Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fred Rogers testifying in Senate hearings, 1969

I first saw this video somewhere a couple days ago, and it was just linked again last night at Firedoglake.

Crooks and Liars has a great clip up from the Senate hearings in 1971 when Nixon wanted to cut the funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in half and Fred Rogers made an impassioned plea that won over his listeners.
The hearings were chaired by Senator John Pastore.

Pastore: All right, Rogers, you've got the floor.

Rogers: Senator Pastore, this is a philosophical statement and would take about ten minutes to read, so I'll not do that. One of the first things that a child learns in a healthy family is trust, and I trust what you have said that you will read this. It's very important to me. I care deeply about children.

Pastore: Will it make you happy if you read it?

Rogers: I'd just like to talk about it, if it's all right. My first children's program was on WQED fifteen years ago, and its budget was $30. Now, with the help of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation and National Educational Television, as well as all of the affiliated stations--each station pays to show our program. It's a unique kind of funding in educational television. Now our program has a budget of $6000.

It may sound like quite a difference, but $6000 pays for less than two minutes of cartoons. Two minutes of animated, what I sometimes say, bombardment. I'm very much concerned, as I know you are, about what's being delivered to our children in this country. And I've worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children. We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood. We don't have to bop somebody over the head to make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.

Pastore: How long of a program is it?

Rogers: It's a half hour every day. Most channels schedule it in the noontime as well as in the evening. WETA here has scheduled it in the late afternoon.

Pastore: Could we get a copy of this so that we can see it? Maybe not today, but I'd like to see the program.

Rogers: I'd like very much for you to see it.

Pastore: I'd like to see the program itself, or any one of them.

Rogers: We made a hundred programs for EEN, the Eastern Eduational Network, and then when the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said that we've *got* to have more of this neighborhood expression of care.

And this is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he *is* unique. I end the program by saying, "You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and *I* like you, just the way you are." And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable *and* managable, we will have done a great service for mental health.

I think that it's much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger--*much* more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I'm *constantly* concerned about what our children are seeing, and for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada, to present what I think is a *meaningful* expression of care.

Pastore: Do you narrate it?

Rogers: I'm the host, yes. And I do all the puppets and I write all the music, and I write all the scripts--

Pastore: Well, I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I've had goosebumps for the last two days.

Rogers: Well, I'm grateful, not only for your goosebumps, but for your interest in our kind of communication. Could I tell you the words of one of the songs, which I feel is very important?

Pastore: Yes.

Rogers: This has to do with that good feeling of control which I feel that children need to know it's there. And it stars out,

What do you do with the mad that you feel--and that first line came straight from a child. I work with children with puppets in very personal communication in small groups

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a lady
And a boy can be someday a man.

Pastore: I think it's wonderful. I think it's wonderful! (looking to his side) I think he's just earned the 20 million dollars! (Applause)

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Central Ohioans for Peace

From their web site:

Monday, May 22nd, at 7:00 pm: Speakers: Art and Peggy Gish
We know from experience that Art & Peggy have a lot to tell us about their experiences in Hebron (Art) and Baghdad (Peggy). Basket donations during this meeting will go to the Gishes to support their work in the Middle East.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

St. Stephen's Strawberry Festival

Every now and then, I figure I should plug an event for my own church, because, well, because I've got a blog and I *can*, that's why.

From the parish newsletter:


Sponsored by the St. Stephen's Choir

The afternoon will begin with a concert at 3:30 p.m.

The new Baldwin piano donated by the Williams family in memory of their mother, Helen Williams.
Pentecost, the birthday of the church
The talents of our St. Stephen's instrumentalists and their friends.

The concert will include many instrumental combinations. All selections will highlight our wonderful new piano. After this concert we invite our audience (young and old) to come up to see the instruments (violin, 'cello, flute, bassoon, trumpet, marimba and organ) up close and to ask questions of the instrumentalists. We encourage families to come, as the program will have great variety.

The afternoon will continue with a STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL at 4:15 p.m.

Don't miss the FUN, FELLOWSHIP and FOOD!

A freewill offering will be taken to benefit the choir fund. Donations are welcome.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Frances Strickland on religion and politics

Last night I attended an event put together by the Central Ohio Coalition of Democratic and Progressive Organizations. Buckeye State Blog has written about it here and here. As I was leaving, I saw Frances Stickland, who had been speaking--and singing--on behalf of her husband Ted Strickland who is running for governor of Ohio. She graciously agreed to give me a couple minutes of her time and answer a couple questions. I asked her what kind of response her husband's campaign is getting from people of faith around the state.

Religion is being put into politics to be divisive, and most people that I know, that are sincere about their faith don't like that. And basically what we want to do is just to try to keep the focus on the things like healthcare that really matter, and the things that have gotten this state in trouble. And to try not to participate in any way that's divisive.
Does Ted ever pull on his background as a minister in responding--
Not much. As a minister, that's one of his fears--that politics is going to hurt the church, rather than the church helping politics, or the political field. He just feels that it can cause congregations to divide...split. Somebody said once, "I think in the future some time we're going to have Democratic churches and Republican churches!" And that really disturbs him.

And so, he can--if somebody asks him about a scripture, he'll know it and respond. He can, but it just needs to be appropriate. He will not deliberately use that to try to make points. It would be just in responding in some way to what somebody's asking.
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We Believe Columbus meets again May 25

What follows is a message available as a PDF link from the home page of We Believe...

Our next plenary session will be held on Thursday May 25th 9am at First Congregational Church 444 E. Broad Street.

We have had over 120 faith leaders from Central Ohio that have participated in one way or another in the formation of We Believe. We are calling on all of you to participate in this next plenary session.

The steering committee has begun meeting every other week. We wish to share with you how your leadership has helped to begin movements in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and other parts of Ohio. We also want to inform you of the media opportunities we have had recently beyond the Columbus media outlets.

We want to begin working now on voter turn out for the November 2006 elections.

Most importantly we want to continue to build a “community of moral deliberation” in order that we can fulfill our purpose of “uniting diverse religious voices to achieve social justice.” As we seek to do this we are aware that we may not be moving quickly enough for some who have participated in this movement and that for others there is a concern that we may become an issues oriented movement alone.

To this end we are asking you to come to this next plenary session. Rev. Bob Ward has assembled a process that can lead us to becoming a community of moral deliberation. It is a small group process that will use round table discussions facilitated by steering committee members and others. We will begin with conversations building relationships of trust as we discuss our own personal experience of poverty and wealth. The second stage will be conversations of relationship focused more on faith-based decision making as it relates to a broad spectrum of issues of justice and moral concern. Finally we will look at way that we can speak truth to power in the midst of our diversity.

It is our hope that by committing ourselves to this process we can lift up our diverse religious voice as an example of how faith communities can have honest, open and productive discourse and where possible work towards our goal of achieving social justice.

Please join us for this important meeting. It is vital that we continue our involvement in the public square. We are not a freight train steaming our way through Central Ohio rather we are as one of our members shared more like a passenger train deliberatively organizing in order to pick up others along the way that value a diverse religious voice. We seek to be a voice that does not demonize and divide rather one that represents religion at its best as a binding force.

Your Co-conveners Rev. Eric Brown and Rev. Mark Diemer

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Friday, May 12, 2006

New "We Believe" group to launch in Cleveland

We Believe is going statewide

Cleveland Religious Leaders Launch We Believe! Cleveland
Join Us for a Kick-Off Event and Press Conference!!!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006, 11:00 AM
Doors Open for Music and Celebration at 10:30 AM
Cleveland Play House
8501 Carnegie Ave. Cleveland, Ohio 44106
Faithful Clevelanders will gather to pray and unveil a shared vision of serving God in word and action by promoting the values of inclusion, compassion and social justice.

We believe the stakes in Ohio are frighteningly high

We will not stand by and bear witness to religion being used as a tool of division and exclusion.

The time for action is now!
More from the media advisory:
Cleveland religious leaders will announce the We Believe, Cleveland vision, shared mission, and concrete actions the organization will immediately embrace moving forward.
WHO: Pastors, priests, rabbis, cantors, imams, and lay leaders committed to speaking in public ways to bear witness to the spiritual heritage of pluralism, tolerance, social justice and religious freedom. We Believe participants are ethnically and racially diverse, men and women, conservative, moderate and liberal. They represent a wide range of theological diversity and serve urban, suburban and rural people in their houses of worship.

PARTICIPANTS: Participants include, but are not limited to:
  • Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. (Olivet Institutional Baptist Church)
  • Rabbi Richard A. Block (The Temple Tifereth-Israel)
  • Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle (Antioch Baptist Church)
  • Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell (Chautauqua Institute)
  • Rev. Tracey Lind (Trinity Cathedral)
  • Rev. Kenneth W. Chalker (First United Methodist Church)
  • Pastor Max Rodas (Nueva Luz Church of the Nazarene)
  • We Believe Columbus leaders: Rev. Tim Ahrens (First Congregational Church, Columbus, OH) and Cantor Jack Chomsky (Tifereth Israel, Columbus, OH)

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B.R.E.A.D. rises in the Buckeye State

There's a great writeup of Monday's Nehemiah Assembly at JSpot.

BREAD Rises in the Buckeye State

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rabbi: G-d *expects* us to do justice!

I wrote just a little bit last night about the B.R.E.A.D. action assembly I attended the other day at Congregation Tifereth Israel. Mainly, I shared my overall impressions--the size of the crowd, and the "packed like sardines" aspect of the experience. If you aren't familiar with the B.R.E.A.D. organization or the purpose of our assembly on Monday night, you can read about it here. In this entry I'd like to share with you the opening reflections of Rabbi Howard Apothaker of Temple Beth Shalom, which shed some light on why the "Nehemiah Assembly" was a fitting name for that action meeting. I suppose you may be skeptical about there being any connection between this particular Hebrew scripture and the times we live in. What experience do people *today* have with such sentiments as... We must pawn our fields and our vineyards and our homes to get grain to stave off hunger or We have to borrow money against our fields and vineyards... ?
There was a great cry by the common folk and their wives against their brother Judeans. Some said our sons and daughter are numerous, you must get grain so that we may live. Others said, "We must pawn our fields and our vineyards and our homes to get grain to stave off hunger." And yet others said, "We have to borrow money against our fields and vineyards to pay the king's tax. Now we are subjecting our sons and our daughters to slavery and we are powerless while our fields and vineyards belong to others.

It angered me very much, said Nehemiah, to hear their outcry--that same outcry that the slaves made in Egypt. After pondering the matter carefully, I argued, says Nehemiah, with the nobles and the prefects, saying, "Are you pressing claims on loans against your bretheren?" And I asked a large crowd against them and said to them, we have done our best to buy back our Judean bretheren who remain slaves to the nation, but you continue to enslave your bretheren that we must yet restore them. And they were silent.

So I, Nehemiah, continued...What you are doing is NOT GOOD! You are to ACT, and it ought to be in a G-d-fearing way. Thus the words of Nehemiah.

And so I want to teach you a simple Hebrew phrase tonight--you want to learn one? (Yes.) All right, everyone--almost--wants to learn. (Laughter). It's very simple. What you are doing, says Nehemiah, is NOT GOOD. In Hebrew: LO TOV. (Practices with crowd a couple times). Beautiful!

When we hear the cry, "We are slaves, we are powerless, we are broken", we must say to today's nobles and prefects--we must shout, we must scream--LO TOV! Say it again with me...LO TOV!

It is not good, it is not right! It is not good--not on my own recognizance. Not because I said so, or because some church council voted twelve to nine, but because the nobles and prefects are not acting with any sense of godliness. Without G-d consciousness. Without G-d, your silence is--LO TOV!

When Nehemiah gets angry, he does not just run off and scream and curse. The word says that he ponders and plans and investigates, and he assembles a large crowd and demands a hearing. He brings the power of the people, and even so he is met with silence. He does not stop at shouting lo tov, it is not good--he persists to put together a concrete plan to restore justice. He convinces his cohorts and brings the power of the people to bear. And they continue to agitate until the nobles and prefects say, "We will do what you say."

Ah, but that wasn't enough for Nehemiah! He brought those nobles and prefects before the people, saying, we will hold you, and not just us, but G-d will hold you accountable.

That group at that time is this group in our time, in our day, in this place, and at this moment. We shall shout, "Amen!" And just as at that time the text says that the nobles and prefects kept the promise, we shall ensure that those whom we have entrusted, those who we have elected, those who temporarily hold the power to say "yes", but to their G-d who would have them break their silence, and respond at all.

And this call is not for this time alone. Nehemiah tells us that he acts to create a change in the system. He cannot continuously keep the power of the crowd at hand. They won't assemble like we do here only on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. (Laughter...and someone near me remarked, "Christmas and Easter!") But he *can* continuously keep the power of G-d to combat injustice. The scripture tells us (something in Hebrew--elohim) because it is all *of* G-d, because of his respect *for* G-d, his belief in G-d's justice that sustains it, until the crowd returns.

G-d does not just want us to do justice. G-d is *waiting* for us to do justice. G-d is *expecting* us to do justice. G-d is saying, "Get off your tuckus and do justice!"

(More Hebrew, then translated) Won't you walk in awe? Won't you walk the walk of justice? Won't you pursue justice? Won't you act, demanding from the nobles and the prefects that they do rather what is good. This is what G-d wants from those who venerate the divine

We congregate and stipulate that those in power quit debate and legislate
We bring force and might that they endorse and do right
We act with tact that they in fact enact
and that they accede to the need and cower to the power of G-d's call for justice.

We shall not be powerless, we shall not be broken, we shall not accept silence,
When B.R.E.A.D. hears the cry, we stand not idly by
We shall raise that cry on high, we shall sanctify, we will magnify,
and we shall personify the will of El Shaddai we need not say, 'lo tov', that isn't good. Today we shall say as Nehemiah might say to the G-d of eternity, this is very good!
(Congregation) RISES!

The next speaker would go on to thank Howard Apothaker, "The Rabbinical Rapper". ;-)

I'll share more from the meeting as time permits.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

"Faithful responses to TEL/TABOR" workshop

This appeared in my church newsletter, and I thought I should pass it along. I have no idea if there is still space available in the workshop or not, but it's good to know that someone is doing this. Hopefully there will be some materials made available for for faith leaders who are unable to attend a workshop.

May 16, 2006
2:30-5:30 p.m.
Congregation Tifereth Israel, Columbus, Ohio

Contact David Buckley at dbuckley at

Join us for a lively and informative discussion of the TEL/TABOR ballot initiative, which will be before Ohio voters in Nobember. Learn about the legislation from policy experts and discuss ways in which clergy can best communicate with their congregations from a faith and values perspective about the impact of TEL/TABOR on the most vulnerable Ohioans.

  • Rev. Jennifer Butler, Faith in Public Life
  • Dr. John Irons, TABOR Expert, The Center for American Progress
  • Tom Pirrello, The Res Publica Institute
  • Jan Resseger, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Cleveland
After the meeting, we hope you plan to proceed with us to the Newman Center at Ohio State for an open Town Hall Meeting on this subject sponsored by the Center for American Progress.

Presented with support from Faith in Public Life, the Center for American Progress and We Believe Ohio.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

B.R.E.A.D. Assembly tomorrow at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus

I told you about the B.R.E.A.D. action meeting that will take place on May 8 a while ago, but since the rally is actually taking place tomorrow, it seems appropriate to post a reminder. It also wouldn't hurt to remind you that B.R.E.A.D. stands for Building Responsibility Equality and Dignity, and is made up of 50 congregations in the central Ohio area. As Rev. George Glazier wrote, ...The most important part of this is the Action Assembly where hundreds and hundreds of people are gathered. It is the very numbers of people that convince the elected officials that the issue needs to be addressed.

So, if you like the idea of being able to make a difference simply by "showing up", this is the event for you. That's what the registration, which starts at 6:15 p.m. is for, by the way--signing in and making sure that you are counted in the official numbers. Each congregation has a table where their members can sign in, and if you're not a member of one of those congregations, you can always sign in with mine. ;-) Or whichever one you want, just so long as you're counted.

This excerpt from the May newsletter of Temple Beth Shalom give a quick explanation of the issues being addressed at tomorrow's meeting

•To establish a Comprehensive Truancy Prevention Program, and
•To expand the numbers of low-income children enrolled in Quality Early Childhood Programs.

Officials from Columbus Public Schools and Franklin County will respond.

Co-President Rev. George Glazier has commented: "When I think about BREAD I get the mental picture of people standing together... maybe in a hallway outside the County Commissioners Office... maybe at one of our Assemblies... We stand together for justice, for more low-income housing... for access to health care... for streets that are safe. We also stand with... we stand with all the religious traditions of justice...with those in government, education, and other institutions which are seeking justice across the board - for everyone."
The following is from the new B.R.E.A.D. web site, still under construction...

Monday, May 8, 2006 - Nehemiah Action Meeting
"I heard their outcry...And I called a great assembly."
(Nehemiah 5:6-7)

Congregation Tifereth Israel
1354 E. Broad St.
6:15 pm-Registration
7:00 Opening Prayer


Research shows that truancy is a significant red flag indicating children who are at risk of academic failure, drop-out, and juvenile delinquency. As of today, our community does not have a coordinated effort to deal with truancy reduction or prevention. BREAD will call for the development of a comprehensive truancy reduction plan in order to address this problem.

Early Childhood:

Research indicates that children of poverty on average have significantly lower language skills even at 3 years of age. The State of Ohio has made funding available for thousands of lowincome children to attend pre-school programs through the Early Learning Initiative (ELI). But significant roadblocks exist which limit enrollment in the program with the result that hundreds of openings for pre-school are going unfilled in Franklin County. BREAD will issue a call to remove these roadblocks and bring ELI up to full capacity in Franklin County.


Last May, we asked City and County officials to strengthen First Source, an employment program which links job creation and workforce development with tax abatements. The jobs committee concluded that the inadequate implemetation of First Source reflects a larger problem with City and County administration of workforce development throughout Central Ohio. Suzanne Coleman Tolbert, President of Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation will present a plan to strengthen workforce development, along with the First Source program.

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