Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I'm an Angry White Man and Here's What I'm Mad About!

Well, it looks like "angry white men" are the "soccer moms" of the 2016 election.  Commentators appear to be using the term "angry white men" to refer to white male blue collar workers who are "frustrated that the social contract they felt entitled to has been broken and that they have been forgotten."  I looked in the mirror this morning and realized that I'm white and male and angry, so I feel like I'm going to put my feelings out there for the world to hear.  I'm an employed minister in Kansas City and not a laid off steel mill worker from Ohio, but dang it, I'm angry too!  (Apologies for the salty language.)  Just because I'm white and male, however doesn't mean I'm angry at immigrants and black people.  Here's what I'm angry about:

1.  I'm Angry at Angry White Men--I get it.  This country was made by white men for white men or at least it was made by rich white men for other rich white men.  We had an understanding that if we were born white and male, then we got to be on top of the social hierarchy.  It's a bummer that we don't get to rule over women and oppress ethnic and sexual minorities anymore.  Well, actually, we still get to do all the oppression stuff, but thanks to the advent of cell phone cameras we just may occasionally be caught doing so nowadays.  To all my fellow angry white men mad because you actually have to share the spotlight with people who aren't white, straight and male, get over it!  Quit your whining.  Isn't 300+ years ruling the roost enough for you?  In the end, the idea that each human being is "created in the image of God" (see Genesis 1:27) has to mean that white men should let somebody else be lineleader.

2.  I'm Angry at Climate Change Deniers--I love being a wasteful American just as much as anybody.  I want to drive what I want, eat what I want, consume what I want and keep buying, more, more more, without having to think about the consequences.  This is getting ridiculous, however.  You've got to really have your aluminum foil hat screwed on tightly to ignore the overwhelming evidence that human consumption of fossil fuels is changing the climate in devastating ways.  It's not like NASA has laid out the evidence for humans causing climate change in an easy to understand web site, right?  Oh wait, they have.  I miss the days when McDonald's would serve me my Big Mac in those Styrofoam containers too--those were good times, but c'mon, enough is enough.  At some point sane people have to admit climate change is real, and if God created our planet and it belongs to God (see Psalm 24:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:26), maybe we shouldn't freaking destroy it!

3.  I'm Angry at People Scapegoating Immigrants--I know, I know, it's so much easier to blame undocumented immigrants for taking our jobs than to blame faceless corporations using lower wage laborers overseas or the steady advance of technology that automates many jobs.  It's just not as satisfying to demonize a robot as it is a guy who fled poverty and violence in his own country to work a low hourly wage to send money back to feed his family all the while  living in fear of being caught and deported.  That guy you can hate on, but hating on a robot or a corporate board just isn't very satisfying.  Scapegoating just feels better, doesn't it?  Nevermind those undocumented workers are held prisoner by the same economic forces that we are or that they pay billions into Social Security which they will never collect.  At some point, however, the feeling of hating on another ethnic group begins to feel a little empty.  Besides, there is all that stuff in the Bible about "caring for the stranger in your land."  (see Deuteronomy 10:17-19 and a whole bunch of other verses)  It kind of takes the fun out of scapegoating immigrants when you consider God may be on their side.

4.  I'm Angry at the Entire Criminal Justice System--I used to sleep well at night knowing that American culture works just like one of those hour-long police procedural TV shows.  Bad guys get caught, tried fairly and sentenced appropriately for their crimes.  Then I came across Michelle Alexander and her book The New Jim Crow, and suddenly the statistics were everywhere about how differently white and black people along with rich and poor people are treated by every part of our criminal justice system--from traffic stops to death penalty sentences.  Thanks a lot criminal justice system!  I would have gladly kept my delusion that everything is fair out there.  I suppose I could just holler "reverse racism" or accuse protesters of "hating white people," but then God does seem to have this thing about "fairness" (see Isaiah 56:1) and "condemning the innocent" (Proverbs 17:15), not to mention that whole thing about when we care for people in prison it's just like we are caring for Jesus.  (see Matthew 25:36).  

5.  I'm Angry at all the Patriots Out There--Hey all you flag wavers out there, I'm with you.  Let's support the troops and respect the flag.  Explain to me again, however, why it's somehow disrespectful to the troops to question our nation's record of using military force in recent decades?  From my view, it's more disrespectful to sing along to Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to Be an American" while sending our troops off to fight and potentially get gravely wounded or dead for some misguided foreign policy thought up by lobbyists.  If we really want to care for out troops shouldn't we stop sending them to fight misguided wars that never seem to end?  Why is it more patriotic to unquestioningly support bombing the hell out of some place than to question it?  I know it feels all nice and manly to go to war, but when the Bible speaks of God's ideal for humanity it says, "they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not make war against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."  (see Isaiah 2:4)

6.  I'm Angry at Christians--I'm a Christian and even I assume that when I meet someone new who says they are a Christian that they must think being gay is a sin, vote only for Republicans, anti-science and generally no fun.  Congratulations Christians, you've succeeded in making pretty much everybody understanding the gracious sacrificial love of Jesus as essentially getting to be the playground bully.  I'm not just talking to conservative evangelicals either.  Progressive Christians have sat back and let it happen.  (I should know I am one.)  We've allowed the selfless love of Jesus to be turned into the blessing of  violence and oppression.  Then when some Christians get pushback, they have the nerve to whine that they are being oppressed by heathen secularists.  Cry me a river!   Wouldn't it be great if when people thought of Christians they actually thought of love and grace rather than bullying?  (If you're wondering what that looks like, see Philippians 2:1-11)

Well, that's about as close as I come to doing a Lewis Black imitation.  I feel much better now that I've gotten all my white male anger out of my system--at least for now.  It's a good thing that Jesus said I only have to spout off about things that make me angry instead of letting my anger motivate me to actually make the world a better place.  

Grace and Peace,


Recommended Reading and Listening 10-7-16 edition

Regularly, if somewhat spasmodically, I share a list of things I'm reading, watching and listening to with my congregation.  If I remember to do so, I also post it here on my blog:

2016 Election
White Privilege
  • Wow, this is really powerful writing by a "light-skinned" black woman who is often perceived to be white about the way she encounters racism depending on what "race" white people perceive her to be.
Black Lives Matter
  • Interesting interview with a lawyer specializing in LGBTQ relationships that talks about issues such as taxes, social security and other legal issues. Although the law is the same for straight and same gender couples, she is helpful, especially to long-term same gender couples who may have been together for a long time but haven't thought before about the financial and legal dimensions of marriage.
  • Central Baptist Theological Seminary (where our associate minister Bethany Meier is a student) has recently come under fire for its policies of fully accepting LGBTQ people.  Here is CBTS president Molly Marshal's response to the attack
You can find more stuff that I think is worth reading, watching and listening to by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why Should I Care if a Black Football Player Kneels During the National Anthem?

It's been weeks since San Francisco 49ers back up quarterback, Colin Kapernick, remained seated during the national anthem before an NFL game to protest the treatment of black people by police across our country.  Kapernick explained his refusal to stand for the anthem by saying, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." Since then all kinds of athletes have been kneeling during the national anthem: other NFL players, college football players, a female pro soccer player and even elementary age sports teams.  Even my beloved KC Chiefs held a similar protest by locking arms together with cornerback Marcus Peters raising a black-gloved fist in the air.  

I have to confess feeling more than just a bit cynical  when pro athletes make political statements.  I tend to think celebrities are a little too good at self-promotion to do anything really selfless.  (Also, I confess having more than a little bias against Kapernick, for whom the 49ers dumped the now KC Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.  Now that I think about it, maybe I should thank Kapernick, otherwise the Chiefs could still have Matt Cassell playing QB.)  My cynicism eroded however, when I read about Kapernick's efforts to explain his protest in the face of accusations he was ignorant, unpatriotic and just trying to get attention now that his career is fading.  Many of the threats were racist and violent.  My cynicism was fully wiped away when Kapernick committed to donate $1 million of his salary to aid groups helping people affected by racial inequality and police brutality.

I still wondered why I should care about Kapernick's protest.  After all, it's just football, right?

I began to realize why Kapernick's protest and so many others matter when I was listening to my local sports radio show on 810 AM and they began discussing Black Lives Matter.  I prepared myself to cringe at guys used to making fart jokes and rehashing football games trying to talk about the difficult topics of race and inequality.  Surprisingly, the conversation was thoughtful and radio personalities of different ethnicities began sharing their different experiences with police and the criminal justice system.  I was blown away by their candor and vulnerability.  How many people listening--a huge percentage of them white men--had never had such a discussion?

I had a similar moment of surprise when the black newspaper reporter who covers the Chiefs for the KC Star took time during his podcast to talk about the protests.  He pleaded with his largely white audience to have some empathy for black people's experiences with law enforcement.  He begged them to consider that a white person's experience with the criminal justice system is likely vastly different from a black person's experience.  

 KC Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley has emerged as an articulate voice in our city when it comes to these protests.  Conley's father is career Air Force, and when he asked his father about the protest and whether or not it disrespected him and other veterans, his father replied that whether he likes it or not, he and other veterans fought so people could have the freedom to protest.  Once again, I had to wonder how many people--maybe for the first time--were reading Conley's words and reflecting in a new way about the patriotic rituals before sports games and whether everyone shares the same freedoms to an equal amount.

"As everyone is aware, this past Saturday before the game against Northwestern DaiShon Neal, Mohamed Berry and myself kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and many other athletes across the country. Those professional and unprofessional who are standing together to use their various platforms to bring awareness about police brutality and the recent deaths of black men and women at the hands of police officers. While the anthem played, I prayed along with DaiShon and Mohamed. We asked God to watch over us and protect us, and to look down on this country with grace and mercy and to look down on all of us with grace and mercy. You see, we are not perfect beings. 2 Corinthians 3:5 says 'Not that we are sufficient in our own selves to claim anything as coming from us but sufficiency is from God.' As we looked at what has been going on in this country the injustice has been taken place primarily against people of color and we all realize there is a systematic problem in America that needs to be addressed. We felt it was our duty to step up and join the chorus of athletes in the NFL, WNBA, college and high school using their platforms to highlight these issues. We did this understanding the implications of these actions, but what we didn't expect was the enormous amount of racially hateful comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the method of protest. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions to it further underscore the need for this protest and gives us just a small glimpse into the persistent problems of race in this country and the divisive mentality of some Americans. To make it clear, I am not anti-police, anti-military, nor anti-America. I love my country deeply and appreciate the freedoms it professes to afford me. I have travelled outside of the United States, I have seen how people live in other countries with my own eyes. And though I've endured hardships as a kid and didn't grow up with the whole world in the palm of my hands, as a conscious being, I am able to recognize that there are people out there who are in a much worse position than I am. I find it very concerning how some of my fellow Americans cannot do the same when it comes to these issues. Unfortunately, I cannot turn a blind eye to injustice. As Dr. King once said 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict... (an individual) who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.' So therefore, I believe it is my job, first as a man of faith, which teaches me 'for what you do for the least of my brothers, you have done for me. And second brothers, you have done for me.' And second as a young black man, who sees people who look like me being unfairly treated, who do not have the platform to let others know about these injustices that go on every single day. I feel I am obligated to stand up and bring awareness to the social injustices that are not limited to police brutality but also to policies and laws that discriminate and hinder the growth opportunities of people of color, low income people, women, and other marginalized communities. Again, there are issues in this country that need to be addressed. There are issues in this country that can no longer be pushed off onto the backs of another generation. For me, I look at it like this: Do I want my kids to be a part of that and have to endure the same struggles that we do today? No I don't. So, it is my job to work to make this world a better place for the next generation. It is disheartening to see that the same social injustices that the likes of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Ghandi, WEB DuBois, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson and Muhammed Ali amongst others have spoken out about since the birth of this nation. As a young black man, I cannot hide from these realities. As a child of the most high, I cannot hide from my responsibilities to be a voice for those who cannot speak loud enough to reach those who can help change their reality or the voices that continue to be ignored or muted. Those who are continuously told it is their fault that their problems exist, that only if they do better then they will have better. That if you just pull up your pants, etc. you can fulfill your own 'what if' but it's not so simple, it's not so clear. I can say that with confidence because even though I have done better, even though I am a college graduate, even though I am blessed and fortunate to play college football at the highest level and at one of the most prestigious schools in college football, even though I am a healthy being and even though I am fully conscious I have still endured racism. I am still referred to on Facebook and Twitter as a clueless, confused (expletive deleted), who by my former high school classmates, friends, peers, and even Husker fans. Some believe Daishon, Mohamed and myself should be kicked off of the team or suspended, some say we deserve to be lynched or shot just like the other black people that have died recently. Another believed that since we didn't want to stand for the anthem that we should be hung before the anthem for the next game. These are actual statements we received from fans. People assume this is just internet talk but I can tell you from my own experience at this very institution, at various other college campuses within the past four years that racism is still a problem that must be addressed. I can't tell you the numerous amount of times I've heard the "n-word" being shouted at my teammates and I from opposing fans behind our bench. My freshman year I remember going to a frat party and was told '(expletive deleted) weren't allowed in this house.' We were escorted out several minutes later by security officers. People want athletes like Daishon, Mohammad, and myself to remain silent and just play football. However, we cannot ignore what we've lived. We, as black athletes, cannot remain silent. We are fully aware that football consumes only a small part of our lives. As we are often reminded, football will not last forever. These issues are bigger than football. These issues are bigger than me. These issues are bigger than you. These issues are bigger than all of us because it impacts all of us, whether you believe it or not. We must have accountability, we must have understanding, we must have love, but we also must have genuine dialogue that finds genuine solutions and demands genuine action. We must demand that from ourselves, we must demand that from our family members, we must demand that from our friends, we must demand that from our schools, we must demand that from our police officers, we must demand that from everyone in this nation. That is everyone's role as a conscious human being. I believe that we are supposed to look for one another and call out the injustices in this world against the oppressed, even when you have nothing to gain and everything to lose. America is a great place, despite the ugly blemishes. I love that I am able to wake up and worship my God, without fear of persecution. I love that I am able to express my viewpoint and I am protected by Constitution of the United States. This is what makes America great. But I cannot also ignore those things that keep America divided. I believe in the promise of America, that all men are created equal, have the right to liberty, justice and equality but unfortunately America doesn't always live up to these ideals. So in the words of James Baldwin, 'I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.' It is my hope that in taking a knee, the consciousness of the entire nation will be raised and everyone will be challenged to truly come together and work towards fairness, equality and justice for all. We have an important role. We all have this responsibility. God Bless."

Rose-Ivey offers, I believe, the most articulate explanation as to why I should care about the protests of these athletes.  Furthermore, the reaction he received for protesting only further explains why his actions are necessary.  At the same press conference, he went on to describe how he and his teammates who protested received death threats, including ones saying they should be lynched or shot like other black people who have recently been killed or perhaps hung as the national anthem played before the next game.  The hateful attacks on Rose-Ivey and his teammates demonstrate that we have a long way to go as a society and there are a whole lot of us who need to have more conversation about race.

Over the recent weeks I've been reminded that the athletic arena was one of the first visible forums in public life to demonstrate the excellence and abilities of black people.  It has often been used as a platform for black athletes to protest against racism.  Consider the actions of Muhammad Ali as well as the raised fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos.  Past actions were just as unpopular then as the current protests are now.  Only in a sanitized version of history can we look back and see such actions as anything other than threatening to white people who are well-meaning and those who are not.  Many voices wish to draw a distinction between the racism of the sixties versus our current situation and there is some validity to that point.  Things have no doubt improved in many significant ways, but that is not an excuse for ignoring or erasing the experience of racism black people experience today.

These most recent protests point out the reality that the national story we tell ourselves is both true and untrue at the same time.  The story that we are a great nation and our members of the military are righteous is true in the sense that we do enjoy many blessings of freedom and opportunity absent in other societies and our soldiers and veterans sacrifice greatly on behalf of our nation.  Yet, this national story is also untrue in the sense that freedoms and opportunity are not equally available to all and for all our strengths as a nation we remain at best a work in progress.  Our national story is untrue in the sense that often our displays of patriotism and flag waving and yes, singing of the national anthem are used as tools to shut out voices of dissent and silence the voices of the oppressed.  There is no better way, perhaps, to demonstrate the truth and un-truth of our national story than by the images of the flag waving juxtaposed with black athletes kneeling in protest.  The truth that our nation is great because of the freedoms it promises is just as true as the reality that we often fail to live up to those promises.

As Christians, we especially need to hear these voices of dissent even as we give thanks for the blessings we do have in this country.  The testimony from scripture is clear that God hears the cries of the oppressed and the downtrodden--from the Israelites held in slavery in Egypt to Jesus on the cross to the cries of the Psalms.  God stands with those who are beaten down by the ideologies of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and economic inequality.  If we wish to experience God, we must go where God is speaking.  God is speaking through the actions of the protestors, and yes that includes Colin Kapernick.

So I guess that I, as a white guy who just wants to watch some football, really should care why black athletes are protesting during the national anthem.  Along with our rallying cry, "Are you ready for some football?" maybe we should also cry, "Are you ready for some social justice?"   

Grace and Peace,


Recommended Reading and Listening 10-1-16 edition

A Great Blog Post by CCCUCC Associate Minister Bethany Meier
  • This is a great post on the blog of Central Baptist Theological Seminary by Bethany about her faith journey as a gay Christian and what her seminary journey and her experience in the United Church of Christ have meant to her.
White Privilege
Black Lives Matter
Sexism and Patriarchy
  • "How Pop Culture Tells Women to Shut Up"--If I had a daughter, I would study this article carefully. Even though I don't have a daughter, because I care about girls and women, I also study this article carefully.
  • "I'm the gay son of a preacher man. When I came out to Dad, he was perfect"--In my ministry I get to hear a lot of sad and painful stories of LGBTQ folks coming out to their parents. When parents reject their LGBTQ kids, religion--specifically Christianity--seems like the dominant factor. It's nice to read a story where a parent (who happens to be a minister) demonstrates love and grace to his own child.
Misc. Stuff I think is Cool
You can find more stuff that I think is worth reading, watching and listening to by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

Recommended Reading and Listening 9-16-16 edition

United Church of Christ News
Religion in America
Economic Justice When It Comes to Development in KCMO
9-11 Fifteen Years Later
Gun Violence
Misc. Stuff I think is Cool
You can find more stuff that I think is worth reading, watching and listening to by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

I'd like you to write a short letter

Dear CCCUCC folks,

Hopefully you've met Rev. Janet Weiblen who often attends CCCUCC.  Janet is a retired UCC minister who has volunteered in prisons for almost 25 years.  Up until this summer, Janet has volunteered for ten years with 
Reaching Out From Within, which "supports prison rehabilitation programs for inmates who want to make lasting changes in their behavior so they can become a role model for non-violence, while still in a penitentiary, and also be contributing members of society when they return to society."  Despite her long track record of giving her time to help those whom society really does consider--in Jesus' words--"the least of these," Janet was terminated by ROFW.

Controversy began when Janet wrote an eloquent opinion piece for the Kansas City Star's "As I See It" series.  In it, she laments the fact that government budget cuts often hurt prisoners the worst, because the general public does not care what happens to people in prison.  Unlike bad roads or crowded schools, the effects of budget cuts on prisoners is only seen by those in the prison system or those working or volunteering in it.  She points out in a common sense manner the insanity of expecting prisoners to reenter society as productive citizens after educational and developmental programs for them have been cut.  

In the brief biographical sketch at the end of the opinion piece, Janet's credentials were given, including her working with Reaching Out From Within.  Prior to publication, Janet did not know ROFW would be identified in the piece.  It was this column and its identification with ROFW that led to Janet's termination, despite the ROFW board saying otherwise.

Janet had been recruited to write her column by a group wanting to raise awareness of the effects of the Kansas legislature's budget cuts.  As retired journalist Steve Nicely wrote in his own KC Star "As I See It" column, hardly anyone would speak up publicly on the effects of budget cuts.  "Laid off maintenance workers, discounted teachers, food pantry volunteers, mental hospital staffers" and others would not speak on record in the media out of fear of retribution.  Either they might lose their jobs or their programs might lose funding.  Such is the political climate in Kansas these days.  Yet, Janet spoke up and she paid a price for it.  Sadly so did the prisoners who benefit from Janet's work with them.

Janet's piece was published in June and she was on the agenda of the ROFW board in July.  Despite having no criticisms of her ten years of service with ROFW, board members at the July meeting accused her of violating program guidelines and rules; yet Janet had never been given the list of guildelines in question.  When she asked for them, despite promises to do so, none were given to her.  Criticisms were levelad at her leading of ROFW sessions on various occassions yet none of those criticisms had been shared with Janet prior to her writing a column criticizing state budget cuts of prison programs in which ROFW was identified.

It doesn't take a particularly strong olfactory sense to smell something fishy.  Janet is a valued volunteer prior to writing the column and persona non grata after writing it.  I think it is obvious what happened.  Steve Nicely states it well: "The organization depends on the approval of the Kansas Department of Corrections for access to prisoners in every DOC facility in the state.  When one of the group's well-known volunteers publicly criticizes the state department that enables the organization's existence, that naturally catches the attention of the board."  In other words, Janet became a liability despite her ten years of service.   

I have no idea if it will make a difference, but I do not want to sit quietly while a good person, who simply desires to help those whom our culture despises, gets stepped on.  I'm writing two short letters in support of Janet and I want you to write your own.  One letter goes to the editor of the KC Star and the other goes to the chairperson of the ROFW board.  Here are mine; feel free to make use of them in your letter writing.

Dear Editor,

I write in support of Rev. Janet Weiblen who was terminated by Reaching Out From Within, a rehabilitation program, after 10 years of volunteer service helping prisoners in Kansas prisons.  As Steve Nicely demonstrates in his September 6 "As I See It" column, Rev. Weiblen was terminated because the ROFW board feared retribution from the Brownback administration and Kansas Department of Corrections.  Once Rev. Weiblen dared to publicly write about the effects of state budget cuts on prisoners in the KC Star on June 5, her fate was sealed in the eyes of the board.  Such is the toxic political climate in Kansas these days.  I know Rev. Weiblen and her years of service to prisoners--people whom our society considers--in Jesus' words--"the least of these."  Her dedicated service helping men reenter society and reduce recidivism should be rewarded not punished.  Shame on the ROFW board for punishing a dedicated volunteer for advocating on behalf of the population ROFW was created to serve.  May we learn from Rev. Weiblen's example and work to change our overcrowded and underfunded prison system.  It's insane to believe prisoners can successfully reenter society when that society has taken away all means of rehabilitation.

Rev. Chase Peeples

Dear ROFW Board,

I write in support of Rev. Janet Weiblen who was terminated by Reaching Out From Within, after 10 years of volunteer service helping prisoners in Kansas prisons.  As Steve Nicely demonstrates in his September 6 "As I See It" column, Rev. Weiblen was terminated because the ROFW board feared retribution from the Brownback administration and Kansas Department of Corrections.  Once Rev. Weiblin dared to publicly write about the effects of state budget cuts on prisoners in the KC Star on June 5, I believe her fate was sealed in the eyes of your board.  

I know Rev. Weiblen and her years of service to prisoners--people whom our society considers--in Jesus' words--"the least of these."  Her dedicated service helping men reenter society and reduce recidivism should be rewarded not punished.  Shame on the ROFW board for punishing a dedicated volunteer for advocating on behalf of the population ROFW was created to serve.  

Previously I have had a positive impression of your organization and it's work, but now after your treatment of Rev. Weiblen, both I and other members of the community no longer hold such a positive view.


Rev. Chase Peeples
You can write your own Letter to the Editor by clicking here.  I'm reluctant to publish the contact information for the ROFW board chairperson, so e-mail your letter to me at my e-mail address: chase@cccucc.com and I will get it to them.

Oh, and next time you see Janet, give her a pat on the back for her courage speaking out on behalf of prisoners and for her years of service to them.

Grace and Peace,