Thursday, November 30, 2023

Devine Justification For Mass Murder - and - The Battle Of Jericho

                                          The Battle Of Jericho

                                         Illustration by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ( 1794 to 1872 )


      The death tolls continue to rise.  Day after day, year after year, century after century,

as far back as the beginnings of recorded history, people have been marching across 

borders and slaughtering their neighbors.  The motivations for these bloody invasions is 

most often greed for the neighbor's lands, wealth, and natural resources, often 

accelerated by a desire for revenge for past incursions.  But the excuses they give for 

killing innocent civilians is most often that their supreme deity has told them that these

executions are justifiable, or that this God even ordered them to commit the slaughter.   

     When Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine, in a bloody assault, intending to 

absorb that nation into his own, he made sure that the head of the Russian Orthodox 

Church would speak out in approval of the invasion.  Such complicit approval from the 

supposed, high representative of God on earth, is somehow intended to quell any 

anxieties, which the faithful followers of the flock may feel about the killings of so many 

thousands of their neighbors. Whatever moral authority the head of the church may 

have had before his agreement with Putin, he tossed it all out of the window, but in 

exchange for his cooperation, he gets to retain his power over the ignorant masses 

of the faithful believers.

     The story is always the same. The aggressive political leaders acquire the support of 

the religious leaders, to help justify their bloody assaults.  Religion is always the key to

help justify all manner of death and destruction.  

      Now that we have the new horrors of the slaughters in Israel and Palestine, I am 

reminded of the biblical story of the battle Jericho.  That is the tale of how the God 

of the Israelites gave them the land of another tribe of people, who happened to have a 

different god, and were not particularly interested in moving.  As the story goes, Joshua,

the leader of the Israelites, needed the power of God, to help him destroy the great,

walled city called Jericho.  So he and the religious faithful, marched around the city walls

for seven days, blowing horns, after-which, God knocked down the walls for them.  

That is when the story becomes more telling about religion.  Joshua killed every man,

woman and child in the city, along with all of their livestock, because his God told him 

to do it!

     The story of Jericho is pure fiction, added to the Old Testament by a later writer,

as propaganda to enhance the omnipotent, powerful image of God.  Archeologists

have proven that no city of that kind ever existed in that area.  The Old Testament

is a collection of historical fiction, written and collected by tribal leaders, intended 

to hold the tribe together, and to find some kind of explanation of how we came to

be here, because they did not have the knowledge of science.  The trouble comes

now, in the twenty first century, when so many, stupid people insist that every word

of the "Holy Book" is absolute fact, written by the hand of an invisible, supreme

being.  The only holey books are the kind which are infested with bookworms.  

The books which proclaim themselves to be the Holy word of some-kind of 

supreme being are wishful fantasies..  

     Still, the festering religious divisions in society, continue to create the limited 

viewpoints of the people who insist that they have the one true religion, and all 

other religions are false, which continues to tare at the hope of any lasting peace 

for this weary planet. The wars and the deaths and  bloodshed will go on forever, 

unless we change.

     There is one religious rule which several religions have in similar forms, often 

called The Golden Rule.  Simply stated, it says "Do unto others as you would have

 them do unto you".  If everyone on earth practiced that rule, this world would be 

a wonderful place to live. 

                                                                  Eugene P. McNerney









Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Sunday In The Park ( without George )


     One of Stephen Sondheim's best known musicals is called Sunday In The Park 

With George.  It is a fictionalized version of the pointillist artist Georges Seurat, as

he draws inspiration for his work, during visits to the public parks of Paris.  I have 

lived beside a park for over sixty years, and that close access to views of the 

changing seasons, has undoubtedly been an inspiration in my own work.

     This past Sunday, I was finally able to spend a short time in the park, after being 

confined to a sickbed for most of the month.  During my confinement I had not witnessed 

the daily, gradual changes in the foliage, from the fading greens to the more brilliant 

tones of Autumn.  I saw with surprise, that many of the maples had already hit the peak 

of color, and had already begun to set their leaves adrift on the winds.

    I did not risk a health setback by walking the full length of the park on Sunday, but I 

did take a few photos of the section closest to me.  I have reached an age at which it 

becomes a question,  as to how many more of these Autumn changes I am likely to 

witness.  We all need to ask ourselves whether that last fading leaf, drifting away on the 

wind, may be the last we see.  Perhaps then we will plan our lives more wisely.

     I will post a few of my Sunday photos here.  Perhaps there is another artist out there 

who will find a bit of inspiration in them, maybe even one by the name of George.

                                                                          Eugene P. McNerney

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Freedom Of Speech - and - The Raven Is Lost In The Woods


                                                             The Raven Is Lost In The Woods

                                                              An original acrylic painting on primed panel

                                                              8" X 10",  unframed

                                                                      ( Click on image to enlarge.)

     This little painting is one from a series of book paintings I did a few years ago.  I'm not

sure whether or not I considered it finished at that time.  It has a more somber tone than 

some of the other works in the series, but perhaps that is appropriate.  It does seem to fit 

in well with the coming season of ghosts and goblins.  I recall that, around this time of 

year, Mr. Poe was fond of giving readings of his famous, eerie poem, as an entertainment 

for guests. 

      There is no particular reason why this book of poems should become lost in a gloomy,

dark woods, just as there is no reason for any books to become lost, but they do.  Things

do get lost.  But the real problem comes when books are deliberately taken away from us, 

by ignorant, small-minded politicians, who believe they have the right to take away our 

freedom of speech, and the freedom to read what other people want to tell us.

     I noticed this week, that the last week of September is designated as Banned Book 

Week.  I don't know how many people may have seen that reminder, and found 

themselves some good, banned books to read, but I hope there were many who did so.  

It seems to me that it is always the semi-illiterate folks among us, who inevitably try to 

censor what we are reading, as soon as they gain the political power to do it.  They don't 

actually read the books they take away from us.  If they did read the valuable information 

they try to destroy, they might actually learn something.  They are simply determined to 

prevent anyone from reading about people whose lives are too uncomfortably, different 

from their own lifestyles and beliefs.   They are unable to overcome their prejudices and 

fears, of anyone who they see as somehow unworthy of full participation in society, with 

the full freedoms of self determination, whether because of their race, country of origin, 

religion, sexual orientation, or a variety of other differences, which  they deem as 

somehow not fully acceptable.  

     These stupid autocrats gain their positions of power because the voters who put

them in office. are just as illiterate and prejudiced as they are, if not more so.  But 

the day may come when those voters  finally realize that if you take away the rights

of a few of us, you take away the rights of all of us.  When they feel the pain of lost,

personal freedoms themselves, they may well say, like Mr. Poe's raven, "Nevermore!"

                                                             Eugene P. McNerney


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Enduring Ignorance - and - Horatio's New Role


     "Call me Hakoris!" 

     Those were the spoken words which interrupted my troubled thoughts this morning.

That short sentence was reminiscent of the first line of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.

But when I looked to see who had arrived, I saw that the speaker was not attired for 

whaling.  My little friend, thespian and sometime model, Horatio H. Hamster Esq., had 

popped in for a visit, and his costume was more appropriate for an ancient Egyptian 

palace, than it was for a vessel like the Pequod.   His opening line had eliminated any 

question of what the middle "H" in his name stood for, during this visit.

     I greeted him warmly and thanked him for stopping by for a little chat.  It is always 

good to hear the latest, inside news about the events and troubles, here in our little 

animal kingdom.  He seemed a bit depressed, despite his royal finery, so, as I began 

a quick sketch of him, I asked how things were going for him and his friends.

     He answered that he was sorry to have to say that his theater company at the troubled

Quadruped Playhouse, was even more sharply divided than ever.  Although a majority 

of the company had voted to expel Donald J. Skunk from membership, because of his 

unrelenting stench, he still has a minority of supporters who want the company to have 

a second vote on his membership.  The skunk's friends are still the same cast of 

characters, including Lindsey Groundhog, Ted Coyote, Kevin McWeasel and that 

whole family of nearly deaf and blind foxes.  And adding to this turmoil in the company 

is the skunk's cousin, Ron deCivet Cat, who would like those supporters of the skunk 

to switch their loyalty to him and his particularly unpleasant aroma.  He wants to make

a name for himself by directing a new production of Shakespeare's Antony And 

Cleopatra, staring himself as Antony, and Julia Rabbit as Cleopatra.  He offered 

Horatio the role of Ptolemy X111.

                  "The P in Ptolemy is silent, you know", said Horatio, "and my part in the

            production would be equally silent because Ptolemy The Eighth was already

            dead before the play begins.  When I Ptolled him that, he said that he would

            do a rewrite and put in a different pharaoh.  So I Ptolled him that it was not

            Ptolerable to rewrite Shakespeare, and that adding a different pharaoh was a 

            Pterrible idea, and that it will end up as a Ptrully Ptragic Ptragedy!"

     When I asked Horatio if his words had any effect on the deCivit Cat's plans for the 

play, he said that the rewrite was continuing. evidently with the intention of eliminating

the role of Cleopatra as much as possible, because everyone could see that Julia was

far more talented than Ron, and he just didn't like being out shown on stage.  

     The last information that Horatio had received from the amateur playwright, was 

that Horatio would play a Pharaoh by the name of Hakoris, who also lived well 

before the time of Antony and Cleopatra.  So it seemed that accuracy and logic

were not figuring into the author's version of history.

     But it was beginning to look like the play would never get on stage, because 

Horatio said that a majority of the company was becoming tired of the Civet stench. 

     As I was finishing my sketch, and Horatio was preparing to leave, I asked him

how I should say goodbye to an ancient Ptolemaic Pharaoh.  And he quickly replied,

"Just lay your Ptributes on my Ptomb!"   With that he was gone as silently as he had


     After Horatio's departure, my thoughts returned to the nation's troubling current

events.  The notable, current contenders for presidential nominee of the Republican

Party, have just run a dog and pony show through Iowa and Wisconsin, and it was

mostly dogs.  Only one of this group of cowards was willing to say that he would 

not vote for a traitor to our democracy, to become president again.

    What is the reason for this cowardice?  One third or more of the MAGA base

of their party has fully accepted Trump's lies about a stolen election and a politicized

Department of Justice.  They are all wallowing in their deliberate ignorance as 

happily as hogs in a mud-hole.  Any candidate who wants to win the votes of these 

fools knows that he, or she, can not contradict the liar-in-chief.  They value their

own political ambitions more than they value truth and justice.

   And what is the reason for the steady allegiance of the MAGA idiots, to such 

an obvious fraud as Donald Trump?  I can't help but feel that when a man who

holds the office of the President of United States, is constantly displaying his 

hatreds, prejudices, xenophobia, and mistrust of our federal institutions, then his 

openly warped behavior makes it seem somehow more comfortable for people

to show the same warped flaws in their own character. 

     And what about the so-called leading Republican alternative to Trump, Ron 

Desantis?  Like the good little Nazi that he is, he has been busily taking away 

the personal freedoms of the people of Florida: banning books, telling teachers

what they are allowed to teach, telling women that they do not have the right

to determine their own future or the control of their own bodies, and rewriting

history to fit in with his own views.  When he stands up and proclaims that the

Africans who arrived here as slaves were here in some kind trade-school, why 

wasn't he laughed off the stage.  He seems to have forgotten that they were 

not here by choice, and that the so-called trade-school lasted their entire lives.

     If Desantis is the best presidential candidate that the Republican's can 

offer us, then, as my little friend Horatio might say as Ptolemy, ........

 that is a Ptruly Ptragic Ptragedy!

                                                      Eugene P. McNerney

Monday, July 31, 2023

Life Goes On......Or Does It? - and - Gustav Dore's Vision

                                    Gustav Dore's illustration for Dante's Inferno: a scene

                                    of those who are condemned to spend eternity upon

                                     burning sands, being struck by balls of fire

     The news is not good.  The year 2023 is the hottest year in recorded history

and it is probably the hottest year on Earth since before human beings became the

dominant species on the planet, and even farther on back through many thousands 

of years of prehistory.  All across the world, increasing numbers of people are being 

killed by the heat.  The temperature of the ocean water, around southern Florida, 

has risen above the hundred degree mark, killing off the corals which create the reefs, 

which are the breeding grounds and nurseries of ocean life.  And wild fires are raging 

out of control around the globe, while exceptionally violent storms bring death and

destruction beyond anything anyone has experienced before.

     All of these torments are reminiscent of scenes from Dante's Inferno, but this is an

inferno which we have brought upon ourselves, not the tortures imposed on us by

some supreme being.

      This crisis is not unexpected.  The climate scientists and truth tellers have been

warning us for decades, that if we did not strive to reduce the amount of green-house 

gas emissions that we have been pumping into our atmosphere, we were headed for

a drastic change to our global climate.  For a couple of centuries now, we have been 

burning up our fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, while at the same time we have 

been cutting down the carbon-dioxide absorbing, rain forests, as if they are a waste 

of space.  Now it appears that there actually may be no tomorrow for us. 

     Our species has had the power to make great changes to our planet, but we have

lacked the intelligence and will, to make these changes wisely, to preserve the health

of the Earth and every living thing in the ecosystem. From President Taft onward until

the present day, we have never had a Republican president who expressed any great 

interest in reducing the environmental impact of the fossil fuels industries, and related

manufacturing.  They have always insisted that the business of America is business, 

and if the environment suffers because of business, cost-cutting greed, then the later 

generations of us will have to deal with that.   Whenever the issue of global warming has 

come up among our Republican leaders, they have ignored the science and declared

that the rising temperature of the Earth is a hoax.  For them, personal profit is more

important than truth.  Chief among these deniers is of course, the liar-in-chief, Donald 


      In our 2020 election,we came close to having someone in power, who would 

help focus government attention on this coming crisis.  Vice President Al Gore was

in the forefront of advocates of clean energy and green energy.  If a full recount of 

the votes in the state of Florida had been carried out he would have become our next

president.  But the Supreme Court didn't allow the recount to go forward; they handed 

the presidency to George Bush, who had no particular goal for the presidency, other 

than a desire to invade and occupy Iraq, and kill the dictator who insulted George's 

daddy.   The result of that was thousands of lives lost and many billions of dollars

of U.S. treasure wasted instead of being spent toward getting us off of fossil fuels 

and getting us focused on green energy.

    Is it too late for us now?  We don't know the answer to that question yet.  Perhaps

we have already passed the tipping point beyond which we cannot stop the escalating 

global warming.   The heat goes on.

                                                    Eugene P. McNerney




Friday, June 30, 2023

Where Are The Snows of Yesteryear? - and - The Gardenia


                                                   The Gardenia

                                                   An original drawing on 100% rag Strathmore

                                                   9" X 12", unframed

                                                                                 ( click on image to enlarge )

     Francois Villon's famous line of poetry doesn't have much to do with today's 

posting on the blog, but it speaks eloquently of the cruel and relentless passage 

of time.  This week is one of the sadist weeks of my life: I have lost my one and only 


     During the midst of the great depression, shortly before world civilization became

swallowed by World War Two, my parent's married and bravely began to raise a family. 

They had two baby boys, separated by just two years.  The first born was named after

his father, and the second was named after his father's brother.  The couple worked hard, 

struggling through financial setbacks and health problems, to raise their boys to a high 

ethical standard.  There were plenty of snows of yesteryear as the boys were growing up, 

with many long, icy walks to school, in those days before busing.  And there were the

the episodes of mumps and measles, chicken pox and whooping cough,  scarlet fever

and broken arms, and all of the other difficulties which threatened children's lives in

those days.  But there were also games and skating, biking and sledding, and annual 

holidays and birthdays marking our growth.   

     The older brother soon began showing a curiosity about how things worked.  

He made kites of unique design and flew them well.  And he made large, model

airplanes, out of nothing but thin strips of balsa-wood and tissue paper, with a

wind-up propeller, and these planes would sometimes fly so high that we could not 

see where they had gone.  Then he would have to depend on the kindness of the 

strangers who found the planes, to call us and return them.   These early interests 

led him naturally toward the fields of engineering and drafting. 

     The younger brother tended to be a bit of a dreamer, who closely observed

the natural world of flora and fauna, and developed a talent for drawing the

things he saw, better than most boys his age.  That was a portent of his life yet

to be.

     So we began life together as a pair of starry-eyed little boys, a pair of traveling

companions, looking out at a world of wonders and surprises.  And he remained

my loyal traveling companion on this long mysterious journey we call life.  He did

not have the title of a nobleman, but he was a nobleman in spirit.  Honest and

trustworthy to all, he was always ready to answer a call for assistance, whatever

the problem might be.  He remained a loving husband and father, and a devoted 

brother, until the very end of his journey.   Now his half of our shared travels is 

finished, so I will have to complete my half of the journey alone.  I will be the 

final repository of our shared memories, of a family which once was; a father 

and a mother, and a brother too, now gone.

                                                    Eugene P. McNerney 11

P.S.    I have been observing the blossoms of a gardenia plant in the garden

this week, as the end drew near for my brother.  There is a kind of reluctance 

about the way the tightly wrapped petals of the buds gradually unfurl, like little 

fingers trying to keep the flower's fragrance from escaping, much the same as 

my reluctance to let go of my brother's loving spirit. 

                                                Thomas T. McNerney Jr.

                                                June 19, 1935  -  June 27, 2023

                                                Rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Cult Of Ignorance - and - Tom Sawyer Was Out In The Rain Last NIght

                                  Tom Sawyer Was Out In The Rain Last Night

                                  An original mixed media painting

                                  9" X 12" unframed

     Those viewers who may be somewhat familiar with this blog,

may have seen this painting previously.  It is one from my series of  book

paintings which I have shown here in the past decade or so.  I chose a 

book painting today as another reminder for everyone to think about all

of our individual rights which are being taken away from us by autocratic

state legislators and governors.  Everything that we do in our own personal

lives, to help us determine our future health and advancement, is under a

constant threat of being taken away from us by the Republican tyrants

who have gained full power in so many of our states.  Perhaps the sadest

part of this new reality, is the fact that we have the Trump Supreme Court

which gives these idiots permission to abuse our personal rights as they like.

     The latest example here in my state is a law which restricts freedom of 

choice in our libraries. The kinds of books libraries can buy and make 

available to readers, are now limited to those which these right-wing politicians 

see as appropriate for their children.  Any one parent has the power to block 

what the children of all the other parents can see and read.  Failure to comply 

with this law results in loss of funding for the library.  

     Libraries have always been the bedrock of American democracy, from

our beginnings.  They were the places where we could go to get the full

information we needed to help us conduct our lives for our own best benefit

and for the best benefit of society in general.  These Republican efforts to stifle

truth and factual information, is a further example of the way they are grooming

this cult of ignorance, to help them stay in power.  I am reminded again of

Socrates famous words that proclaim ignorance to be the world's greatest

evil, and knowledge to be the world's greatest good.  Nothing has changed

in over two thousand years.

    My advice to all readers now, is simple.  When you go to the library, go

directly to those restricted sections, which  contain the books which have 

been given limited access, due to Republican political command.  That is 

the area where you are likely to find some of the best books in the library.

Take those books home and read them.  They will expand your mind and

help you see the world in new colors and whole new dimensions.

     Don't let anyone tell you what you are not allowed to read. It is a 

knowledgeable citizenry which eventually removes tyrants from their 

positions of power.  

                                             Eugene P. McNerney