From the Stacks

Upon arriving home from a trip last night, I discovered the article below in my email box. It seems my son had spent the day perusing some of Jonathan’s thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He forwarded this essay to me.

As I read it, I was struck by the fact that this year, when we so desperately need to believe in the brotherhood of man, we are glued to our television sets, ardently hoping that our next President will be successfully inaugurated without violent interruptions.

Therefore, with a sense of pleasure and relief, I turned my mind toward the world-changing life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., remembering that on his deathbed, Jonathan’s instruction to all of us who remained behind echoed Dr. King’s:

“Change the world!”

*****

2013 Thoughts on MLK Day

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a problem. The bus line in his local community had begun to raise a fuss about carrying the colored folks of the town. There were so many reasons for the conflict that it’s difficult to explain–but basically, Rev. King was a Negro minister in a municipality which believed in and practiced “separate but equal.” Racial mixing was frowned on except in the exchange of cordial, but brief, greetings in the marketplace.

The problem the young minister faced was that some of his congregation wanted to rebel and object to the lack of equality and respect given to the Negro community. But most of the folks just wanted to get along. They saw no particular reason, after all these years of struggle and winning significant improvements, to anger the white community over such a silly, little issue as transportation. But he was also aware of the power he possessed among his people as a member of the clergy. They would more than likely move out in any direction he deemed righteous.

He prayed about it. After he prayed, he decided that the true wisdom of God was to use discretion and humility instead of demanding acceptance, which would only be viewed as arrogant. He negotiated a deal with the bus company to allow the colored folks, who sat in the rear, to redecorate that particular portion of the bus to suit their culture and liking. The bus company thought it was an odd request but couldn’t see any reason why allowing the Negroes to do what they wanted to on the bus, within reason, should be denied–since no white person would step back there anyway.

Matter of fact, Rev. King sold the concept to his flock under the banner, “Redecorate Our Lives.” In other words, rather than fighting against society, requiring respect, his suggestion was that the colored community establish their uniqueness and the beauty of their culture, and therefore become a testimony through cooperation. It was a roaring success. The white community was happy because things were let alone, and the Negroes felt they had achieved a compromise, which allowed them to retain some dignity of their own.

Rev. King became so popular that he was asked to head a confluence of black educators who became consultants for Congress in Washington, D. C.  Although the body of legislators continued to be predominately white, this gathering of leaders from the Negro community was permitted to input ideas on how to make race relations better across the country. In fact, Rev. King was one of the founders of the NCFL–the National Colored Football League, which he proudly touted often had greater attendance in their stadiums than the nearly all-white National Football League.

Oh, there were some downs with the ups. Martin was not pleased that the music and arts scene, never integrated, failed to blend the sounds of gospel, blues and jazz into the mainstream of the pop music scene. But most of the Negro artists were able to etch out a living among their darker brothers and sisters.

Probably Rev. King’s proudest accomplishment was his “Back to Black” campaign, begun in the late 1970’s, to take American families on pilgrimages to Africa, similar to the Muslims returning to Mecca or the Jews to Jerusalem.

“Separate but Equal” remained the law of the land but gradually was beginning to resemble equality more than just separation. Race relations were fine unless a few trouble-makers came along rocking the boat, insisting that the forefathers’ concept of all men being created equal was an inclusive concept MEANT to promote integration.

Although Rev. King was sympathetic to their feelings, he warned them that fighting against the general opinion of the population was not going to bring peace and contentment, but rather, a forced situation of interaction, which ultimately would only produce anger and resentment.

He was successful in calming the turmoil. He was well-respected within the black community and considered to be a healing force among the whites.

While attending a convention in Atlanta in 1992, he was preparing to give a speech when he had a heart attack and died. The topic of his last presentation was to be, “Separate but equal–thank God Almighty, at last.”

*****

You see, this very easily could have been the story of the man. He would have lived longer, he would have been more accepted and he would never have had a bullet pierce his neck and bleed out on the balcony of a cheap motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

But everything we are today–all progress we’ve made, every idea of justice and every possibility of interaction, while looking each other directly in the eye, would be pure mythology. Dr. King wrestled with two Presidents to secure the civil rights legislation that steers the ship of social justice.

Yet we now live in a generation which would undoubtedly advocate “staying on the bus” instead of boycotting the corporation because of its unfair practices. We are civilized; we are rational. We appease that which turns its head away from the trouble of fighting for true justice.

So remember today that Dr. King had to make this choice:

Do I find a way to work with the system?

Or do I declare that system filthy, evil, and fight against it–even willing to give my life?

Think about it.

Then–when it’s your turn, this time:

Don’t compromise.

Don’t appease.

Published in: on January 19, 2021 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Drawing Attention … January 13th, 2021

Desert Skies

(tap the picture to see the video)

Music:  Desert Skies from the album “Let”  by Jonathan Richard Cring

Click here to visit the ClazzyArtShoppe on Etsy!

 

Drawing Attention … December 30th, 2020

Crazy Clazzy Trees

(tap the picture to see the video)

Music:  Largo from “Winter” from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

Selections from Mr. Kringle’s Tales: Mr. Kringle Visits the President

In a variation on “From the Stacks,” I have decided to offer you, between now and Christmas, a few of Jonathan’s stories from one of his most popular books:

Mr. Kringle’s Tales: 26 Stories ‘Til Christmas


Mr. Kringle Visits the President

On December 20th, 1862, Abraham Lincoln was sitting in his office alone, deliberating the fate of young men he had sent to a war not of his making. He was interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Is that you, Mr. Hay?” he asked without budging from his chair.

“It is not Mr. Hay.” The voice said no more.

Abraham stood to his feet and creaked toward the door. Opening it, he gazed at a man with a smoky-white beard, stovepipe hat, dressed in the uniform of a colonel in the Union army. “I have two questions for you, Colonel,” said Abe. “Who are you and how did you get past my aide?”

“He became distracted by an urgent personal need which called him to the water closet,” responded the courtly colonel.

“Well, that answers one.”

“For the other answer, I think we should both sit down, sir.”

“I am always of a mind to put more pressure on my backside than my feet,” Mr. Lincoln smiled, motioning to a chair for his guest and heading for one himself.

The distinguished colonel sat, drew a breath, and began. “Mr. President, I am Kris Kringle.”

“Dutch or German?”

“Very.”

“Well, Colonel Kringle, you are honored with a fine name.”

“I am not a colonel.”

“Then you are in danger of being shot for impersonating one. Have you come to assassinate me?”

“Heavens, no. I have come to see you on behalf of the children.”

“Children? Are you a father?”

“Many children, I hope. Some are black.”

“A plantation owner?”

“No. A toyshop.”

“Mr. Kringle, I am not partial to riddles unless they are of my own making.”

“Then let me speak plainly. I am Santa Claus.”

“A little too plainly, dear sir. I must ask you to leave.”

“I know it is hard to believe. But sir, you are a man of great hope and faith. Stretch that belief for a few moments.”

“Speak on. You have until my aide returns to throw you out.”

Kris fidgeted in his chair, not sure what he had expected, but definitely discouraged by this beginning. “I have received words, letters and heard the prayers of black children across the South. They asked me for a Christmas gift — liberty.”

“That is why we are fighting this horrible war. Are you some sort of abolitionist-soothsayer?” Lincoln was perturbed.

“I am what I am, which I declared myself to be. I know you have a proclamation you are about to make law.”

“This is common knowledge.”

“I also know you are reconsidering your decision because people are putting pressure on you to keep slavery out of the issue.”

Abraham sat straighter, cleared his throat, and said, “Go on.”

“Freed children make productive men and women — the kind that build nations.”

“Maybe they would be happier back home in Africa.”

“These children are home. This is their land. They were born here. It is their dream. It is their hope. It is the land where they ask me to come and bring them presents. They are you and you are them.”

Lincoln probed the rotund stranger for a glimmer of sanity. Satisfied, he asked, “Well, Santa Claus, if you are, what should this old President do?”

“Be Santa Claus to a whole race of children. Give them what they deserve this Christmas — freedom. They’ve been good They have suffered quietly. It is time to let them run and play.”

Mr. Lincoln’s eyes welled with tears as he nodded his head. Kris Kringle stood to leave. Empty of words, he headed for the door.

“Mr. Claus,” Lincoln called, “what do I get for Christmas?” Abe’s eyes twinkled in the fading light.

“What do you want?”

“I fancy that stove-pipe hat on your head, dear sir.”

“It is yours.” Kris strolled over and handed it to the President.

“Is it magic?” Lincoln pursued.

“Everything has its moment of magic,” Kris chuckled.

Lincoln smiled. “The children will have their Christmas, Mr. Kringle.” He then turned away and stared out the window as Mr. Kringle vanished.

***

On January 1st, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation to be the law of the land, freeing the slaves.

***

In the spring of 1865, while riding a horse near enemy lines, President Lincoln was shot at by a sniper, the bullet passing cleanly through his stovepipe hat, leaving him unharmed.

Afterward

I wrote this story in 2004 as part of a collection. There are twenty-six stories (hence the title!)

If it intrigues you, go ahead and purchase a copy of the book. It’s on Amazon. Just click the title below.

Mr. Kringle’s Tales: 26 Stories ’Til Christmas

Drawing Attention … December 16th, 2020

The twentieth century avant-garde composer, John Cage, was famously impatient with music until it included natural sound, produced without the pre-conception of human beings–only planned by time and chance, so to speak.

I had a similar sensation one afternoon last week, while viewing one of my paintings as the light from the curtained window played upon it, creating streams on the work I never envisioned nor intended–but found charming and fascinating.

So I videoed it with music playing behind it–Christmas music, matter of fact.

Music: Heraldation from “Have Yourself a Clazzy Little Christmas”

by Jonathan Richard Cring


I had an identical experience several months ago, viewing my John the Baptist painting with a beam of light creating a jagged scar on his face. It was such a powerful image that I debated painting the scar onto his face. I still might. What do you think?

 

Selections from Mr. Kringle’s Tales: A Miracle for Elf Randy

In a variation on “From the Stacks,” I have decided to offer you, between now and Christmas, a few of Jonathan’s stories from one of his most popular books:

Mr. Kringle’s Tales: 26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

Not that many people can write “funny,” but it was one of Jonathan’s gifts. This particular story might make you laugh out loud–a trauma of elf-sized proportion.


A Miracle for Elf Randy

The scourge of Elfdom, causing the tiniest heart to palpitate in fear—a malady so intense that the eyes bulge in abstract horror:

Tallitis—a disease leaving the once-proudly miniscule elf with swollen hands, feet, nose, ears, arms and legs, while skyrocketing the victim to a freakish FOUR FEET IN HEIGHT. Eat a bowl of four-leaf clovers and pray to be spared.

Elf Randy wasn’t so lucky.

About a month earlier, he had noticed that his little toe was larger, challenging his big toe for Top Little Piggy. A fluke, he decided. Then his left ear sprouted new length—terrifying. He had to wear a scarf and hat to disguise it.

Two days later, the nose became bulbous, the right knee a mountain and his lips ballooned to the size of inner tubes. There weren’t enough hats or scarves to disguise the disgrace.

“You have Tallitis!” screamed Elf Candy.

A tragedy.

Elf Randy was forced to live in a stable with the reindeer (because no one was quite sure if Tallitis was contagious.)

He busted out of his clothes and Mrs. Kringle had to darn him a robe made out of a used blanket from a reindeer stall.

Things were looking up—but for an elf with Tallitis, that was bad.

Doctor Ulandi risked a visit. “I’ve been thinking about Tallitis,” he said.

“Do you have a cure?” Randy was desperate.

“If the problem is big, then we need to think small. I want to try something.”

Doctor Ulandi pulled out a handful of pills. “What makes us shrink more than diet pills? Then I want you to soak in a bathtub of lemon juice, read a story by Edgar Allen Poe, drink seven cups of coffee…”

“Wait! I don’t understand,” interrupted Randy.

Doctor Ulandi heaved a sigh. “You see, diet pills make you lose weight. Lemon juice causes you to pucker. The story will cause you to shrink back in fear. And the coffee will stunt your growth.”

“Will it work?”

“No,” Ulandi said. “But it will keep us occupied until you explode.”

“Explode??!”

“Just kidding,” Doctor Ulandi said innocently. “But anyway, the final step is to throw you in the washer on the hot cycle.”

“What?”

“Well, it sure shrunk my pee-jammers last week.” Ulandi smiled and frowned at the same time.

Well, of course, Elf Randy agreed to try it. He followed each step faithfully. And so, coffee-breathed and starving, he dove into the washer.

Round and round he went in the oversized contraption, an elf needing to be “Cheered” and swept by the “Tide.”

When the cycle stopped, Ulandi shouted, “Hurry! Throw him in the hot dryer on ‘whites only’!”

Finally the dryer stopped tumbling. The door was opened. Damp elf smell encompassed the room.

A leg plopped out. A tiny leg. Then another.

Randy dropped to the floor—a new pixie.

Healed.

“It’s a miracle!” he exclaimed.

Doctor Ulandi gasped. Then, regaining his composure, he proclaimed, “You are re-Elfed.”

Randy returned to shop life.

A cure for Tallitis had been found.

Doctor Ulandi submitted his findings to a medical journal. (They declined to publish due to a very tiny readership.)

Ulandi summarized the day, “Well, as they say—it all comes out in the wash!”


If the story intrigues you, go ahead and purchase a copy of the book. It’s on Amazon.

Click the title to purchase your own copy

Mr. Kringle’s Tales: 26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

 

 

Drawing Attention … December 9th, 2020

Trees of Blue

(tap the picture to see the video)

Music:  Variations on a Theme by Eric Satis

performed by Blood Sweat and Tears

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

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