Rich Paxson

I look at the ‘The Procession’ http://bit.ly/1UT66x1 and find all the detail distracting. However, I like the blue shades and the oranges colors. The Romanesque nave in the upper-center draws my eye into the image. Above the nave, the people in the boat make me think of Noah. Altogether, ‘The Procession’ is not one that typically would attract my attention.

As I thought about this picture, I realized that a print of ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ http://bit.ly/1Pdm83i in the room where I’m writing now probably qualifies as the polar opposite of ‘The Procession’. I bought the print of this difficult work long ago because Edgar S. Paxson was a shirttail relative. I see Paxson’s work as a statement about conflict between indigenous peoples and aggressive settlers.

Paxson began his life in a Quaker family in western New York. I don’t know much about his life, but I see the painting’s brutality witnessing to the pervasive woundedness of body, mind, and spirit, the inevitable consequences of war. Nations and once again now caliphates in the Middle East go to war against those they need to see as irremediably other, or ‘who they are not.’

The journey of learning ‘who I am not’ has occupied much of the story of my identity to date with little thought of induction into a people. ‘‘Custer’s Last Stand” where the lonely hero leads the charge to save his people was my ‘social other’ beginning point. However, studying here at Forgiving Victim, I’ve reversed direction to find a new path and now to join a new procession.

This discussion assignment made me remember ‘The Way’ http://imdb.to/1PqZbr7, a movie I saw a few years ago. An American father loses his only son who died walking pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago http://bit.ly/1Qr0vds in northern Spain. When the father flew to retrieve his son’s body in Spain, he decided to have the body cremated and then to complete his son’s pilgrimage. The movie touched me deeply when I first saw it four years ago in spring 2012. I’m re-watching it now, which fits for me with the title of this discussion – “Induction into a People: Walk Down Memory Lane.”