Tuesday, November 13, 2018

LET'S TALK ABOUT OUR BEVERAGE SALES


Most communities have a certain cross-section of citizens that try to protect a family-oriented lifestyle in both urban and rural settings. While I would like to protect that, Sunday liquor sales have been bandied about  for many years. I served numerous years on the Substance Abuse Council in one southern Michigan county. More recently, I took note of a County here in Kentucky subjected to a testing of their Sunday Liquor Law.

Proponents of such sales argue “right of choice.” I defend that right to choice. up to a point, until our right becomes someone else’s risk. Of course, there are always limitations to personal rights. That is why we are a nation of law and order, governed by a Constitution. Without our passing a Law demanding we drive on the right side of the road, there would be no safety on the highway. If we did not have stringent laws against murder, there would be no such thing as living in security. 
Most of us understand such reasoning.

By the same token, some ambivalent public officials  sweetly suggest that “morality cannot be legislated.” We all know that. Thus, history gives us the legal security of such moral protections as the Ten Commandments and the current legal system that gives us the safety of a reasonable legal system.

As we approach our holiday season, many communities nationwide will celebrate Thanksgiving to New Year’s day as an opportunity to: Tie One On.” Across the years, I have also assisted Mothers Against Drunk Driving, using the slogan “Tie One On … For Safety” and I distributed my shared of Red Ribbons.

I don’t know whether such efforts are even recognized in my relocated home in Kentucky, but I would offer this suggestion: Community liquor sales, weekend or otherwise, are inconsistent with a family-oriented lifestyle. This is especially true, in regions that place great public value on the Christian lifestyle, as does Kentucky. I also recognize there is a great debate over this theme within the Christian political camp.

That being said, here are three reasons why I would if I could refrain from eating out in a restaurant that maintains a bar and why I would buy my groceries where alcoholic beverages were not sold.


I. WE ARE SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE TO THE WRONG PEOPLE.

`Many communities celebrate efforts like “Tie One On … For Safety!” Police Agencies in most communities work with the children throughout the school year, teaching them “It is all right to say NO!” 

Refusing to recognize the epidemic proportions of our current drug abuse and nationwide “Opioid Epidemic” only makes our approval of public sales, weekend or otherwise, utterly inconsistent with what we are trying to teach those coming behind us.

II.IT IS OUR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE ITSELF THAT IS THE NUMBER ONE DRUG OFFENSE.

Alcohol is a known depressant; legal, yes, but lethal when indulged. Alcohol manufacturers often support substance abuse education while claiming rigid drug enforcement would eliminate the problem. This denies statistical information and ignores the experience of perhaps seventy-five million Americans suffering with alcoholic family members.

Alcohol alters judgement, slows reaction time, dulls one’s senses and destroys brain cells. Many choose to deny these facts; others live with the horrors of people with buzzed brains. By itself alcohol, at the last count I had, accounted for $140-billion dollars of America’s $205 billion dollar substance abuse bill. This did not account for the 18-million problem drinkers, 28-million Americans under twenty with an alcoholic parent, or the abuse of alcohol in one-half of all motor fatalities, one-half of all homicides and one-fourth of all suicides.

Social acceptance and public denial make it the most, as Linda Ellerbe once suggested, “baffling, cunning, and powerful of all” drugs. “Bud Lite” may the worst of all offenders simply  because “it is perfectly harmless.” My rebuttal to that is simple: we live with it at our house.

III. RIGHT OF CHOICE IS NOT ALWAYS DEFENSIBLE.

I would be criminally negligent if I insisted on my right to choose to drive on the left lane of the highway. In that case, Sheriff Perdue would grant me guest privileges at the Clark County Detention Center. Never mind that we knew him as a rooky officer with the Winchester PD. Never mind that he ate many freebies at our daughter’s dinner table and that he and her husband came by at all hours raiding the ‘Frig”. Never mind those wholesome down-home conversations he had with my deceased companion.

Government sets the limits of morality it will enforce. Yet,, no society exists without enforcement of some “moral” code (Granted: government benefits from taxing beverage sales while leaving the John Q Public to pick up the tab at a rate of $3 of cost for every $1 of tax revenue).



The one freedom of choice for the drink-and-drive citizen is the freedom to enjoy the consequences. The alternative is to accept personal responsibility for behavior that results in addiction, abuse, or alcoholism, but few willingly accept that responsibility. Thus; more states are passing laws against “drunkenness”  as a legal defense.

I am
walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
suggesting the real problem is not alcohol but personal rejection of accountability.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Infectious Faith


Nehemiah’s faith in God prompted him to allow God to use him in leading Israel’s exiles home to Jerusalem. Once there; Nehemiah instructed them, diligently and faithfully. Exercising prudent wisdom, he taught the people to secure their work site and place armed guards “from each family in the cleared spaces behind the walls” in order to achieve their goal of rebuilding the city (Nehemiah 4:13: LB, emphasis added).

“Don’t be afraid!” Nehemiah insisted, as he charged them to “remember the Lord who is great and glorious; fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!” (v. 14).

After I married my Irish Cherokee, we counted seventy celebrations and were well on our way to another celebration when the Lord called her home. Someone asked me once why I called her my Irish Cherokee. I explained: “She’s Irish and from Oklahoma (above is a very early OK Camp Meet-ing), and she has enough Cherokee to register as Native American.” When I met her, she lived in the High Street Dorm across from her friend Dean Olt. One of my most cherished pictures shows her sitting on the porch at High Street in a splendid white gown capped with shoe-polish-black hair. She had the deepest blue-black hair I had ever seen and I was impressed. However, she also had a temperament that alerted me to avoid sending her on the warpath.

I met her at the historic basketball game when AC’s Johnny Wilson pushed a top-ranked NC State into three overtimes before losing by one point. She sat behind the bench that night because she tutored Johnny in English and knew both Johnny and brother Ray well.  I had stopped to visit the AC/AU campus where I had been a student earlier, and was en route to Michigan to spend fifteen day of furlough time from the Air Force with my parents.

She was a transfer from Tulsa University where he was preparing to follow her father into medicine, but she arrived In Anderson fresh out of Houston, Texas after her father pulled her out of Tulsa University to escape an older, wealthy suitor that would have disrupted her education. She and I got off to a less-than-steller start! But after a few encounters, we found some mutual connections and drifted closer together. Simultaneously, I discovered she was experiencing significant illness that temporarily derailed her education and changed the course of her life from Medicine to Ministry. 

Beyond our youthful beginnings, we shared a common faith that led each of us to the same church college. We were each nurtured by strong family values. In addition; I found a compelling strength in her sharp intellect and quick wit that I deeply valued and was attracted to. Her illness proved life threatening; thus disruptive, forcing her to temporarily put aside her plans to complete her edu-cation. Nonetheless, she faced it with an admirable faith and fortitude that bonded us together. In the short time it took us to realize we were both serious about our relationship, we mutually agreed to commit to each other and sacrifice together, knowing I was scheduled for overseas duty in the near future. We determined to marry and make-do together rather than live apart and await my return from overseas.

We married at the conclusion of a Sunday morning Worship Service at the old Northside Church of God in St Louis, MO. My pastor, Dr. Harold Boyer, preached a sermon on the Church as the Bride of Christ. As his conclusion that day, he called us to the front of the Sanctuary and read our vows. Although we were both away from home, with neither of our families present, we were married and launched by the 350 worshippers present that cold February day of 1947. Following the service, the Associate Pastor, Sister Patton took us to her home and we celebrated our wedding with her daughter in real style.

Both of our families had participated actively in local church life, although we grew up a thousand miles apart. Through it all, the church provided us many opportunities for discovering ourselves, for finding purpose in life, and provided us opportunities to add a church-sponsored college education where we could further enhance our creative skills and cultivate our abilities for meaningful service.

My journey had begun in a small Sunday school my father helped organize as a teenager. It was there he became a teacher and church leader. It was also there that he met the fifteen-year-old girl that later became my mother. That small family of faith nurtured my expanding family and me through my critical childhood years. By the time I laid dad to rest at age eighty-five; he and mother had supported that church for the span of their marriage – 4-1926 12-1990. Mother gave eight more years of exemplary service that prompted Pastor Davis to enroll her as his first recipient of his all-church Honor Roll.

My Irish Cherokee’s journey began when her parents came to Christ through a personal conversion in rural Oklahoma under the ministry of a local pioneer, David Ladd. This launched the young couple into church life for the first time and led to her father doing revival preaching for some three years, before turning back to his Medical practice. One of the more significant twists in her life came years after our marriage, when she received a call to rendezvous with her family at a Tulsa hospital.

Early the following morning, she and her weary siblings quickly discovered their mother, long reverenced as Granny by the family, had left them. Mary Woodard Stiles, the girl who travelled by Covered Wagon from New England to Kansas, had gone home to her eternal reward. She made the cross-country venture protected by her two brothers, Billy and Dutch, after their father died. They later sojourned in Oklahoma Territory where Billy and Dutch prospered as Cattlemen while teen-aged Mary married a widower and Medical Doctor. Now, “Granny,” was gently lifted into the arms of Jesus.

Throughout that day, Hospital Ward Personnel slowly unfolded a jubilant story for the grieving family, detail by detail. Different workers and Staff personnel had overheard their patient praying aloud--not realizing it was her lifelong custom to pray aloud out behind the house at 5:00 a.m. daily. Dutifully, they watched the drama unfold. Shedding compassionate tears, various of the doctors and nurses quietly shared their individual stories.

"Granny," praying aloud in the privacy of her room, had named each one of her large brood for one last petition to “The Father.” She did as she had done for more than half-a-century at home in her private place, talking “to her father” about the peace and spiritual prosperity of her large brood. Soon thereafter, she rested … quietly … peacefully … and silently winged her departure.

The siblings all remembered her 5:00 a.m. daily ritual, begun before some of the younger ones were born.  Some knew the story of how older brother “Gib” had been struck by flack on a SE Pacific Bombing Mission during the taking of Rabaul et al. Gilbert (G.S. Jr), a wounded pilot, was lost returning to home base, and they knew the story of how he had heard his mother praying and had guided his craft by the sound of her voice back to a place of safe landing behind enemy  lines. They knew the story from the San Antonio Evening Light and they saw him return home and give his Mom his witness to her prayers.

Comforted; they experienced God’s grace-filled days each day thereafter. Their tears were “filled with joy” (Ps. 126:3-5 NIV) as they rested in the assurance that Granny had been preparing for that day for seventy long years!

My circumstances led me later to visit my eighty-seven year-old mother and visit over lunch. We chatted about the little church that nurtured me in my early years. Somewhat incidentally, she mentioned her prayer list. That was the day I discovered she had a prayer list that included more than one hundred fifty personal and congregational concerns.

That revelation painted a new portrait of the quiet little woman I knew only as my “mother.” I saw her as never before revealed, until that belated moment. The memory of that day sustained me two years later when I laid her to rest at the age of 90 and it comforts me now that I have outlived her by another eighteen years .

Such grace-filled memories reaffirm personal core values of faith that she and I began learning in childhood. They affirm the values we claimed as our own. They continued to increase their worth across more than six decades of joint-ministry. Now wrinkled, bent and crowned with silver, I well remember the times our adult children returned home for church events that were longstanding traditions for them.

But, that comes as no surprise. 
Such experiences enable families to draw from that same deep well of faith-and-family values that we discovered in our seventy years together. THAT IS AS IT SHOULD BE. Faith is a family affair! Faith fortifies families. Faith sustain a nation when people struggle.


From Warner's World, this is 
walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com 
suggesting that an infectious faith keeps hope alive and offers light at the end of life's darkest tunnel. When everything else fails, faith sustains as nothing else can. Faith reaps a harvest of wholesome living that is easier caught than taught. When shared as a family, faith infects as well as sustain.

_____

Sunday, November 4, 2018

I SHOULD HAVE HONOR, Khalida Brohi

I SHOULD HAVE HONOR
by Khalida Brohi 
is an autobiographical memoir of a Pakistani girl/woman  who grew up in Tribal Pakistan. Her self-revelation is a testament to what is possible no matter the odds With courageous activism Khalida gives voice  to women and girls who are denied their very lives by a male-dominated culture. Here are powerful first-person stories of Tribal Pakistan and the  injustices faced by all females there. She explores this entrenched social custom with insight and determination. She reveals the hideous side  of "murder" for (cultural) honor. She shares her escape from a fate as a child-bride, through the assistance of an understanding father/mother who dare to risk living counter-culturally at the risk of their own lives. A devout believer in God, she exposes  a different perspective of a non-fundamentalistic Islam that shares much in common via the Muhammed, Jesus, Moses, etc.

I am midway through in my reading. As  a Christian man, a father and a widower, I find her story a terrible tragedy. an unimaginable devaluation of females that God created with equal honor to that of men. The injustice is horrendous and I greatly admire her honesty, her insight, and her persistence in pursuing truth.

There is much to be learned from writers like this educated Muslim lady who is spending her life lifting up downtrodden Muslim women/girls and bridging understanding and better relationships between Eastern and Western cultures.

This is walkingwithwarner,blogspot,com 
inviting you to enjoy a good, instructive read.
Be blessed one and all. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

FINDING LIFE'S WAY


E Stanley Jones used a familiar illustration to make a timely point. While travelling in Panama, Jones approached the Pan-American Airport and saw a “seeing-eye door” by which to enter the facility. The seeing-eye door opens as you approach to come in or go out. However, when Jones tried to go out the door marked “entrance”, nothing happened. The eye did not see him and paid him no attention.

Jones could have responded by getting angry and feeling picked or like he was mistreated. He could have called on God to open the door but nothing would have changed. When he retreated and entered the other aisle, however, the eye saw him. The door opened and Jones walked through and into the facility. When he obeyed the nature of the reality, things began to happen. And so it is, concludes Jones: “When I obeyed the nature of reality, things began to happen. It is so everywhere in everything for everybody

The way of the Bible and of God is not merely the way of salvation; it is that, but it is much more.
Life is made to work in God’s way and only in God’s way. If you try to work it some other way, it works to its own ruin. Jesus is the door, not only to salvation; He is the Door to everything. Everything opens when you come in His Way.

Thus we affirm today this word from Jesus: “I am the Gate; whoever enters by me will be saved, and he will go in and out and find pasture  (John 19:9 Moffatt) In God’s world , we walk with doors flung open as if we were royalty, which in Him we are, and this is
walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 2, 2018

OMAROSA


“The Secret Service was not involved in the termination process of Ms Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex. Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual’s pass which grants access to the complex.” So writes Omarosa, who happily admits, “I’m eternally grateful that the Secret Service had my back. Thank God they issued that statement, because things were getting crazy!”
             (UNHINGED/Omarosa/Gallery Books/NY/2018)

Describing her surprise call to the Situation Room to meet John Kelly, she found herself in a locked room, not allowed to leave, confronted by lawyers, falsely charged on trumped up charges that were no charges at all and she easily disproves, unequivocally fired, led off the premises without even being allowed to pack up her stuff or receive an explanation—she reports on her firing.

This beautiful young black girl that grew up in the poverty of Youngstown, Ohio’s post-steel era came from a good Baptist family, won a beauty contest and a college scholarship  and earned several degrees in journalism , communication, and business. She followed that by successfully pursuing the glitz and glamour of adult  life and  Reality TV. There she became well acquainted with Donald Trump, she ended up on his team, serving as his Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, after helping elect him.

During this time, this beautiful, sturdy, steady, tough Black lady lost her husband in death and had an encounter in which she felt her Baptist Call to Ministry. I was prepared to like her and not ready to believe a Baptist Preacher would stoop to offer a falsely written book of sensation and intrigue. She had to be well-detailed to provide the story she has written, but I confess my ardor eventually cooled and I learned how controversial she was and how eventual book sales were disappointing.

Now that I have finished my reading;
I am (1) glad I read the book.
I am (2) questioning how she could figuratively prostitute herself, as she obviously did, and close her eyes and sell her shriveling soul to the Devil, then turn about face and reveal (describe) the things she does, many of which are contrary to the person she purposed to be. Her work was sufficiently convincing to get her idol elected to the most powerful office in the world.

 The time came when she could no longer gaze upon her idol and blindly ignore what was so obvious to other discerning individuals. Her turn-around seems to have begun with the Charlottesville struggle with White Supremacy:   “My blind spot was shattered during that press conference, though I could see with my own eyes that Trump had no idea what people were upset about. He just did not grasp it. He was disconnected from reality” (285).

The difference she would conclude, between Trump and world leaders who may be a tad bit narcissistic is  that “he can’t function unless everything is about him. He has to be at the center of everything. If he’s not in the middle of it, he’ll force himself in the middle. So, it’s not that a young woman died in the Charlottesville rioting, “it’s that her mother liked his (Trump’s) tweet” (287).

Most people who read this book are going to take one of two positions:
(1) They’re going to sort out all the anti-Trump and say, “There; I told you so!” This was my greatest temptation; I admit!
(2) Other readers are going to select all the pro-Trump nuances they can find and defend their support of The Donald.
I choose to take a different option by repeating the back cover that suggests While watching that interview, I realized that something real and serious was going on in Donald’s brain. His mental decline could not be denied. Many didn’t notice it as keenly as I did because I knew him way back when. They thought Trump was being Trump, off the cuff. But I knew something wasn’t right.”

This is a statement of perceived fact given by one who arose out of Westlake slums in an impoverished Youngstown neighborhood where she withstood every kind of slight, abuse, and tragedy that a young black Baptist Christian could experience. Her statement comes out of twenty years of political experience where she cultivated a loyalty that blots out, diminishes, and diverts every weapon of imperfection thrown at her or her employer, and always shines the idealized spotlight of perceived perfection and is calculated to win whatever debate or election is at hand, whatever the personal cost.

She had proven her worth and ability already working for both Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Although she leaned to the left side of the political aisle, Donald Trump became her romanticized ideal of economic security when she made it into Reality TV and escaped the poverty she NEVER FORGOT. Mix it all together and you have the sad conclusion of a friend watching a beloved idol slowly diminish into a perceived slowly deteriorating meltdown.

Seeing her idol in this process drove home her own vulnerability, her misguided misdirection, and warped and wasted effort. That is a hard pill to swallow, especially someone that has been raised to honor God, live inclusively, and serve as an uplift in your world. Thus, she reveals much good and much bad about Donald Trump, depending on your political persuasion. She has written tactfully, accurately and correctively as a friend rather than an enemy; modestly without sensation; relieved to be free of the burden. The best of what anti-Trump readers will want to read is found in chapters 13-14.

When I read her take of the characters in Donald’s story, I am neither angry-at, dismayed-for, or disappointed-in, for we are all pretty much just who-and-what we are. That said, the political characters in this narrative are like most of us squirming about under the spotlight of public scrutiny—flawed human beings. 

I believe Omarosa is now in the right service--where she belongs. I don’t believe Donald Trump can pedal his tricycle fast enough to keep up with the Political Drama currently playing on the Washington Beltway stage, or in Moscow, or wherever else. The need is not for more or better politics but more and better “politicians”, people of honesty, integrity, humility, and cooperation. I am reminded of Old Testament Daniel (ch 9) when he hid himself in his place of prayer: “While I was speaking and praying … ‘confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God …’” 

The answer everyone wants is found in neither Republican nor Democrat answers but in putting aside our rights and wrongs and seeking the collective wisdom of the common good that frees all of us to allow “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 RSV).

Paul prefaced this with putting away falsehoods and speaking truthfully, being members one of another, giving honest effort and doing “only such as is edifying” i.e. building up one another of whatever color, creed, or culture. The present course of American politics is fundamentally cannibalistic; it is a strain of me-ism that allows only survival of the fittest; it is a suicidal, self-destroying cancer. I personally believe Jesus is the only resolution, but when I pray “Our Father…” I must-and-do allow “for others” into my circle and that includes y-o-u.

I had no idea where I was going when I started Omarosa, but here I am  and this is my take  on Omorosa … walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 1, 2018

People, Punishment, and Profitability

I had no more volunteer time until I met Jim! I agreed to listen to his presentation because I appreciated his hard work and the social contribution of his Mennonite denomination. His concepts led me to volunteer and begin working as a Case Worker with Victim and Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) counseling young first-time offenders.

I was soon negotiating contractual agreements between offenders and their victims, bringing restitution between opposing parties. This proved taxing, but satisfying, frequently producing improved relationships, We often found solutions outside the box and beyond the norm, and before long I had several years invested, spending additional time serving with the Board of Directors.      When Michigan changed its state penal code and assimilated our VICTIM AND OFFENDER RECONCILIATION PROGRAM by creating new State for-pay jobs, it added supervision of in-house inmates and instituted a work release program that left VORP and its professional volunteers no option but to dissolve.

I continued my local church ministry and saw a growing Justice System that valued profit more than people. The State Department of Corrections (DOC) began working with young, first-time offenders, but failed to bring reconciliation between offenders and victims as VORP had done. They left no place for restitution and gave no consideration to issues of forgiveness

This new State effort remained void of the character-building moral and ethical qualities VORP had stressed. Area rehabilitation efforts quickly redefined downward while I continued to support President Reagan’s efforts to redefine America’s drug war as “the major problem.”

“Tough on crime” sounded right! Punishing bad behavior reflected accountability. Seeing prevention become secondary, however, raised other issues. I noted well-meaning people duped by a mindset that prioritized “making criminals pay for their crimes.”1

Meanwhile; research was revealing social scientists compounding my questions. Author Hosea Anderson described “the hopelessness and alienation many young inner-city black men … feel, largely as a result of endemic joblessness and persistent racism.” It fueled “the violence they engage in” and resulted in behavior that confirmed for Anderson “the negative feelings many whites and some middle-class blacks harbor toward the ghetto poor.”  It legitimated the code of the street “in the eyes of many young blacks”

Anderson insisted, “attitudes on both sides will become increasingly entrenched, and the violence which claims victims black and white, poor and affluent, will only increase,”2   with each exposing “the depth of racial bias in the system.”

My Church Ministry had taken me into the cavernous depths behind electronic gates of maximum-security facilities where residents did “hard time.” I found working with prisoners was not easy, but. I knew Correctional Professionals were sometimes helpful and other times calloused. Prison Ministry had introduced me to converted murderers and 
multiple offenders. 

As a pastor, I stayed in touch with various prisoners, occasionally reacting to the insulation some churches communicated. I met inmates that were solid “Christians.” Others no longer needed additional punishment. I watched first hand as God’s transforming grace transformed prisoner’s, I felt deep disappointment when prisoners went to their death in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary, their pleas for commutation rejected.

Karla Faye Tucker brought a tidal-wave of public opinion from politicians and citizens alike. Some I found more vindictive than helpful. Politicians offered solutions promising tougher sentencing guidelines and expanded prison space, while cutting funding for preventive rehabilitation. John Q. Public was often overwhelmed and sometimes surrendered to fear, ignorance, and pressure, forgetting that loving God remains the epitome of our faith.

I have never forgotten being “conned” by a brutal sex offender. A lifetime in prison for a former pastoral associate brings bad memories. While Prison serves a useful social function, it is not a “cure all” in every situation. Our Criminal Justice System can be improved.

Author Jerome Miller believed our criminal justice system alienated and socially destabilized our society. He found demands for arrest, jail, conviction, and imprisonment sometimes creating more problems than they solved. Theoretically, we all believe in personal accountability, but that suggests we become as accountable for the economy of human lives as for the criminals we catch and condemns.

Our “get tough” politics of the 1980’s increased federal, state and local expenditures for police 416%, for courts 585%, for prosecution/legal services 1,019%, for legal defense, 1,255%, and for Corrections 990%. It punished more but prevented less.4 Contrary to popular opinion, 76% of illicit drug users came from our white establishment, with only 14% from the Black Community,  and 8% from the Hispanic Community. Yet,, most incarcerated inmates were poor and minority.

The public sector railed against jobless minorities, lazy drug-abusing criminals, and the abuse of sex in making babies paid for by tax dollars. We agreed the Welfare System needed reforming, but most welfare clients were white rather than minority or poor. Since then, welfare has since been reformed, but little else changed.

The Criminal Justice System still criminalizing what it cannot control. It builds more prisons and punishes more than it rehabilitates. It clones criminals, and graduates them magna cum laude in crime. Recidivism shuttles inmates in and out of the revolving doors of  our prison system that protects itself but fails to help inmates build new and better lives.

So when will we quit criminalizing what we cannot control? When will we reform our ineffective system? When will we work as hard at prevention as punishment? When will we value inmate education as much as inmate-incarceration? When will we put people ahead of punishment-and-profit?

Jesus used the cross as his symbol for identifying faith. We reveal our vertical relationship by loving God supremely. We practice the horizontal relationship by loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus proclaimed the Good Samaritan as the ideal of our horizontal relationships (Luke 10:27). He focused on prevention rather than punishment and nothing short of providing rehabilitation will correct the crisis in our criminal justice system

Faith supports victim’s rights, but faith balanced consequences without surrendering to “hate hysteria”. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, biblically and pragmatically. Preventive outreach and proactive programming will recycle lives from our cultural trash bins without becoming political.

Economic stewardship and sound gospel call for better balance between punishment and prevention. Calhoun County Michigan boosted its income by up to a thousand dollars a day by introducing the Sheriff to the profits of housing federal prisoners.3

A spokesperson for Michigan’s Department of Management and Budget praised a neighboring city for being five-hundred jobs richer with “good paying jobs” at a local prison facility. The proposal added 2,500 new beds and he concluded, “That’s good for the state and for the taxpayers” (emphasis added).           Simultaneously, a newsman described abused prisoners in a privatized jail in another state, causing officials in that state to stop renting beds from the first state. Making punishment profitable may not be new or unreasonable, but it challenges and warps the purpose of our justice system!

Is our goal punishing people and making money, or rehabilitating people and improving society? We tax payers seem more interested in profit than people, but does punishment and prison fulfill our social obligation? With Michigan State Corrections spending “$130 million a year, employing 2,500 people in one system alone, while adding another $20 million in payroll when the next new multi-security prison opens,” I wonder where does it end?

Whatever we believe, our behavior tells the story. Thus, an alert editor suggested: “We’d like to see the public’s money put to more constructive use, by shaping people’s lives for the better, and providing the same positive choices for everyone.” I say “God bless that editor!”

Our focus on punishment recalls that Frank and Earnest cartoon where Frank announces, “Not only is Ernie going nowhere fast, but he knows a shortcut.” Punishment in prison provides our shortcut to profitability, but it takes us 
owhere fast. It costs more in general and leaves us with poor justice, poor economics, and a poor gospel!

This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
_____
    1 Jerome G. Miller, Search and Destroy. (Cambridge/N.Y.: Cambridge Press, 1996), p. 81. 
    2 Miller, p. 97.
    3 Karen Motley, Battle Creek, MI. “Enquirer News,” 2-10-98).
    4 Miller, p.2
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