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Right From the Hip | Observations & Opinions | Politics, Law & Current Events In which our Vagabond Seeks a City in Motion. It is early Saturday evening, the doors are open, the coffee house beckons. I enter into a crowd – young and old, in pairs, groups and singles, are standing in line, checking their phones, reviewing the menu board, sitting astride chairs, leaning on counters, stirring their mugs, contemplating their next move, and conversing with animation and verve. After securing a mug of herbal orange blossom tea and plain pound cake (something different and contemplative), no booths are available. I occupy a seat at a long, central bench and table with the other patrons. Immediately next to me sits a young couple, face to face, wearing various shades of blue denim (she also sports a floppy, soft-brim robin egg blue hat), who have stopped talking to enjoy one of the house's calorie-generous desserts. Their desserts are laden with strawberries, fresh, fragrant, jumbo-sized, strawberries, tumbling generously, abundantly, off the dessert cakes which shyly peek out underneath. These are six-dollar desserts, suitable for serious courtship. The whipped cream had disappeared already. Their strawberries are not shy - they flaunt their bright deep red strawberry color, their inviting texture, they flirt their white edges. These strawberries profligately cast about their unmistakable ripe fragrance. Indeed, the fragrance demands attention. For an unmeasured moment, these strawberries own the bench and my perceptions – my other senses have quietly stepped down and wait for the strawberry fragrance to master the stage, to take its bows, to aromatically speak for strawberries everywhere. Each strawberry is joined with all strawberries - connected in a web of genetic code, agricultural pedigree, sense perception and idea. The smell, the fragrance and appearance of these strawberries, and for a distinct slice of time, the connected picture, the taste, the idea of many strawberries, all strawberries, as an adjective as well as a noun, occupy my thoughts. If there had been no name for strawberries ever given, I would have conjured a name for them, then and there. Strawberries are versatile. We can give Latin names to their various genus, Fragaria. We may note that each apparent achene, or seed, on the outside is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it, perhaps explaining why the couple beside me ordered them for dessert. Philosophers might debate whether or not there exists a non-physical essence of strawberry, an ideal Platonic form of strawberry, or be skeptical that we could ever be sure that what we perceive as strawberry was reliable. Mischievous children have picked them to throw at each other. We can observe them on wild vines, clip, transplant and cultivate them in our gardens, study what combination of sun and water gives them the greatest growth and sweetest flavor, pick them gingerly to set at our breakfast table, eat them singly or in groups in little morning fruit bowls. We have financed agri-businesses to grow them in vast number, might someday sell strawberry futures on a commodities exchange, have hired agricultural workers to pick them in mass quantity. Graduate students in economics might measure the economic impact of establishing a minimum wage for strawberry pickers, while employers make certain their immigration papers are in order. We can contest the right of strawberry pickers to go on strike, and use courtrooms to enjoin secondary strikes by other fruit pickers. Independent truck drivers can transport them in refrigerated, insured freight carriers at free-on-board rates. District managers of supermarket chains can offer them for retail sale in little green baskets at trendy supergrocers which have memorable advertising logos and trained-to-be-friendly checkout people, and serve them in coffee houses at upscale prices. In laboratories we can measure their molecular carbon chains, forensically identify them with gas and mass chromatography, and fit them into biochemical schema of study. We can mash them into lipstick or cream for purposes of skin and beauty enhancement, advertised by slender, photogenic models. We can handwash our dirty dishes in our neglected kitchen sinks, or shampoo our thinning hair with liquid soaps flavored with them. No small series of achievements, for an aggregate accessory fruit. But we have strawberries as descriptors also, as concepts and additions to the language in which we think and speak and describe, in which we write poetry and love sonnets. They act as triggers or stimulants, to remind us of things, things we may want to remember. I bend my head over my tea and soak a piece of my cake into my orange-blossom tea. But these strawberries are not yet done their work. The fragrances of my coffee-house neighbors' strawberries trigger vivid memories. A series of pictures is summoned up, interior miniatures composing a sequenced event in my life, a road trip of an altogether different sort. Gently unfaded, affectionately insistent, parading in silence one at a time yet making a whole, a set of gliding images from the past paints over my vision. ____________________ My wife, Erma, and I were dating, and engaged. I was just 32. At the time, she was just 23 years of age, not quite 5'2" unless she stood on her tiptoes (she was generous in describing her height on various health and application forms), slender, lithe, with quick, athletic reflexes, light brown hair never allowed to grow long, a bright upturned face full of energy, green-grey eyes that were never quite the same shade from day to day, and a stand-your-ground manner suitable for the youngest child who had five older brothers. Erma had been a Christian since her experiences as a teenager in church youth group, and had been well taught by a beloved senior pastor, Reverend Pusey. She could field a ground ball or steal third base, tell every player on the Philadelphia Flyers in 1977 (she still had a Bobby Clark doll) or quote scripture by memory, intelligently and to the point under discussion. She was a secretary at DuPont, a job she had held since the day after she graduated from high school. There was emotional trauma in her childhood, including a miserable relationship with her father (the misery shared by her brothers and sister), and a tragic gun accident which took the life of one of her brothers, after her father irresponsibly brought home a rifle and gave it to his children without supervision or safety instruction. The collapse of the family unit brought economic difficulties. Erma bubbled over with hope and energy – she was ready to wrestle wildcats, hid her fears, counted her pennies, and laughed loudly and easily. Erma pooled shock, grief, loss and anger in reservoirs of her soul. She introduced herself to a pair of young men attending a Christian singles conference in Sandy Cove, Maryland, one of whom was me, because she recognized the church my friend Dave had announced at the beginning of the conference, and that was enough of a conversational opening for her. We took a trip to North Carolina, to visit her brother Noel, the only one of her family to graduate from college. Noel was a marketing manager for a large agricultural chemicals company, and he was moved about the country every few years. For several years he had lived near Research Triangle Park outside Raleigh. Our trip was a happy one; we packed up Erma's silver Honda Civic, years old but running like a Swiss watch, and toodled down the highway one Monday in the early summer. Life was opening up. My disorderly life, spread across two coasts, was moving in a good direction. Erma, deeply emotionally cautious, was hoping that the world held good things as well. After staying the first night with friends in Virginia, we arrived after a day of easy driving at Noel's, still single. As always, he was a gracious host, owner of a sensible but well-maintained home. His practice of buying and selling homes as he was transferred around the company proved to be economically rewarding. I don't know whether he liked his job in its own right, but years later when he was offered a retirement package at the age of 50, he took it, and to my knowledge, has never worked 9-5 job since. Noel was working 9-5 when we arrived though, so during the day we were left to our own devices around Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham and the surrounding areas. Open to guidebook suggestions, we went to the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel HiIl. We walked the displays of native plants, violet-purple iris, milkweed, wood anemone, maidenhair ferns, wild indigo, water-plaintains, bluestars. The Gardens have a display of carnivorous plants, pitcher plants, Venus fly traps, along with their orchids and lilies. I found a very tiny spider among the carnivorous plant displays, picked him up with a leaf, and deposited him into a Venus fly-trap, which promptly, as advertised, closed its tender petals. The wispy trigger hairs of the plant quite quickly formed a bars-of-a-jail cell effect as the plant's leaves closed reflexively – I could see the tiny spider, looking out, as forlorn and puzzled as any prisoner would be. At the time, I had nothing to say to him, and regretted somewhat causing his fate. With the advantages of hindsight and advancing years, today, I might encourage him with words of sympathy – "you and me both, brother," a final salute, issued nunc pro tunc. Erma and I went to see a movie in the evening. Mr. Hulot's Holiday. Monsier Hulot, the French actor Jacques Tati, "decides to vacation at a beautiful seaside, resort. Rest and relaxation don't last long, given the gangly gent's penchant for ridiculous antics." Released in 1954, you have to be in the right mood to see this slapstick farce. Erma and I were nearly alone in the theater, it was a Tuesday evening. We were in the mood – I laughed hard. Erma laughed uproariously, full volume. I never heard anyone laugh so hard – her cackles filled the theater – no nook or cranny escaped the piercing volume of her laughter. Many times. How can you not fall in love with a girl like that? If anyone else was in the theater at all (maybe one other couple), they certainly knew they weren't alone. The next day, we visited Duke University in Durham. The lawns and grounds were green, immaculate, carefully maintained; the buildings, the Chapel, all were elite-college campus beautiful. I daresay visiting parents longed to expend vast sums of money to send their children there. After walking around for several hours, near the end of the day, we found a small restaurant/coffee-shop. Because of the day and hour we were again nearly alone. The shop featured a strawberry desert, loaded with whipped cream. They were the freshest, sweetest, most flagrantly-and-fragrantly-delicious strawberries imaginable. It was a lifetime trophy desert. The taste, the aroma of the strawberries filled our noses, our palates, our tongues – our sweet, ripe taste buds went off like bells. Erma was just swooning with joy. It seemed as if we just sat and ate for hours (which could not possibly be true), as if the strawberry dessert stopped local time to go on forever. These strawberries had royal, domestic, South American and continental antecedents. According to Wikipedia, the garden strawberry was first grown or bred in Brittany, France in the 1750s by crossing Fragaria Virginia from eastern North America with Fragaria Chiloenses, brought from Chile. The French began harvesting wild strawberries in the 14th century. Strawberries were added to cream in the Court of King Henry VIII. What can I add to that? World production of strawberries is in excess of nine million tons, and not a strawberry too many. After we had spent a few days at Noel's, we drove east to go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Outer Banks are a resort area, but wilder, less cultivated than the homogenized resort areas one sometimes visits. We rented two separate hotel rooms to stay in the area around Kitty Hawk. I had sexual relationships prior to becoming a Christian. Erma had many dating relationships, but had learned her sexual ethics as a teenager at a conservative, evangelical church and drew a line she believed in. We did not sleep together on that trip. It helped to make our dating relationship simple, clean, pure, uncomplicated. (Our physical relationship began on our honeymoon - when Erma exited the bathroom and entered our bedroom the evening of our 11 a.m. wedding in Bear, Delaware. We had driven to a bed and breakfast in Milford, New Jersey, Linda and Rob Castagna's Chestnut Hill on the Delaware River. Looking at the teddy-bear decorated bed and room in the honeymoon suite and at me, Erma asked, "do you think we should pray?" I answered, "I already have.") But that wedding ceremony day was still in our distance, like a beckoning city on a hill. The next day on our excursion to North Carolina, we traipsed about on the Kitty Hawk beach. It was not yet warm enough for swimming; the beaches were nearly empty. I discovered that small fish, mullets or small kingfish, filled some of the deeper surf pools and beach ponds left by retreating waves. There is a picture of me taken by Erma, bending over at the waist, looking down, with my pants rolled up as I stood in the middle of one of these surf pools, wearing a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, trying to catch little silver fish with my bared, cupped hands. Trying to catch small fish by hand was a predictably unsuccessful effort, but loads of fun to try. I looked perfectly ridiculous, and we were perfectly happy. On our trip back in the silver Honda Civic from North Carolina, driving north to Wilmington and Phoenixville, we sang hymns on the road. Neither Erma or I have any musical talent at all - neither of us can carry a melody. But there was no music critic in the car, no one to be distressed. We sang "Fairest Lord Jesus," in toneless acapella - it fit our mood and excursion well. _______________________ I was interrupted in my coffee-house reveries by a young man, of Asian background, whose face I recognized, but whose name I didn't know. He had been listening to me a previous week, when I was proclaiming out loud verses from the Book of Revelation, the lake of fire verses, the judgment verses, on a previous morning when the coffee house was much emptier than it was that Saturday evening. His interruption lead into quite an extended discussion, carried out over three locations in the coffee house. "Hello," he said. I responded with my own 'hello.' "I saw you here the other week. You were reading out loud. I was standing over there" – he indicated where he had been standing when I had my brief confrontation with the coffee house manager, Jen, over reading Bible verses out loud. I nodded 'yes' and offered my hand and introduced myself. "My name is Qi," he introduced himself with a small but perceptible bob of the head. His English was good, with a slight British accent. Qi looked to be in his early twenties, fifty years younger than I. His hair was black parted on one side, his chin and cheeks clean-shaven, his eyes brown, his lashes somewhat long, his build slim, probably 5' 10" in height and weighing 140 or 150 pounds, wearing blue jeans and a neat maroon pullover jersey. His facial expression was respectful, intelligent and friendly. "I wanted to ask you. Why were you reading out loud? And why did you choose those verses?" I had to think to recreate my thoughts and mood the previous week. "I can't answer that easily. God moves inside me without giving me explanations. Why those verses? I felt like I wanted to get somewhere - we ought to get somewhere. I saw those verses on the path." "I heard what you said to the manager. The owner doesn't mind?" His expression suggested that people reading out loud in a coffee house crossed a line in the culture he came from. "No," I told him, "the owner doesn't mind." We paused our conversation for a moment, so Qi could find a way around the bench and people to squeeze in opposite me. He was sitting right next to the strawberry-eating couple, also seated across each other on the bench, as I was. "Do you work, or are you a student?" I asked. Qi explained his background to me, responding to my questions. He was 23 years old, a graduate student seeking a Master's degree in statistics from the graduate department of a nearby university. He was an exchange student, a resident of China, whose family came from near Beijing. Much of his life was not spent in China however. His father was an investment banker, and they spent a number of years in different countries and cities, including London, where he learned as a teenager to speak English well, and learned his slight but discernible British accent. He was one of three children, and had two sisters, one older, who was married and living near Shanghai, and one considerably younger sister, who was living at home near Beijing, where his parents had returned. I asked him about China's one-child policy and he explained that his father had sufficient resources to obtain relief from the rule. Since the first child in the family was a daughter, apparently this exception was not difficult to obtain with respect to Qi. Having official sanction for having a third child was more difficult, but by then his father had political and economic connections. By this time the strawberry dessert-eating couple had left. Their seats were taken by others so it wasn't always easy to conduct our conversation. The coffee house was noisy, there was music in the background and people were sliding behind us at times to reach seats further down the long benches on which Qi and I were seated. When I paused my deposition-like questions, I asked if he attended any local church. He did, he explained, and had been for about a year. "What did you think when I read those verses out loud?" I asked. "How did you react?" "I like hearing the Book of Revelation read aloud. It doesn't often get read out loud. When you hear a sermon, somebody tells you what to think about it. There's always a doctrine or a system. Everything has to be explained." He thought for a few moments. "There's more in the words, than there is in the explanations." He said, and I quietly nodded in agreement. "Well, if you just listen to the words, read by somebody else, you wouldn't have a system," I offered. "You might have a language, though. A set of mutual symbols. Even if we didn't agree on what they meant." He listened to what I said and we talked about language, and symbols. His criticisms of symbolic language were well-thought out; a person whose native tongue is Chinese understands well the strengths and weaknesses of symbols to communicate. I suggested that symbols and graphic pictures cut through many language systems. The phrase "a woman clothed with the sun," eludes precise rational understanding, but it's an accessible image everywhere. We had the mutual and considerable pleasure of two people speaking thoughtfully to each other. "You don't agree with any systems about it?" I asked, meaning the Book of Revelation. "I don't know. My church teaches a system." "Which one is that? Dispensationalism? Premillennialism?" "Yes." "The Rapture, any minute. The Jews left to face the anti-Christ." "Yes. Yes." "You're not defending it very hard," I suggested. His facial expression indicated that I had discerned his feelings accurately. "Is that what you believe?" Qi asked me. "No. I'm a Postmillennialist. I believe in the Great Commission. Christ gave us an order. Go into the far reaches of the world. Convert the nations. So we will succeed. It's the prayer he taught us. 'Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.'" "How does reading about the burning lake of fire out loud, help that?" Qi queried. "I'm not sure. Does the Spirit have to explain everything to me? I respond as I'm called. But I think everybody wants good news. Ask them, and they'll tell you the world is a mess. But then they want good news - warm and reassuring. God's judgment in a burning lake of fire is a very unpopular topic. But it wakes people up. It made you ask me questions." "Do you think bad news is more likely to win converts?" Qi was looking at me with a certain amount of respectful skepticism. "I think telling people the truth helps people see the truth." "But you, too. You didn't recite the burning lake of fire verses with a big smile on your face." "Perhaps so. Me too," I admitted. "Maybe there's enough bad news already," Qi suggested. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. That's true too. You're right. But why are all those burning lake of fire verses there? Fierce warnings, aren't they?" I asked rhetorically. "Maybe it's the bad news that already exists. Maybe the world loves judging. Maybe the world needs judging. There's a lot of judging inside of us already." As he said this, I thought I detected some personal history in Qi – perhaps his father was a judgmental person. "I think it's a warning - a guide and a look to the future. But I'll be careful about trying to interpret it, with you around. I'll let the words be the words. Burning lake of fire and all." I raised my hands slightly to indicate surrender – the acknowledgment of my limitations. "Don't some people believe the whole book was just meant for the 1st century Christians? They think it all relates to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Roman armies. That's it – nothing else." Qi's knowledge suggested some study; his tone suggested questions, perhaps questions deeper than interpreting the Book of Revelation. "Are you a preterist?" I asked him. I wasn't sure whether his question was a narrow, specialized question over eschatology, or rather a deeper question that any young person might have, about whether the whole structure of religion is connected to anything real at all. "I'm not sure what that means," he admitted. "About what you said. Preterists believe most of the Book of Revelation has already been fulfilled. It was a warning for the 1st century, for the early church. A tract for the times. Now it's done – it has no future significance," I explained. "If that's what you're asking." "No, I haven't thought about it much, but don't think I think that. How about you?" Qi asked. There were questions in this young man, but I didn't know quite what they were. "I think it's prophecy. The Word of God to us. It's no more fulfilled and done than the Sermon on the Mount is fulfilled and done. Does that answer your question?" I returned. "I guess we'll never know, this side of Final Judgment," he offered. "Maybe we just wait for the Rapture?" "It makes a difference now. It changes how we act, because of what we expect. If all you're doing is sitting around here, waiting for the Rapture, that's one kind of answer. But I'll buy you a cup of coffee, and we can wait together." As I was about to get up to buy coffee, a young woman, talking to her friend following behind her, was trying to make her way behind the bench to a seat. She was holding a sandwich on a plate and a glass. Someone moved on the crowded bench, not knowing anyone was behind him, and bumped directly into her. Her sandwich spilled and tumbled across the back of an unshaven but pleasant-looking blonde young man and onto the floor. There, visible for the world, near Qi's feet, were the ingredients for her sandwich, two slices of multi-grain bread, two chunks of avocado, two generous slices of tomato, and a large stack of bean sprouts, scattered across the floor along with a slice of dill pickle. She moved back apologetically, waving the now-empty sandwich plate in her hand, obviously embarrassed. The young man stood up, rather mildly and saw who had spilled sandwich fixings on him. He didn't seem angry - he was apologetic and rather embarrassed himself. No one quite knew what to do. For a few moments the two of them milled about each other in rather disorganized fashion. The coffee house manager was nearby. She saw what had happened and signaled for a staff person to assist. Qi and I both stood up to move out of the way and sidestepped our way to leave the benches and table. As we were moving, I made brief eye contact with the manager and we mutually and quickly nodded. I didn't want her to think I had been a problem again, but she saw I was an innocent bystander, not an repeat instigator of disturbances. While the clean-up was being accomplished, Qi, seeing our mutual nod, asked if I knew the coffee house manager. "Yes, her name is Jen Geddes. She's a Christian. She's nice – a calm person." We watched the cleanup. I thought I would share a bit more, thinking still about what Qi's questions might be. "Years ago, she was in the newspaper, picture and all. She had a bit of a temper. I think she came from a very fundamental background. She was in a church, and for whatever reason, something was going with a visiting pastor she definitely didn't agree with. She expressed her theological disagreement by shouting out loud, picking up a stool, and heaving it at this visiting pastor. She actually hit him with it and there were disturbances in the church. The police had to be called. As a sentence I think she got what is called ARD, a non-trial diversion. It usually means she had to do some community service and get some counseling. I was practicing as a lawyer at the time, so I paid attention. Some years later, she got the job here. I recognized her when she started. Very calm - very welcoming to everybody these days. I never talked with her about it. I always wanted to ask her what it was about. Part of it was reported in the newspaper – apparently, whatever it was the visiting pastor was saying, her response was along the lines of "are you really going to say that, in my ear?" The cleanup was over, but Qi and I found a different place to sit and resumed our conversation. He wanted to know more about the type of law I had practiced, which was a general community practice. We started talking about the law and about the U.S. Constitution and some well-known constitutional principles, which were not, as Qi described, the rule or norm in China. He described a culture and circumstance in China which might be characterized as intense and ubiquitous favoritism. "We have those problems here - in a big way," I acknowledged. "You have laws about it, though. In China, there is no law to appeal to, to correct such things. The party is the law, and the party officials who operate without needing any approval." "We do have laws," I acknowledged. I narrated for Qi a United States Supreme Court case, which is a staple of the Constitutional Law curriculum in law school. "In San Francisco, around 1880, most of the laundry workers were Chinese. Laundries used heat in wooden buildings. There was a statute that said you couldn't operate a laundry without a permit. The statute itself wasn't crazy - there was a genuine fire risk with boiling water used in the laundries – not a joke in San Francisco. But Yick Wo had been operating his laundry for years, when he was told he couldn't operate his laundry anymore without a permit. Unfortunately, if you were Chinese, you didn't get a permit. If you weren't Chinese, then you got one. Yick Wo was fined for operating without the permit, and he couldn't or wouldn't pay the fine, so he was put in jail. The Supreme Court ruled that the administration of that permit law was unconstitutional – even if the laundry owners weren't citizens. Even if the law itself made sense considered in isolation. The Chinese laundry owners still had a right under equal protection, under the equal protection laws of the 14th Amendment." "You would not find such laws in China," Qi lamented. "Well, it took us years to take the legal principle serious," I told him. "Taking your principles seriously takes time." Our conversation continued. We talked about Chinese coolies and how they worked. We talked about Christianity in China. We talked about the beginning of the movie Crazy Rich Asians where they're having a Bible study. We talked about missionaries and Hudson Taylor and the Chinese Inland Mission, and when Qi's family had become Christians. We talked about wars in Asia – in the Pacific against Japan. Qi had a very distinct opinion about the treatment of the Chinese by the Japanese in WWII, which flowed over to his opinion over disputed islands in the South China sea. We talked about the wars in Korea and Vietnam. We talked about Mao, and Communism and the treatment of Christians in China during the cultural revolution. Qi's family had suffered and practiced their faith in secret, but had emerged. We talked about the Three-Self Church in China. "Sanzi Jiaohui" Qi explained, trying to help me to pronounce it correctly. "But my family has spent so much time overseas, it was not critical to us. We didn't argue about religion, we argued about how many hours my father worked." He looked not as happy making this last statement. I decided to change gears altogether. "You'll be married someday. You'll have a wife and probably children. Do you have a girlfriend?" I asked. "Yes. But she is in graduate school in Michigan now. So I only get to see her on vacations. Sometimes we meet in Chicago. We are making some plans, but they have to wait. We text. She likes it, but she thinks it's cold there." We talked about the weather in China, and in the U.S. We moved our location one more time, when a booth opened up. Time passed, but the Rapture still lay in the future. In the meandering talk and silence of our time together, we made friends. The Holy Spirit, as known to coffee houses as He is to great cathedrals, entered somewhere. Eventually Qi said it was time for him to get back home, and we parted company with the idea that he would be back in the coffee house, and we would have a chance to talk again. Perhaps further, on the Book of Revelation, he suggested. ___________________ And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. Revelation 21:10. Those trained in theology and ministry should present the bulk of the inspired message of Rom. Ch. 12-15. But there is an element of those passages I want to address. I have a law degree, was valedictorian at law school, have practiced law for many years, and have held elected office. I serve as a volunteer on various boards with legal and executive authority over substantial matters. The business of law and government is something with which I am familiar. Although words like "law and government" don't sound San Francisco hippy-ish, don't seem to blend into a coffee-house or a road trip to the last chapters of Revelation, that is my direction now. Rom. 13:1-10 is my topic. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Rom13:1a. The passage is central. It does not stand for, nor should it be understood, to be a command to political authoritarianism. It is an invitation to law, to legitimacy, to ascertaining the will of the people in a democracy, enacting that will within the confines of a constitutional system, and then respecting the laws that flow therefrom. Within the world at large, we may be subject to, or may become the governing authorities – but we are always Christians. The Apostle Paul had multiple purposes in so writing – he had a concern with the relationship of Christians to the outside world and to the political authority of the Roman empire. Paul was also concerned about how Christians relate among ourselves. Christian religious/political conflict among ourselves has been a challenge for Christian theology. Theological disagreement may be the reason or the excuse for the ecclesiastical, political or social separation of Christians. Once reasons develop, theological disagreement, leading to differing communions and groupings, becomes the vehicle for separation. As the Reformation commenced and continued through the 16th and 17th centuries, it appeared the immovable object had met the irresistible force. When Christian conscience met Christian government in vehement disagreement, the results were tragically unacceptable in individual cases. Theologically, the issues have never been resolved. One person wishes to pray to the saints, another does not, one expects an early Rapture with no warning, another does not, one thinks the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, another does not. There are innumerable such differences. The continuing disagreements demonstrate that we have no recognized method of either resolving the dispute, or even a recognized method of staying in communication with each other. The argument continues unresolved. The fallback position for various Christian disputants is spiritual distance and intentional distancing, and attrition over time. Politically, we have addressed the most negative consequences of those 16th and 17th century conflicts by privatizing religious conscience. The results of privatizing Christian conscience are only partially satisfactory, as the 21st century is demonstrating. Organizing a better society is problematic, if each Christian has no greater loyalty than to his or her conscience. Conscience slides into self-will. Beyond denominational or theological boundaries, no one is able to present, to debate, to respond, to adjudicate, to give, or to obey an order issued by a recognized body of Christians, on any issue – not just very large important issues. All issues are 'off the table,' as it were, beyond joint resolution. No one could today post 95 theses on the door of a church and have an audience. We are stalled on Christian conscience-autonomy. No one says 'my conscience is God' but that is the net result. Each spider sits on her own web. The Old Testament analogue is the Book of Judges. The civil and political theory and authority that God has established pertinent to us, and to all, has been two thousand years in the making. The development of this theory is an argument for and an example of common grace, extended by God to all, who makes his sun to shine on the good and on the evil, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust. "All peaceful beginnings of government have been laid in the consent of the people," John Locke, the British philosopher wrote in his Second Treatise on Government, Sect. 112. His work was instrumental in the framing of American constitutional ideas. Within the United States, we are both the governed, and the governing authorities. Perhaps odd, perhaps obvious to say, but if we as Christians want to reach the heavenly city of God, we have to be capable of governing and being governed by each other. This does not suggest extinguishing the ordinary and necessary debate and contentions that accompany civil and religious life. But at some point, a methodology of decision-making has to be established. Decisions are to be made, and they have to be respected. These 'decisions' are Christian decisions, critical to the communications and communal life of all Christians. That is not intended as a challenge to fundamental theological positions. When our government formed, Maryland did not become Pennsylvania – each state assigned certain powers to a federal government, and retained the rest. Lawful is not lawless, even where there is hard questioning and debate over what is really or ought to be 'lawful.' There are many different ways to connect with each other in the exercise of our Christian faith. Our movement toward the Jerusalem from above is obstructed, if we are situated like a collection of hermit crabs, each communion barricaded in its own shell of theological position, ecclesiastical organization and personal conscience. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Rom. 13:1 b. God created and enables all things, in providing the motive power for all events, outside of whose permissive will nothing ever can happen or could happen. Such establishment includes "the authorities that exist." As Jesus said to Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above." God is the source of lawful authority. The present state of world and national affairs, including our legal and political structures, is not accidental. It may be temporary, or cause us to pray "How long, O Lord, will the wicked by jubilant?" But if we cannot obey our own lawful authority, exercising decisions derived from faith, there is no possibility of building a genuinely lawful structure. If we cannot debate our Christian statements, decrees, findings or laws, enable and enact our Christian decrees, respect or obey our Christian laws, because they come from the authority already announced and ordained by our God and Savior, we're not going to move. We are stranded in the valley of stasis. I am postmillennial, a believer in the Kingdom of God that comes into this world. The extension of Rom. 13:1 b is necessary. This verse sends us forward, makes us look to the future. The current set of authorities have been established by God. The next set of authorities will be established by God - and the next set, after that. We want this set of authorities, each set of authorities, to be better, more Christ-like. When we say more 'Christ-like,' it is not reasonable to expect that denominational and theological differences are going to evaporate. We want to be Christ-like as we assume, or obey, or exchange, this developing authority which expresses itself in constitutional forms among us - not because it results in theocracy or theonomy (or any other system of being ruled by the laws of the Old Testament). Rather, we remember that the "authorities that exist" may be us, or may not be; and if we're not holding office at the moment, we may retain our theological positions or political differences. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, has special significance when we are talking about different groups of Christians contending over beliefs, ideas, or courses of conduct which may be supported and advanced by force of decree, statement or law. If we are going to move toward a more complete Christian community, theological convictions count, inspiration counts, but also, impartiality counts. We want the debate (and the penalties for losing the debate on whatever topic is at hand) to be just and impartial. The rules, the conduct, the doctrine, whatsoever it is under discussion, and the statement or law that issues from them, or us, are to be impartial. The means and procedure of discussing, debating, challenging or appealing the decision regarding the resolution of Christian issues, have to be impartial. Due Process is a legal term but it paves a spiritual road. It means notice of the issue at hand, before the time and place of decision, and the opportunity to be heard on the point by the decision-makers. We hope valued impartiality flows into our political and national lives. But whether it does or does not flow nationally, we have to communicate these exchanges and accord this due process among ourselves in an impartial manner – and then voluntarily respect the outcome. The amorality of the present state of our national political life is not ultimately acceptable, but neither it is acceptable to go back to the political situation, rife with religious persecutions, that characterized Great Britain (and here in New England) in the 17th century. We do not criminalize people with whom we disagree. We will not move toward a golden, millennial age until we capture solutions to both sets of problems – spiritual unity which enables voluntary association and cooperation, and spiritual dissent. Our risen Lord Jesus has set us a mid-term examination. God has graciously provided us guidance. As explained by Locke in his Second Treatise, sect. 131: And so whoever has the legislative or supreme power of any commonwealth, is bound to govern by established standing laws, promulgated and known to the people, and not by extemporary decrees; by indifferent [impartial] and upright judges, who are to decide controversies by those law; and to employ the force of the community at home, only in the execution of such laws; or abroad to prevent or redress foreign injuries, and secure the community from inroads and invasion. And all this to be directed to no other end but the peace, safety, and public good of the people. The peace that Jesus confers - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" (John 14:27), connects to this Lockean peace, safety and the public good. The kingdom of God ("Thy kingdom come," Jesus taught us to pray, Mat. 6:10, "on earth as it is in heaven.") and "the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations," Rev. 22:2, converge on this peace. They are intended for this-world Christian implementation, and this implementation and obedience to God's will is not beyond us. John Locke described the "peace, safety and public good of the people" in terms that were attainable. He presented his solution at the time of intense religious persecution that frequently was the excuse, rather than the reason, for political persecution. The experience of the Amish community in self-regulation provides some useful guidance. The Nashville Statement, signed initially by more than 150 evangelical leaders, affirming what is set forth or implied in Scripture about sexuality, particularly Romans ch. 1, is a productive step toward our self-regulation and our movement toward a Holy City. The Nashville Statement engendered disagreement and resentment. Nor do I endorse all views, on all issues, of those Christians who developed the Nashville Statement. The point is to cooperate as actively and as far as we can, but no further. Theological statements and decisions are presented to address conflicting positions. The resentment within large elements of our national society, of the Christian position on the sexual issues addressed in the Nashville Statement, is intense – but that is acceptable. Disregard of God's Word engenders its own consequences. We want to be frog-marched off the Titanic of modern secular culture and nominal Christianity - thrown unceremoniously into a little lifeboat named Jesus and the Bible. We expect to be marginalized with the world's imprecations following, as the Titanic leaves us behind. We may bob in the ocean of broad societal disapproval for a short season. It's not hard to see the iceberg coming. After the iceberg has done its work, we, the Christian community, build a better world. We may communicate our own internal understandings and direction without surrendering those theological positions which are essentially non-negotiable. John Locke calls out the following elements in the above-recited passage: legislative power, established law, impartial judges, a judicious use of 'force' to execute such laws, directed to peace, safety and public good – and we would add, for the community of our faith. The challenge is to connect that political peace, of which we are clearly capable, with Jesus' spiritual peace. The alternative, the Valley of Christian Stasis, is incapable of being characterized as good faith. That is not how the Book of Revelation ends. To disconnect the two kinds of peace, to say that the peace that Jesus provides is always and forever not of this world, is to take a position on eschatology. That is to take the position that the Kingdom of God is not coming (despite praying "thy Kingdom come") in this world except by the visible return of Christ but in no other way. It is to take the position that the Great Commission does not fully succeed (apparently, then, a command to partial failure?). It is to take the position that the ending of Romans ch. 16 ("so that all nations might believe and obey him") doesn't count. If the Kingdom of God is coming in this world, then those good ends that John Locke asserted - peace, safety, the public good - have to be realized in the context of a multitude of Christian expressions (the 'Seven Churches' of Revelation), giving rise to our City in Motion. The political events of the last two thousand years include what has politically taken place in this country in the last 250 years. We may begin with the Deist-influenced proclamation of the Declaration of Independence (which, despite its Deist influences, repeatedly and insistently invokes God, the Creator, the Supreme Judge, and Divine Providence), which is also directly of God. The Declaration of Independence, like all other expressions of common grace, is directed by and under the authority of our risen Lord, Jesus. Pilate's authority derived from Roman military and civil power gets the benefit of God's imprimatur, as spoken by Jesus. Then surely also so does the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. We have political tools. We need to use them. We don't want to supplant the state, we want to create a miniature of a Constitutional and legislative system, for ourselves, entered into by three gates: by Christian faith, by subscription to the doctrine of Scriptural inerrancy, and by a commitment to a forward-looking eschatology. Beyond that, once through those gates 'of the outer courtyard,' we acknowledge a diversity of views, a gathering of seven churches, a lively exchange of ideas. We will make and find our city and move toward peace, joy, and the enjoyment of the presence of God, characterized by our love for God, and our love for each other. There, we will be in a position to lead useful and interesting lives and have enjoyable and interesting discourse. We do not resurrect the past, look to the past, long for the days of ancient Israel, look for theocratical forms of government, or long for the days when our particular theology will be adopted by everyone. Christianity is just beginning. "By calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." Heb. 8:13. The orchestra is just tuning up - we're barely getting started. I have no use at all for nostalgia. To quote a modern theologian, Greg Bahnsen: Postmillennialists believe, therefore, that the kingdom of God will gradually grow on earth, visibly, publicly, and externally. . . It will grow through the gradual conversion of the nations – through the preaching of the Word of God. . . . This salvation of many people must have visible expression and influence and be seen in an outward culture in society. (Victory in Jesus, Bahnsen, CMP 1999, p. 27). (See also, Postmillennialism, an Eschatology of Hope, Keith A. Mattison, P&R Publishing, 1999; The Victory of Christ's Kingdom, John Jefferson Davis, Canon Press, 1996; Prophecy and the Church, Oswald Allis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1978 (critique of dispensationalism); He Shall Have Dominion, Kenneth Gentry, Apologetics Group Media, 2009 (thorough defense of postmillennialism); and An Eschatology of Victory, J. Marcellus Kik, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1971) ("the Holy City is situated in time and history . . . " p. 245). (Noting also with all these authors, that their theology is learned, their eschatology is inspiring, their legal and political theory needs better direction.) Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Rom:13:2. Paul instructed Christians in the Roman Empire, where we began as a tiny minority. Stay out of trouble, direct your energy away from rebellion, stay away from political revolt or disobedience. Move in our spiritual life and the witness to the growing faith. Paul was concerned about building the church locally and across geographical distances and cultural groups. It was the Holy Spirit saying, "it's okay to obey the Roman authorities – in fact, you should, this is part of your obedience to me, unless (as is clear from the Book of Revelation), you are being asked to deny Christ or otherwise blaspheme." Christ warned his disciples to stay clear of the military and political disaster coming because of the Jewish rebellion brewing against Roman authority in his pointed discourse at the Mount of Olives. In whatever direction we decide to move, it must meet the fundamental standards enunciated by Paul. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience. That is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe him; if you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Rom. 13:3-7. Christian, don't do the crime, if you can't do the time. The bearing of the sword is intended for punishment. The state has a monopoly on the use of force, for a good reason. Generally, Christian conscience acts in conjunction with the state (but not always, see, e.g., Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail). In his Letter to the Romans, Paul meant a number of different things by 'the Law,' understood by context: the Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses implying a special revelation of God's will to the Jews, natural law available to and applicable to all people, spiritual law to be followed by Christians out of obedience to the gospel, the law of love, Roman civil or criminal law to be obeyed at the risk of punishment, the law of conscience, including accusations or defenses of conscience, the law of interior struggle with sin, sin and death itself, and the new life of the Spirit - all are referenced in Paul's letter, all characterized in his writing as or associated with the Law. The Law shows us our sins by holding up a mirror to our conduct in the light of God's Law, sending us to call on Christ's atoning mercy. The Law protects the weak from wrongdoing at the hands of those stronger and is essential to a civil society. The Law in all its forms and expressions is surely the great chain, wielded by an angel, which binds Satan in Rev. 20:1 and 2. As the Holy City comes down out of heaven as described in the 21st Chapter of Revelation, it is not described as the City of Law. By implication, the City may be protected by Law. Law may reinforce its walls and its gate. Spiritual law may flow from and through the Church to separate those who may enter the City of God from those who may not. But the Holy City's light, foundations, jewels, gates, streets, river, fountains, or its Tree of Life are not described in terms of Law. In the Sacred City of divine and human joy, where Christ reigns by acclamation, by love and by power, the purposes of the Law have been fulfilled. Lawlessness has no place in the City as it can never enter in. The Abyss may be escaped, only to give rise to further battle and fire, but the Holy City is prepared as a bride. The description of the Millennial City calls us to something higher, further and more perfect than Law as a goal and end of human society. The Law has a purpose and an end, and it reaches fulfillment in Christ's work on the Cross. In a more perfect society, where equity is done everywhere, there is no need to petition a court of equity for relief. Where love and trust are more perfect among people, no judge is needed to assert jurisdiction, hear argument or rule for one party or the other. In a meeting with our beloved, we who love fold our papers, close our law books and put our contracts aside. Their purpose has been served. Love keeps no record of wrong, so we may leave the courtroom. We go to meet for a wedding ceremony and a feast. The beauty of the meeting calls us to travel the road. Questions arise about doing right, what obedience means, in a Constitutional democracy where we are asked to play a part. The part we play nationally, whatever it is, to which we are also called and from which we refuse to be disenfranchised, is not the same as the spiritual movement we pursue among ourselves. We are called to something higher than the surrounding political confrontation and factionalism (not an easy problem to solve; see Federalist No. 10 – Madison thought the danger of factionalism would be solved by the new Constitution, and clearly that has not been the case). John Locke thought the solution was self-evident. "[F]or nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another. . . Thus the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make . . . must be conformable to the law of nature, i.e., to the will of God . . ." 2nd Treatise, sect. 135. To say something must be conformable to the will of God, or the law of nature or an eternal rule, has proved to be guidance not so obvious, beyond the first application, of not destroying life. Many Christians are united on this point at least. Given the number of abortions being performed annually in the United States and western world generally, even Locke's standard of 'not taking away life' appears to have given way to a notion of personal rights that is practically unlimited in its scope or application. In the case of abortion on demand, the notion is tragic on a massive scale, leads to infanticide (and the purposeful abortion of Downs' syndrome babies), is contrary to God's will, is destructive of our national political fabric, and presents an irresistible temptation to federal courts to exceed their Constitutional jurisdiction and intended scope of authority. Next to the Dred Scott decision, Roe v. Wade is the worst decision ever made by the U.S. Supreme Court, and its consequences have been destructive. The decision raises political problems regardless of religious faith – there is no serious legal question of any type that cannot be formulated into a query about individual rights and then answered in such a way as to make individual rights (defined to assure the preferred outcome) preempt and supersede any other type of right. In the case of abortion, all that is necessary is to deny the definition of human life to children in the womb. The definitions decide the outcome. When we now use the term 'civil rights' the meaning is – rights of the individual. In current judicial reasoning, advancing individual rights is always expansive of the good, as long as the individuals are out of the womb. In current judicial reasoning, the rights of the group are nearly always oppressive, subtracting from the net benefit of civil society. My civil rights cannot be added to the civil rights of my fellow citizens, in such a way as to develop a society promoting religiously-based ethical views. One hundred thousand people may not be lead in prayer at a government-sponsored or funded event, if one objects. If it is necessary to justify protecting children in the womb from destruction by making a religious argument, because the definition of the beginning of life implies theological and ethical reasoning, then the destructive consequences of advancing individual rights above other rights are wrongly justified as compelled by the implied language of the Constitution. An intellectual shell game has been played by our federal judiciary, of which Roe v. Wade is the most notorious example – get the definitions right, set up the conflict as the individual vs. the group (included in 'the group' is any assembly of state legislators) – and the desired judicial result will pop out like candy from a dispenser. From this Christian's viewpoint, and I am also a citizen of this nation, this is unacceptable. As an individual, my name is not "Congress," as in the 1st Amendment ("Congress shall make no law"). The idea that ethical decisions, which result in law, may not have religious foundations, is to be rejected. The idea that I may not join with others to vote for or to pass laws which at some point in their chain of reasoning, rely on religious belief or revelation, is to be rejected. A method of judicial reasoning which relies on carefully-crafted initial definitions and nomenclature to avoid the obvious, observable acts of medically terminating life, with the resulting infant body parts available for marketing, is to be rejected. Political acts which have ethical foundations, which themselves have religious foundations, are ordinary acts of Constitutional self-rule, not the establishment of a theocracy. We will do better, because God will compel a better result. The City of God is a promise to seven churches, standing for a society of communities engaged in the voluntary worship of God and obedience to Christ. Discovering the will of God, in our own relations with other Christians, raises harder questions than challenging bad national law or opposing abortion on demand. Discovering God's will mean moving forward to our own better self-governing society, even if we construct a model first on a 'table-top,' as it were. I quote a passage from Locke which will have a familiar sound to any reader familiar with the Declaration of Independence: Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty, will be born by the people without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going; it is not to be wondered, that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavor to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected . . . 2nd Treatise, sect. 225. Locke observed that the people may "rouse themselves." Indeed, 'rousing ourselves' is essential. But in what way did the Apostle Paul view 'rousing ourselves?' The difficulty with Paul's passage in Romans ch. 13:3-7, is its static nature. Those admonitions made sense then, for a small religious minority in a vast pagan empire. The Roman authorities were there, and the Roman Christians submitted to them, and were grateful to God for the opportunity to worship him in peace. There was no political development implied; it was intentional separation from Roman interference, by giving no cause for offence, for purposes of Christian religious practice. A difficulty with the passage of Locke cited above is that it takes the matter one, but only one, drastic step forward. If the authorities are inflicting a "long train of abuses . . . all tending the same way" then the people ought to put "the rule into such hands as may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected." Locke's concepts are binary, but they also will become static – either the people accept the "great mistakes and wrong laws without mutiny or murmer" – or, as the American people did in 177 6, they "rouse themselves" to "put the rule into such hands, etc.," in other words, to put governmental rule into American hands in the legislatures of the American states. Continuing, aspirational movement was not contemplated by John Locke either. The wasn't the problem he was facing 320 years ago, but it is a problem we are facing now. There is much the Book of Revelation does not do. There is one thing it does do, beyond its powerful encouragement in the face of persecution – it says, 'look, there's a goal here, a destination, and we want to get to it.' The Book has an end, and the end is a City. The Great Commission is equally dynamic – Jesus telling us "Go, make disciples." There's a goal here, a command, something we are supposed to be doing – and disciples, discipling and discipline has to extend to more than personal conscience, to the exclusion of Christian community. The argument against amillennialism is parallel to the argument against premillennialism (whether in its dispensational presentation or classical presentation) – those doctrines don't go anywhere. When it comes to Revelation ch. 21 and 22, these doctrines 'sit on their hands.' Rather, our doctrine of eschatology is postmillennial (Christ comes after ("post") the millennium) by our voluntary choice, by Revelation's destination, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to reach a millennium in this world. Jesus is awaited at the end of the golden, millennial period, however long and wonderful that period may be, a thousand years or a ten times a thousand years – and we have acted in obedience to him in making or moving to such a society and such a world. (For the Kingdom of God will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property - one to receive five talents, one to receive two, another, to receive one). Our goal is forward. Neither John Lock or the Apostle Paul, or Jesus, say: "let's go back to an Old Testament theocracy as soon as we have a chance." Hence, my profound disagreement with all forms of political theocracy, theonomy, etc. We move to the future here, in terms of our political understanding – our Lord Jesus has not been asleep for the last 2000 years. For that matter, if you need open-heart CABG surgery as I did, you will not seek out a doctor who applies the methods of healthcare available in the days of Moses – there are no instructions in the Old Testament for a triple-bypass procedure. Common grace has done something with respect to medical care, as it has done something with respect to political theory which the churches may apply. After the passage quoted above about obeying the authorities, the Apostle Paul moved directly, with no further transition, to a society characterized by love that has already internalized the Law. The movement is sudden between Rom. 13:7, extolling obedience to external Roman authority, sharing neither political power or a faith with us, to Rom. 13:8. Here is our endpoint: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. If we wish to go On the Road now (and we find ourselves On the Road whether we wish it or not) – static conceptions will not do. We construct with the law in the manner of a homebuilder, using our tools to lay on progressively wiser and more effective structural elements, until we reach the fulfillment of home-building, a home where we may love. That is the postmillennial vision – a millennial world, a golden age of faith, love and peace, before Christ returns. The thousand years of the millennium in Ch. 20 is both a reality and a symbol for that vision. The reality of God's ordaining will is a driving movement. Growth through the Holy Spirit is neither limited to or circumscribed by the symbol of a thousand year time period. We travel to an end and a society good beyond words. Our driving force and our destination comes from God. Golden ages are hard to come by, but not only can we get there, we will. Christ has called us to this, and his sobriety and his power in doing so is beyond question. ____________________________________
07/27/1978 When I was 18... 18 years old, I saw for the first time in my life... I saw an image of clarity. I saw a comic strip... a three panel comic strip that, though simple as it seemed, changed me... changed my being, changed who I am... Made me who I am... Enlightened me... The strip, Garfield, the comic strip was new... no more than maybe a month and a half since inception, since... since coming into existence... and there it was before me in print, I saw it... a comic strip... What was it called? Garfield. The story here is of a man, a plain man. He is Jon, but he is more than that... I will get to this later, but first let us say that he''s Jon, a plain man. And then there is a cat... Garfield. This is the nature of the world, here. When I see the world, the politics, the future, the... the satellites in space, and... the people who put them there... You can look at everything as a man and a cat... two beings, in harmony and at war... So, this strip I saw; this man, Jon, and the cat, Garfield, you see... Yes... hmm... It is about everything. This... little comic is, oh, lo and behold... not so little anymore. So yes, when I was 18, I saw this comic... and it hit me all at once, its power. I clipped it, and every day, I looked at it, and I said "Okay... let me look at this here. What is this doing to me? Why is this so powerful?" Jon Arbuckle, he sits here, legs crossed... comfortable in his home, and he reads his newspaper... The news of the world, perhaps... and then he extends his fingers lightly, delicately... he taps his fingers on an end table, and he feels for something... What is it? It is something he needs, but it is not there. And then he looks up, slightly cockeyed, and he thinks... His newspaper''s in his lap now, and he thinks this... Now where could my pipe be? This... I always come to this, because I was a young man... I''m older now, and I still don''t have the secrets, the answers, so this question still rings true, Jon looks up and he thinks... Now where could my pipe be? And then it happens... You see it, you see... it''s almost like divine intervention, suddenly it is there, and it overpowers you... A cat is smoking a pipe. It is the man''s pipe, it''s Jon''s pipe, but the cat... this cat, Garfield, is smoking the pipe... and from afar, and someplace near, but not clear... near but not clear... The man calls out... Jon calls out, he is shocked. "Garfield!" he shouts. Garfield. The cat''s name. But, let''s take a step back... let us examine this from all sides, all perspectives... and when I first came across this comic strip, I was at my father''s house... a newspaper had arrived, and I picked it up for him, and brought it inside. I organized its sections for him and then, yes, the comic strip section fell out from somewhere in the middle, and landed on the kitchen floor... I picked up the paper pages and saw, up somewhere near the top of this strip... just like Jon, I was wearing an aquamarine shirt. So I thought, "Ah, interesting. I''ll have to see this later." I snipped out the little comic, and held on to it... and five days later, I reexamined it... and it gripped me, I needed to find out more about this. The information I had was minimal, but enough... An orange cat named Garfield... Okay, that seemed to be the lynchpin of this whole operation, yes. Another clue... a signature in the bottom right corner, a man''s name... Jim Davis. Yes, I''m on to it for sure. So... one: Garfield, orange cat, and two: Jim Davis, the creator of this cat... And that curiously plain man. I did not know, at the time, that his name was Jon. This strip, you see, had no mention of this man''s name, and I''d never seen it before. But I had these clues; Jim Davis, Garfield. And then I saw more, I spotted the tiny copyright mark in the upper left corner. Copyright 1978 to... what is this? Copyright belongs to a... PAWS Incorporated... I use the local library and mail services to track down the information I was looking for... Jim Davis, a cartoonist, had created a comic strip about a cat, Garfield... and a man, Jon Arbuckle. Well, from that point on, I made sure I read the Garfield comic strips, though as I read each one, as each day passed... the strips seemed to resonate with me less and less... I sent letters to PAWS Incorporated, long letters, pages upon pages... asking if Mister Jim Davis could somehow publish just the one comic, over and over again... "It would be meditative," I wrote, "the strength of that." Could you imagine? But... no response... The strips lost their power, and eventually I stopped reading, but... I did not want my perceptions diluted, so I vowed to read the pipe strip over and over again... That is what I call it, "The Pipe Strip." The Pipe Strip. Everything about it is perfect. I can only describe it as a miracle creation, something came together... the elements aligned... It is like the comets, the cosmic orchestra that is up there over your head... The immense, enormous void is working all for one thing, to tell you one thing... Gas and rock, and purity, and nothing. I will say this... When I see the pipe strip... and I mean every single time I look at the lines, the colors, the shapes that make up the three panel comic... I see perfection. Do I find perfection in many things? Some things, I would say... Some things are perfect... and this is one of them. I can look at the little tuft of hair on Jon Arbuckle''s head... it is the perfect shade... The purple pipe in Garfield''s mouth... How could a mere mortal even MAKE this? I have a theory, about Jim Davis... After copious research and, yes, of course, now we have the internet, and this information is all readily available, but... Jim Davis, he used his life experiences to influence his comic... Like I mentioned before, none of them seem to have the weight of the pipe strip... But you have to wonder about the man who is able to even, just once, create the perfect form, a literally flawless execution of art, brilliance! Just as in a ward... I think there is a spiritual element at work... I''ve seen my share of bad times and... when you have something... Well, it''s just... emotions, and neurons in your brain, but... something tells you that it''s the truth... Truth''s radiant light. Garfield, the cat? Neurons in my brain, it''s... it''s harmony, you see? It... Jon and Garfield, it''s truly harmony, like a... continuous, looping, everlasting harmony... The lavender chair, the brown end table, the salmon-colored wall, the fore''s green carpeting, Garfield is hunched, perched... perhaps with the pipe stuck firmly between his jowls... His tail curls around. It''s more than shapes too, because... I... Okay, stay with me... I''ve done this experiment several times. You take the strip. You trace only the basic elements. You can do anything, you can simplify the shapes down to just... blobs, just outlines, but it still makes sense... You can replace the blobs with magazine cutouts of other things, replace Jon Arbuckle with a... car parked in a driveway sideways, cut that out of a magazine, stick it in... Replace him there in the second panel with a... a food processor... Okay, and then we put a picture of the planet in the third panel over Garfield... It still works. These are universal proportions. I don''t know... how best to explain why it works, I''ve studied the pipe strip, and analyzed Jon and Garfield''s proportions against several universal mathematical constants. E, Pi, the Golden Ratio, the Feigenbaum Constants, and so on... and it''s surprising... scary even, how things align. You can take just... tiny pieces of the pipe strip, for instance, take Jon''s elbow from the second panel... and take that, and project it back over Jon''s entire shape in the second panel, and you''ll see a near perfect Fibonacci sequence emerge... It''s eerie to me... and it makes you wonder if you''re in the presence of a deity, if there is some larger hand at work... There''s no doubt in my mind that Jim Davis is a smart man... Jim Davis is capable of anything to me... He is remarkable, but this is so far beyond that, I think we might see that... this work of art is revered and respected in years to come. Jim Davis is possibly a new master of the craft, a... a genius of the eye; they very well may say the same things about Jim Davis in five hundred years that we say about the great philosophical and artistic masters from centuries ago... Jim Davis is a modern day Socrates, or... Da Vinci... mixing both striking visual beauty with classical, daring, unheard-of intellect... Look, he combines these things to make profoundly simple expressions... This strip is his masterpiece... The Pipe Strip is his masterpiece... and it is a masterpiece and a marvel... I often look at Garfield''s... particular pose, in this strip. He is poised, and statuesque... and his cat stare is reminiscent of the fiery gazes often found in religious iconography... But still, his eyes are playful, lying somewhere between the solemn father''s expression in... Rembrandt''s "Return of the Prodigal Son," and the coy smirk of Da Vinci''s "Saint John The Baptist". His ears stick up, signifying a peaked readiness... It''s as if he could, at any moment, pounce; he is, after all, a close relative and descendant of the mighty jungle cats of Africa that could leap... after prey. You could see the power drawn into Garfield''s hind quarters, powerful haunches indeed. The third panel. And I''m just saying this now, this is just coming to me now... The third panel of the pipe strip is essentially a microcosm for the entire strip itself... All the power dynamics, the struggle for superiority, right? WHO has the pipe? WHERE is the pipe? All of that is drawn, built, layered into Garfield''s iconic pose here. You can see it in the curl of his tail... Garfield''s ear whiskers stick up, on end, the smoke billows, upward... drawing the eye upward... increasing the scope... I''m just... amazed... really, that after 33 years of reading, and analyzing the same comic strip, I''m able to find new dimensions. It''s a testament to the work... For six years, I delved into tobacco research, because... can a cat smoke? This is a metaphysical question... Yes, can any cat smoke? Do we know? Can just Garfield smoke? The research says no. Nicotine poisoning can kill animals, especially household pets. All it takes is the nicotine found in as little as a single cigarette. [ *Okamoto M, Kita T, Okuda H, Tanaka T, Nakashima T (Jul 1994). "Effects of aging on acute toxicity of nicotine in rats". Pharmacol Toxicol. 75 (1): 1-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0773.1994.tb00316.x. PMID 7971729 ] Surely, Jon''s pipe hold a substantial amount of tobacco, and it is true that pets living in the homes of smokers are nearly 25% more likely to develop some form of cancer... most likely due to secondhand smoke... but these are facts of smoking, its tolls on our world. But after visiting two tobacco processing plants in Virginia... and the Phillip Morris cigarette manufacturing facility, I came no closer to cracking the meaning. I was looking for any insight. A detective of a homicide case has to look at every angle, so I''m always taking apart the pipe strip. I focused on every minutiae, every detail of this strip. Jon Arbuckle''s clothing... I have replicas. I''m an expert in textiles... so, you see, this smoking thing was a hang-up for me... but it was the statement here... until... This is key, this is the breakthrough. The pipe is not a pipe, really. Obviously there is symbolism at work here... I saw that from the beginning, and I looked at the literal aspects of the strip to gain insight into the metaphors at play... I worked at a newspaper printing press for eighteen months, in the late 1980''s... I was learning the literal to inform the gestural... the subliteral, the in-between... Jon reading this newspaper means so much more than just... Jon reading the newspaper... but how could you ever hope to decipher the puzzle without knowing everything there is to know about newspapers?! Okay... for example... Jon holds his newspaper up with his left hand, thumb gripping the interior. I learned that this particular grip here was the newspaper grip of nineteenth century aristocrats... and this aristocrat grip was a point of contention that influenced the decision to move forward with prohibition... in the United States, in the early twentieth century! So Jon''s hand position is much more than that, it... it is a comment on class war... and the resulting reactionary culture... but I didn''t know about the aristocratic newspaper grip until I came across some microfiche archives at the printing press. It''s about information. You have to take it apart. ...and the breakthrough on the smoking cat came late... just eight years ago, actually. "Smoking cat" is an industry term. It''s what the smoking industry calls a tattletale teenager who tells on his friends after they''ve all tried smoking for the first time... and it is actually a foreign translation, bastardization of the term "smoking rat"... But the phrase was confused when secret documents went back and forth between China and America... These documents are still secret, and the only reason I know about the term is because I know a man, my friend. Let''s call him "Timothy," yeah... yes, it''s a fake name, for his protection. Timothy worked for Phillip Morris for sixteen years, and he had seen the documents... and when he told me, it was an Aha moment... and he said, "But how? How could this cartoonist, Jim Davis, know about this... obscure term from the mid-70''s, used exclusively by a few cigarette companies!?" This is still a mystery to me... but I connect the dots by noting Jim Davis'' childhood experiences on a farm. He must have seen something... What could it be? Timothy went on to tell me there was one particular smoking cat, a boy, from... yes, Indiana, a boy named Ernie Barguckle, who became a thorn in the side of the tobacco companies for a couple of years... He did more than tattle to his parents; he and his family took legal action, and they eventually received a huge settlement payout... But that name is too similar... Ernie Barguckle... Jon Arbuckle. Jim Davis must have used this. There''s more here. Ernie Barguckle spent nearly half of that settlement money on experimental medical procedures to cure his... impotence. He was impotent. So... he was a smoking cat with a... a metaphorical pipe, that did not work... Are you starting to see the layers here? This is exciting stuff, you start to get a whole picture here, and it informs the work! It''s... it''s just remarkable. Jim Davis took these raw ideas, these... pieces, and he transformed them into smart social commentary that is... all so ravishingly beautiful. I have cried. I''ve cried, I''ve cried... I''ve cried, cried over this piece. It just... gets in my soul. I try to explain this to people, I have... the newspaper articles about Ernie Barguckle... People have fought me on this, they don''t see it, or they''re close-minded, "How could a comic strip about a cat smoking a pipe mean any more than that?" But it is more... and when I feel spiritual, or start to think existentially, I still see this comic. Here''s something from 1981 that I wrote in thinking about the implications of this strip; this is just an excerpt here... there''s more before and after, but this part is the essence to me... If a comic about a cat smoking a pipe can be the only thing in the universe... then maybe this is the strongest evidence for that. *fumbles with tattered sheet from 1981* "Many of you say, ''Oh, but I am not blind. I have never been blind,''... But when you truly see, you will understand just how truly blind you once were to even think it right to say you were not blind. What does a blind man see? Blackness. Darkness. Blankness. Blank darkness. Dark blankness. The absence of things, quite literally NO thing. No things. Nothings. So, you see nothing, and I bring you into the light. A cat has your pipe! You''ve been blind, do you understand this!? The cat has your pipe. You can''t fully immerse yourself, you don''t have the light. You don''t have the radiance, the radical light, the radically radiant light of truth and truth''s belonging love, and nature of light, and loving truthful radiance. So don''t be bold, and make bold statements. I know of you. The cat has your pipe. The. Cat. Has. Your. Pipe. Remember that." *puts paper back in pocket* That writing, well... It''s kind of rough... Kind of an... early eighties feel... and I see that, but I''m still... I''m still proud of it. Sometimes I imagine that it is the editorial column in the newspaper Jon Arbuckle is reading. It''s an exercise in recursion, it''s like a vortex opens up... It''s like you hold two mirrors up to each other, one is reality and the other is a cartoon strip. Let''s see here... Oh yes, I must bring this up, because I think, surely, Jim Davis is again speaking on multiple levels by including the details set before us in the comic. Notice the glimpse of Jon Arbuckle''s foot in the first panel. The size of the shoe would indicate that maybe the man just has small feet... but a deeper investigation takes us to the footbinding rituals of certain Asian cultures. Inflicted usually on women for the desire of men, this practice was incredibly painful and crippling... Aha! Mister Davis is, here, presenting us with a man, or rather... "man", who engages in footbinding, a body modification for women, on top of "being without his pipe"... or impotent. This is a man facing extreme inner turmoil, the panels tell that story... subconsciously. Notice the background wall shading of the first panel points inward toward Jon in the second panel... and the sharp tapered end of the purple pipe in the third frame also points at John in the second panel, inward; the eye is drawn to the center panel. You can connect these points and draw a triangle across the panels, and this triangle will align with the reoriented points of Jon''s collar! This, this is majestic artwork! ...and to uncover this hidden order is... bliss like I''ve never known. Comforting, in an empty world. I can''t help but read the thought bubble, over and over again. Now where could my pipe be? Now where could my pipe be? It is a profound question. Why am I here? What is my purpose? It is reflection and self-examination here. It is facing the dust, the misery of a cold, careless universe. You can feel the weight of it. But where could my pipe be? One imagines the author, Jim Davis, teetering on the edge of insanity... his rationality, his lucidity, hovering over the void... and he seeks the truth. You can see it in the line quality of the drawings; the thoughtful, controlled outlines mixed with the... occasional, chaotic scribbles at work in the shadows and Garfield''s dark stripes. It''s almost as if Garfield is chaos himself. Yes, he is the embodiment of chaos, disorder, hatred, fear... Thievery, death, destruction, desolation! These are the things Garfield represents; HE stole the pipe, HE sits with his back to Jon, Garfield... Garfield, this chaos cat, Garfield has turned his back on everything, everyone! One recalls the great existential forces in literature... Camus'' Meursalt, Kafka''s Gregor Samsa, or Sartre''s Antoine Roquentin... Garfield the Cat sees the hopelessness of life, which...ah, yes... This is why Jim Davis has chosen smoking. It represents a recklessness, a... a disregard for what some would define as the beauty of life. Garfield may die from the nicotine, he may not... He defies life; he sits defiant, saying nothing, but looking as if he could say... "Then let me die... it does not matter." It does not matter. ...and we are faced with this; Could Jon behave the same? Is Jon the glimmer of hope? He seems to be unsure. Again, his question... "Now where could my pipe be?" indicates that he is wrestling with his own existence. The center panel centers the issue, and again, this hearkens to many of the great religious works of art. I''m talking about the Pipe Strip in relation to religion. It''s... it''s interesting to assign the roles of God... and anti-God, or, as many know him to be, the devil... or on a much larger scale, simply the forces of... good and evil. Garfield, the thief-cat, evil and malicious... He is the devil, placed to the right... and note, the two forms of Jon; the Jon on the left, still innocent, still draped in the... delight, of the lack of knowledge. He is... the humans in the Garden of Eden. He feels for his pipe... but he has yet to eat from the tree... and Garfield, the sinister serpent... and notice, notice how Jim Davis has framed this... The center Jon is locked in a struggle, between his innocence, and his knowledge of the truth... knowledge of the existence of evil. It is stunning. The great struggle, the struggle that transcends time... and Jim Davis floats over all this, as creator... the God, of sorts, in his own right. ... and he presents this cautionary message to us all; it is as if he is speaking from high and... he is saying, unto our awaiting ears... Where will you be, when the cat reveals himself? [-Jim 7:27:78] I can tell you where you''ll be. You will have a choice; you can face endless suffering, and eternal misery... You can be forced and beaten down with barbarians, who claw at each other just for a view of salvation. They''ll tear your eyeballs out, and rip your gizzards from end to end. They worship this cat, this... this false idol! This evil, horrible cat, do not be seduced by the cat and the pipe! Garfield... thy name is a mark of the demons of hell. Something like this, and to those listening, it is a stark reminder to follow the path of the first panel Jon; be humble, be grateful, honor the law, and honor thyself. Be true, and be good, and no harm will come to you... Pray for salvation, and it will be granted unto you. Be like Jon Arbuckle, as he lowers his head. Be like Jon Arbuckle as he lowers his paper, as he turns his head. Bow with Jon Arbuckle, and praise unto the creator, Jim Davis... and banish demon Garfield from your life. So, what is all this? What am I saying? Aha... hmm... What does all this mean? Why is this one comic strip so important to me... and why do I feel the need to share this? Obligation. I have an obligation to you all. This is a redemption, this is a belief in redemption, a sacrifice of all the obvious trappings of this false modern life. Look at the simplicity in this strip, in the pipe strip. Look at the simple clothes Jon wears, look at his simple, basic furniture... No adornments on the wall, even the very pipe his cat Garfield stole; it is a plain, modest pipe... and I have adapted this way of life, it speaks to me. In our times... well... you don''t need me to point out the hyperbole of our times; you have children being born eight or nine at a time, you have more money being spent on a single Hollywood movie than some nations can spend... feeding their starving people. Torture, distrust... Look around you, it''s overwhelming. What can you contribute? ...and every day, I look in the mirror, and I hold this comic up to the mirror, and I look into the mirror, and at this little comic strip. Be humble. Be thankful. It is a reminder, be respectful. You are a statue. You are fragile... and when you break, when you shatter... Where will those pieces go? Ask... ask, ask, ask this question. Will you ask? Humankind is only as great as you, YOU, the individual, it begins and ends with you! You must treat this expedition, this search, this... life, with a reverence and intensity found only in the smallest sticks. The littlest leaf, the tiniest stone! The most miniscule grain of sand... on a beach of billions! This is the secret. Do you want the pipe? Do you want to know where the pipe has gone? You ask yourself, you ask... you ask... you ask... Now where could my pipe be? When I was a young man... remember, now, I first saw this comic when I was eighteen years old... Ages ago... but I was youthful, vibrant. For weeks, I didn''t hide that a comic strip was having such a profound effect on me. I was much like Jon Arbuckle. In this middle panel, he says, "Now where could my pipe be?"... you could look into his eyes, his half-lowered eyes, and think to yourself... "Now, surely, Jon... Surely, you cannot be this naive... This is nothing new for you..." And if you''ve read more of the Garfield comic strips by Jim Davis, you understand what I am saying now; Garfield the cat does things like this all the time. He will take things from Jon; food, items, anything... This is his very nature. So you see this, and you want to say, "Jon Arbuckle, come now. You are lying to yourself. You are lying to yourself, and to all of us, if you pretend to have not... any idea of where your pipe has gone. Perhaps you think you''ve left it somewhere else, but... hmph, you''re not so forgetful. You are lying to yourself, ah... yes... You are lying to yourself, Jon Arbuckle. You know that Garfield has the pipe... somewhere, deep down, you know this. You don''t even need to think the question." And that was me when I saw this strip. One week passed, and each morning I''d open my drawer and slam it shut again. I would go to look at the comic... but I''d pause, and think... "Oh no, I don''t need this comic, I don''t n... I don''t NEED to look at it..." But there I was, lying to myself. I DID need to see it, and so I did, it''s... cathartic. You give in, and that is the transition, from the second panel of life, to the third panel of life! It is a simple story structure, the passage from the second act to the third, the twilight of things. Jon gives into his suspicions; he knows the truth, he''s ALWAYS known the truth, he yells out, "GARFIELD! GARFIELD! GARFIELD!" It is like... pressure from a steam valve, being released; the buildup is unbearable, and then... PSSHHWW, it''s gone. So it is like this... when I speak about the truth... the truth, the light, the radiance, this... this is the kind of thing I''m talking about. This is the essence of this brilliant work of art, the practical mixing, meeting, agreeing with the spiritual, it is all HERE. ...but spirituality is not an easy thing to confront. You might find yourself able to wrap your mind around a simple math problem, or a basic newspaper article, or... but intellect... is much less subjective. What is spirituality... and how have I found spiritual peace and serenity in Garfield? A long time ago, after I encountered the Pipe Strip... I spent some time, as I mentioned before, soul-searching. When something impacts you, or alters your very perception so greatly, there is a long period of confusion, recovery time... It''s as if you don''t know who you are, and that can be a... a very scary prospect, especially if you thought you had a good grasp on that sort of thing. Imagine if Jim Davis did not know who he was. Would he be capable of shaping the cultural landscape as he''s done? No. No, of course he wouldn''t. ...and how about his characters? Jon... what if Jim Davis suddenly woke up, and didn''t know who Jon was? What if he couldn''t make the informed decisions to accurately depict Garfield''s personality, because of... he could no longer specify, or demarcate the boundaries of Garfield''s behavior? What kind of comic would THAT be? You see? So draw the parallel. I saw this comic and, yes, I was disoriented... and if I didn''t reconcile this issue with myself, what kind of person would I be? Undoubtedly dire circumstances, but remember; this was not a math problem, this was not an article, this was not something I could just... figure out... and as skeptical as I was, I realized that faith and spirituality were avenues that... required exploring. At first I tried... long nights, reading Garfield by candlelight, or... aromatic meditation settings, while thinking of Garfield, but... nothing snapped. Nothing clicked, I still felt lost... but I kept it up, I hired a shaman, and a young... personal Yogi Sikh Guru; Avram Dahb Singh Sahib. I pushed and pushed, determined to find myself. And then, a miracle happened. Upon retrieving my morning paper, to clip the Garfield comic... I noticed a young girl, selling lemonade two houses down. She sat, occupied at her stand. She had no customers in sight. So, I approached, and saw that she was coloring. I looked at her drawing... Three rectangular boxes. A man, in a blue shirt. An orange cat. I knew what this was. Even in her crude scribbles, I knew EXACTLY what this was. She was drawing a Garfield comic. I looked at her words, and I saw that, in her strip, Jon asked Garfield to retrieve a newspaper. Heh, funny... since I''d done just that with myself... Garfield is sarcastic, but agrees to. He returns and calls Jon... "Sahib". Jon exclaims that the paper''s all chewed up, but then Garfield says, and I quote, "Sahib asks fish, paper is wet. Sahib asks cat, paper is holey." I remember the words, and ran back to my house, and thought, "How odd that Sahib shows up in the strip, and my spiritual advisor''s name is Avram Dahb Singh Sahib!" Coincidence surely, but, nonetheless, I spent the next sixteen hours poring through my clipped Garfield comics, looking for the strip this young girl had been coloring... I couldn''t find it... and I eventually fell asleep, right on my kitchen table. Next morning, I retrieved my paper again, and I clipped the Garfield comic. The date was July 12th, 1983. There it was. The Sahib Strip, in all its glory. The girl had been drawing the next day''s strip! So, I ran right out of my house, I ran back to where she was... but she was gone, and in place of the lemonade stand was a "For Sale" sign. They''d moved out. I rushed back to my house to call Avram, but... I was informed that he''d moved away as well. I reeled, for several hours, and then it all connected for me. It was meant to be. It w... it was meant to be this way! Jim Davis... Jon, Garfield... It was always meant to be this way for me.... They move to the forefront, and everything else fades away, EVERYTHING else; the girl, the lemonade stand, Avram Dahb Singh Sahib, it all existed to show me the way, and when I''d found the way... Everything else melted away. It was a beautiful miracle... and if July 27th, 1978, the day I first saw the pipe strip... was the first day of my life, then that day, July 12th, 1983, was the second day of my life. I''ve never looked back. Garfield has transformed me... and I am a man, born anew, because of Garfield. When I was in my mid-thirties, I was interviewed for a documentary... It was a documentary on the subject of cat behavior. Now, I''ve had cats my whole life; I have three cats now, and at the time of this documentary interview, I had four cats. I sat down for the interview and was joined by a veterinarian who specialized in felines: Doctor Caroline Wellmitz was her name, I believe... and the doctor discussed colorblindness in animals, and how it affects their behavior. She specifically brought up the fact that cats are red-green colorblind; they can see colors, but they can''t tell the difference between red and green ...and look at the color choice in this strip here. Garfield sits on a green floor, behind a pinkish red wall. I heard this, and I immediately pulled a copy of the comic from my wallet to show to the doctor... I moved so fast, I''m sure I nearly scared her, I... pointed at the paper and said, "Like this! Like this! Look, at this here! This cat, Garfield, he''s colorblind, he must be! That must be the answer here... like this." As over-excited as I was, I managed to take in her response; she said "Yes, a cat in this room would have a hard time differentiating the wall from the floor. Add to that a cat''s known spatial confusion, and you have the makings of a Cat Rage room." Now, she informed me that this isn''t exactly common knowledge among cat owners... but a seasoned cat owner, or someone particularly perceptive will have picked up on it. So what''s incredible here is not only is Garfield''s behavior symbolic of the devil, and all the evil constructs in the world, but... but, but... but also, it is rooted in science and scientific fact. Look at that. You cannot spell fact without "cat". Hah, just a little joke there... just some wordplay, but getting back on track... ...and you can''t spell track without "cat." Okay... I digress. I gotcha, I gotcha, enough... kidding around. It is established here that Garfield is in a rage; an ultimate rage of fury and hatred, caused by colorblindness. We know the "what", we know the "why"... but let us examine the "how", the how of his rage is particularly interesting here. We''ve looked at his posture and called it "powerful", "in control", "statuesque", "etc., etc." Composed rage... It''s peculiar, and I''ve talked to a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, and even a couple of anger management therapists about this concept... Could we see the same kind of behavior in a human? Is Garfield representative of something more specific than just chaos and rage? Deciphering this is going to take some perseverance. for sure. The psychologists pointed to a phenomenon in humans, and, yes, I believe one of the anger management counselors brought it up as well. The idea that people, oftentimes, will bottle their rage... Garfield the cat, here... well, he could be bottling his anger, inside, shoving it deep into his cat gut, to ignore and deal with at a later time. Eh, well... No, that''s not exactly right. Garfield has already acted out, he''s already stolen the pipe... he''s SMOKING the pipe, he''s already dealt with his anger. He''s already lashed out, so, psychologically, what is going on here? What is this cat doing, and how does it impact his owner, Jon Arbuckle... psychologically? Well, Garfield is angry. He is acting on his anger... but is this passive anger, or aggressive anger? Passive. It is passive because if Garfield has a problem with Jon specifically... he''s choosing a passive way of dealing with that problem. He has not confronted Jon, and said, "Jon, I have a problem with the way you''ve decorated this room; as a cat, I am colorblind, and this room sends me into a rage... You''ve created a rage room for me here, and I don''t like it; I want you to change it." Instead of that confrontational approach, though, Garfield has chosen to steal Jon''s pipe... and that, in turn, angers Jon... but Jon decides to be aggressively angry, and yell at Garfield, so... now, instead of a calm conversation between two respectful parties, you have two... heated, angry individuals, each with a problem and no direct line to solving it. The layered emotions here tell a story with tight, focused brevity that would make Hemingway weep. This is an entire drama, in just three panels, people. ...but let''s not be remiss, and miss the humor of the situation, the... absurdity of it all... for certainly, there is a reason that the visual shorthand for drama includes both the crying mask AND a laughing mask. Comedy and tragedy complement each other, and meld together to create drama, tension, the height of humanity, the peak of art, that reflects back to us our own condition... ...and here... in its basest form, we can laugh at this comic... yes, COMIC, in which a cat smokes a pipe... Hah... when was the last time you''ve SEEN such a thing in your life? Never, I presume... I certainly never have... The Greek muse, Thalia''s presence is strong in this work of art, here. Comedy, it is COMEDY... and if you look at the structure again, you''ll see this perfect form of thirds works magically for the transmission of, yes, YES, a JOKE. The joke.... is as old as time... even cavemen told jokes, and the joke here is that Jon has lost his pipe... or he thinks he has... but lo and behold, it is the cat, Garfield, who has the pipe. Surprise, surprise, the cat is smoking! Again, the transition, from set-up to punchline takes place between the second and third panels... but make no mistake, the comic is more than just a comic... Yes, it IS funny, of course it is... it is operating at the height of sophisticated humor, on par with any of Shakespeare''s piercing wit. On the one hand, Garfield the comic, with Jon the man, humor as art... the other hand, Garfield comic, with Jon the man, stirring... no, RIVETING drama... as with everything, it is tension, and release. TENSION... and RELEASE... A cycle. I keep returning to this idea, because it is so omnipresent. Yes, you could... and yes, I have done this, on more than one occasion... you could print this comic strip on a giant piece of paper. The dimensions would be something like... thirty-four inches by eleven inches. Now, tape the ends together, with the comic facing inward. Stick your head in the middle of this Garfield comic loop and READ, start at the first panel; Jon is reading the newspaper... he feels for something on the end table. Second panel; he sets the newspaper down, something is not right... "Where could my pipe be?" he thinks. ...and then, the payoff; the third panel, Garfield has Jon''s pipe, and is smoking it. But, aha! The paper is in a loop, around your head... so that you can see that, once again, Jon is in his seat, reading the paper... and so on, and so on, you can literally read the comic strip for an eternity! I spent many a relaxing Sunday afternoon reading this strip, over and over... reminded of the Portuguese death carvings, which always begin and end with the same scrawled image. [fig. 6b - Portuguese Death Carving c. 1330] So, this idea of repetition, of the beginning being the end, and the end being the beginning... It''s not new, it is an ageless tradition among the best storytellers humanity has ever offered... and I''m not wrong to include cartoonist Jim Davis in that exalted set for this particular strip alone I''m not foolish enough to deny that great art is subjective... divisive, even, and that some people see this Garfield comic and shrug with no real reaction... but I will say that I believe everyone in the world should see it; at the very least, see it! You should all see it. Read it. Spend some time with it. Spend an hour reading it... what''s an hour? Yes, you could watch some television program, you could play some fast-paced video games or computer games, yes, you could do all those things... But it''s just an hour... and if you give this strip a chance, if you look into Jon Arbuckle''s eyes... if you look into Jon Arbuckle''s SOUL... You might find that you''ll really be looking into your own soul. It is self discovery, that is what I''m talking about here... YOU have the opportunity, the possibility... it could change you. Don''t be afraid. You know, just last week, I was eating lunch near the Municipal Court... like I do every Thursday, and... there was a plumbing banner... a plumbing van, parked out in front, uh... and a man, a plumber, would step out from the court, and retrieve something from this every so often. A few times, this happened... I thought nothing of it; just a plumber, doing some work at the Municipal Court... but then he came out, and looked through his van, and it was clear... He couldn''t find something. I noticed, and thought, "Well, that''s sort of similar to the Garfield comic, in a way. Someone looks for something, can''t find it,"... but, yes, that probably happens billions of times a day around the world... ...but then, this plumber... put his hands on his hips... then, he scratched his head, and he said aloud... "Now, where could my pipe wrench be?" Well, at this, I leaped off the bench, sandwich still in hand, and I rushed over, I shouted, "What was that you said!?" He looked at me and said, "What? I can''t find my pipe wrench, " and I said, "No! No, no, say it... like how you just said it..." He scratched his head, and repeated, "Now where could my pipe wrench be?" I slapped him on the back and said, "Garfield!" He looked so confused, so I said it again... then, I said "Your orange cat took it!" Heh... ah, then I laughed and laughed... and he smiled, and went back into the courtroom. I walked away, knowing that the plumber and I, two complete strangers, bonded over this Garfield comic... You see, life imitates art, becomes a common ground. I have a feeling that if I see this plumber again, we''ll be sharing stories like two old friends... because we''ve been united by art. We have a common love for Jim Davis and his characters, his writings... The humor, the drama, the... that rascal Garfield, the cat... Oh, and by the way, if you''re wondering what I was having for lunch that day, it was a ham sandwich with an apple and potato chips... in a bag, I had a soda as well. I think it''s important to view the Pipe Strip in philosophical terms... We''ve touched briefly on the notion of existentialism; that theme is very prevalent in this strip. Garfield is, in fact, a modern existential anti-hero... but if Garfield embodies the bewilderment in a meaningless life, what is Jon? What are the telltale signs that inform Jon''s philosophical standpoint? His approach, what style of thinking he represents? Jon is depicted as being grounded in the material world... a world of things; he is surrounded by objects, and he touches these objects, he interacts with them. The newspaper, the end table, the chair... his clothes, all these physical things make up Jon''s world. In some sense, even his cat Garfield is an object to him, a thing... The first ideology that comes to mind when thinking of objects in the tangible world... is pragmatism... Is Jon Arbuckle a pragmatist? His beliefs stem from a useful, coherent view of his environment... a sort of cause-and-effect understanding of his world helps him. A: Deduce that his pipe is missing... and B: Catches his cat, Garfield, using the pipe. This kind of empirical and logical thinking lends credence to the idea that Jon is, indeed, a pragmatist... Although, it is hard to entirely ignore the rest of the Garfield comic canon. While Garfield is consistently anarchic, and embraces the chaos and absurdity of life... Jon Arbuckle exhibits an erratic, unpredictable mix of philosophical behaviors. At times, he is borderline; delusional, an idealist, an almost slap-happy version of Don Quixote. Other moments, he is rigid, nearly to the point of being obsessive... somewhat like a structuralist, and certainly has streaks of sarcasm and negativity that might classify him as a skeptic. ...But isn''t there some universal truth in this approach? How can any one man, how can Jon Arbuckle be just one thing? How can any of us be just one thing? We''re... an amalgamation of ideas, of emotions... conducts and functions, thoughts and feelings... Jon Arbuckle may very well inhabit tenets of nearly every major philosophical tract known to man. We all might. Characters are reduced, to make them recognizable, definable; a story needs a good guy, a story needs a bad guy... but rarely is one person defined in such black and white terms. Even Garfield, with all his bad behavior, Machiavellian motivation and general ne''er-do-well attitude, can be kind and thoughtful. You just have to find that rare strip. Speaking philosophically about the entire Garfield franchise, it''s an incredibly accurate depiction of life. Its bold lines and bright colors are merely a facade, a... a red herring, a lie. This cartoon is not a cartoon at all, it is not a... caricature. It is not caricature despite adopting caricature as its visual style and tone. ...but I don''t really like to speak in broad sweeping generalizations about Garfield. The comic has been running for over thirty years, and to try and boil that all down is just, well... it''s impossible. I think the only way that any historian worth his salt will agree with me is to look at individual moments... isolated instances, single comic strips. Can I discuss this one strip in the context of the entire run of Garfield? Yes, I do that just as a film historian might analyze one movie in relation to the history of all movies, or a war enthusiast might look at a single battle''s impact on an entire war. The Pipe Strip is just an instance in the lives of Jon and Garfield. Perhaps Jon is not a pragmatist at all... let''s look at this again. Maybe Jon is exhibiting the traits of a rationalist thinker; his question, "Now where could my pipe be?" is a clue that his thought process stems from the early rationalist questions posed by René Descartes. The well-known quote, "I think, therefore I am," attributed to Descartes, is applicable. Another close look at the strip, and we see that Jim Davis chose to draw Jon thinking his question. "Now where could my pipe be?" Jon does not speak this question aloud, so Jim Davis is also exploring the mind/body duality... Jon''s question operates on the level of a literal question... but it also examines the nature of reality. Jim Davis'' epistemological approach tells us something about the human condition; Jon''s thoughts remain the focal point of this strip. The comic is, quite literally, centered around his thought. "Now where could my pipe be?" This is his reality, this is where cognition, and the power and function of the mind take over. As Plato believed, the body is just a shell for Jon Arbuckle; yes, he can use his physical body to read his paper or cross his legs, but these inputs of touch, sight, hearing, et cetera, these senses are the triggers of the mind, as we see here, the mind... is something greater. It is the originator of ideas, and ideas are forever. Immortal. Immortality through thought, a... a major theme in literature and philosophy... ...and isn''t that what Mister Jim Davis himself has achieved? Will he live forever? The universe will continue to spread, and spread outward, and... entropy will turn a chaotic infinity into a homogenous, controlled system. This will take billions of years, and in that time, humans will push technology to heights we can''t imagine. We''ll explore and inhabit space, and occupy more and more of the universe, just as time allowed our ancestors to... multiply in numbers, and populate more and more of the Earth. ...and as the specific people come and go, their physical bodies will be born, and grow, and die... but their thoughts will remain... and Jim Davis'' comics, his glorious Garfield comics... are recorded ideas of his, that will still be here. Even when the Earth is no longer inhabitable, and humanity has long since moved away to bigger planets, they''ll carry with them a record, a record we all keep; mark my words... and look at what we''ve started, what is... What is the internet? What is the online world, if not a record? Never-ending feed of ideas, immortal ideas... forever placed in the ether of dualism. What is an idea? Where does it live? How does it manifest itself? Can it live forever? Will it live forever, outside of these physical husks of ours, our bodies? ...and Jon Arbuckle, and Garfield, started merely as thoughts... but they''ve become so much more. That old cliché rings true, they''ve taken on a life of their own... and life may not be what we think. Life brings to mind a beating heart, breathing lungs, blinking eyes... ...but the real life is in our imaginations... and who better embodies the definition of imagination if not a simple man... a cartoonist, who puts his ideas to paper so that they may live on, so that our children, and our children''s children, and their children''s children''s children can access the wealth of ideas that have accumulated thus far... They will plug themselves into an information grid, and they will have access... They will read every Garfield comic, 80,000 years from now, a child will see a simple Jon Arbuckle, reading a newspaper. He will feel around for something, but that something is not there... He will lift his head and think... "Now where could my pipe be?" ...and Garfield will be smoking the pipe, and Jon will yell "GARFIELD!" ...and what then? 80,000 years from now? The child reading this comic will smile... and that smile will transcend space and time and the physical limitations of this existence, whatever they may be, however many dimensions exist... There will always be Garfield... and there will always be its creator... Jim Davis. "It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection." -Oscar Wilde
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A A R P, 90848, Acton, 93510, Agoura, 91301, 91376, Agoura Hills, 91301, 91376, Agua Dulce, 91350, Alhambra, 91801, 91802, 91803, 91804, 91841, 91896, 91899, Altadena, 91001, 91003, Arcadia, 91006, 91007, 91066, 91077, Arco Station, 90071, Arco-Plaza, 90071, Arleta, 91331, 91334, Artesia, 90701, 90702, 90703, Avalon, 90704, Azusa, 91702, Baldwin Hills, 90008, 90056, Baldwin Park, 91706, 91797, Bar Code Term Annex, 90099, Barrington, 90049, 90077, Bassett, 91746, Bell, 90201, 90202, 90270, Bell Canyon, 91307, Bell Gardens, 90201, 90202, Bellflower, 90706, 90707, Belmont Shore, 90803, Beverly Hills, 90209, 90210, 90211, 90212, 90213, Bicentennial, 90048, Bixby Knolls, 90807, Bouquet Canyon, 91350, Box Canyon, 91304, Boyle Heights, 90033, Bradbury, 91010, Bradley International, 90045, Brentwood, 90049, Briggs, 90048, Broadway Manchester, 90003, Bulk Mail Center, 90101, Burbank, 91501, 91502, 91503, 91504, 91505, 91506, 91507, 91508, 91510, 91521, 91522, 91523, 91526, C S U Dom Hls, 90747, 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90022, East Rancho Dominguez, 90221, Echo Park, 90026, Edendale, 90026, El Monte, 91731, 91732, 91733, 91734, 91735, El Segundo, 90245, El Sereno, 90032, Elizabeth Lake, 93532, Encino, 91316, 91335, 91416, 91426, 91436, 93534, Fairmont, 93536, Far, 90888, Farmers Market, 90036, Federal, 90012, 90013, Firestone Park, 90001, Flint, 90057, Flintridge, 91011, Fort Macarthur, 90731, Foy, 90017, Friendly Valley, 91321, Ft Macarthur, 90731, Gardena, 90247, 90248, 90249, Glassell, 90065, Glassell Park, 90065, Glendale, 91201, 91202, 91203, 91204, 91205, 91206, 91207, 91208, 91209, 91210, 91214, 91221, 91222, 91224, 91225, 91226, Glendale Galleria, 91210, Glendora, 91740, 91741, Granada Hills, 91344, 91394, Green, 90037, Green Valley, 91350, Greenmead, 90059, Griffith, 90039, Hacienda Heights, 91745, Hancock, 90044, Hansen Hills, 91331, Harbor City, 90710, Hawaiian Gardens, 90716, Hawthorne, 90250, 90251, Hazard, 90063, Hermosa Beach, 90254, Hi Vista, 93534, 93535, Hidden Hills, 91302, Highland Park, 90042, Holly Park, 90250, Hollywood, 90027, 90028, 90038, 90068, 90078, Huntington Park, 90255, Inglewood, 90301, 90302, 90303, 90304, 90305, 90306, 90307, 90308, 90309, 90310, 90311, 90312, 90313, 90397, 90398, Irwindale, 91706, Juniper Hills, 93543, 93553, Kagel Canyon, 91342, La Canada, 91011, 91012, La Canada Flintridge, 91011, 91012, La Crescenta, 91214, 91224, La Mirada, 90637, 90638, 90639, La Puente, 91744, 91745, 91746, 91747, 91748, 91749, La Tijera, 90043, La Tuna Canyon, 91352, La Verne, 91750, Lake Elizabeth, 93532, Lake Hughes, Lake Los Angeles, 93535, 93550, 93591, Lake View Terrace, 91342, Lakewood, 90711, 90712, 90713, 90714, 90715, 90716, 90805, Lancaster, 93534, 93535, 93536, 93539, 93584, 93586, Lane, 93534, Lawndale, 90260, 90261, Leimert Park, 90008, Lennox, 90304, Leona Valley, 93532, 93551, Lincoln Heights, 90031, Littlerock, 93543, Llano, 93544, Lomita, 90717, Long Beach, 90745, 90746, 90747, 90749, 90801, 90802, 90803, 90804, 90805, 90806, 90807, 90808, 90809, 90810, 90813, 90814, 90815, 90822, 90831, 90832, 90833, 90834, 90835, 90840, 90842, 90844, 90845, 90846, 90847, 90848, 90853, 90888, Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Long Beach Naval Station, 90822, Los Angeles, 90001, 90002, 90003, 90004, LA, 90101 Orange County Anaheim, 92804, 92805, 92806, 92807, 92808, 92812, 92814, 92815, 92816, 92817, 92825, 92850, 92899, Anaheim Hills, 92807, 92808, 92817, Atwood, 92811, Beach Center, 92648, Brea, 92821, 92822, 92823, Bristol, 92703, Brookhurst Center, 92804, Buena Park, 90620, 90621, 90622, 90623, 90624, Capistrano Beach, 92624, Center Ave, 92605, Corona del Mar, 92625, Costa Mesa, 92626, 92627, 92628, Coto de Caza, 92679, Cowan Heights, 92705, Cypress, 90630, Dana Point, 92624, 92629, Diamond, 92704, Dove Canyon, 92679, East 92650, El Toro, 92610, 92630, El Toro M C A S, 92709, El Toro Marine Corps Air, 92709, Federal, 92805, Foothill Ranch, 92610, Fountain Valley, 92708, 92728, Fullerton, 92831, 92832, 92833, 92834, 92835, 92836, 92837, 92838, Garden Grove, 92840, 92841, 92842, 92843, 92844, 92845, 92846, Holiday, 92802, Huntington, 92646, Huntington Beach, 92605, 92615, 92646, 92647, 92648, 92649, Industrial, 92705, Irvine, 92602, 92603, 92604, 92606, 92612, 92614, 92616, 92618, 92619, 92620, 92623, 92650, 92697, 92698, 92709, 92710, King, 92706, La Habra, 90631, 90632, 90633, La Habra Heights, 90631, La Palma, 90623, Laguna Beach, 92607, 92651, 92652, 92653, 92654, 92656, 92677, Laguna Hills, 92653, 92654, Laguna Niguel, 92607, 92677, Lake Forest, 92630, Los Alamitos, 90720, 90721, Mesa Center, 92627, Midway City, 92655, Mission Viejo, 92675, 92690, 92691, 92692, Modjeska, 92676, Modjeska Canyon, 92676, Monarch Bay, 92629, Monarch Beach, 92629, 92657, 92658, 92659, 92660, 92661, 92662, 92663, Newport Coast, 92657, Orange, 92856, 92857, 92859, 92861, 92862, 92863, 92864, 92865, 92866, 92867, 92868, 92869, Placentia, 92870, 92871, Playa, 92652, Portola Hills, 92679, Rancho Santa Margarita, 92688, Robinson Ranch, 92679, Rossmoor, 90720, San Clemente, 92672, 92673, 92674, San Juan Capistrano, 92675, 92690, 92691, 92692, 92693, Santa Ana, 92701, 92702, 92703, 92704, 92705, 92706, 92707, 92708, 92709, 92710, 92711, 92712, 92728, 92735, 92799, Seal Beach, 90740, Silverado, 92676, Sn Ana, 92709, 92710, South Laguna, 92651, 92652, South Laguna Beach, 92652, South Main, 92707, Stanton, 90680, Sunkist, 92806, Sunset Beach, 90742, Surfside, 90743, Trabuco, 92679, Trabuco Canyon, 92678, 92679, 92688, Trabuco Cyn, 92679, Tustin, 92780, 92781, 92782, Tustin Marine Corps Air S, 92710, UCI, 92697, Villa Park, 92861, 92867, Vista del Mar, 92672, Westminster, 92683, 92684, 92685, Yorba Linda, 92885, 92886, 92887 Riverside County 100 Palms, 92274, 1000 Palms, 92276, Aguanga, 92536, Anza, 92539, Arlanza Village, 92505, Arnold Heights, 92518, Banning, 92220, Barona Rancheria, 92262, Beaumont, 92223, Belltown, 92509, Bermuda Dunes, 92201, Blythe, 92225, 92226, Bonnie Bell, 92282, Box Springs, 92507, Cabazon, 92230, 92282, Cabazon Indian Reservation, 92201, Calimesa, 92320, Canyon Crest, 92507, Canyon Lake, 92587, Casa Blanca, 92504, Cathedral City, 92234, 92235, Cherry Valley, 92223, Chiriaco Summit, 92201, Coachella, 92236, Corona, 91718, 91719, 91720, Crestmore Heights, 92509, Cyn Lake, 92587, Desert Center, 92239, Desert Hot Springs, 92240, 92241, Eagle Mountain, 92239, East Blythe, 92225, Frontera, 91720, Gilman Hot Springs, 92583, Hardman Center, 92504, Hemet, 92543, 92544, 92545, 92546, Holcomb Village, 92536, Homeland, 92548, Idyllwild, 92549, Indian Hills, 92509, Indian Wells, 92210, 92201, 92202, 92203, Jurupa, 92509, La Quinta, 92253, 92530, 92531, 92532, Lakeview, 92567, Lk Elsinore, 92530, 92531, 92532, March AFB, 92518, March Air Force Base, 92518, Mecca, 92254, Menifee, 92584, Mesa Verde, 92225, Mira Loma, 91752, Moreno, 92554, 92555, Moreno Valley, 92551, 92552, 92553, 92554, 92555, 92556, 92557, Mountain Center, 92561, Mt Center, 92561, Murrieta, 92562, 92563, 92564, Murrieta Hot Springs, 92562, 92563, 92564, Norco, 91760, North Palm Springs, 92258, Nuevo, 92567, One Hundred Palms, 92274, Palm Desert, 92210, 92211, 92255, 92260, 92261, Palm Springs, 92262, 92263, 92264, Palm Springs, 92292, Palm Springs Municipal Airpo, 92262, Perris, 92570, 92571, 92572, 92599, Pinyon Pines, 92561, Quail Valley, 92587, Rancho California, 92589, 92590, 92591, 92592, 92593, Rancho Mirage, 92270, Ripley, 92225, Riverside, 92501, 92502, 92503, 92504, 92505, 92506, 92507, 92508, 92509, 92513, 92514, 92515, 92516, 92517, 92518, 92519, 92521, 92522, Romoland, 92585, Rubidoux, 92509, Rvsd, 92501, 92502, 92503, 92504, 92505, 92506, 92507, 92508, 92509, 92513, 92514, 92515, 92516, 92517, 92518, 92519, 92521, 92522, San Jacinto, 92581, 92582, 92583, Sandy Korner, 92274, Sky Valley, 92241, Smoke Tree, 92262, 92282, Soboba Hot Springs, 92583, Soboba Indian Reservation, 92583, Sun City, 92584, 92585, 92586, 92587, Sunnyslope, 92509, Temecula, 92589, 92590, 92591, 92592, 92593, Thermal, 92274, Thousand Palms, 92276, Torres Martinez Indian Reser, 92274, Valerie, 92274, West Palm Springs, 92282, White Water, 92282, Wildomar, 92595, Winchester, 92596 San Bernardino County 29 Palms, 92277, 92278, 29 Palms MCB, 92278, Adelanto, 92301, Alta Loma, 91701, 91737, Amboy, 92304, Angelus Oaks, 92305, Apple Valley, 92307, 92308, Argus, 93562, Arrowbear Lake, 92382, Arrowhead Farms, 92407, Bagdad, 92304, Baker, 92309, 92364, Baldy Mesa, 92392, Ballarat, 93562, Barstow, 92310, 92311, 92312, Base Line, 92410, Big Bear, 92315, Big Bear City, 92314, 92386, Big Bear Lake, 92315, Big River, 92242, Black Meadow Landing, 92267, Bloomington, 92316, Blue Jay, 92317, Blythe, 92280, Bryn Mawr, 92318, Cadiz, 92304, Cajon Junction, 92407, Cedar Glen, 92321, Cedar Pines Pk, 92322, Cedarpines Park, 92322, Chemehuevi, 92363, Chemehuevi Valley, 92363, Chino, 91708, 91709, 91710, Chino Hills, 91709, Cima, 92323, Colton, 92313, 92324, Crest Park, 92326, Crestline, 92325, Crestmore, 92316, Cucamonga, 91729, Cucamonga, 91730, Daggett, 92327, Devore Heights, 92407, Dunlap Acres, 92399, Earp, 92242, East Highland, 92346, El Mirage, 92301, Essex, 92332, Etiwanda, 91739, Fallsvale, 92339, Fawnskin, 92333, Fontana, 92334, 92335, 92336, 92337, Forest Falls, 92339, Fort Irwin, 92310, Goffs, 92332, Grand Terrace, 92313, 92324, Green Valley Lake, 92341, Guasti, 91743, Halloran Springs, 92309, Helendale, 92342, Hesperia, 92340, 92345, Highland, 92346, Hinkley, 92347, Hodge, 92311, Johannesburg, 93558, Johnson Valley, 92285, Joshua Tree, 92252, Kelso, 92309, Lake Arrowhead, 92352, Lake Gregory, 92325, Landers, 92285, Lockhart, 92347, Loma Linda, 92350, 92354, 92357, Lucerne Valley, 92356, Ludlow, 92338, Lytle Creek, 92358, Marigold, 92373, Marine Corps Base, 92278, Mentone, 92359, Montclair, 91763, Morongo Valley, 92256, Mountain Home Village, 92359, Mountain Pass, 92366, Muscoy, 92407, Needles, 92363, Newberry Springs, 92338, 92365, Nipton, 92364, North Loma Linda, 92354, Oak Glen, 92399, Oak Hills, 92345, Ontario, 91758, 91761, 91762, 91764, 91798, Oro Grande, 92368, Parker Dam, 92267, Patton, 92369, Phelan, 92329, 92371, Pinon Hills, 92372, Pioneer Point, 93562, Pioneertown, 92268, Rancho Cucamonga, 91701, 91729, 91730, 91737, 91739, Red Mountain, 93558, Redlands, 92373, 92374, 92375, Rialto, 92376, 92377, Rimforest, 92378, Rimrock, 92268, Running Springs, 92382, Saltus, 92304, San Bernardino, 92401, 92402, 92403, 92404, 92405, 92406, 92407, 92408, 92410, 92411, 92412, 92413, 92414, 92415, 92416, 92418, 92420, 92423, 92424, 92427, San Manuel Indian Reservatio, 92346, Seven Oaks, 92305, Silver Lakes, 92342, Skyforest, 92385, Smiley Heights, 92373, Spring Valley Lake, 92392, Sugarloaf, 92386, Trona, 93562, 93592, Twentynine Palms, 92277, 92278, Twentynine Palms Marine Corp, 92278, Twentynine Palms MCB, 92278, Twin Peaks, 92391, Twntynine Plm, 92277, 92278, Upland, 91784, 91785, 91786, Valley of Enchantment, 92325, Verdemont, 92407, Victorville, 92392, 92393, 92394, Vidal, 92280, Wrightwood, 92397, Yermo, 92398, Yucaipa, 92399, Yucca Valley, 92284, 92285, 92286
Stanley's Furnishings - Jackson Heights, NY Turn your home into a haven with amazing home furniture, radiator covers / enclosures, and window treatments (blinds, verticals, shades, shutters and more) from Stanley''s Furnishings. We have more than 50 years of experience and have been family owned and operated since 1951. Our friendly and helpful staff works with you on a one-on-one basis to ensure your complete satisfaction.
Garden Service London / Garden Design London / Garden Maintenance London - Greensdale / Home Throughout our 15 years of working in the garden and landscaping industry we have gained a great deal of knowledge and experience in constructiong preactical, enjoyable and beautiful garden spaces. Our work ranges from simple garden maintenance to the complete makeover for both commercial & residential customers, from the initial design to planting the last shrub. Your garden or project can be designed to your specific requirements or design services are available if you are lacking ideas, with helpful and friendly advice.
Home - DMC Mowers Australia DMC mowers are distributors of outdoor petrol powered Garden Machinery & parts. Conjoined with the retail service centre of DAVES MOWER CENTRE (est 1998) we offer our customers a complete service from initial purchases to all your servicing & spare parts needs.
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Home - Rick LopezRick Lopez | Landscapes Rick Lopez Landscapes, a family-owned, Redwood City business for over 25 years, provides complete Landscaping and Maintenance Services, for small intimate gardens and complex sustainable landscapes, concentrating on environmental sustainability and water conservation for landscaping clients in San Mateo, Hillsborough, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino
Conference Center Home Planning an affair in Princeton, NJ or looking for meeting space in the Mercer County area? Welcome to The Conference Center at NJHA Conference and Event Center where our flexible meeting space, scenic grounds and tantalizing menu choices make us the ideal location for any occasion. In these tough economic times, our experienced planners will work within any budget to make your event a success. We offer a special Event Package and Special Discounts, so whether yours is a social affair or a business meeting, we have you covered. Our a la carte daily meeting pricing enables you to pick and choose the services you want at a price lower than any Day Meeting Package that you will find in the area. Whether your guests number in the 200s or a handful, The NJHA Conference and Event Center works for you – with style: Refurbished meeting rooms and Garden Room dining area offer convenience and luxury. Accent your experience with an enticing array of dining selections all prepared on site by Chef Kenny Smith. Your choice of more than 50 entrées all served with our famous soup/salad/antipasto bar, dessert bar and fresh baked breads in our beautiful Garden Room complete with a scenic view of the surrounding woods. Breakfast choices, breakout snacks, a full menu of salads and deli items are also available. High-tech audiovisual equipment holds your message out front, your speakers and audience in sync. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms keeps you in touch with colleagues back at the office. Our professional Conference Center staff anticipates and responds to every logistical detail from the meeting planner or special request from a guest of honor. Something classy yet affordable. Corporate, comfortable and inviting. With choices you can customize to your conference and meeting needs. The Conference Center at NJHA, just off Route 1 in Princeton invites you in. Located in Central New Jersey, with easy access from Mercer County and Middlesex County, our state-of-the-art conference center is considerably less expensive than area hotels along the Route One corridor. And while our lower cost may whet your appetite, good taste and quality are the ultimate appeal. Whether your guests number in the 200s or a handful, the Conference Center works for you with style. A new business center keeps you in touch with colleagues back at the office. High-tech audio visual equipment holds your message out front, your speakers and audience in sync. Refurbished meeting rooms
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Toytastic - The home of Ride on Toys and Garden Games Toytastic offers the complete range of ride on''s from Rolly Toys, from tractors, trailers, tractor accessories, sledges, giant chess and draughts, rocking horses, trikes, outdoor play items. We offer a full range of Injusa battery operated 6 and 12 volt ride on vehicles, Ferbedo go karts and ride ons and Ronnie O'' Sullivan licensed snooker tables, and a full range of other games tables.
West Park Gardens - Best Stays in Virginia - Culpeper - US Spacious colonial home is locate in downtown Culpeper, Virginia near wedding venues, Blue Ridge hiking, winery tours, HITS equestrian events and historic landmarks. Short walk to E. Davis Street fine dining, boutique shopping and cafe. Complete with private garden and sun room with pool table. Pet friendly.
Grobe''s Nursery and Garden Centre - Home Grobe Nursery and Garden Centre is Waterloo Regions largest local, independent and family owned garden center. Specialists in plants of all kinds for the home garden and complete landscape design and landscape construction services.
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Welcome to the Gardens of Woodstock Welcome to The Gardens of Woodstock. Our family owned garden is the perfect setting for your wedding, social event or garden club meeting. Or stroll through The Garden for inspiration and pick up the perfect plant or garden accessory to complete your garden.
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How to Garden Organic | From the garden to the dinner plate It seems like yesterday that we made the decision to buy our 15 acres (about 6 hectares) of Australian bush land. In fact it has only been a few years, but with so much to do when we arrived, and with almost as much still remaining, time has become a bit of a blur. This was a very big move for us having lived in city apartments most of our adult lives, and enjoyed successful corporate careers. However, confronted with increasing traffic and noise, and a desire to enjoy life more, we began a search for some country acreage. Initially we thought we would be able to have the best of both worlds and maintain a city base, while spending the weekends in the country. Of course once we started looking at some properties it became obvious that it would have to be a complete change or no change. We settled on a hilly, tree covered block in the hinterland midway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.There is a cleared paddock of a couple of acres facing the road, then two pretty summer creeks, before a very steep path to the house which affords great views across surrounding valleys. As the house is at the end of our driveway, which is about 500 metres from the road, we are largely shielded from noise and unwanted visitors. We chose the acreage for the location, and the tranquillity it offers, and we have not regretted this decision. The home and most of the property's infrastructure needed a lot of work which has sometimes been challenging. There was another important reason for deciding on this lifestyle change and location, and that was the opportunity it offered to do some real gardening. We have the space for growing our own food (organically of course) as well as an opportunity to regenerate the native species, while allowing for some special garden areas around the house. We will be sharing our journey with you and hopefully providing some valuable information based on our experiences. This is very much a work in progress albeit one that is providing us with much joy and satisfaction.
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SSS Online Portal | History of Bangladesh is full of power shifts, disasters, conflicts and victory. Though Bangladesh is a small country in Asia, historically it is very important. She has seen important rises and falls in history. The earliest history is a little vague. The political life of ancient Bangladesh can be found in the Greek and Latin History. In 326 BCE, when Alexander the Great invaded India, he withdrew from his conquered place as he anticipated a counter attack from the Bengal region. The Bengal region was then ruled by some valiant rulers. Bengal region was ruled by the Hindu kings. The Muslims first invaded the area in 13th Century. They seized control and established their independent rule. They ruled for nearly two hundred years without any major foreign invasion. But in 15th Century, the traders from different countries of Europe started coming to Bengal region. The Portuguese, Dutch, French and British came one by one into this region. The main reason of the European traders for coming to this region was to make money from the local market. They wanted to spread their influence in the field of trade and economy in South Asia. Though the traders had economic motives when they arrived, soon they took interest in the local politics. In 1757, the last Muslim leader of Bengal region was defeated by the British. The British started ruling the Bengal region. They imposed their rule upon the people of that region. They controlled West Bengal for approximately two hundred years. The British people had to leave India and Bengal region for strong pressure from the local intellectuals and ordinary people. Near the end of the Second World War, the size of the British Empire got reduced. The empire was breaking down. Though Gandhi and Viceroy Lord Mountbattan both tried to unite the Hindus and Muslims, the Muslims felt insecure. They were worried because they thought they will be neglected in India as this is a region dominated by the Hindus. Due to the situation, Lord Mountbattan decided to divide the subcontinent in 1947. Two countries were born instead of one. One is India and another is Pakistan. According to the partition agreement, India would be a Hindu state and Pakistan would be a Muslim state. Pakistan was divided into two parts: East Pakistan (Bengal) and West Pakistan (Punjab). Even after the partition, there were conflicts between the Hindus and Muslims. So, finally Muslims left India and moved to Pakistan. The Hindus left Pakistan and moved to India. Though there were disparity between the history, culture, lifestyle, language and customs of the two parts of Pakistan, they were united on the basis of shared belief in Muslim religion. But problems arose soon when the rulers started distinguishing the people of West Pakistan from the East Pakistan. The disparity in all sectors made the people of East Pakistan angry. The discontent grew due to the unfair policies and partial treatment of the people of East Pakistan by the government. When Urdu was imposed upon the people of East Pakistan, they revolted. Many people die for the language. The language movement brought the courage among the people of Bangladesh and they dreamt of freeing the land from the invasion of Pakistan. Finally, in 1971, after a bloody war of 9 months, Bangladesh became independent. Bangladesh Travel Guide – Three Cities to Visit With air travel becoming ever more affordable regardless of destination, scheduling a trip to exotic locations like Bangladesh is becoming the norm rather than the exception in today's travel culture. Likewise, the expansive reach of the internet now allows any traveler to check a prospective tourist destination in advance so much so that one can now plan a trip entirely on a mobile phone mobile internet device. Such advancements in travel and tourism have simplified the process so much that all one needs to do is decide exactly where to go and everything else is taken cared of from there. From insurance quotes to itinerary booking, any traveler is now safe in the hands of advance travel planning. For this reason, it comes down to deciding which three cities in, say Bangladesh, is well worth the visit for any traveler looking to relax, unwind, and see the world. You can find many article source references on the subject but for ease and convenience, we are listing down the three cities in Bangladesh that is well worth anyone's time. Dhaka. The capital and largest city in Bangladesh, Dhaka is a melting pot of the old and the new. Dhaka is also an ideal springboard for further incursions into other parts of the country. It features the most extensive list of local tourism agencies which will do all things for you short of sending a "Good Night SMS." Dhaka is also an excellent venue for getting all the necessary supplies in case you plan on spending a night or two in many of the more exotic destinations that grant access to wildlife, camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. Instead of spending your time reading phen375 reviews, perhaps you'd lose more weight if you spend time in Dhaka and other Bangladeshi locations. Not only are you seeing the world, but you are also doing your body a favor as well. Sundarbans. Located in the southern part of Bangladesh, Sundarbans is home to some of the most recognizable natural attractions anywhere in the world. This is a prime location for beautiful forests, the biggest mangrove growth in the world, and expansive delta swamps. Are you looking for an alternative to the Africa Safari? Sundarbans ably fits the bill. While you may not be able to buy premium Kratom here, you get everything else in the name of a crazy and wild adventure and for any nature lover, that's a trip that is well worth the attraction. Kuakata. Far away from the commercialized beaches in many other Asian locations, Kuakata in Bangladesh offers reclusive beach locations that make you feel like you are in paradise. The beaches here are strategically located to give you a stunning view of both the sunrise and the sunset. Bring your labrador retriever with you and it may feel like home away from home. Online public relations information allows you to scout your trip ahead of time. If you want more information on Bangladesh prior to scheduling a trip, do your homework and look up all the necessary information. Past that, you will not regret booking a trip to Bangladesh. Easily one of the most romantic getaways on Earth, you'll find all the comfort, relaxation and quiet that you need in Bangladesh, in the company of animals, the stunning beach and an expansive blue sky. You'll probably ask yourself why you did not come sooner. The History of Bangladesh Compared to its more popular neighbors Indian, Pakistan and Burma, the history of Bangladesh is not as well known. However, this does not mean that the history of this small country in South Asia is anything less dramatic or interesting. Like dreamweaver templates, the history of Bangladesh presents its own set of challenges and subplots that are intriguing to any student of world history but importantly to those who have taken a keen interest at this country. Bangladesh did not become a formal sovereign state until 1971 but even before this, it already had a rich culture that was well documented in the region. This is because the thriving religions of Hinduism and Buddhism all had their roots somewhere in the region where Bangladesh is located. As such, the land on which modern-day Bangladesh has stood has been a stirring witness to rise and fall of many civilizations in the area. No amount of anti wrinkle cream can hide the fact that Bangladesh has laid witness to countless wars for various purposes from the early Gupta and Harsha Empires of the 3rd to 6th centuries CE to the last war that led to its independence. The long history of Bangladesh paved the way to the occupation of the British in the 19th century. The change in governing authority was more like a drug detox for the people of Bangladesh who had to get accustomed to a new set of political, religious and economic policies. It was never a melaleuca experience; rather it was a time of serious struggle for the people who had to adjust to foreign influences for the very first time. Still, this also marks the period where the people of Bangladesh were formally introduced to the benefits coming from the West particularly in the area of education and medical aid. Formal independence for Bangladesh was gained following the war in 1971. This was after Bangladesh was originally considered as East Pakistan. While the country remained under Indian influences for the next few years, Bangladesh began to be freely ruled by people from within the country. This marked a period of steady progress where Bangladesh opened itself to modernization, and economic growth via capitalism. With the introduction of modern advantages like online mba for students, the growth of it jobs, and even technological benefits like home alarm systems, Bangladesh is slowly but surely introducing itself into the world. Still, the history of Bangladesh continues to evolve today as the country fights to overcome serious social, political and economic issues in the 21st century. Its economy enjoys a solid BB- rating which is higher than that of Pakistan and neighbor Sri Lanka but it also continues to suffer from rampant perceptions of corruption and crime. As Bangladesh forges ahead, there is no doubt it will be present in many an ebook reader detailing its ascent into the world stage. Only time will tell if Bangladesh makes the leap from being a developing country into a development one. That is something that the government and its people must work hard at achieving in order to be able to provide a bright future for the future generations of Bangladeshi citizens. The Three Must See Cities in Bangladesh If you are all for travel and tourism to exotic destinations particularly those in the Southeast Asian region, then there are three must-see cities in Bangladesh that you need to visit to complete your whirlwind tour of The Far East. While the name of these cities are fairly hard to remember or might cause you to cheat at scrabble, there are plenty of reasons – mainly religious and cultural – that make Bangladesh and its cities a definite stopover during a trip in the region. Here are the three must-see cities in Bangladesh and what you should expect when you drop by these unique tourism destinations. Dhaka. The capital of Bangladesh, its primary attraction has to be its mind-boggling "collection" of rickshaw transports. By conservative estimates, there are roughly 400,000 rickshaws running around Dhaka on any given day and you do not need a masters of accounting to tell you that such a number is truly astounding especially when you consider that Dhaka is not even close to being considered a major metropolitan district by global standards. Rickshaws are the lifeblood of Dhaka as a city and they bring tourists closer to the city attractions figuratively and literally speaking. Dhaka is also home to plenty of cultural attractions like the prominent national holidays on March 26 commemorating the nation's Independence, February 21 as the Language Martyr's day, and the 16th of December as Victory Day. These carry the local Buddhist and Hindu influences in the region and are excellent attractions to those interested in learning about East Asian culture. Any masters in education or even those planning RN to BSN online programs but would want to take a break before plunging to the rigors of intensive studying can certainly benefit from the refreshing atmosphere that is Dhaka, Bangladesh. Of course, we mean that in the full cultural sense of the word. Chittagong. Next to Dhaka, Bangladesh, Chittagong is the next biggest city in the country and is home to a multicultural collection of beliefs influenced by Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu cultures primarily because of its location as a port. Chittagong is also home to the rich historical chapters that helped defined Bangladesh as the struggles opposing the conquering invaders of the Second World War had its roots here. At its very best, Chittagong is undergoing a dramatic face lift and is becoming an attractive home to many an umbrella company as the city is widely considered as one of the fastest growing metropolitan districts in the world. If you want to see a third-world city in action, or if you are planning to grow your business in East Asia, there is little doubt that Chittagong is the best place to be in as it also gives you access to neighboring territories like Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Northeast India, and even Southern China. Khulna. Rounding up the list of the three must-see cities in Bangladesh is Khulna which, not surprisingly, is the 3rd largest city in the country after Chittagong and Dhaka. Khulna is a vital location for many a masters in health administration professional as majority of the world's battles against infectious diseases are being waged here, including malaria and water-borne diseases. Still, it cannot be denied that Khulna remains to be a vital and strategic location for business and economics in the region as it is like a city with a coach hire advertisement sign as it seeks to remodel itself into a vital economic hub next to Chittagong. As Bangladesh grows, so will Khulna with all the potential that it offers. While Bangladesh is far from being one of the most recognizable cities in the world, its potential for growth is more than apparent. Consequently, it remains to be a popular destination for exotic tourism escapades or even backpacking trips for religious and spiritual discoveries. The next time you find yourself in Bangladesh, check out Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna for all the great attractions that it offers. With these, you can make your Bangladesh visit one that will be truly memorable for many years to come. Travel Tips While Visiting Bangladesh If you have never been to Bangladesh and you are looking for more information on the country, its citizens, the roads, the sightseeing that is worth awhile there, the best types of hotels to stay in or what precaution measures should you be taking if you are planning on going here for the summer, you should read article here and learn everything there is to know about Bangladesh and Bangladesh tourism in particular. First and foremost, you are going to have to think about the prefect time of the year when you can visit Bangladesh. Once you are done with this type of planning, you should go ahead and decide what type of transportation means should you better opt for. Taking the bus could represent an action that is going to submit you to a constant threat of terrorism is some areas of Bangladesh. Driving to this far-distant country could also prove to not be a great idea. Taking your time and doing the proper amount of research about traveling to and visiting Bangladesh should also help you understand if taking your english mastiff along is a good idea or not, especially if you are going to be travelling to cities such as Sylhet and Chittagogn Hill Tracts. There are no top dental hygienist schools awaiting for there, but rather cruel acts of terrorism that might be welcoming you on these lands. As a matter of fact, the general lines of recommendations refer to the avoidance of tourism travelling to these parts of Bangladesh, as you will also be required to go through some rather harsh formalities. The official authorities are going to be asking for a 10-day notice in regards to your travel plans in Chittagong Hill Tracts. In other words, the situation can get so delicate there, that, at times, not even the best wrinkle creams on the planet should be able to help you forget all about your terrorism-related experience. Violent street disorders, local abductions of citizens or politicians and bus or public vehicle burning activities are not uncommon here. Ordering some books using Amazon Australia and doing some heavy reading about acts of terrorism should aid you learn more about this threats of the 21th century. Plus, pick pocketing and armed robberies are also often times occurring in Bangladesh, so special attention needs to attributed to doing your shopping there. As for the road travelling itself, you also need to pay special attention to the poor road conditions and the poor quality of the roads. Speeding and aggressive overtaking of the road are going to yet pose another threat to you, so if you are thinking about going to Bangladesh in order to be a part of some mph programs, you should probably think again. Upon preparing your incursion here, you might as well think about asking some masters of social work students to tell you how to handle travelling to countries that are under the threat of terrorism. Bangladesh Breakdown Country Analysis Bangladesh The Vibrant Culture of Bangladesh When eyeing a country to visit in Asia, it helps to be acquainted with the vibrant culture of Bangladesh, a small country of 148 million people sandwiched between India and Burma. Not too long ago, the reputation of Bangladesh was such that it was a poor country reliant on agriculture, tourism, and fishery as its primary means for livelihood. However, the growth of industrial and commercial markets primarily coming from India and spilling over to Bangladesh and fueled by more research into technologies designed to push the region forward has dramatically uplifted the quality of life in Bangladesh. As such, it is now one of the more enticing destinations for tourists from all over the globe. With regard to the culture of this vibrant country, everything begins with the influence of history and religion to what has become of Bangladesh today. It is heavily influenced by the cultures from India and the Cambodian peninsula which is discussed in better detail when you click here. Bangladesh also has very strong ties to Islamic traditions from nearby Middle East and this is also an essential determinant in today's economy where company ratings can be traced to connections in the Arab peninsula. The same can be said of the music coming from Bangladesh. While the country does not produce Taylor guitars for export, you can bet that it has a long list of musical instruments that pool together the country's rich history and cultural heritage. Such instruments include the ektara, dhol, dotara and tabla and are important musical pieces in North Indian classical music. The richness of the musical genre also spills over into the dance scene as there are many folk dances, not different from those in South Africa, which are predominantly buoyed by the local tradition in the area. More importantly, the myriad of festivals and celebrations in Bangladesh are major tourist attractions the whole year around and are strong enough that the industry fuels subsequent other businesses like home remodeling companies that kick into high gear at the onset of the tourist season. Festivals like the Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha of the Islamic calendar are well received and widely sought out by foreigners more than you would expect with a free cell phone. The same can be said of colorful Hindu festivals like Kali Puja, Durga Puja, and Saraswati Puja while Buddhist festivals like the birth of Buddha are also celebrated. There is so much to see and enjoy in Bangladesh, borne on the shoulders of its rich cultural heritage. Book a trip today and see for yourself why Bangladesh is one of the most traveled destinations in Central Asia. It's a trip that will surely fill your heart with great memories and one that will open your eyes to the richness and diversity of Bengali culture. Is Bangladesh Worth Visiting? Whenever we hear of tourist destinations marketed heavily, we always end up asking ourselves whether that place is worth visiting or not in the first place. A classic case, for example, is Bangladesh where tourism ads have been revving in full gear for a while now. Those ads do not shy away from proclaiming all the good things in Bangladesh so much so that, just from reading the ads, one would surely be enticed to check out the potential travel destinations. You find yourself reading, and then shortly after, clicking the first link to people's testimonies about Bangladesh. So is it really worth visiting? Should you even bother to plan a trip to Bangladesh? The true answer is that it really depends on your goals as a tourist. Let's be honest; it's unreasonable to expect that you will find the best in First World amenities in Bangladesh. You can't expect to see first class counterparts of your Dentist Salem Oregon or Vancouver WA dentists. If you are expecting the best that the world has to offer when you visit Bangladesh, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, this does not mean that Bangladesh is the complete opposite of what you'd expect from a first class tourist destination. The capital, Dhaka, is fairly industrialized owing to the huge volume of businesses that finds its way into Bangladesh. As a result, the amenities have followed suit and international hotel brands are not setting shop in Bangladesh. On the one hand, you may not find a Domestic Violence Attorney Seattle counterpart in Bangladesh, but finding a Westin hotel or a Radisson Blu Garden Hotel is more than enough to make up for your worries. But of course, this is not why one should come to Bangladesh. For that, you would have to be interested in the culture. Bangladesh draws inspiration from the unique intersection of the Hindu and Buddhist religions resulting in one of the more unique cultural marriages in the world. Its literature, music and arts, and norms are heavily influenced by this social union. While you may not find fantasy football names here, the festivals and attractions will be more than sufficient to keep you engaged. The cities also offer a unique insight in Third World life. Bangladesh is dominated by huge populations packed in the metropolitan areas offering a unique avenue for observing the life of many who seek to make it in the big city. Between the cars, scooters, and rickshaws during the rush hour traffic, plus the added beauty of Bangladesh's many waterways, there is plenty to see and explore in the city. You can even watch people window cleaning high alongside tall skyscrapers, if only to see how the life in this progressive country relies heavily on manpower resources. Bangladesh has plenty to offer for the right person and is certainly a good place to find something new. Learn more about what Bangladesh can offer so you can personally decide if indeed, this is a country that is well worth visiting for a tourist getaway. Economic Progress in Bangladesh There seems to be a common perception from many in the Western world that most countries in Asia outside of the notables like China, Japan, Singapore, and Russiaare wallowing in continued poverty and have yet to enjoy the benefits of economic progress. Do a quick survey in Americaasking about the economic progress in Bangladesh and the long-standing perception is that the country is more than likely to have never heard of the somanabolic muscle maximizer scam and many similarly complicated ploys. All told, it is hard to picture a country as notoriously languid as Bangladesh snapping out of its funk and finally climbing the rungs of economic progress. Is this perception true or can we be any more farther from the truth? Consider the facts vetted by multiple UN agencies and recently released to pronounce Bangladesh's slow but sure arrival on the world economic stage: 6% GDP growth amidst the global economic crisis when most western countries were seeing declines 8% growth on the industrial sector 6% growth in the services department 4% growth in agriculture 90% of all annual public spending is now supported by domestic sources rather than borrowed from international agencies like the IMF and World Bank The economic progress shown by Bangladesh over the last few years has been nothing short of astounding especially when considered in the light of Bangladesh's recent economic struggles. In a relatively short period, the country has moved from basic cash advance transactions to being an attractive hub for foreign investments in South Asia. Bangladesh primarily draws on its manpower competitive advantage to funnel jobs from rising economic powers China and India so much so that in recent years, company equivalents to a Beaverton Auto Accident assistance firm are beginning to exist. A big portion of the rise in economic performance is driven by key changes to policies which have fostered a business-friendly climate well beyond your everyday plumber chester business. Specific examples include fair and speedy processing steps for local and foreign investors alike leveling the playing field and allowing outsiders to put up their business quickly and efficiently. A Scottish Trust Deed business equivalent deciding to establish a base in Bangladesh would take no more time than a local businessman putting up an agricultural company. The same can be said of legal measures to protect from nationalization, the strict enforcement of intellectual property laws, reduced duties on imports as well as subsidies on exports, and even corporate tax holidays among other things. The long road to economic independence is slowly off for Bangladesh although it is certain that more time is required before people begin to buy Kratom just because they can, rather than do it out of need. Still, any road to progress, no matter how slow, is much better than taking a few steps backward. No doubt,Bangladesh's recent economic data suggests it is trending in the right direction with more reason for continued optimism. Only time, and the vigorous implementation of more business-friendly policies, can guarantee that growth will be sustained. In the interim, there is cause for a minor celebration. In the long-term, there is certainly cause for much hope. The Flourishing Export Business in Bangladesh The People's Republic of Bangladesh is one of the flourishing countries in Asia, despite it being a flood-prone nation during the rainy season. It has quite a lot of resources that has attracted investors for import and export businesses and local trading as well, generating a positive input in supplier and client history. While farmers and crop cultivators make up the majority of the country's population, the export business in Bangladesh generally come from the supreme group of fabrics and textiles that they manufacture. They are also known to have large deposits of minerals such as limestone, hard rock and silicone sand. Even though the country has quite a lot of resources in almost every industry, especially in the agricultural side, the absence of competent technologies to harness them is one of the main reasons why their assets have yet to reach the full potential of being explored and properly utilized. They have yet to take advantage of the high-end equipments that will transform their raw materials to several things that are deemed useful to every country. Nevertheless, their current export ventures in the garment business are still a promising one for the Bangladeshis. They are also doing export on leather, paper, tea, ceramic items, to name a few, and all of which have given positive inputs in the economy. The major counterparts of Bangladesh in their imported and exported products are India, China, Japan, USA, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and other countries in Europe. Companies involved in this major activity stay in touch with suppliers and customers alike through the virtual phone service that helps them stay organized and connected with each other at all times. In doing so, they are keeping their economy in the balance by importing the goods they need and produce products for local and internal consumption, by means of export. True, Bangladesh may still be laid back in terms technology innovation, but their manpower has never failed to sustain and maintain their status in the global market. Aside from the thriving economy of Bangladesh, the country has also quite a number of natural resources to be proud of. It is primarily because of the Sundarbans, which is considered to be the world's biggest mangrove forest, where the Royal Bengal Tiger resides, among many other beautiful creatures in the wild. Shapla is the country's national flower, known to many as water lily, while Kathal, or jackfruit, is their national fruit, and of late, they have chosen their national tree to be that of a mango. With the natural beauty of the country and persistence among its citizens, Bangladesh will continue to attract new markets and globally be recognized as one of the leading exporters of prime commodities. Neighboring countries may have yet to learn more from their ways and adopt their simplicity and sincerity in approaching things. Needless to say, they have gone far with lesser modern mechanism, and will continue to achieve much more if they are given the opportunity to be explored. Is Bangladesh in Crisis? Bangladesh politics offers some great insights into what can happen when abuse of authority can corrupt an otherwise peaceful march to progress and equality. From late 2006 to 2008, Bangladesh was embroiled in a deadly and violent political crisis which claimed the lives of many people. Many a professional institute focusing on global political affairs point to the root of the whole conflict as the mismanagement of political authority when it was conferred by the Bangladeshi constitution during a period of political transition. There are basically two dominant political parties in Bangladesh; the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League. In late 2006, a caretaker government was formed to oversee the administration of the national election following a two-decade long political conflict. This was not Ibiza where blue horizons were seen up ahead. Instead, the Awami League questioned what it termed where unfair acts by the caretaker government designed to manipulate the results of the upcoming election. When the Awami League announced that it would boycott the upcoming election, the political crisis boiled over leading to riots and clashes which claimed the life of many political supported on both sides. The cessation of hostilities in late 2008 was made possible by the intervention of the UN and the EU in Bangladeshi political affairs. This intervention led to the creation of an interim government where the President was not elected. It only served to momentarily diffuse the tensions like lulls on movie trailers online but as long as the issues remain, the threat continues to be present and waiting for the right moment to manifest itself. Enter 2013 when the EU and UN have suspended their participation in the election monitoring process owing to claims that a credible political system for fair and equal voting does not exist. This has set the stage for what can be another deadly round of political crisis in Bangladesh. Like sciatica that only lies dormant, now is perhaps the time where it can all resurface again with even more deadly consequences. The planned 2013 elections in Bangladesh give rise to two very important issues that require attention not only by the local ruling government but also by international watchdogs with a stake in the country. These are the rise of election-related violence as parties go against each other in the pursuit of their own respective agenda, and the role of the increasingly imbalanced military which can escalate violence even further. Both elements are so serious it cannot be addressed by the metaphorical coconut oil for face approach. Something needs to be done if a new round of violence is to be prevented. So what can we expect from this political turmoil? There is no clear answer to that question, but there are sound suggestions. First, the sitting government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from the Awami League must take careful steps to assure the BNP that a fair election will occur, much like when the Awami clamored for BNP to do the same in 2008. Second, a conciliatory approach needs to be taken akin to employing a car accident attorney to objectively settle matters. Third, the military must remain non-biased on the issue, but also restrained in its quest to control the conflict. This is a goal that is far easier said than done. So is Bangladesh in crisis? It might not be, YET. Only time will tell if the parties involved can come into a peaceful resolution of their differences so they can forge a credible government which will carry Bangladesh to its future;if not, then there is little doubt that a political crisis is about to happen again. And this time, the consequences can be even deadlier. ICC Twenty20 World Cup 2014 Held In Bangladesh The best cricket players in the world recently gathered in Bangladesh to compete in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 tournament. Organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the games were played from March 16 to April 6, 2014 in three cities of Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet. Although this was already the 5th ICC World Twenty20 competition, it was the second consecutive time that an Asian country, Bangladesh, hosted the event. The 2012 version was held in Sri Lanka. Established in June 15, 1909, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is the international governing body of the popular sports of cricket. The ICC is headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and has 106 member countries including Bangladesh, Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Canada, and other countries. There are 10 Full Members that play official Test matches, 37 Associate Members, and 59 Affiliate Members. The ICC World Twenty20, aka ICC World T20 or World Twenty20, is an international championship of Twenty20 cricket normally held every two years. The first ever tournament was held in 2007 in South Africa and was won by India. Twenty20 cricket, commonly shortened to T20, is a form of cricket that was first played in England and Wales for professional inter-county tournaments in 2003 and administered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Introduced to create a more lively form of cricket, a Twenty20 game can be completed in approximately three hours. Each inning lasts about 75-90 minutes with 10-20 minutes interval. Such is the worldwide popularity of the Twenty20 game that the ICC adopted the format and made it into an international competition in the form of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament. The ICC World Twenty20 is played on a group stage and knockout format. Points are awarded to teams during Round 1 and Super 10 stages. 2 points for win, 1 point for no result/tie, zero for loss. During the 2014 tournament, 16 warm-up matches were played in March 12-19, 2014. In the Group stage, teams were clustered into Group A and Group B. In the Super 10, teams were organized into Group 1 and Group 2. In the Knockout stage, four teams competed in the Semifinals until two teams remain and competed in the championship round. The following teams directly qualified for the Super 10: Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and West Indies. The following teams qualified for the group stage: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe. After holding thirty-five matches at three different venues, the tournament closed by declaring Sri Lanka as the champion. Virat Kohli of India was declared the Man of the Series as well as the player with the most runs of 319. Most wickets awards were given to Imran Tahir of South Africa and Ahsan Malik of Netherlands, each with 12 wickets. To learn more about wicket, visit icc-cricket.com to get more information. If you have the desire to learn cricket, then go for it, have fun, and play. Please browse through the Web pages of our portal to find out more about the SSS organisation and our objectives, and to make a donation by clicking on the Donate logo, on the right hand side of the page. About SSS Welcome to SSS!Society for Social Service (SSS) is a local non-profit, non-political, non-governmental voluntary organisation. It was established in November 1986 by the initiative of a group of development workers of Tangail district in order to promote the socio-economic condition of the underprivileged and indigent Bangladeshi people with special attention to women and children.
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