Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baby steps among Southern Baptists

It's been interesting this week to follow, off and on, the goings-on in Nashville at a three-day conference entitled "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage" sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention's Eithics and Religious Liberty Commission. More than a thousand delegates attended. Southern Baptists, some 16 million of them, form the largest protestant sect in the United States.

It was especially interesting to hear two of the men (vocal women are frowned upon by Southern Baptists) generally considered the denomination's principal spokesmen make mildly conciliatory noises concerning the topic of the conference, those gay folks stained doubly by sin. (In the Baptist universe, LGBT people are stained by original sin, then that basic level of wickedness is compounded by sexual orientation.)

The Rev. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the assembly for example that he repented of his lifelong denial that sexual orientation was innate --- original equipment; and of his insistence that it was a "choice" that could be changed by finding Jesus, prayer and/or therapy. 

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, encouraged Southern Baptists to refrain from bullying, stop throwing their gay children into the streets, refrain from shunning gay folks and to actually minister to homeless LGBT young people and others. He denounced what sometimes is called "ex-gay therapy" as "severely counterproductive." 

This all was described by some of the religious media as "gracious." Grace, like many other attributes, is relative among Christians.

It's becoming clear that Southern Baptists and perhaps other protestant sects are about ready to move gradually toward the position generally favored these days by the Roman Catholic, Mormon and some other Christian hierarchies --- that sexual orientations other than heterosexual were devised by god merely to torture some of his children but are not sufficient cause cast us out of the kingdom entirely. Unless we touch each other, form relationships and, most dreadful of all, get married.

I'm grateful for this modest first step toward the moral high ground.

High ground is not a place where the Christian establishment ever goes willingly. It took the Holocaust to suggest that centuries of antisemitism were counterproductive, for example. And Southern Baptists waited until 1995 to apologize to black people for 150 years of racism, race-baiting, lynchings and other inconveniences.

So even baby steps should be applauded.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tales from the crypts

Halloween is near, so it's a good time to talk a little again about the Chariton Cemetery mausoleums --- one a monument to a branch of the Copeland family and the other, the Lockwoods. And the granddaddy of them all, the vanished Stanton vault.

There's nothing at all frightening about any of the cemeteries that dot Lucas County, but these monuments to family self-esteem do creep me out a little sometimes. 

Of the two remaining, the Copeland mausoleum (top) is by far the grandest --- and the best preserved. The Lockwood vault (below) in the far northwest corner of the cemetery was a far more modest undertaking, a simple rendered brick structure topped by a concrete slab.

Both were built during 1910, during the months immediately after the deaths of their first (and in the case of the Lockwoods, only) occupants. The Chariton Herald-Patriot of July 28, 1910, reported it this way: "A granite vault is being erected on the H.D. Copeland lot in the Chariton Cemetery. The dimensions of the vault are 13 feet by 11 feet and 1 inch. A vault also is being erected on the Lockwood lot."

The remains of these original occupants had been parked, while awaiting their new homes, in the older Stanton vault, demolished I believe during the late 1960s or 1970s after it had deteriorated sufficiently to become the object of mild horror and morbid curiosity.

The Stanton vault was a project of Dr. James Eddington Stanton, a Chariton physician who by 1887 had acquired controlling interest in the Chariton Cemetery from its original 1863 stockholders. It was designed to be the final resting place for his family --- and a commercial venture as well. Individual crypts within were sold to those who planned to take up permanent residence and it also served as the cemetery's receiving vault, where remains awaiting final disposition were stored temporarily.

There were 30 crypts within the 1887 mausoleum and 16 still were occupied when it was taken down. These occupants were reburied in something of a heap in the mausoleum's footprint after its stone, concrete and and cast iron elements had been cleared away. Six others were evacuated and buried elsewhere in the cemetery.

If interested, follow these links to read more about the Stanton mausoleum and its occupants: The Stanton Vault Revisited: Part 1; The Stanton Vault Revisited: Part 2; and The Stanton Vault Revisited: Part 3.

The Lockwood vault seems to have been conceived after the Oct. 11, 1909, death of Sarah Lockwood. Her husband, George, died a few months later, on June 2, 1910, and his remains were placed temporarily with those of Sarah in the Stanton vault. It apparently was their son, John, who lived in Peoria, Illinois, who commissioned the vault under construction during July of 1910. 

The Lockwoods were veteran Chariton businesspeople, operators of Lockwood Jewelry on the west side of the square. They built the Lockwood Building, now occupied by The 5th Mile, after the great west-side fire of early 1904 destroyed the earlier frame Lockwood building. Their home was a rather grand apartment upstairs that retains for the most part its original features, although unoccupied.

Some years after the Lockwoods' death, the city worked out a trade with their son, John, or his descendants, who deeded the area around the vault to the cemetery in return for a promise to maintain the vault. It received a fresh coat of stucco during 2012.

You can read more about the Lockwood vault here.

The Copeland mausoleum was commissioned shortly after the May 3, 1910, death of Howard Darlington Copeland at the age of 56. The Copelands had substantially deeper pockets than the Lockwoods --- and the Stantons for that matter --- and their final resting place reflects that. You'll find H.D. Copeland's obituary here.

Carrie Eugenia (Custer) Copeland, widow of H.D., died on April 6, 1920, and her remains joined his in the mausoleum. The next family member entombed here was Dr. Charles Maples Whicher, a prominent Des Moines physician, who had married Howard D. Copeland's only daughter, Sue Darlington (Copeland) Whicher. He died of a heart attack on July 28, 1930, age 60. 

Sue Whicher died, also in Des Moines, on Oct. 11, 1942, and became the fourth family member entombed in the mausoleum.

The fifth entombment here was that of Howard Custer Copeland, son of Howard D. and Carrie, who died on June 15, 1950. His widow, Edith Clare (Larimer) Copeland, survived until March 4, 1978, but she had an aversion to the mausoleum and chose to be buried in a more traditional manner with her parents just to the southwest. So one of the six available crypts remains unoccupied.

The remains of the last family members to be placed in the vault were those of Dr. David O. Holman, who died in 1993, and Harriett (Copeland) Holman, who died during 2003. They also were the last of the Copeland family to live in Chariton. Their ashes rest on a marble shelf under the stained glass window on the mausoleum's west wall.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Bible usually doesn't tell me so ...

I've never read the Bible from cover to cover, nor had any inclination to do so. If asked to choose a book to be stranded on a desert island with --- dear God, no. And it's certainly not among my favorite bound volumes (but then I'm not a politician).

An interesting mix of tribal mythology, derivative and in many cases destructive morality codes and quirky history it may be, but little in it seems especially relevant --- except perhaps heavily edited accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus.

Other than brief mention in the works of Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, after all, there's really nothing else out there other than the New Testament to suggest this guy even existed.

So for the time being, I'll settle for the Sunday readings prescribed in the Revised Common Lectionary.

But just in case I'm ever overcome by the urge to at least read more in the New Testament --- and able to overcome a lifetime of aversion therapy administered by so-called Christians ---  I'll keep Peter Enns' "The 10 Commandments of Bible Reading" handy. Thanks to my friend Linda, who posed these to Facebook.

Monday, October 27, 2014

In the garden ...

We'll be skittering along on the fine edge of frost later in the week, but for the time being flowers still are blooming, grass is growing, leaves are falling and politician signs are sprouting all over town. Maybe I'll put some out today to annoy the neighbors.

At the museum late yesterday afternoon, the oaks were performing. These are pin oaks; the light was wrong for other varieties.

And the cabin, as always, was looking picturesque --- from any angle.

Down in the garden, Jim hasn't had the heart to clear away what's still growing --- mostly flowers now. So he's going to wait until after a black frost to clear and till.

There are mounds of marigolds.


And this is what broccoli looks like when allowed to go to seed.

Don't waste the day; winter will come soon enough.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stalking the artists ...

After spending last week taking photos of entries in the annual Art Attack exhibit, I decided to annoy the artists on Saturday by stalking them instead at the Freight House during the Lucas County Arts Council's annual fall festival. There were many other artists involved in the show and sale, but with one exception --- involving a rabbit --- these are local folks.

That's Nash Cox at the top here with his work in the background. Nash, Teri Sue and the Brokeback Pickup are my neighbors and this was his first show. The Storie House staircase work, upper right, placed second in the adult division of juried Art Attack competition.

This also was Margarette Morr's first Art Attack/Art Festival exhibit. Margarette is on the right here and her sister, Suzanne Humphreys, at left. Her colorful works on wood with pyrographic elements remind me of fraktur --- and the piece at right placed third in juried competition.

Award for the wittiest exhibits probably should go to Lauri Ghormley and "The Death of Books," a riff on decline of the print media, especially pages bound between hard covers intended to be opened and read. Each assembly is skewered now and confined by antique door hardware and each has been shot --- bullet holes evident on covers and in many cases with bullets still lodged among pages. There's a coroner's tag attached to each assembly containing among other information date of birth and date and cause of death of the volumes --- homicide by shooting. That's Lauri's Book Club at center.

Other artists included the irrepressible Sara Speer Palmer, a retired Presbyterian pastor whose artistic achievements were no doubt predestined.

Steve Scott.

Russell's own Kathy Willits.

Susan Baer.

Meg Prange (Russell, again).

Chery Woolsey.

And here's Mary Parks of Pleasantville spinning from her patient angora rabbit, Joey. Who could resist that rabbit?

For the record, the senior division Art Attack winners announced Saturday were (from left) Susue Thurmond, first (she was not exhibiting at the Freight House), Margarette Morr (third) and Nash Cox (second).

In the junior division, Kayla Edwards (right) was awarded first place and Rachel Johnson (left), second. Emma Nelson's ceramic mask placed third, but Emma herself was elsewhere on Saturday afternoon when awards were presented.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One of each, please ...

I've been adding to my virtual collection this week while touring the Art Attack exhibits in the Main Street District --- and am now prepared to announce the most recent (vicarious) accessions.

Walls, easels and tabletops already would be filled with Susan Baers, Steve Scotts, Susie Thurmonds, Meg Pranges and others, of course --- so these are works by newcomers to Chariton art events or by artists less frequently seen.

I've fallen in love with Susan Lee's "Madonna of Too Much Information" (top). I considered a robot or two (below), too, but that would have been greedy.

This is my neighbor Nash Cox's first exhibit, and while his detailed depictions of vehicles are wonderful --- I'd have to have this depiction of the staircase in the Storie House, just east of First Presbyterian Church.

Ashley Bedford's triptych won my heart last year; this year, it's a raku-fired mask. Had to have it.

Finally, more work by Iowa City artist Jacob Yeates. I'd have brought home at least one of his larger graphic works last year, and would have to have at least one of this year's smaller series, too. These lithographs revolve around characters from Cormac McCarthy's 1985 novel Blood Meridian and I think them quite wonderful.

The art remains on display until early afternoon today in the Main Street District. Juried and People's Choice awards will be presented at 3 p.m. at the C.B.&Q. Freight House during the Lucas County Arts Council's annual Fall Festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A few of the Art Attack exhibitors will join many others showing and selling at this year's festival, which is a great event. Don't miss it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Art and artists on the square

So I started out Monday to take a few photos for the Chamber/Main Street Facebook page of art works on display in the Main Street District this week as part of the annual Art Attack exhibition. 

Then obsessive-compulsion set in and I decided to shoot at least one work and often more by each of the participating artists. There are 20 individual entrants and two collectives. The Iowa Art Quilters' work is on display at The Sampler and Youth Division artists have an entire building filled with creativity on the east side of the square (118 North Grand). Don't miss either.

Also, don't forget to walk just off the square to the Chariton Free Public Library to see Susan Lee's work in the display case there (it will amaze you, guaranteed), Loren Burkhalter's work at Demichelis Law Firm and Andrew Linderman's pottery at Ameriprise Financial.

Many of the artists provided photos and brief biographies that accompany their exhibits. Look for these --- sometimes it's useful to know where the artist was coming from as you appreciate his or her work.

Some of the artists were working on the square late yesterday afternoon. That's Susan Baer at the top, at Ben Franklin.

Meg Prange was down the street at Piper's. The wall hanging she's working on is a piece commissioned by the owners of the Iowa City Victorian that is its subject.

Susie Thurmond, art instructor, and Emma Nelson, one of her students, were demonstrating pottery just outside the entrance to the Youth Division building. Thurmond's paintings are on display at Iowa Realty.

And finally, Jeri Reeve, whose photography is on display at Connecticut Yankee Pedaller. Jeri actually was just touring the square when her friend warned, "careful, or you'll end up in the picture." The rest is history.

Art works remain on display in the Main Street District thorugh 2 p.m. Saturday. At 3 p.m. Saturday, both juried and people's-choice awards will be presented at the C.B.&Q. Freight House during the annual Fall Arts Festival sponsored by the Lucas County Arts Council. Don't forget to vote for your favorites either at the Chamber/Main Street office or the Youth Division building.

I'll be posting more art work on the Charitone Area Chamber/Main Street Facebook page. Look for it and "like" it to share the fun.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three maples and an oak

I've heard several say the leaves this fall are among the most colorful remembered, especially the brilliants that are not necessarily native to southern Iowa, but planted in towns, cemeteries and elsewhere in part because of their autumn showiness.

The caution is, these show-offs are moving beyond their peaks right now --- and if you don't open your eyes and look you'll miss them.

These leaves were performing in late afternoon light Monday in the Chariton Cemetery. I'll not even try to sort out the three maple varieties, and the oak. Get out your tree-identification guide and go to work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The quality of October's evening light

A few geese had settled for evening by the time I got down to the marsh late Tuesday --- and I disturbed them. They honked a little and moved away.

There were at least a dozen other things to do before sunset, but watching October's bright blue drain from sky into the pond, then woods and grassland flame out, was the most important.

Politicians come and politicians go, then are ground to dust and scattered. Gods and devils and the occasional angel, too --- human vanities.

But you can touch eternity right now in the marsh, along shorelines and in the woods. How could you miss it?

Or join a blackbird assembly, convened for evening, and chatter about the impending flight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art Attack in the Main Street District

It's Art Attack week in Chariton, a Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street-sponsored event wherein some 22 invited artists from near and far display their work in business and professional establishments around the square, turning the Main Street District into a rather large gallery. Visitors are welcome to stop in at any time during business hours, take a look and vote for their favorites.

In addition, businesses will be open until 7 p.m. Thursday and some artists will be working on site during those hours.

I happened to be in Family Shoe Monday afternoon when the artist whose work is on display there, Ron "Swede" Meyer (top), walked in. His works are among the most traditional on display this year --- you'll find works in various other media and in many other styles as you walk around the square.

Here are works by my neighbor, Nash Cox, in the display window at Blong Chiropractic.

And works in various media by Ashley Bedford at Copy Plus.

Art Attack leads up to the annual Lucas County Arts Festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the C.B.&Q. Freight House and sponsored by the Lucas County Arts Council and Vredenburg Performing Arts Series. Art Attack awards --- both juried and people's choice --- will be presented at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Freight House.

You can stop in at the Chamber/Main Street office on the east side of the square to pick up a brochure that includes a map, showing all of the display sites and the artists whose works will be found there. Enjoy!