III. Our Bitter Legacy: And a Mother’s Day Greeting from the United Methodist Church

The First Amendment provision defining the separation of church and state stands as one of this country’s most valuable contributions to civilization. It allows everyone to worship; it forces no one to worship; it entertains diversity of faith; and it keeps the government to the secular business of governing for the welfare of its people. It is genius in a few simple phrases that limits the power of Congress in making laws respecting speech, faith, and other expressions of thought. The success of the doctrine has served as a model for developing countries as they sought ways to govern effectively in spite of deep religious divisions in their societies.

There is no constitutional provision that limits the expression of political views in religious services or within any of a church’s activities. That would contradict the free exercise clause. But, alas, there is the problem of taxation.

Churches that express political views or endorse candidates become subject to the federal income tax. And their donors, cannot deduct their gifts from taxable income. The rationale for the deduction recognizes the spiritual nature of the church and extends the favor of immunity from taxation only that far but not so far as any interest the church may express in influencing policy or in choosing the government. And, true or not, churches behave as though their institutional lives depended on being exempt from paying taxes and eligible for having their donors receive deductions.

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II. Our Bitter Legacy: It’s 2018, Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

When my kids were growing up, a local television station ran a plug just before the ten o’clock news each evening that was meant to be offer some parental coaching:

“It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your kids are?”

If only that had been enough for us to meet our responsibilities to them.

Instead, we leave them this bitter legacy. Rising sea levels. More extreme and more frequently violent weather patterns. Dysfunctional government. Deteriorating infrastructure. An ever-widening gap between rich and poor. Health care that fails to meet the needs of most people. The growth of the use of terror as a political tool. Refugees from many nations seeking asylum in an unwelcoming world.

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I. Our Bitter Legacy: Politics for the Rising Generation

Sometime between the time I was a teenager (that would be the 1950s and 60s) and today, my perception of America’s social and political environment changed from one that seemed more sharing, loving and mutually supportive to one that is, today, almost terminally corrupted by fear, violence, and greed.

To be exact, I do not say things have actually changed in those ways, only that my perceptions have changed. It is an important distinction since the world of my teen years was viewed through a lens of privilege that blinded me to the violence, racism, sexism, and poverty that many people in our country already dealt with on a daily basis. Maybe things are not so different now, only the lifting of the curtain to allow the rest of us to see and share the suffering more directly.

There have been, however, some undeniably real changes that will have to be addressed by rising generations. Today’s ruling powers have proved unwilling and unable to lead changes that would save our world from choking its own greed.

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Opening Night at BCS

20180423-IMG_7579.jpgSharon Barnes as the proprietor of Hattie’s Restaurant. 

Brazosport Center Stages opens The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet tonight in the Dow Arena Theater. The play will run two weekends. Reservations at The Center for Arts and Sciences.

I have seen several rehearsals. The only big disappointment is that Sharon Barnes starts singing “How Great Thou Art” as she works alone in Hattie’s Restaurant but stops when the New York director, Lauren McTeer played by Laura Woodson, enters.

Somebody may slip Laura some money to get her to miss her entrance so Sharon will have to finish the song.

The Brazosport Center Stages Production of The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet; Some Photos from the Rehearsal

My personal archive of theater shots is on Flickr. Please feel free to go there and have a preview of the The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet. It opens tomorrow night, April 27.  I am still “in the darkroom” with the photos I took at the Monday rehearsal, so check back occasionally to see if I have posted more of them.

As a preview for your preview, here is Laura Woodson, playing a New York director gone to West Virginia to take Shakespeare to the boonies. Please, Will, tell me why we are doing this to ourselves?
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BCS Superstar, Jean Warren, Opens Another Show This Week.

Tonight I will take some rehearsal photographs of “The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet” directed by Jean Warren, one of our Brazosport Center Stages Superstars. You can make your reservations here. I hope to post some shots of the rehearsal here later in the week. The show opens Friday night, April 27.

Superstar is a recognition of lifetime achievement for theater arts volunteers who have made outstanding contributions in acting, directing, producing, and technical theater at Brazosport Center Stages. Jean is a BCS Superstar and was officially recognized by the Board of Directors at the 2017 annual meeting.

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Jean Warren, Superstar director of “The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet.

I had the pleasure of working with Jean in 2013 in her production of “Camping with Henry and Tom”. The play is a fictionalized dramatization of a real 1921 camping trip involving Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding. As Thomas Edison I had a good many lines to learn and, at the age of 70, that was not easy. At the annual meeting the next summer, Jean gave me one of her show awards. It was a small cast so not too many people were denied the honor by her act of kindness. I still kid her about giving me an Oscar for remembering my lines. Actually, for almost remembering my lines, most of the time.

 

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Politics in Brief

In my post of April 12,​ I suggested that you wouldn’t hear much about politics from me. May I please recant and apologize for that? Politics is at the core of the American character and to avoid political discussion is to hand over control of our lives to others.

Over time, Facebook developed some unwritten rules of social media discourse which I found constraining and, I do not use this word often, un-American. Of course,​ Facebook has a particular problem with trolls so that any mention of a candidate, party or policy preference would bring them out to haunt your page.

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