Printfriendly

Saturday, August 30, 2008

God's Glorious Gospel Garden

Elsewhere on the Web, I've discussed my vision for the Christian Artists' Resource Center, which would be a residential art colony for artistic Christians representing all art forms.

One of the features I want to eventually include on the campus for the Christian Artists' Resource Center would be a botanical garden, similar to the Chicago Botanic Garden, but with additional features such as Christ-centered outdoor art (e.g., sculpture, mosaics, topiary, etc.).

I've wanted for some time to write a poem which would complement that vision. A while back, the muse visited me and inspired me to write that poem. Here it is:

--------------------------------------------

GOD'S GLORIOUS GOSPEL GARDEN
© Mark W. Pettigrew

There's a garden that I know of
where the flowers seem to sing,
and the glory of the Lord is seen
in every living thing.

In God's Glorious Gospel Garden,
there is magic in the air.
You can leave behind your worries.
You can find a refuge there.

There are springs of living water
flowing over holy ground,
and God's Glorious Gospel Garden
is where mercy can be found.

So receive the Father's pardon
for iniquity and sin.
In God's Glorious Gospel Garden,
your new life will then begin!

--------------------------------------------

I hope you enjoyed the preceding poem.

UPDATE: I just finished taking some of my own floral photos and combining them with the preceding poem in order to design a file suitable for making a large fine art print or poster. Here's a web-sized version of the design:



*************************************************************************

NOTE: To download additional Christ-centered poems I've written (stored online in the form of PDF files which can be downloaded from a public SkyDrive folder), visit this link, then select the poem in which you have an interest, and then click the Download button.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Elwood United Methodist Church

Regarding my last blog post, I just received another e-mail from Shirley Gilmore. It turns out that she's now the Senior Pastor of Elwood United Methodist Church. In other words, she has my dad's old job. Apparently, they still can't afford a full-time pastor, because she described herself as a "lay minister" in her letter.

Here's a link she sent to me, containing a photo of the church. Their lawn is much greener and nicer than it was when I was a kid, and I'm guessing that they have a real paved parking lot there now.

Can you say "country"? Yes, Elwood was a real country church. So was Oakland United Methodist Church, where my father preached for the three years subsequent to leaving Elwood. But Oakland was considerably bigger than Elwood. It actually had a basement! And the sanctuary was much larger, too. Still, both churches seem as small as broom closets in comparison with some of the megachurches I've attended in later years.

For example, my mother now attends James River Assembly of God. Here's a photo of that church, located in Ozark, MO. It should be clear just from a comparison of the two photos that James River is many times as large as Elwood. (If you were to speak with my mother, I doubt that she would have any trouble explaining the reason for that fact.)

The folks at Elwood still seem to be meeting in the same tiny building they met in during the 1960's! I'm assuming that they must have spent a fair amount of money on repairs and renovations over the years, because the building looks pretty nice in the photo. But the church never did have adequate room for more than a small handful of people, and there doesn't seem to be any indication from the photo that they've substantially expanded the size of the sanctuary.

Size isn't everything when it comes to churches. But I'm inclined to think that churches which are carrying out the Great Commission by actively sharing the gospel with others ought to show some signs of growth over the years! Based on the available evidence, I would guess that Elwood hasn't grown much over the years in terms of attendance (which was usually fewer than 100 people when my father was the pastor there). They still only have one service there on Sundays, judging by the information on the aforementioned web page.

I'm not sure what the explanation is for the lack of growth at churches like Elwood and Oakland, but at the risk of offending Shirley and the others at her church, I could hazard a guess. I might guess that it is related to the same spiritual apathy which caused my father to violate his marital vows, commit adultery, and become an alcoholic who never repented (to my knowledge) of having caused substantial harm to me, my mother and my brother, prior to his death in 1999.

I distinctly remember the conversation, right around the time when he was on the verge of divorcing my mother, in which Dad told me that he was no longer sure if Jesus was the Son of God. To say that I was horrified would be an understatement. From the time when I was a tiny child at Elwood, I'd always looked up to my father, even when he'd punished me physically in a manner which was totally disproportionate and undeserved. When I sat on the front pew at Oakland, listening to his sermons, I thought that he was the wisest man who ever lived. My, how time can change one's perspective on such matters!

What was particularly hurtful to me and my family was the fact that the folks at Elwood continued to invite my father back to their church after the divorce, asking him to perform the occasional wedding or funeral, as if he had not forfeited his spiritual authority when he openly committed adultery, abandoned his first family, and took a new wife. It seemed as if the folks at Elwood approved of what Dad had done to us. In my view, my father's new wife was a pretender who had destroyed our family. When I saw that the folks at Elwood had posted photos of my father and his new wife, as if it was no big deal that my mother was no longer in the picture, it frankly made me want to vomit.

I know, of course, that the folks at Elwood were not motivated by malice towards me, my mother or brother. In fact, I doubt that many people there even stopped to consider how such treatment might make us feel. But I'm not sure that that's a good excuse.

I believe that the Church should always stand willing to forgive leaders caught in transgression, but there should be conditions for that forgiveness. In my view, they should have refrained from treating my father as if he was a pastor in good standing until they saw clear indications of contrition and repentance.

What accounted for their unwillingness to rebuke my father for his open sin and for their failure to impose church discipline? I think that it was just a reflection of the general moral relativism which has infected the United Methodist Church in recent years. There are exceptions, of course, but many leaders in the United Methodist Church have substituted the tenets of modernism (and more recently, postmodernism) for the tenets of the scriptures. The United Methodist Church has been shamefully spineless when confronting modern evils such as legal abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration and other manifestations of moral relativism. The same thing has been true with regard to the need to stand firm on issues such as the authority of the scriptures and the necessity of evangelism.

Some people, particularly in mainline denominations such as the United Methodist Church, seem to think that merely attending church and partaking in its rituals on a regular basis is a substitute for an intimate relationship with God. Such people think that because they were baptized as infants and raised in the church, that automatically makes them Christians.

I understand where such people are coming from, because that was the way my family raised me during the time period when my father was a Methodist lay minister. Prior to her own spiritual renewal, I distinctly remember my mother telling me, "We're not Christians. We're Methodists." She thought Christianity was just another denomination! Of course, she knows better now. She also told me, when we were at Elwood, that being "saved" was a Baptist doctrine. Having never grasped the significance of the cross in terms of redemption, she loathed the old hymn that talked about being "washed in the blood of Jesus". We Methodists were too "sophisticated" for such things!

I loved my father, but I cannot recall ever hearing him preach about the need to repent for one's sins or to ask Jesus to be one's personal Savior. I hate to say it, but I suspect that the reason he never preached such things is that he'd never really fully committed his life to Christ himself.

Fortunately for me, a series of events led me to fully commit my life to Jesus Christ. Not to a ritual or a tradition, but to a living, risen Savior who had died so that I might live. Not long after that, my mother experienced a similar spiritual transformation.

As a former pastor, one would think that my father would have been thrilled to see that my mother and I were growing in our faith. One would be dead wrong. He ridiculed us for our new interest in Christianity on a number of occasions, and he explicitly forbade me from attending a nondenominational group of young Christians who met regularly in a small house just west of Park Central. He was particularly incensed to learn that I had gone to Springfield Lake with that group one night in order to be baptized.

I'd been baptized as an infant, but I had concluded after reading the scriptures that the practice of infant baptism had no scriptural foundation. It certainly didn't seem to offer me the opportunity to publicly proclaim my new commitment to Christ.

Interestingly, the United Methodist Church now teaches that there are two kinds of baptism --- infant baptism and "believer's baptism" --- judging by the information on this web page. That's news to me! Here my father was a Methodist lay minister, and I cannot recall ever hearing about any kind of baptism other than infant baptism!

Over the years, I've attended churches from a number of different denominations. At one time, I identified myself as a Methodist. Now I just call myself a Christian. My loyalty is to Christ and his word, not to any individual denomination or church body. Where the Church has done what it ought to have done, I like to think that I have been quick to recognize that fact. But I have no reluctance to criticize the Church if and when such criticism seems to be appropriate, keeping in mind that I too am fallible.

I don't know what things are now like at Elwood. I don't know how committed Pastor Gilmore is to Christ in terms of her own personal life. I pray for her sake, and for the sake of her family, that she is a more committed disciple of Christ than my father was. I pray that her vocation as a pastor is the expression of a deep faith in the Lord, and not just a vocational choice which she made because she discovered that she had a gift (as my father did) for public speaking. That isn't even a good reason to become a politician, and it's an even poorer reason for becoming a pastor.

There is a Bible verse which says, "To whom much is given, much will be required." God holds us accountable for the gifts which he gives to us, and that is particularly true in the case of positions of church leadership. Church leaders who arrogantly act as if they are above God's laws should be removed from positions of authority, because they are failing in their responsibilities to teach obedience to God by the example of their own lives.

Church membership has been declining in the United Methodist Church and other similar mainline denominations for a number of years. There's a reason for that. People long for the truth, even when it makes strong demands on their lives. They want leaders they can respect, not leaders who capitulate to the latest trends without regard for the timeless truths of God's Word. They want the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They want a faith which isn't just a Sunday morning kind of thing. They want a faith which is relevant to their lives every day of the week. They want a faith which motivates them to transform society for the betterment of humankind.

Hatred is incompatible with an abiding faith in Christ, so I don't hate the people who continue to attend the United Methodist Church. Many of them are very nice people, and some of them are even committed Christians who regularly do their best to combat the moral relativism which has infected their church.

(For instance, I regularly get a newsletter, known as LifeWatch, from conservative United Methodists who seek to return the UMC to the days before it became difficult to tell the difference between United Methodists and Unitarians.)

I wish those people the best, but frankly, I have no stomach for that kind of constant conflict and confrontation. I don't expect perfection when I attend a church, but I do expect people to be united in a common commitment to Christ and to God's word. Unfortunately, the United Methodist churches where that is the case are few and far between.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Message from Shirley Gilmore

An E-Mail I Just Received:

Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 07:10:37 -0700
From: (E-Mail Address Hidden; Sent by Shirley Gilmore)
Subject: Mark Pettigrew from Springfield?
To: mwp1212@gmail.com

Did you grow up in Springfield, Mo, and was your father Don Pettigrew the optometrist and preacher?

My Reply

Yes, Shirley, I'm that Mark Pettigrew.

I still remember playing with you, Mary Ginn and Ronnie Ginn, before and after church at Elwood United Methodist Church. I still remember the wart you got when you were a kid, and how I was afraid that I'd catch it! (I got one of my own years later when I was in college. Not pleasant! Now Dr. Scholl's makes an ointment designed to freeze them off.)

You may recall the incident where Wally Springer let out a few choice words not normally heard during church after a wasp found its way up his pants leg one day.

Perhaps you recall the many grasshoppers which loved to gather on the lawn in front of the church, and behind the church, on hot summer days. You probably recall the wooden fans with which folks kept themselves cool during worship services, since there was no air conditioning. You may also recall the small house, just north of the church, where you and Mary and Ronnie and I used to play.

You may recall the various events, such as softball games and hayrides and pot luck dinners, which Elwood held for its members. And who could forget Vacation Bible School!

You may or may not also know that my first serious girlfriend was Karen Smoots, who I met when my Dad took me on a return visit to Elwood. (I think Karen started going to Elwood after Dad stopped serving Elwood as its regular pastor, because I don't remember her being there when I was younger.)

I still think of you from time to time, especially when I see that TV show entitled "Gilmore Girls". It's great hearing from you!

If you're interested, you should know that I have a blog, at http://markpettigrew.blogspot.com/. I have another website at http://www.artisticchristians.com/. Feel free to check them out and let me know what you think. And be sure to let me know more about what your life is like these days.

Sincerely,

Mark W. Pettigrew
30 W. Chicago Avenue, Room 1212
Chicago, IL 60654

-------------------------

NOTE: I don't normally publish e-mail exchanges in the form of blog posts, but in this case, most of the contributions to the preceding e-mail discussion were mine, and I figured that there wasn't anything in my reminiscences which was too private to share with others.

Incidentally, Ron Ginn, the father of Mary and Ronnie, was the Sheriff of Greene County for a while, and my father was his campaign manager.

Initially, I published Shirley's e-mail address when I posted the article, and then it occurred to me that she probably would prefer that I not do so without her express permission, so I edited that part slightly.

If Shirley hadn't contacted me, I probably would have written a blog post about this subject at some point anyway. My memories from the three years when my father was the "Methodist lay minister" at Elwood are part of what makes me the person I am today.

It's interesting to see the way that the Internet and e-mail can facillitate reunions of people who haven't seen one another for many, many years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Polarizing Perils of Racial Identification

Dawn Turner Trice is a writer for the Chicago Tribune. A while back, she responded to a speech by Barack Obama, in which Obama called for more dialogue about race, by announcing that she was starting an online forum for people who wanted to talk about racial issues. I was somewhat skeptical about the idea that it would be truly open to those who wanted to frankly address some uncomfortable issues which needed to be addressed, but I made a note in the back of my mind that I'd have to make a point of visiting the site in order to see whether or not it was worthwhile to join in with those discussions.

A recent article addressed the question of whether or not it was divisive for African-Americans to refer to themselves in that manner, rather than simply describing themselves as Americans. I was encouraged to see that most of the participants in the discussion thus far agreed that it was divisive for them to do so.

Being the loquacious individual that I am, I had to throw in my two cents. The comment which I submitted is currently being reviewed, so I don't know whether or not it will be published there. But I thought that it was good enough for me to make an effort to insure that it would be available online somewhere, regardless of whether they published it or not. So here's the comment in its entirety. (It will be interesting to see how the unedited version compares with the version which ends up being published on that web page, assuming that it is published at all.)

-----------------------------

Folks should just describe themselves as Americans, not as African-Americans or Irish Americans or Italian Americans. Most labels of that type are overly simplistic at best

My surname is of French derivation, but I've done enough research to learn that most people with my surname migrated to the United States from Scotland or Ireland, where they'd previously lived for centuries after migrating to the British Isles when William the Conqueror took over the throne. So what am I? French American? Irish American? Scottish American?

Frankly, my answer is, "None of the above." I'm an American, period. I've only been outside of this country once in my life, for a period of less than 24 hours. My ancestors left Europe many generations ago, so it's ludicrous for me to find my identity in the nationalities of ancestors I never met.

As for the issue of ethnicity, I'm learning that race is a fluid concept at best (which is exactly what the scientists have been trying to tell us). I know of a guy who lives in my building and who looks like any other white man with his clothes on. But his feet are as black as coal. If you only saw his feet, you would think he came from the heart of Africa. I didn't know that such a pigmentation phenomenon existed, but apparently, it does.

Folks who continually define themselves as African-Americans deliberately emphasize their ethnicity because doing so enables them to stress their belief that they are entitled to certain forms of "remedial discrimination" which otherwise wouldn't be available to them. It's a way of continually rubbing other folks' noses in the fact that they are the descendants of slaves, so that they can capitalize on the resulting guilt feelings, whether or not those feelings are warranted by an examination of the facts about the specific individuals being made to feel guilty.

Actually, if you look at the history of the world, a lot of white folks are probably the descendants of slaves, too. Slavery had a strong racial component in the U.S., but there have been other cultures which enslaved people without regard for race. Admittedly, that form of slavery was considerably more ancient, but I'm not sure that that's relevant to the point I'm trying to make, which is simply that "remedial discrimination" on the basis of race is as simplistic and unjust as the racist discrimination for which it is ostensibly the cure.

I know of no living Americans who have any direct experience of slavery. As for the argument to the effect that the effects of slavery have lingered even though slavery itself is dead, putting the descendants of slaves at a disadvantage, I can only say that while that may be true from a statistical point of view, the fact remains that many individual black people have managed to overcome racial obstacles in order to achieve standards of living which many other less fortunate white Americans have good reason to envy.

Making blanket assumptions about people based on race without knowing them as individuals is inherently unjust, and frankly, it's racist. So it's ironic that many black folks who claim to oppose racism endorse a form of reverse racism whenever they find that it's beneficial to do so. Such people lack integrity; and it is on account of that lack of integrity, not on account of their race, that they forfeit the right to receive respect.

People who vote for candidates based primarily on racial considerations and not on considerations of the specific policies being promoted by said candidates are also guilty of racism. Such "identity politics" are inimical to sound judgment. I say this as someone who lives in Chicago and who knows that most black folks plan to vote for Obama, for reasons having as much to do with peer pressure as anything else. Most of those people would vehemently deny that they endorse legal infanticide; yet, if they have their way, we will soon have a Democratic president who voted against Illinois laws designed to prevent infanticide on several occasions. Identifying one's self primarily on the basis of race can cause one to put on blinders which prevent one from appreciating the consequences of one's actions.

It's sad that America has a history of racial injustice, but there isn't a single living American of any race who is to blame for that fact. So let's stop playing the blame game, stop identifying ourselves in ways which emphasize our differences rather than emphasizing our commonalities, and start seeking to live our lives in such a way that Martin Luther King's famous dream can become a reality in the very near future.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bestiality At The Library

It used to be that people came to the Chicago Public Library primarily to read. But that was many years ago. Judging from what I've seen on the occasions when I've glanced away from my own computer screen while doing work on the computers here at the library, one of the most popular current reasons for using these computers is to watch porn videos or look at pornographic photos downloaded from the Web. Thanks to the library's high speed Internet connections, the videos are quite vivid and realistic, and the photos leave little to the imagination.

In short, this is not a good place to visit if one is a Christian who defines personal holiness in a manner which requires that one live a sheltered life in which one is never exposed to such things.

I'm an adult, and even though I am a sexual virgin because I chose many years ago to make a conscientious effort to live a life of obedience to the Lord, that doesn't mean that I'm completely naive or ignorant when it comes to sex. So I am not as easily shocked as some people might think that I would be. However, we live in an increasingly degenerate society, so I still see things occasionally which manage to shock me.

As I sit here typing this blog post, I am looking across the room at a man who couldn't be younger than 65 or 70. He may be even older than that. As a young person, I never would have imagined that people in his age group would use computers for purposes such as the purposes for which he is using his computer. At the moment, he's looking at cartoons depicting young naked women engaged in sex acts with male genitalia which, by the looks of things, must be attached to giants roughly ten times the size of the women.

Earlier, he was engaged in looking at a variety of photos which depicted one or two women who were having sex with various big dogs. That's right, dogs.

In the case of one or two of the photos, the women also appeared to be having sex with small bulls, out in the pasture. There's an image I'd prefer not to dwell on when I'm in the supermarket buying meat for the dinner table!

Now the dirty old man is looking at cartoons which depict Disney's Snow White, having sex with the Seven Dwarfs.

What I find particularly bizarre about all of this is that it says a lot about what the City of Chicago regards as permissible and impermissible in terms of behavior. When one visits the library, one cannot eat a candy bar anywhere in the library without furtively looking around to make sure that one isn't being observed by a security guard. One cannot bring a cup of coffee into the library unless one works here. If one attempts to temporarily remove the useless "privacy screen" from one's computer because it has a tendency to slightly reduce the clarity of the images on the computer screen, one will be quickly approached by a security guard and told that one is not allowed to do that. But apparently, it's alright to use one's computer to look at the most vile pornography imaginable.

Barack Obama and Infanticide

Being a Republican who lives in Chicago has always felt a bit like being a fish out of water (to use a cliche which is nevertheless useful from an analytical point of view).

That's never been more true than this year, thanks to the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, whose strong ties to Chicago only serve to amplify the affinity which this predominantly "blue" city would probably feel for the man anyway.

Being the "odd man out" can be an uncomfortable experience, but there are worse things than feeling uncomfortable. I don't have any difficulty explaining why I won't be voting for Barack Obama in 2008. I just point to articles such as the one which is available via this link.

(Here's a link to another article on the same subject, and here's another one.)

I should mention that I have met Jill Stanek, who is discussed prominently in the aforementioned article, and I've corresponded with her via e-mail on a number of occasions. She is single-minded in her pursuit of justice for the unborn children and infants whose lives are regularly taken in abortion clinics and hospitals throughout our nation.

Jill's 8/17/2008 blog post continues her pursuit of truth with regard to the question of just what Barack Obama has or hasn't done with regard to the Induced Infant Liability Act (the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act). Ditto for her 8/20/2008 blog post.

I applaud Jill for her moral courage. As I see it, such moral courage is a personal quality which Barack Obama lacks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Farewell, Uncle Bob

One of the drawbacks of getting older is that one has to get used to the experience of losing various family members to death.

I just got an e-mail message from Sue Lawrence, a friend of my mother's. Sue told me that my mother's brother, Bob, had gone to be with Jesus on Sunday night, after a long battle with cancer.

Of all of my uncles, aunts and cousins, Uncle Bob and his family were the people to whom I felt the closest when I was growing up. When I was a child, I always looked forward to our visits to St. Louis so that we could spend time with Bob and his family.

Often, Aunt Sue, my grandmother and my mother would take me, my younger brother Matt, my cousin Karen and my younger cousin Cindy to places such as the St. Louis Zoo (a perennial favorite) or the Planetarium (just a few blocks north of my grandparents' house on Lawn Avenue). Often, we stayed with our grandparents, but there were also some occasions when we stayed for considerable lengths of time with Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue in their home in Kirkwood. They always did their best to make us feel welcome in their home. I still have fond memories of climbing the tree in their front yard.

I didn't see Uncle Bob as often as I saw Aunt Sue, Karen or Cindy, because Bob was usually on call, since he was a physician with a thriving medical practice. But I felt close to him nevertheless. He was a gentle man with a winning smile. In some ways, he was like a second father to me. He and my father seemed to get along fairly well. I remember a number of evenings when we would all get together in their family room at the end of the day and play board games such as Monopoly or Yahtzee! before going to bed.

During recent years, my financial situation has made it impossible for me to travel as often as I would have liked. I haven't even visited Mother very many times in her home in Springfield, Missouri. So I haven't been able to visit Uncle Bob and his family in Kirkwood, the way I would have liked to do. That made me feel guilty, particularly inasmuch as Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue helped me substantially on occasions when I needed financial help.

Regarding the deep friendship which I once had with my cousin Karen, it saddens me to say that we grew far apart after we had both become adults. I have hopes that I will be able to visit with her and with the rest of the remaining members of the family at some point in the future. But I doubt that I will be able to attend Uncle Bob's funeral, on account of my current tenuous financial situation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Put On Your (Custom) Gospel Shoes!

Not long ago, I got a promotional e-mail from Zazzle.com, which (like CafePress.com) allows one to create a variety of products customized with one's own graphic designs, art and photos. This particular mailing made me aware of a very cool new option offered by Zazzle.com. One can now create a variety of shoes decorated digitally with one's own custom designs! Click this link for more details.

I got to thinking that this could be a very cool way to share one's faith in Christ. I was reminded of a couple of scriptures which I thought were applicable:

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things! ... Romans 10:15

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. ... Ephesians 6: 14-16

Since both of the aforementioned scriptures focus on the gospel of peace, one might choose to emphasize that aspect of the gospel when designing the shoes.

Too bad Zazzle only seems to offer such custom shoes for women and kids. Admittedly, some guys might think that such shoes were a little bit fruity. But I think it would be possible to design some bold, masculine shoes which even straight men such as myself would be proud to wear.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Freedom of Speech Has Its Price

If you've ever heard anyone say something which you considered to be stupid or ignorant or morally indefensible, you may have yielded to the temptation to tell the person what you thought about what he or she said. If so, chances are good that the subject of your criticism has not always responded in a positive and enlightened fashion to your criticism. Often, the response may be to try to deflect attention away from the substance of your criticism by implicitly accusing you of trying to abridge the person's constitutional right to free speech. "It's a free country," the accused may say in response to your criticism.

Well, of course it's a free country, at least when it comes to the right to freely speak what's on one's mind, provided that it doesn't endanger others for one to do so (as in the case of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre), and provided that it abides by laws (such as those which the FCC has established for the public airwaves) which are designed to insure that people who are deemed to be too young to maturely handle certain types of expression are protected from such things.

What I find strange, though, is that there seems to be a substantial number of people who cannot grasp the idea that the same Constitution which protects their right to say the most inane things imaginable also protects the right of others to tell them that what they have said is inane. Censure and censorship are two words which sound somewhat similar to each other, but they do not mean the same thing. People who respond to censure as if their critics have tried to censor them demonstrate their ignorance. In an imperfect world in which people frequently disagree with one another, the only way to keep people from censuring one another would be to censor them, so there is something more than a little bit hypocritical about people who cannot take criticism like adults, and who choose instead to respond to such criticism by falsely accusing their critics of censorship.

Chicago Riverwalk Is Cool

If you've been in Chicago near the Chicago River during the last few years, you've undoubtedly noticed some noteworthy improvements. The Chicago Riverwalk is an area beneath street level, on both sides of the Chicago River, directly adjacent to the water. Chicago is not a city to waste precious downtown space, so they've turned that area into a sort of miniature outdoor mall, with restaurants, a small (yet beautiful) memorial park dedicated to Viet Nam War veterans, and even art displays. There have been several businesses on the north side of the river for quite some time, but the same was not true of the south side until a few years ago when the city of Chicago did some major construction work in order to transform that side of the river, which is the side closest to the Loop and to Wacker Drive.

In order to save money on transportation, I sometimes walk to the Harold Washington Library at 400 S. State Street, from my current residence at the Lawson House YMCA, rather than taking the bus or the El train. The walk takes about an hour for me. (Mapquest says it's about 1.3 miles between the two locations. But I think it's slightly more than that right now, due to construction which is currently going on in the River North area.) On a really hot day, I can get pretty sweaty by the time when I get to the library, but fortunately, the weather this summer has been relatively cool. Even so, I like to take a few paper towels to mop my brow, and I sometimes stop for a brief rest break at an air-conditioned hotel on Wacker Drive, right after crossing the river.

Today, I was crossing Clark Street, and as I crossed from north to south, I heard the sounds of a 3-piece jazz group (led by a guitarist) playing at a place known as Flatwater. I've never eaten there, but the place certainly has a picturesque location, and I enjoyed listening to the jazz. I stopped in the middle of the Clark Street bridge, once I'd reached a somewhat shady spot, to listen briefly to the music, feel the cool breeze coming from the river, and watch as the boats passed beneath the bridge.

Chicago is by no means a perfect city, but there have been brief moments during the 16 years that I've lived here which could be described as sublime. That was one of those moments.