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"What if..."

Posted on November 27, 2015 at 11:20 AM

“What If…”

Due to the recent re-publishing of my website I have had several questions about the proposed, “Divine Mosaic: Crossroads of Faith” exhibition.

Did you know that Mohammed Yusuf, the founder and leader of Boko Haram from 2002 until he was executed by Nigerian police in 2009, whose followers kidnapped 276 girls in 2014 from a boarding school based his ideology on, Boko, meaning Western education and Haram, meaning forbidden in Arabic? The jihadists are now known as, “The People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, specifically targeting schools and children, and thus the ignorance continues.

I have struggled mightily with this concept…realizing and understanding the anxieties resulting from actions/atrocities of the radicals/extremists within the various Islamic sects, however, having met conservatives in each of the religions represented my original thinking and goals return to the purpose…if not now, when? If not us, who? Where does it start before it ends?

This was an idea stimulated by my wife, Sylvia, some 15 years ago when she said something along the lines of, “you are a big shot exhibits designer, why don’t you create a traveling exhibition on the three faiths spawned by Abraham…they all have the same God but we each have such a limited knowledge about one another’s beliefs”.

So…I began to think about the challenge and talk to colleagues about their interests in the subject and individuals who had a great deal of knowledge and experience in the history of religions and all were intrigued with the concept. These people were glad to offer their expertise to the exhibit, all the way from Harvard to Israel and Egypt. What was surprising then, and even more so now, was the moderate Muslims like those found in China for example and those that I have personally talked to were all, without hesitation, extremely critical of the radicals that they felt were or had become representative of their faith. They wanted to be identified and separated from the jihadists in whatever way they could. Members from the Christian, Jewish and Islam beliefs all thought this exhibition could bring about a greater understanding and awareness of the similarities, as well as the differences, of the doctrines and practices of each. Hopefully, ideally, this could/would lead to a platform for educational dialog and tolerance among all faiths.

During the planning stages of the proposal that resulted I began to keep notes on some of the things we might address and/or think about. Keep in mind I was raised in a Christian Church, literally, The First Christian Church, in Hobbs, NM and went on to become the first Youth Minister on Campus at Eastern New Mexico University for the First Christian Church in Portales, NM (very briefly).

Here are a dozen of my many notations:

 

What if… we didn’t judge others only/solely on what religion they were raised in or were identified with?

What if…we accepted how others worshiped the same God?

What if…we tried to better understand the origins, contributions and practices of each of the religions?

What if…we didn’t try to build the tallest steeple or the biggest edifice or argue over the color of the walls or carpet or whether there are stained glass windows or even be disparaging about what the worship center is called?

What if…we let a newcomer sit in “our” seat and even welcomed them into “our” service?

What if…we let our fellow worshipers pray in whatever manner they are accustomed?

What if…we didn’t condemn others by their appearance, language, customs or race but actually offered our understanding, empathy and compassion for all who seek their divinity or are in need of solace?

What if…we offered our praise of God without boundaries and included those of different backgrounds who have the same goals for peace and tolerance for the whole of humanity?

What if…we faced our fears induced by our ignorance and prejudices but tempered by knowledge and understanding of one another’s lives and customs?

What if…we all believed that the monotheistic deity we call God allowed all who believe in Him the opportunity to inherit His covenants?

What if…we educated our children to respect the ways and circumstances of other children and impressed on them the value of human life and their chance to make a difference in the world for the future?

What if…we sought the truth no matter what translation or tradition we are familiar with and attempted to be more perceptive of how many things are beyond one’s control especially in today’s social, economic and political environments?

These thoughts are, admittedly, very biased and Christian based as my connections to other denominations, religious systems and/or organized worship practices are very superficial even though I have studied the history of religion for many years. Thus, many of the “what if’s”, also, maybe especially, apply to the plethora of different beliefs and denominations within the Christian faith.

However, as I have learned not everyone is an extremist like the skinheads or jihadists that receive the most attention as there are good people of every faith who very much want to live every day as though it were their last day and try to do all they can for all they can, especially for the children who are commonly influenced by a plethora of personal and media encounters to be skeptical if not prejudiced of those who are different. Since there are millions more moderates in each faith than the radicals it is time to join together in making this a safer, more humane and civilized environment.

Therefore, the idea/goal/purpose is to leave a better place for our children, a legacy of meaningful discourse resulting in a more peaceful world but that can only occur with a major commitment from the moderate followers of each faith.

 

Why save museums?

Posted on June 24, 2015 at 6:10 PM

FW: Closing of the IL State Museums facilities - oppose

To:'[email protected]'

When an agency closes a museum it also closes its mind to how they got to where they HAD to close their cultural entities and all previous heritages are lost to the future.

IF we don’t know where we have come from we do not have a bearing on where we are going and possess no more advantages to demonstrate to this and future generations the how, why, when, where, what and who preceded them and made/created the environments, both social and natural, they inherited, both good and bad, and how we might do better, live better and maybe plan better.

Therefore, a museum is NOT just about the past, it will ALWAYS have ramifications for the future. Without the spirit that goes into their interpretive presentations the spirit for respecting and appreciating the importance of history, whether that be natural, cultural or encouraging a single member of society to pursue the answers to benefit humanity as a whole are lost in the instant of a single generation.

There are ALWAYS opportunities to modify, consolidate and/or institute innovative changes that could save the core mission(s) and preserve, present and promote the facilities under your care.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love – we love only what we understand – we understand only what we are taught”, Dioum Baba

Respectively submitted,

Calvin B. Smith, President/CEO

Legacy Museum Consulting, LLC

1747 Newton Rd.

Pueblo, CO 81005

www.legacymuseumconsultingllc.com

 

What Turns You On (?)

Posted on June 5, 2015 at 5:10 PM

FINAL NOTE (SINCE WE ARE BACK TO THE PRESENT): I was recently contacted by a couple of college students who aspire to be museologists and asked what I thought about a career in the field and what their prospects for future might be.

WHAT TURNS YOU ON (?)

Oh the joy! Oh the joy of being in a profession that not only allows but encourages you to explore diverse and wondrous worlds…

I have had the opportunity over the past 50 years to become knowledgeable in so many fields that it astounds the senses sometimes!

The natural history of almost every continent and ocean; the geology from the “Creation” to the Ocular Stimulated Luminesce; the archaeology from human existence to the connections from the American Paleo to Archaic and Archaic to the Transitional Period and from that to Pre-Columbian and Spanish Contact and Conquest and maybe especially another creation in American History, that of the Puebloian rise and fall…almost.

You can't ignore Geoiogy and Paleontology, from looking at what is found in a meteorite to the first identifiable organisms in fossiliferous limestone and then there is all of human history, of course, from the first spoken word to the usage of animals for "our" benefit and the associated production of plants to the demise of riverfront communities along navigable waterways in 19th century Texas.

Naturally, there are numerous examples of the concentrated efforts necessary to build each and every exhibit case to the all-encompassing major exhibitions like the “History of the Dravidians, Branch Dravidians and the Koreshians” or the “Sesquicentennial of Baylor University”. And then there are the personal interests and desires of an old museologist…including a couple of planned blockbusters, “The Divine Mosaic: Crossroads of Faith”, as well as, "Who Were the First Americans", another 5,000 sq. ft. traveling exhibition involving all of the Paleo archaeolgists in the Americas.

Even though, "times are tough", for the non-profit sector there are still major foundations, established patrons and individual donors of interpretive programs and exhibitions who, when presented with the right "script" are more than willing, often excited, to be the benefactors that contributes to the educational porcess for our time and place.

During my tenure as a professor and chair of the Dept. of Musuem Studies at Baylor I had the honor and distinct priviledge of having 150 students graduate from our program and during the latter part of my 20 years there we were placing over 90% in museum or related careers. So be studious, be dedicated and become diverse in your intersts. The future is bright for your generation.

Be thinking about how I can use my experiences and my contacts to help you achieve your goals and what/any questions that you might have about the profession and/or what particular subject matter you would like to know more about and/or my thoughts of who, what, when, where, why or how to make the most of your opportunities.

 

 

The De-schooling of America

Posted on June 5, 2015 at 5:00 PM

NOTE: This was done during 2014 as I was working on the Miller Collection and encountered the Spencerian Script that influenced decoy painting.

Considering the plight of our current educational system I thought it would be interesting to look back almost a century and a half at comments made by our 20th President, James A. Garfield who served only 200 days in office.

Born in Moreland Hills, OH, in 1831 he attended Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (which later became Hiram College) from 1851-54 and eventually taught there. It was a school that emphasized the Spencerian calligraphy and commercial business courses developed by Platt R. Spencer, Sr. in 1850 by, “the man who taught America a new standard for penmanship and the world how to write” (e.g. the Coca – Cola logo and the extraordinary penmanship we have all seen in those “old” journal entries). Called chirhythmography, or, “The Grand Key of Guidance in Muscular Motion”, in the execution of letters, words, sentences and a large variety of running flourishes, flares and arcs creating a wide variety of birds all, “to the beat of the metronome”. By 1869 the 3-4 month courses had expanded to other states and Canada and there with over 40,000 graduates including such notables as John D. Rockefeller, Harvey S. Firestone and Henry Sherwin and E. P. Williams. They proved successful for two reasons, primarily because they stressed education for living and working within the business community encouraging new immigrants to pursue jobs in the telegraph, railroad and in the multitude of newly created firms in a growing nation. Secondly, graduates learned marketable skills with which to secure good jobs at a reasonable cost in a short period of time that were available to everyone, including women and minorities.

Garfield went on to graduate from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1856 and successfully ran for the Ohio State Senate in 1859-61 on the anti-slavery platform. He passed the Ohio Bar in 1861. Running on, “full rights of citizenship”, for African-Americans he served nine consecutive terms as a U. S. Congressman from 1863 until he assumed the Presidency in 1881.

He attained the rank of Major General for the Union Army during the Civil War and fought in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh and Chickamauga and became the compromise nominee for President by the Republican Party in 1880, beating out Ulysses S. Grant (for his third term), John Sherman and James G. Blaine. One of his main goals was to ease the warring factions between the Republicans. He was sworn in on March 4, 1881 as President and was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a deranged political office seeker, on July 2, 1881 but did not die until 80 days later on September 19th.

In Penman’s Art Journal – A Monthly Journal of Penmanship and Practical Education, Garfield was quoted, “Business colleges originated in this country as a protest against the inefficiency of our system of education – as a protest against the failure, the absolute failure, of our American schools and colleges to fit young men and women for the business of life. These business colleges furnish their graduates a better education for practical purposes than either Princeton, Harvard or Yale.” [There will be a Part II to this later.]

We are losing, greatly today, the creation in our children the ability to grasp the importance of comprehending and employing the lessons of the past to better understand and utilize the advantages our various “heritages” offer for a better tomorrow.

 

My Absence

Posted on June 5, 2015 at 4:45 PM

NOTE: This was done just as my origingal website was lost in cyberspace in 2013.

One of the reasons I have been absent from additional blogging on our Legacy website has to do with my current project.

In January of this year old friends, Doug and Ellen Miller, asked if I would help them accession their collection(s).

I met them while I was at Baylor in the ‘80’s shortly after they opened UNIVEX in Waco. Their firm made a multitude of specialty binders, although they did make commercial 3-ring notebooks, they also produced large quantities of other kinds of high quality printed boxes for TV and movie series, instructional programming, etc. We became friends immediately as Doug was a true sportsman having been on the boards of Safari Club International and Ducks Unlimited as well as other state and local conservation organizations. They were also supportive of the Central Texas Regional Science Fair where I served as director. They also had their own museum, Wildlife World Museum in Monument, CO. They asked me to do a MAP (Museum Assessment Program as part of the offerings by the American Association of Museums). I was blown away and completely in awe of the quality of not just the taxidermy exhibited but also of the accompanying fine art that supplemented the interpretive presentations. They eventually closed the plant in Waco as well as the museum when Doug’s parents retired but we kept in touch and even talked about my assisting in putting together a traveling exhibit of some of their collection, especially the wood carvings.

Now you have to see the “carvings” in person to truly appreciate the art form that has evolved over the past half century. When I walked into their museum I thought I was looking at two Great Blue Herons taking off in flight that had been taxidermied (once live specimens that had been mounted in that position) with the top one being about nine feet from the floor BUT they were carved wood! Each feather intricately shaped and painted which created the ultimate and immediate appreciation for not only the birds but also for the artist.

The Millers have one of, if not the largest collections of wood carvings in private hands and have regularly shared their pieces with museums across the continent and as far away as Japan and as I learned wanted me to write a book about the “decoy” portion of their collection. I started taking individual photos of the entire assemblage including flat art, sculpture, mounted specimens and other objects the first part of February of this year. By the time I finished in July averaging about 10 hours/day 6 days a week I took almost 20,000 digital images of over 5,000 pieces (actually there were quite a few more as many were A's and B' and even C's, etc. as pairs or “rigs”;). I recorded as much information about each one as was available at the time and put a unique accession number on each item for inclusion into the computerized Past Perfect program.

We have recently met with a publisher and have a working title, From Decoys to Decoratives: The Development of America’s Original Art Form with a possible sub-title of, A Museum in a Book, as we will hopefully be able to include the entire collection on CD’s in the back. It has now taken on a greater scope with the first effort becoming two volumes and possibly two more in the works but more about that later.

I am now reading, researching and writing with a projected delivery of the first draft of volume one by December, 2014.

 

"Paleo"

Posted on June 5, 2015 at 4:25 PM

NOTE: This was my first Blog done shortly after I re-retired (from NMJC Western Heritage Museum Complex in 2012) 

Did you know that “PALEO” is now a trademark?

I went into the local health food store with wife Sylvia a few days ago and there it was!

PALEO MAGAZINE ™ MODERN DAY PRIMAL LIVING….I couldn’t help myself….I had to get the August/September, 2012, Vol. 2, Issue 3 edition. Now, I know what you all are thinking….that I had no clue…and you would be right.

I had no idea that there was/is a “movement” back to Paleo living…. “a journey of ancestral health continuing down its evolutionary path to help people regain their health and their lives”.

I found to my amazement the numerous fab ops to change the way you eat, sleep, deal with stress, exercise and even what you have in your house as well as everything you consume is produced in an ethical, sustainable way.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for conservation of our natural resources since we don’t have any more and/or “eating organic” (sometimes whether I’m ready or not depending on what wife Sylvia puts on the table) but I’m am a little taken aback by the possibility that we want to revert to a 40 (OK, I’ll give you 45) year life-span.

I am most fortunate, being much closer to 72 than 71 and only taking a daily multi-vitamin and an occasional “regulatory” supplement, I am in, as the old man used to say, “great shape for the shape I’m in”, but, my best years, at least most productive years, have been since I reached 45! I went to Baylor at 43 and NMJC at 66 and now re-starting Legacy with all that experience behind me helping push my thoughts/goals up the proverbial.

Myself thinks a whole lot of our world is for promotional reasons today, e.g. their Paleokit, Paleo market (“at last, we meat”;), “The Dig” editorial, the “Latest in Paleo”, “Everyday Paleo” and “Paleo Solutions” podcasts, the 21st Century Caveman, Paleo treats, Primal Pac jerky, energy Paleo bars, trail mixes, including Paleo Krunch and of course “Paleo Indulgences”, including cheesecake and baked donuts. The immediate image of Paleo people sitting around the campfire complementing the chef on the baked donuts is…to put it mildly…mind boggling. By the way there is also gluten free, grain free, dairy free, salt free with zero trans-fat “Paleo People” vacuum packed snack packs.

My, my, how we have changed…from the way humans have survived major glaciations, droughts (we are experiencing only a blip in the history of climate change) and other dangerous/catastrophic environmental challenges to, and maybe especially, in the way we are learning that artificially produced chemical alterations to the human body are mostly harmful in one way or another thus spawning “Paleo” movements that bring more awareness and consciousness to our world and that is good.

 

 


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