Painting Auction: “Colorado Moonlight” for Hope Home

UPDATE: 12/16: The auction is closed, with a total of $25.00 raised for the Hope Home. In the future, I would enjoy putting up other paintings for auction. Thanks for your time.

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The Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend is somewhat ironic in America, a time people can be grateful for what they have, yet ravenous for what they think they need. This is hardly a novel observation. It’s worth remembering, but do we spend our time wisely by bemoaning how people aren’t thankful enough? Not usually, no.

Not all of us have the blessings of enough money and time to join the Black Friday mob, or a dining table creaking under the bulk of a Godzilla-sized turkey while friends and family join us. I thank God for what I have been provided with. But that same God instructs us to care for others in need, which can be done in innumerable ways. It can be money (which I don’t have a lot of), a hug, cooking a meal, words of encouragement, and thousands of other ways. In this case, I decided to paint.

"Colorado Moonlight." Acrylics on watercolor paper. 5 x 7 inches. This is roughly 4 hours of work.

“Colorado Moonlight.” Acrylics on watercolor paper. 5 x 7 inches. This is roughly 4 hours of work.

I’ll explain. Dev Sarkar, a missionary friend of mine, has been running a small home for children in need in Calcutta, India called Hope Home. He’s been working at it for years, against many setbacks and struggles, from government bureaucracy to flooding. And though I don’t have a lot of finances, I have been learning to paint. So why not auction off a work and get some help for Hope Home that way?

If you or someone you know would like to have this painting and send some money to a good cause, then would you consider placing a bid? You can email me (under my profile picture to the right) or go to my author/artist page on Facebook and send me a private message to let me know if you’re interested.

AUCTION RULES

1. Bidding starts now and will close on December 12 at 11:59 pm. The starting bid will be $15. I will update on my Twitter feed (to the right of this text) if/when higher bids come in.

2. If you would like to bid, send me a private message with your dollar amount, phone number, and home address. If you win the auction and are outside the Black Forest/Colorado Springs area, I will ship it to you at my own cost. If you win and you’re local, I can just meet up with you.

3. Again, your entire bid will go to Hope Home. 100%. All of it. And the donation is tax deductible!

4. Checks or online donations only, please. Paying your bid online can be done at vvcc.net. If you’re writing a check, clearly designate it for “Hope Home Calcutta” and send it to this address:

Verde Valley Christian Church 

406 South 6th Street

Cottonwood, AZ 86326

When I receive confirmation that the bid has gone to Hope Home, I’ll send or deliver the painting, and it’s all yours!

Thanks for your time, everyone. I hope your weekend goes well, and have a Merry Christmas, too!

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Megalodon and the Decline of Science: From Enthusiasm to Contempt

After Animal Planet ran some specials regarding mermaids, Discovery Channel released another mockumentary which (a) I haven’t seen but my interest is piqued, and (b) has many scientists and science enthusiasts up in arms, blogging up a storm. Here’s the trailer:

Disclaimers were released with the special, but not ones that flat-out said its scenario is strictly fictional (which is problematic). The program, like the mermaid ones before, is a thought exercise. It asks “What if?” — that beloved question of writers, artists, and anyone with an imagination. What are the charges against this show? As I understand it, it’s a combination of “That’s not real,” “Discovery is abandoning science and reality,” and “People fell for it.”

Can I be honest with you? I can agree that Discovery should have done more to let people know the program was presenting a fictional scenario. However…this show isn’t a threat to science. Where are those “huge numbers” of people who still think mermaids are real after seeing the shows on Animal Planet? Are they hiding behind the conspiracy theorists who think the Moon landings were faked?

People are smarter than that, in general, and are probably tired of getting talked down to. I don’t know about any of you, but I am definitely weary of the fear and fretting, including the endless proclamations that science is somehow harmed by mockumentaries.

Sure, don’t lie to people. But if the show is presented in a “what-if” manner, then bring on the Megalodons!

This is part of a bigger issue that stretches across a much larger canvas, from the endless complaints of scientific inaccuracies in movies to the mindset that scientists have “all” the tools we need to discover truth (as a Christian, that’s something I’ll respectfully disagree with). Without asserting it firmly, I worry that the most vocal supporters of science are turning increasingly contemptuous toward anyone who sees nature in a different way than they do, or who asks different questions.

I speak as someone who loves science. I may not have a PhD, but I love nature. I love science. And I appreciate accuracy and realism, insofar as they go. I grew up with Bill Nye and Beakman’s World. David Attenborough nature specials are sources of beauty and amazement. Bob Bakker and George Blasing can talk about dinosaurs for the rest of eternity without boring me (admittedly that’s already hard to do when we’re talking about dinosaurs). Neil deGrasse Tyson is always a delight when he speaks about astronomy — I met him at the Space Symposium in 2006, and count myself blessed for that.

You know what all of these people have (or had, in some cases) in common? Enthusiasm. I caught the science bug from them because they recognized and shared the wonders and the fun it holds. Where is that today, at least on Facebook and the blogosphere? The internet seems to be where science goes to die, even when the cemetery is marked “National Geographic” or “Discover Magazine.”

Please tell me I’m not crazy. Is anyone else noticing scientists now make more headlines for shouting that creationists and global warming “deniers” are idiots than for encouraging us to finally put humans on Mars? Even Nye and Tyson are starting to get in on the rhetorical bloodshed. The contempt is getting old. Fast.

One incontrovertible fact goes all but ignored by the online community as it does its Chicken Little impressions: nature includes so much more than what we know about or can currently explain, even where it seems no surprises are left. Just because a stone is overturned doesn’t mean a door has been closed on this or that possibility. Giant prehistoric sharks living in the present aren’t “impossible.” I find it doubtful that we’ll discover Megalodons surviving in the ocean. But I’m not going to say something foolish, like “all evidence says it’s extinct.” We don’t have all the evidence.

Contempt finds its roots in hubris and paranoia, both of which are well-displayed in the blogosphere. Passion and humility are what drive curiosity forward and breed enthusiasm.

Reality holds a lot of beautiful surprises. Who could have guessed we’d find gigantic pink slugs living in a lost world? That’s reality. What of the tantalizing possibility that it’s raining diamonds on Uranus and Neptune? And those are just the little things, tiny parts of a huge, mysterious universe that we’re nowhere close to understanding in full. There’s still plenty of room in the world for things that we little humans have a hard time imagining to be real.

Why waste my time yelling at Discovery Channel, when I can go look for those surprises? You’ll find me striving alongside Johannes Kepler to “think God’s thoughts after Him.”