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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Wednesday, July 11 2001

Controversialist

Once in my junior high career as a correspondent for the Mountaineer-Herald I reported something a bit controversial in the Big Bend School (I've totally forgotten now what it was) that earned me a censuring from principal Ray Clawson. "Jon, you like playing with notoriety, don't you?" he accused. As he was a man whose pupils had best not cross, I sat impassive but thinking, well, that's what news is, isn't it?

For most of my life thereafter I dealt in controversial issues. I knew that my mentor Andy Rogalski had his life threatened for his coverage of a murder-suicide in Blacklick Township, so I knew it was risky business, but it was a significant ingredient of what newspapering was about. You can't duck hard issues. Furthermore, by the time I was writing the editorials for the Sedloff Publications, I loved controversy, especially on the national and world levels (it was easier on several levels to pick on enemies of our way of life in the USSR and their willing or unwitting supporters in our country than to expose malfeasance in the countyseat).

I didn't encounter the word "controversialist" until recently, but it's a term that works well. For most of my life I thought generating controversy is a good thing. At the very least, it makes people think, and that's a rare commodity. At its best, controversial writing can inspire and launch reforms or good works, which are also in short supply. Even if the respondent may take strong issue with an editorial opinion he may react to it by taking positive action.

Controversy seemed to fit well in my conservative Protestant worldview, too, when I turned to the ministry. I could fancy myself a disciple of the Old Testament prophets railing against injustice and impropriety at the highest levels of Israel's daily life.

A book about the New York Times describes its most effective editors as preachers whose pulpits were the Times editorial pages; one of them, in fact, fulfilling his mother's lifelong dream that he be a Presbyterian pulpiteer...in newsprint rather than the church. I found much inspiration and more than a little comfort in that claim.

In later life, however, my enthusiasm for controversy has been dampened somewhat by, among other factors, learning a new paradigm for life. I'll continue that next time.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Will the Real Dummy Please Stand?

Los Angeles Police lucked out with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words, "Give me all your money or I'll shoot," the man shouted, "That's not what I said!"

A bank robber in Virginia Beach got a nasty surprise when a dye pack designed to mark stolen money exploded in his Fruit- of-the-Looms. The robber apparently stuffed the loot down the front of his pants as he was running out the door. "He was seen hopping and jumping around," said a police spokesman, "with an explosion taking place inside his pants." Police have the man's charred trousers in custody.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Beauty

Beauty is that which opens our eyes to the majesty of God and moves us to desire him. Worship is not just an intellectual grasping of truths but a process of falling in love. Beauty opens us to adoration, and a craving for God begins to take root. Without this, our love for him may be polite, respectful, and theologically accurate, but it lacks the headlong abandonment that should characterize a relationship between lover and beloved.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

From At the Corner of East and Now

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