but at least "subject appropriate". He seems to be rallying a crusade rather than conducting a political campaign.  What Isis and the Taliban are trying to do in the Middle East is exactly what Ted Cruz wants to do if elected. All want to form a "state" that is not dictated by law, but religion.  It will not be a state of freedom, justice and liberty for all, it will be a fascist government of suppression, exclusion and medieval punishments. All couched in the idea that this is Our God's Will.

If you belong to the "right" religion and abide by specific ancient rules, you are welcomed into submission.  Those with different philosophies will be converted or be killed.
There is nothing more empowering nor dangerous than a person who believes he speaks on his God's behalf. From Pharaohs to Kings and Cult Leaders to Zealots, it has been proven that the "self-ordained Righteous leaders" are sometimes the most corrupted.  

Granted, Mr. Cruz has not come out in favor of beheading infidels, but he is standing on the top of that slippery slope.  He is running for President of the United States not Bishop of Jesusland.  If in some way actually elected President, Senator Cruz would have to swear an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America".  Only days ago he stated that he would obey "God's law" over Constitutional law. I'm not sure the rules are the same.

His actions as Senator demonstrated that he will not let the needs of the Country stand in the way of his sense of Righteousness.  His filibuster reading of Green Eggs and Ham cost the United States a down-graded credit rating.  The credit rating has not yet gone back to its "Pre Cruz" level.
  
Religion is not under attack in this country. It is the same conflict in the Middle East. Misguided zealots fearful of losing the power they now have are fighting to keep it. This IS the attack.   The organized belief that there is  only one way to salvation, is under attack.   Religion that hides discrimination in the guise of  "Gods will",  is under attack.  Any group that advocates the suppression of rights in the name of "righteousness",  is under attack.  Killing because God tells you to do so, is under attack.  For me, I think that all out dated dogma, is under attack.
  
So, if someone has no chance to become the next President, why care what he (or she) says or stands for? Here's why:  We have seen how easy it is to "recruit" people into giving up their liberty and freedom and fly to a distant land, fight, to kill and die for a cause they believe God has ordained.  Today it is Isis cloaked in Islamic radicalism,  tomorrow it could be a new version of the Klan cloaked in the American flag and Christian extremism.  

Of course these are just opinions based on my own observations.  I would expect yours to be different. In my religious philosophy all are unique, individual expressions of that which is immutable omniscient eternal Truth.  God is omnipotent individuality, not  one size fits all.  What matters which path you take if it leads you to the same destination. 
As you were,
Jay



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Who performed at Woodstock?

Woodstock celebrated its anniversary this week or last... if you don't remember you were probably there.  Woodstock was the touchstone for my generation. So as members of the Love Generation it was our (Sandi & me)  duty to celebrate the occasion by watching "Woodstock" the Movie on an obscure cable HD channel.

Woodstock was as I remembered it.
The movie not the event.  There was no way I could have gone to the real Woodstock.  At the time I was a deeply closeted hippie living an under cover assignment posing as a college student in my folks house. Upstate New York was galaxies away from Dallas, Texas in 1969.  
But I have seen the Woodstock movie, once, years ago.
As a movie it's not so much but as an early recorded concert it makes a fine music video.
Here is the scene for the Woodstock celebration.  It follows a similar pattern as any typical evening at the Johnsons. The television is on and we are both in the den/family room. Sandi and I are multi-tasking on various iDevices while the television is on and we are listening more than watching. I am not relating to the "behind the scenes film" but the music is the sound track of my youth.
Joe Cocker begins singing "With a Little Help from my Friends".  I am distracted from my iScreens to the biggest screen in the house. There are close-ups of a young Joe Cocker doing the signature Cocker moves.  Odd choice of style then, and still is today.

I say, "Look, Sandi it's Cocker." 
Her attention is elsewhere and she says, "Who?"
"Joe Cocker" 
She looks up for a second or two. "It doesn't look like him." 
I say, "It's Woodstock. He was younger."
"He was at Woodstock?"
"He was one of the headliners."
She thinks for a moment. "Wow. That's something. I didn't know that about him. He's done everything. What a career. "
Her knowledge of Joe Cocker's career is not something I knew about my wife.
She watches a little longer. "Is that him singing or is he lip syncing it?"
"That's him. It was recorded live at Woodstock. That was one of his hit records."
"He recorded that? "
"Of course,  it's a Beatles song you know. "
"Oh I knew that but I thought some other guy recorded that version. The guy with the raspy voice. The guy who sang "Wrote me Letter."
"Joe Cocker. "
"Right. Joe Cocker."
"And there he is on the screen singing."
"Wait a minute that's Joe Cocker?"
"That's who we're talking about. That's him."
"Well I know that's Joe Cocker, You told me it was Phil."
"Who?"
"Proctor. You said that was Phil Proctor."
It takes me a second.
Realizing the error I say, "Cocker.  Joe Cocker. Not Phil Proctor."
"Well that makes a lot more sense." She looked down and continued to play Words with Friends.

Now least we dismiss this conversation as just a miscommunication here is the complicated backstory to that conversation.*

Phil Proctor  is someone who logically and realistically could have been on the Woodstock Stage. In the late sixties early seventies, Phil Procter was a member of the Fire Sign Theater which was the voice of comedy counter culture to that Woodstock generation.   Sandi and I met Phil Proctor and Melinda many years ago and have been friends ever since. Since Phil is not such an unusual name, there were even two Guys named Phil in the Firesign Theater,  we simply  call our Phil, "Proctor. " 
Phil has acted in literally every medium of entertainment ever created.  We never know where we will see him next, and it is not surprising to see him in obscure and interesting programs.  I am always turning to Sandi and saying, "That's Proctor" when I hear his voice on the radio or see him in a guest role on television. 
In our decades of marriage I have said to Sandi many times, "Look it's Proctor," and only once have I said, "Look it's Cocker." It was not that far of a stretch to get confused. 
As you were,
Jay

*Note: Sandi told me that if I was going to write about this, I had to explain the back story or it came off as just a silly mistake.  



Monday, August 17, 2015

SOAP Box

I can no longer use the phrase "Old friend of mine" here is why. It's confusing, if not insulting.  Some friends I have known for a very long time, others I have not known that long, they are just old.  I prefer to say "Friend of Mine" without a modifier.  The rest is Googleable information for those who need to know more.
So.. a Friend of Mine sent this on Facebook.  It reminds me of a story.


When I did SOAP Sandi and I didn't have kids.  When the boys were old enough to comprehend what I did for a living, any trace of my work on SOAP was stored away on Betamax tape in the closet.  Any reference to a career that took place before they were born, was just that, a vague reference to a historic event. 
One night when the boys were young teenagers, I woke up at 2:30am to sound of the television in the family room.  I stumbled out of bed and grabbed a terry cloth robe that was near and headed down the hall to investigate.  Occasionally one of the boys would fall asleep watching television and I assumed that is what happened this time.  
I enter the family room to see both boys wide awake comfortably watching TV way past curfews or common sense.
"What are you guys...." was as far as I got. Neither boy looked away from the big screen, but both together held up there hands and told me to hush up.
In that moment my Father gene took over. Not only are these two in trouble for staying up late, they are also about to be punished for blatant disrespect.
Before that can  happen I hear the voice of my wooden partner Bob, coming from the television. I look and there he is on television screen right next to where I am standing. On the television Bob and Chuck have just entered the family room of the Campbell house in matching terry cloth bath robes.  I am at that moment standing in a bath robe looking at my younger self in a bathrobe on television.  I am lost in a time warp.  I do not remember this SOAP scene nor what these characters are going to say next. I have a vague memory of the wardrobe Bob and I are wearing but nothing else. Those royal blue bath robes with the yellow collars, matching down to the shoes were etched in my brain.
At the commercial break both boys came out of their video trance and explained.  Comedy Central was broadcasting a SOAP marathon and although they had heard about the show all their lives they had never seen it.  
The Father in me wanted to say,  "Never mind that. You boys get to bed and learn to respect your Parents." But the actor/performer in me saw it differently. Since this was years before DVD's would make boxed sets of old television shows available, there was no other way to see SOAP at that time.  It felt to me like Comedy Central was providing a personal screening just for my boys. When would there ever come a time when they would binge watch a major event in my life?  
The commercial was over and their attention went back to the screen.  Standing there as an old specter of what this young actor on the screen has become, I said, "Enjoy" and went back to bed.  From then on every time I hear about a SOAP marathon I remember the faces of my boys and smile.
Thank you Suzanne for bringing back that memory.
As you were,
Jay

Friday, August 14, 2015

Classic Happiness

In some cases the exile loneliness of performing on a cruise ship gives me a chance to think about what life is all about.  Here is an example of a "Sea Blog" thumb-typed four and a half years ago on my state of the art CrackBerry.  Technology changes... human nature does not.


Friday, January 07, 2011

What is happiness

This is a study in human nature with me as the bad example. (I bow to my friend Zan on this subject. Consult her Blog "Zan on Happiness" for real solutions to the question of happiness.)
I finally get on the Navigator of the Seas. I've been on this ship many times and know the accommodations well. It is a suite and not a crew cabin.
I am happy.
Then I settle in I discover that the television is not working. Since Bob doesn't talk to me except on stage I usually have the TV on and tuned to CNN for company and background noise. I feel it keeps me in touch on the off chance there might be some universal catastrophe that might cancel my show, or at the least change my narrative on stage.
But the television is broken and won't turn on.  I say to myself. 
"Damn TV". I am not happy.
For a few minutes I wonder what will keep me occupied during my down time. I soon discover I can bide my time drawing and reading and playing with my IPAD. I begin to fill the day with those activities. I think how much calmer it is spending time creatively with out the drone of impending disaster and drug ads polluting the atmosphere of my cabin. I fall asleep that night not to the TV but beautiful music coming from my favorite iTunes. I think this will be a great advantage not having a TV. The TV is such a distraction. I say, 
"Damn TV" and I am happy.
I wake up refreshed. I greet my steward with a smile in the hallway. He is happy. He asks if everything is alright. I say the TV doesn't work but all is good. The steward says, 
"Damn TV." He is not happy.
He leads me back to the suite. After a few unhappy minutes trying to fix it he finally discovers a glitch in the remote. He says the TV is prone to this problem. Frustrated that it he has to fix it again, he says, 
"Damn TV", and He is happy.
He leaves the suite with the Television on and ironically tuned to CNN. Cliff hanger promos fill my world once again and I am caught up in the need to see the incredible video coming up next. I wonder about a problem posed in a television drug ad, who would I call if I suddenly have an erection that lasts four hours. The production manager? The Captain of the Ship?
I think I am happy. But then realize I am caught up in the world of "coming up next". I am not drawing and I am not reading. I am not listening to my music. I come to my senses and break the hypnotic CNN spell. I try to turn it off but can't. Short of contacting the steward and ruining his happiness again, I can not get the TV turned off. I think to myself .... 
"Damn TV" and I am not happy.
I leave the television on and leave the suite for the deck looking over Montego Bay. Soaking in the beauty I decide to write a blog on my BlackBerry about not being happy. But now... I am happy........ "Damn TV."
As you were,
Jay