Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."



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Ron

"Doctrinaire New Ager" has an odd ring to it; something like "Born Again Hedonist."

How do you know I'm from Detroit?
You say 'nomad' and I first think of those wagons Chevy made back in '55...

But I digress...

Ron

There's a line from a song from that great band Bongwater that I recall now:

Joseph Campbell gave me hope,
and now I have been saved.
So I say, Hello Death,
Goodbye Avenue A.

karen

I wonder if Newsweek had funky feelings about BObama and needed a scapegoat of an excuse to visibly, verbally mistrust him?

I like the variety of his life: it's cool and it's, if not traditional, very thorough(that word looks suspiciously wrong, i know)upbringing in religion.

Maybe they realize his words are not truthful- they are 1/2 reality(enough to hold together) and 1/2 ~feel good~ lies to set at ease his base, etc.

I will maintain i believe he's he is a liar- not merely a fliperry flopper.

A Spiritual Nomad? He's in excellent company, if it be true.

wj

Well, so much for the standard Republican complaint that all of the mainstream media are biased against them. Not that it ever had much going for it, but this one will be a challenge to rationalize with that world view.

kithy

It seems to come down to: We can’t pigeonhole his faith, so we can’t pigeonhole him, so he can’t be trusted…

It’s a shame that we can’t let people be with a God of their own understanding. I understand that we are selecting a President and that we don’t like chaos and we think we can predict behaviors. Guess what? We can’t. We’re only fooling ourselves if we believe we can.

With what he wrote, as a private prayer, as part of a private conversation between himself and his God, I find great comfort there.

We did ok with Lincoln and Jefferson, did we not?

karen

You must admit, wj- that even if(as you seem to be saying)media isn't negatively disproportionate(uh, disproportionately negative?)against the (R)s... it most certainly is dispropotionately proBObama, IMhumbleO- of course.

karen

Kithy-
if BObama released his ~private prayer~ to the media BEFORE he even went to place it privately(w/much parade of banners,hoopla& entourage)at a very sacred wall- don't you think it was more of a stunt for publicity than ~private~?

I mean, i totally agree w/you. What is in the hearts of people, their private thoughts and prayers- should be respected as personal where God is concerned... BUT, if BObama made these thoughts and this prayer public... he is totally taking the sacred and exploiting it for his own advantage.

That gross.

PatHMV

To be bluntly honest, one of the things that concerns me most about Obama is indeed his father's absence from his life from such a young age. Those few men I know who were raised without even a "week-end" father tend to bear significant scars of one sort or another as a result. Sen. Obama seems to have avoided some of the worst and most typical (he appears to have a stable marriage and be a good father), but I am concerned about unseen issues we have yet to discover. Our last fatherless President clearly had a lot of personal demons lurking within him as a result.

I don't say this is (or should be) a disqualifying factor all by itself. America has a strong and good tradition of judging individuals by their personal merit without much in the way of deep psychological analysis about their upbringing. I don't care a whit whether his mother was a "spiritual nomad" or not. But that he grew up his whole life knowing his biological father had abandoned him... I worry how that fact affects his judgment and character.

amba

Pta -- it seems to me that we had this conversation here before, but I can't remember -- were any other examples of fatherless Presidents brought up besides Bill Clinton?

Speaking of psychological influences on presidents -- being a prisoner of war and being tortured also really messes people up in ways that may not be obvious.

Pastor_Jeff

being a prisoner of war and being tortured also really messes people up in ways that may not be obvious.

Wow, that's a really interesting insight, Amba. I hadn't thought of that before.

As far as Obama's spiritual wandering, that's neither surprising nor particularly concerning. As kithy and the article pointed out, Jefferson and Lincoln just fine.

And I didn't find the article particularly harsh or critical. It points out that 70% of Americans believe that many paths lead to God. It sounds like Obama's faith is pretty mainstream. What was that came across as negative?

RW Rogers

Speaking of psychological influences on presidents -- being a prisoner of war and being tortured also really messes people up in ways that may not be obvious.

I actually know at least two people who will not vote for McCain for that reason. Both regularly vote Republican. One expressed a similar opinion in 1980.

As for Obama, his grandfather was there every day from 5th grade on (he lived his grandparents most of that time). He lived with his stepfather from age 6 through 10.

RW Rogers

CORRECTION: 2000, not 1980.

amba

PJ, as you know, I live with someone who was a sort of prisoner of war, so I didn't mean that comment about McCain in a superficially snarky way. I meant, really, that there are few people without scars of one sort or another so that doesn't seem to be a reliable indicator either -- but I would like to be reminded of other fatherless presidents, if any.

The article made it sound, especially at the beginning, as if Obama's background was really alien and fishy. It looked askance at his mother's lack of a declared religious affiliation. Towards the end it comes around to admitting that it's, rather, a "major minor" strain throughout American history. Approve of it or not, it's not as "other" as the authors make it sound.

amba

No one has commented so far Obama's unwillingness to consign his own mother to hell as a test of his doctrinal Christianity.

Pastor_Jeff

I didn't mean that comment about McCain in a superficially snarky way.

I know you didn't. I thought it was a genuinely insightful observation which hadn't occurred to me before. Sorry if I sounded otherwise.

Obama's beliefs about his mother's eternal destiny simply reflect what most Americans believe -- that there's a God who loves us and guides us in some sense, who will judge us (if at all) very generously on the basis of whether the good outweighs the bad, and who doesn't consign decent, hardworking people to condemnation. He fits right in with what I'd call American civic religion. People are not inherently sinful and needing salvation, but at worst a mix of good and bad, and only needing redirection or improvement and therefore not deserving of judgment. It uses Christian terminology because Christianity was historically the predominant religion here, but it has little else in common with biblical Christianity.

In Obama's case, his faith has been shaped by Trinity UCC's rather unique black liberation theology, but in broad measure he seems to fit right in with mainline Protestantism and American pragmatism.

amba

I had a friend who was a kindhearted born-again Christian (she may be proof of the power of prayer, as she recovered completely from both breast and uterine cancer some 20 years ago, and is still fine) who said she thought there must be two hells, because she didn't believe that good people who just weren't born-again Christians would go to the same one as murderers and the like. Maybe the better hell was air-conditioned, or something.

PatHMV

Amba... I think we did discuss it before, and I'll see if I can find any other fatherless Presidents.

You're quite right that the prisoner of war experience is also highly likely to leave lasting scars. In McCain's case, we have over 30 years of public life to evaluate for evidence of such scars. With Obama, we have much less adult experience to evaluate. But as I said, I don't think that either factor by itself should determine anybody's vote: it's simply one factor among many.

Robert Lewis

Obama's mother's original Social Security Number Application

http://webofdeception.com/obamamother'sssapplication.html

RW Rogers

A Social Security number application! Oh my! How terrible! Pssst. Did you know that John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone? It's true! It's true! And he wears $700 foreign-made shoes, too! The horrors!

Pastor_Jeff

Amba,

I don't want to take us off track on the topic of hell and judgment, but I think there's something to Dante's idea of circles of hell, or degrees of suffering. My perspective is that God is the source of all light, love, truth and goodness. Hell is simply the absence of God, and all that entails. God allows us reject Him and choose instead a self-made hell with self at the center instead of God. We are not designed to carry the weight of being the center of everything, so we in a sense collapse in on ourselves (to varying degrees). That is why the humbling act of confessing our sin and finitude is freeing and puts us back in the proper relationship to God, self, others and creation. The refusal to do that is hell, and done long enough it shapes our souls in such a way that we won't even choose God if given the chance.

C. S. Lewis gives a powerful picture of this in The Great Divorce. Imagine a burned out city filled with twilight people living forever in the torment of their self-righteousness, self-justification, self-importance, and dissatisfaction because they will be God. That is hell. And that is what Christ comes to rescue us from -- not red-suited devils with pitchforks, but ourselves.

Pastor_Jeff

RW -- Heh.

Maybe they're both Manchurian candidates. McCain was tortured by Communists, and Obama was raised in a Muslim country...

In the movie, wasn't there a code word which triggered the brainwashed person to carry out the secret plan? I wonder what the trigger words are for McCain and Obama?

amba

And that is what Christ comes to rescue us from -- not red-suited devils with pitchforks, but ourselves.

Beautifully said.

RW Rogers

Rosebud, Jeff. Rosebud.

Maxwell James

Beautifully said.

And rather Zen!

[ducks]

Ron

My perspective is that God is the source of all light, love, truth and goodness.
huh. God's got the Mother of All PR campaigns behind that one!

God allows us reject Him and choose instead a self-made hell with self at the center instead of God.
What, why must I live in hell, self-made or otherwise, is I aint buyin' the fish he's peddling?
And since he made me, if I must live in a self-made hell, isn't this bad craftsmanship on God's part? Or 'planned obsolescence'? I smell Product Liability Suit! This statement is more a Mafia edict than something I'd find in an admirable Creator!

We are not designed to carry the weight of being the center of everything, so we in a sense collapse in on ourselves.
Speak for yourself there if you must, my friend, I'm not having it!

humbling act of confessing our sin and finitude is freeing
This is like actors talking about their looks; there's absolutely nothing humble going on when Christians talk about sin.

Imagine a burned out city filled with twilight people living forever in the torment of their self-righteousness, self-justification, self-importance, and dissatisfaction because they will be God. That is hell.
You mean like the happening place that Jimmy Stewart could have gone to in It's a Wonderful Life instead of the boring ass 'pious' way he does live? Only Christians rationalize God through their flaws!

And that is what Christ comes to rescue us from -- not red-suited devils with pitchforks, but ourselves.
Oh my God, Oprah, just give me a car, willya? I've read more insightful fortune cookies!

Ron

"'Is it true that God is everywhere?', a little girl asked her mother. 'I think that is positively indecent!' A lesson for philosophers!"
-- Nietzsche

amba

"Hell is other people." ~ Sartre

"I myself am hell,
nobody's here . . . " ~ Robert Lowell

"Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it." ~ Mephistopheles, in Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus"

RW Rogers

Gee, Ron, can you turn down the volume a bit, please? Thanks.

amba

Ron: Our own homegrown Christopher Hitchens!!

Theo Boehm

I've read more insightful fortune cookies!

Well, tonight I actually did run into an insightful fortune cookie.

It said, "The greatest generosity is non-attachment."

I don't expect Ron to get that one, either.

Ron

"Hell is a place very much like Newark" -- Amazing Stories, Spielberg, 1985

"Gehenna -- not a place, but a state of mind" ibid


I'd have turned down the volume if I hadn't got the big Bible thump upside my head by Pastor Jeff! I aint playin' church mouse to that preachin'!

Sui Generis Hitchens, my sweet Amba! Rousting Papist dogs from their lairs before Hitch poured his first scotch and soda! (which sounds mighty fine about now!) But who said groaning old church bells had anything to do with God?

Oh, Theo! I know more about what I've forgotten to know, than you either know or have forgotten! But, hey baby, it's all good! (if only the Christians thought that way!) ;)

"I'm sick of this pedantic tone,
The devil now, I'll play!"
--Goethe, Faust

Peace and Love my boogie children...

Pastor_Jeff

Ron,

Thanks for the reminder that Christians haven't cornered the market on offensiveness or arrogance. If you'd ever like to offer something other than acrimony and actually, you know, discuss things or talk, I'd be glad to, though.

wj

I always thought one of the better theological descriptions of hell was this: knowing God, but compelled to be isolated from him. (As I recall, it was a Christian theologian said it -- but I'm by no means certain of that.)

It certainly sounds more like the loving God that Christianity started with than the towering flames that they picked up later from the pagans.

Theo Boehm

One thing Ron may know but has forgotten to know is civility.

Ron shouldn't chug so much water of forgetfulness next time around this little karmic wheel.  But he seems, like Christopher Hitchens, to be making do with scotch and soda while he's here.  Encourages forgetfulness and other apparent behaviors.

Ron

My first two comments to this thread had neither acrimony nor incivility; I didn't just pull it out of the blue for the next one. Rather, I found the whole post from Pastor Jeff acrimonious and uncivil in extremis; Theo hasn't helped himself in failing to recognize this in my response. I'd be happy to talk Pastor Jeff and I have liked what you have written in many places to feel you could, but this post here went beyond the pale for me, calling for maximum snark in response. One of the things I don't like about blogging is discussing things in this semaphore-like fashion; I believe, at heart, that we would work this out, without the shadow of misunderstanding, either face to face or even on the phone. So we do what we can.

amba

Ron -- to whom was PJ's comment uncivil and acrimonious? The human race? Were you taking offense on humanity's behalf at the doctrine of original sin? Are you personally offended by professions of religious belief?

karen

OK- so after i looked up the definition of ~semaphore~, re-read our good Pastor's comment(heh-hemmmm)(the dude's a PAS-tor, Ron) i just don't get the cry of ~Foul, Foul- PJ peed in my cheerioooos~ bit.

But, then... i'm a Papist.

I'm sure PJ didn't strive to offend, merely giving his insight on another angle-- i state i am not offend by shared thoughts even if i don't agree w/them. Unless they bitch me out. Then i cry.

~sigh~ How far away is November, again?

Pastor_Jeff

Ron,

Amba wrote that she had appreciated my last comment, which you snidely dismissed as Oprah-esque. Even if you disagree with someone, you don't have to be so dismissive and superior, especially to the blog host.

And when Christians talk about sin, we're talking about our fallenness and failure. You can disagree with the biblical understanding of sin, but how is it proud?

I think 'acrimonious' was a fair characterization of your response. Firing off snarky one-liners is easy and satisfying, but it doesn't accomplish much. I'm still willing to actually engage any real criticism. Or look at it this way -- since I'm so off base, why not show me the error of my ways instead of just telling me I'm stupid and wrong?

Theo.Boehm

I'll tell you why I got torked.  After not having commented on amba's blog in about forever, I worked up what I thought were some cool ideas on spiritual nomadism, Obama's and everyone else's.  They were partly an improvement to an earlier comment of mine on Althouse, and partly in response to Pastor Jeff.  I hadn't checked the thread in a while, but was all set to share my little thought bouquet with everyone, and Wham!   Your basic, grotesque anti-Christian rant, in my face!  The few carefully plucked blooms from the Garden of Philosophy wilted in my hand at the hot breath of the stranger.

I'd hoped to continue what was an interesting discussion of politics, religion and spirit among sympathetic people. But nooo!  I keep forgetting this is the internet, where you never know who will show up with a pie, a large mallet, or an Acme anvil.  Beep beep.

I've got a few sticks of Acme dynamite left myself, but my matches are wet.  As soon as they dry out, I'm off to find some nice, intelligent thread I, too, can animate.  Boom!

After all, why shouldn't I have some of that same fun here on the Intertoon?

amba

Well, rats. I for one would have really wanted to hear what you had to say. :(

I would advise both you and Ron: sometimes the best thing you can do on the Internet is stick your fingers in your ears and go LA LA LA LA.

Theo.Boehm

Thanks, amba, but I don't think the question of Obama's religion is going to go away, so there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss the issues around it, including the central one of spiritual nomadism.

It's just that that Acme anvil got dropped in this particular thread in such a way as to land on several of our toes, some perhaps more than others. And it's not that I am a reflexive or easily offended Christian, either. I just don't want to put up some of my more reflective and personal thoughts about God, the Transcendent, religious practice, etc., in the context of the way this thread turned out. I'm not going to belabor this any more, but just say I'm sure there will be other occasions where things will work more smoothly.

amba

Well, if your heart's still in it, e-mail me off thread. Big preoccupation of mine; I see the huge dangers and frequent fatuity of spiritual-nomadism and its many mutations (from TMTM to "New Age Fascism" as so slashingly depicted on Mystic Bourgeoisie, but exposure to many traditions has theologically -- not morally -- relativized me. They really do all seem like attempts of varying insight and brilliance to grasp the same reality. It leaves me in a weird, stripped-down place that's sort of Taoism plus natural law, with admiration for features of several traditions (which is why I never put down more traditionally religious people; I just can't be one).

Ron

Amba wrote that she had appreciated my last comment, which you snidely dismissed as Oprah-esque. Even if you disagree with someone, you don't have to be so dismissive and superior, especially to the blog host.

I've certainly given Amba great and well deserved praise, both here in the blog and directly through emails, Pastor Jeff. So I say something different than the blog host; if I can't speak in full voice, snide, nice, funny, kind or anything in between that is more insulting than any words I say to our blog host. Schtick, not snark, is my usual modus operandi as that is closest to my own nature, and that reveals itself more often than not here and elsewhere I comment. It seems more dismissive and superior for you to presume you can speak her mind for her, Pastor Jeff.

Victoria

By way of preamble:

One of the worst things in human interaction is projecting one person's characteristics unto a whole group of others. Apart from everything else, it's tribal, and anti-Western.

I put it to you that Ron has instantly become the voice of Christianity people will remember in this comments section.

And that Senator Obama, for Christians, represents a kind of religionless liberal easily dismissed by so many conservatives.

I am currently reading The Audacity of Hope. His thoughts on America and religion span from pp. 198-203 within Chapter 6 ("Faith"), in case of interest.

Throughout his frank exposition, there is a "them" attitude about religious people, which clearly evokes the "bitter/guns" fingerpointing opinion revealed earlier in a private campaign session.

It's not that he's not religious that should worry people. Is that he recognises he is not, and finds religiosity part of the Other of America, which rarely touches his private life.

For a private citizen, this remove is narrow, but doable.

For a politician, it's catastrophic.

Cheers,
Victoria

amba

Hmm, and yet, he claims to be religious. Do you think that's only politically expedient, and that he's really not? Or that he's genuinely religious, but in a "progressive" mold that stresses social justice and goes light on the theology?

I have to admit, I haven't read his books.

Pastor_Jeff

It seems more dismissive and superior for you to presume you can speak her mind for her, Pastor Jeff.

I can't see where I spoke Amba's mind for her, and I didn't tell you not to offer your opinions. I simply suggested that sarcastically trashing something your host has said she found beautiful is rude.

When I go to the art museum, I see lots of things I don't care for. To me, civility means not walking up behind people and sneering at their expressions of appreciation. I guess that's a point on which we disagree.

But if you'd like to have a respectful and substantive discussion about anything I've written here, I'm still available.

Christy

While I've not read Newsweek in a very long time, I do remember that the writers on religon frequently did not reflect the positions espoused in the remainder of the magazine. Is it still that way?


Meade

It's my understanding that most children of alcoholics feel, to varying degrees, abandoned and abused. Inasmuch as alcoholism often destroys a person's self and soul, I think it could be argued that Ronald Reagan grew up without a father.

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