Education Matters: Police, plastic and priestly matters

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

Before contemplating what this new year holds in store, I'd like to take a look back at a few items in this column that merit, in my mind, a second look, or that perhaps at the time suggested a follow-up, starting with a certain encounter I had with a local police officer.

A number of people contacted me with their own stories of similar encounters. A few wanted to take me to task, one signing off, ironically, "your stupid". Most recounted what they considered to be unfair treatment by a police officer or by a court assessing a penalty for their infraction. What we all seemed to have in common was a strong respect for law enforcement, but contempt for policemen who do not practice what they enforce. My "violation" was dismissed.

Mike Antonovich seems to be in a distinct minority in opposing a ban on plastic bags. Makes me wonder who's funding his campaigns these days.

I'd love to see the present awareness to our addiction to plastic extend to a ban on disposable water bottles that are also mucking up our environment. Homes and businesses could easily install filtration devices and deliver water as clean as the bottled stuff that we've been fooled into thinking is the only clean water available.

Finally I'd like to answer a few points raised by the Rev. Bryan Griem in response to a column I wrote wherein he was prominently featured. My questions back to him went unanswered despite a few attempts to enter into a dialogue.

What originally prompted my article was his firm and very public insistence that homosexuality is a human perversion and an abomination in the sight of God. I was thinking of a number of gay young men in this country who had recently committed suicide and it struck me that people like Griem who thunder away from their pulpits about what God likes and doesn't like is indirectly contributing to those statistics.

His message to me started by labeling as "saboteurs" fellow religious leaders who contribute to this paper's religion page, saying that they "spend their chance for shedding light in the world disparaging the very holy text that they are supposed to defend."

I answered him by quoting from Romans 2:1 "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself…"

That quote seemed appropriate for a man who issues a steady stream of condemnations from his pulpit and this paper.

He objected to my use of the word "fundamentalist" in describing him and yet he is a textbook definition of the word according to his literal interpretation of the Bible.

And speaking of literal interpretation, I wasn't sure just how literally to take his declaration that, "If our society would stop bending over backward to accept homosexuality, we would be able to save these people from sin…" Yow!

He did not explain his discrepancy in interpreting one Old Testament passage, which he claims condemns homosexuality, while at the same time discounting other passages from the same book.

He writes, "I read the Old Testament and I realize that there are rules for ancient societies that are not incumbent upon the New Testament Church throughout the whole world today."

Well then, I have to ask: who is it that gets to pick and choose which verses to follow and which to ignore (or rather place into "historical context")? Who, in the great hierarchies of the Christian church, is the final arbiter?

Is it left to local clerics unwilling to relinquish their grasp on their own unbending version of rightness? I am left wondering how difficult it must be for some of them to convey the primacy of God's love when they are closing their minds and pinching their hearts.

The good reverend ended his correspondence to me by writing that I am not far from the Kingdom (of Heaven, I presume), but I have work to do. Knowing me as I do, I have to agree with him, but I would also want to suggest that we each have work to do.

In that spirit and on this cusp of a new year, I can only hope.

DAN KIMBER taught in the Glendale Unified School District for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@sbcglobal.net.

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