Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reflections Upon a Difficult Week

Part of John Collier's 9-11 Memorial (used with permission)
Some of my online friends may know about the week's events, but...suffice to say it's been one of those weeks for me.  Without going into any particulars, let's just say that I felt very much placed on the spot and attacked by a certain individual.  I am profoundly thankful, however, that the week ended with no small degree of vindication.  

There was one particular moment in which I came close to saying far too much.  Thankfully, I was able to tame my tongue, avoiding speaking something which I would likely regret later.  The situation has reminded me of the need to avoid holding on to anger, but releasing the anger and frustrations to God.  Let Him be the judge.  This helps keep things in their real perspective.  

In fact the issue also reminds me of some of Augustine's early arguments within The City of God.  That is, righteous indignation at a particular evil affront may easily spur us into a rash course of action which we may sorely regret later; we're better not exchanging innocence for the culpability associated with a poor response.  As I have been reading the Book of Wisdom lately, I am reminded of the passage below from the fifth chapter.

14 What hope do wicked people have? Only the hope of straw blown about in the wind, the hope of ocean foam[a] that disappears in the storm, the hope of smoke in the breeze. Their hope lasts no longer than our memory of a guest who stays one day and leaves the next.
15 But the righteous live on forever. The Lord will reward them; the Most High will protect them. 16 He will give them royal splendor and a magnificent crown. He will shield them with his powerful arm. 17  He will go out into battle determined to defeat his enemies, and use the creation itself as a weapon. 18 Righteousness will be his armor, genuine justice will be his helmet, 19 holiness will be his invincible shield. 20 He will sharpen his stern anger into a sword, and the forces of nature will join him in battle against those who are foolish enough to oppose him. 21 Bolts of lightning will strike right on target, as if the Lord had made a bow out of the clouds and was shooting arrows. 22 Hailstones will beat down on his enemies with terrible force. The oceans and rivers will come rushing over them in a devastating flood. 23 Great windstorms will blow them away like straw. Lawlessness will be the ruin of the whole world. Evil actions will cause governments to fall.

As I wrote recently on Facebook, "No matter how bad the week goes, God is there beside us. Faith, prayer, and restraint (of tongue) are the way to make it through the darkness. I am very thankful for the way the week ended, and I praise God for his preserving hand."  I'd like to conclude with the Prayer to Saint Michael below.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world                         seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

Read more:

An Open Letter to the US Forest Service

Thank you for your earlier message.  A friend and I were just finishing up a fifteen mile, or so, hike to Hank's Lake in the Mt Jefferson Wilderness when we were approached by a deputy sheriff and young search party members on Saturday afternoon concerning lost hiker, Ronald Ohm.  Given the lack of trail signage and poor maintenance of these trails (large trees left over trail in challenging spots), one wonders if incidents like this might be encountered less frequently if some pro-active signage and maintenance steps were undertaken.

On Jul 23, 2012, at 4:00 PM, Forson, Stacey L -FS wrote:

Hi Karl,

Your email concerning trail signage around Pamelia Lake, in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, was forwarded to me.  I appreciate hearing your comments and concerns, and I'm happy to hear that you and your family were able to safely navigate out of the area.

I have shared your concerns with the district recreation staff and the wilderness & trails program leader for the Pamelia Lake area.  From what they shared with me, the existing trail signage is appropriate for the wilderness setting.   System trails (trails which have been constructed and maintained for wilderness access) are typically signed at junctions.  User created trails, such as the trail around the shoreline that campers and anglers use, are not maintained or signed.    Wilderness settings are somewhat unique, as they are a much less human-dominated environment, with minimal to no developments, allowing visitors an opportunity for solitude, personal challenge and self-discovery.  Pre-trip preparation is an important element when considering backcountry travel into designated wilderness.  To safely navigate in a wilderness setting, it's imperative to obtain an appropriate map, bring a compass and/or GPS, and know current conditions.

Stacey L. Forson
Recreation, Heritage, Lands & Minerals Staff Officer
Willamette National Forest
541.225.6301 Office
541.510.7482 Cell

-----Original Message-----
From: Hopkins, Shannon S -FS
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2012 10:07 AM
To: Forson, Stacey L -FS
Subject: FW: [ R6 WWW ] Complaint

Comments regarding trail signage...thanks

Shannon Hopkins
USFS-R6-Recreation, Lands & Minerals
503/808-2429 (Fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: Karl Erickson []
Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2012 5:23 PM
To: Lippitt, Bonnie -FS; Hopkins, Shannon S -FS; FS-r6 webmasters
Subject: [ R6 WWW ] Complaint

Below is the result of your feedback form.  It was submitted by Karl Erickson ( on July 15th, 2012 at 08:23PM (EDT).

realname: Karl Erickson
r6location: Willamette NF


Just sharing that the trail signage around Lake Pamelia is really poor.  Considering the unmarked trail loops, it's easy to get disoriented.  We came within minutes of calling 911 yesterday due to being unable to locate two family members by the evening.  It would be very helpful to improve the trail markings.  It really seems like a safety issue to me.

For an account of the situation, you can read it below.  (I also discuss the poor signage and marker issue.)


Friday, August 10, 2012

Guest Blogger: John Konecsni on Catholic Humor

(Welcome this week to my friend and fellow Catholic Writers' Guild Member, John Konecsni.)

Of course, the first thing that everyone thinks about with comedy is that the Catholic Church is filled with drop-dead funny people.

No, it's not what I think either, but consider it a moment. Catholics are an exceptionally laid back group of Christians. We don't forbid drinking, or smoking, or any other fun activity banned by the health police. Catholics also enjoy – gasp – sex. Who knew? So, we're an exceptionally laid-back group of people. And, let's face it, if you can't laugh about the bureaucracy of the Vatican, what can you laugh about?

Not to mention: we'll let anybody in. Seriously, anybody. Oscar Wilde, who had been thrown in jail for being homosexual, converted on his deathbed; the Marquis of Queensbury, who had him thrown in jail, converted within the year.

And we have great writers – even if you want to dismiss Wilde. GK Chesterton, for example, covered the entire spectrum, from fiction to news articles and back again. His humor was more subtle, and I would say almost mischievous. He enjoyed his paradoxes almost as much as Gilbert and Sullivan, and one could always get a sense that he just enjoyed life in general.

If you want strange writing, for fun, you have also authors who are Catholic, like Vince Flynn, or John Ringo. Vince Flynn writes books about a CIA assassin, Mitch Rapp, a topic you wouldn't think covers “Catholic fiction;” however, most of the kills are justifiable under the Thomas Aquinas definition of Tyrannicide (ie: killing someone who really, really earned the privilege). In the case of Flynn, the humor is cynical, dark, and political.

For example, one politician (a botoxed, plastic surgeon's dream from San Francisco who is *not* Nancy Pelosi), when telling Mitch Rapp that “killing people is wrong!” Rapp simply takes out a sheet of paper, rattles off all the children who have been aborted since said politician upheld the latest “pro-choice” bill, and concludes, “At least the people I kill had it coming.”

Like I said, Catholic humor doesn't all have to be sweetness and light.

Take my book, It Was Only On Stun! (please, take it, only $9.54 at B& right now ), which is a murder mystery set at a science fiction convention. Typically, dead bodies are not usually that funny, unless you have taxidermist or coroner's humor. However, culture shock is hilarious (just take Crocodile Dundee), and, in the case of It Was Only On Stun! the hero is a security expert. He's not a science fiction fan as a rule, and here we are throwing him into the deep end of the SF universe, and he feels like he's been hurled through the looking glass.

Besides, where else can you collect people from all over the planet, and their own common language isn't English, and it isn't even Latin, but Klingon or Elvish? Or a bar fight with people in costume? And did I mention everybody has a sword?

At the end of the day, Catholic humor is much like the Catholic Church itself – we will take all comers. From the military humor of a John Ringo, to the political humor of a Vince Flynn, the lighthearted zombie humor of a Karina Fabian, or even simple culture shock like It Was Only On Stun!, we Catholics are a varied group of people. And, like the spokes on a wheel, we are all unique individuals, but we are all connected by one thing in the center of it all. And that is the Great Comedian, the source of all joy and laughter. And this we call God.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Don't Miss the Terrific Art Sale! (Silverton Fine Arts Festival)

My talented wife, Kimberly Erickson, is very excited this summer to have her art featured at the upcoming Silverton Arts Festival to be held on August 18th and 19th.  She plans to have about thirty original pieces available for sale on that weekend.  

The available artwork will feature paintings (including original artwork from both Tristan's Travels and Toupee Mice) as well as new sketches, and other original pieces.  We also will have signed copies of Tristan's Travels available.  We also are planning to share flyers there for our next book, Toupee Mice--coming soon from Rafka Press!

Kimberly's beautiful cover art for "Tristan's Travels."
Recently, Kimberly has especially enjoyed painting animals.  While she has always loved spending time with animals, we've noticed that a real need exists for quality painters of family pets.  For example, we hope to have at least one painting at the art festival featuring a happy Newfoundland.  (Yes, we have the "Newfoundland bug" now, but we're not sure our little place is ready for such a big dog.)  

A photo taken of Silver Falls by Karl Erickson.
Silverton is a lovely and picturesque Oregon town situated about fifteen miles northeast of Salem--not far from beautiful Silver Falls.  The weekend of August 18th and 19th is coming up fast; we hope to see you all there! (Free admission to the event.)

About the Artist

Kimberly Erickson currently resides in Salem, Oregon with her husband, Karl Erickson, and their two children.  Karl is the writer of children's stories and religious essays.  They enjoy working together on uplifting books for children. 

Kimberly comes from a family of artists.  As the daughter of acclaimed illustrator and sculptor John Carroll Collier and the granddaughter of successful landscape artist Carroll Collier, Kimberly is no stranger to the arts.  (Her uncle, Grant Collier, a great artist, too.)  Over the last few years in particular, Kimberly has experimented with a wide variety of art mediums--from "water gilding" and pastels to photography.  

She is currently concentrating on the creation of illustrations for children's books.  Her enchanting artwork captures the wonder and delight of a child's imagination.   

Children's illustrator and fine artist, Kimberly Erickson.