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23 posts from August 2005

Denominations for in-prison volunteers

Going through more files, I found a copy of a skit that I used when training in-prison volunteers about the importance of looking at having unity in diversity when it came to Christian denominations.  Volunteers would get up before the group and read the different parts.

Different characters included:  Seeker, a prisoner; Theo Theologian, Boris Baptist, Penny Pentecostal, Louise Lutheran and Peggy Pushy.

Most volunteer groups that I trained came from a variety of denominations.  After the skit, most would give a grudging nod to the importance of checking denominationalism at the prison gate.  It's a tough issue and a tough obstacle for many to get over.


Justice Fellowship's lost promise in Michigan, elsewhere

Cleaning out some old files I found a handout I received from Justice Fellowship, the criminal justice ministry of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship (PF).  The handout outlines "How You Can Make A Difference." 

I got it at a meeting where Justice Fellowship was trying to organize a group of Michigan stakeholders who wanted to see a reorientation of the state's criminal justice system.  Our criminal justice system aims at punishment versus restoration of the victims by the offender.  Justice Fellowship was advocating for a model of restorative justice.

The meeting more than 10 years ago was at the Michigan Association of Counties Building just north of the State Capitol Building.  There were judges, court and correction workers and legislative staffers.  I was an in-prison volunteer and a legislative staffer.

Unfortunately, the movement never caught on.  The Michigan Legislature and the criminal justice got more and more punitive and then Justice Fellowship faded from the scene both in the state and nationally.  It's a real shame.  It's time to resurrect those ideas.  But, it's easier to build prisons.


Lansing State Journal editorial page shows its disconnect from community

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It's the day after our local election in Michigan's capital city and the local newspaper--the Lansing State Journal--has demonstrated again how it is in a state of active disconnect from the values of our community.  They have also shown that it's time to look at the viability of the op-ed page in the local newspaper.  It is facing extinction.

I point to today's editorial in the State Journal where the editorial director castigates our two United State Senators for voting for a bill that allows the Boy Scouts to use government facilities.  They whine that the Boy Scouts are an anti-gay group and, hence, shouldn't be allowed the right to use government property.  Hmm...

The community needs to speak against this intolerance by the Lansing State Journal through the one language they understand, economics.  It's easy to see that column inches of advertising are at best staying the same and may even be declining.  It's time to let the remaining advertisers know that their suport of this intolerance will be reflected in consumer patronage.

The editorial should lay out some facts about its contention.  How about gay groups that hold rallies on the State Capitol lawn and use state facilities?  Nobody complains about that and they shouldn't.

A strong newspaper is needed in this town and every town.  The media can play a vital role, but it's not.  The Lansing State Journal, all the other Gannett papers and the Detroit Free Press which is being bought by Gannett need to get back to the basics of the profession.

They need to stop dissing the Boy Scouts and start reporting real news in this area.