Don’t be like Memminger

June 25, 2022

Follow the “3Ls” in the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

CLEVELAND, JUNE 25 – If you are watching CNN or other cable news channels today, you might feel like you’re seeing “end of the world” news coverage about Friday’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision and today’s protests over it.

Wonder how Americans felt around December 20, 1860?  That’s when South Carolina voted to secede from the Union, an inciting incident leading to the Civil War.

His name isn’t prominent in the history books, but Christopher Memminger is in there. He wrote South Carolina’s  rationale for leaving the United States, published in late 1860. Memminger later served as the first Treasury Secretary in the Confederate States of America. By historical accounts, Memminger was not a “radical” pro-slavery advocate, even though he owned slaves. One event changed his mind: the November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as president.

There are some points which all people, regardless of their beliefs about abortion, should consider in the aftermath of Friday’s Supreme Court decision. In the years leading up to the Civil War, sections of America basically ceased even trying to listen to each other. One example: sales of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin were banned in many Southern states. Merely possessing the book was a crime in the 1850s South.

Hopefully we would agree that it’s important to keep listening to each other, to engage in discussion and debate, and reason together rather than become more divided. Unless you want to be like Memminger, don’t let history repeat itself.

Here are three “L” words of advice: Learn, Listen and Love  

LEARN

News reports saying that Dobbs v. Jackson is “unprecedented” or “transformational” are simply untrue. The Supreme Court has occasionally  got important decisions wrong, only to  reverse course later. Here are two powerful examples:

  1. In 1857, Southerners rejoiced when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in Stanford v. Dred Scott that the Missouri Compromise, federal law adopted in 1820, was unconstitutional. This decision stopped Congress or the President from restricting slavery in U.S. territories. This ruling also stated that Blacks who were enslaved or whose ancestors were enslaved were not even entitled to legal rights. Scott couldn’t use the courts, according to the Supreme Court.

    Of course, the Supreme Court was wrong with this ruling. But it took the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution – as well as the bloodshed of hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War — to set the nation on a permanent path of abolishing slavery.

  2. About 40 years later, in its 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, SCOTUS decreed that publicly segregated federal and state facilities were legal if they were of equal quality. The effect of this “separate but equal” ruling was a constitutional basis for laws passed in many Southern states that prohibited Blacks from sharing the same schools, buses, and other public facilities as whites. These were known as “Jim Crow” laws. It was legal segregation.

    “Separate but equal” lasted for more than 55 years. But in 1954, SCOTUS issued a unanimous ruling in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, called for integration, and also provided the legal impetus for the Civil Rights movement. Incidentally, hundreds of newspapers and television stations in the South wrote and broadcast stories in 1954 decrying how the Supreme Court had overturned their “sacred constitutional right to separate but equal” rationale for segregation.

    It has taken decades to fully implement the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education integration ruling, but the important lesson we take away today is that the Supreme Court can and does change course on monumental matters of life and death and public policy. That’s how courts work.

If you are worried about the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, perhaps you should read it yourself instead of believing what you see in the news or read in social media or the regular media. You learn much when you analyze a legal ruling, even deducing how the justices reasoned to their decision. Here’s the entire ruling, taken from the U.S. Supreme Court website: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf

One common misconception already being spread is this: Dobbs vs. Jackson didn’t “outlaw” abortion the way that the Dred Scott decision outlawed Blacks slaves from having legal status. This ruling (5-4 on its federal meaning, 6-3 on its meaning in Mississippi) remands (or sends back) decisions about the legality of abortion to the 50 individual states. That means it takes power away from the federal courts and puts it into the hands of the states and people.

LISTEN

Over the next few weeks, here are nine words we could all employ well as we discuss Dobbs v. Jackson: “Can you tell me why you feel that way?” One can post arguments and memes all one wants on Facebook or other social media, but it won’t change another’s point of view. One-on-one conversations can help us all better understand each other, even if we don’t agree.

Good friend Richard Duncan, founding pastor of Cuyahoga Valley Church, points out that the best posture for those believing in the sanctity of human life right, now, should be humbly rejoicing. Colossians 4:5-6 reads like this:  “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

If there ever was a time to be gracious in speech, to be eager to listen, and to that , it’s now. There will be harmful elements in the United States and in other countries (especially Russia and China) which are going to exploit this SCOTUS ruling to further divide and weaken the U.S. When you engage in the practice of active listening, you gain empathy and become closer.

According to Colorado State University’s global education website, here are some tips:

Pay attention! Don’t be easily distracted. Put down the phone, take out the ear buds, and make eye contact what they are saying? Don’t think about what you want to say. Focus on what they want you to hear.

— Show that you’re listening. Give small verbal comments like “huh” and “yes” and nod when appropriate. Don’t interrupt, as it can derail the conversation.

— Offer feedback. When the opportunity comes up, offer insightful feedback on what was said. You might simply reflect on your friend’s points, asking follow-up questions, or offering your own perspective. Respond thoughtfully.

— Don’t jump to conclusions! You’re not a mind-reader and neither is the person talking to you. If you find yourself becoming upset about what’s being said, ask for clarification. Give the friend a chance to rephrase or clarify. That way you avoid making unfair assumptions.

LOVE

With Friday’s injunction lifting the three-year block on the state’s 2019 “Heartbeat Bill,” the Buckeye state is squarely in the bullseye of the inevitable protests unfolding after Jackson v. Dobbs.

CNS photo/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters

Ohioan Bob Hershey has an expert understanding of this. A former director of the Cleveland Pregnancy Center, Hershey has nearly 20 years of experience on the front lines of pro-life ministries.

“It (Jackson v. Dobbs) will mean that men and women will be more desperate than ever to find a quick solution, and we all know that quick solutions can be harmful, he says. “Those who find themselves in an unexpected pregnancy need to feel they have a safe place to talk about it.

“It will mean loving them through their decisions,” Hershey adds. “The church can have a greater influence, and we will need to step in and help those that don’t know where to turn.

“For those who oppose our (pro-Life) point of view, I also pray that we are patient and loving toward them, and that we don’t get sidetracked,” he says. “Only talk about what abortion truly is, and then we need to offer compassion, hope, and help to this hurting world.”

It’s Hershey’s desire to see crisis pregnancy centers offering more help to expecting women and their partners, and that they can then find a local church to attend and receive discipleship. This need may become greater now for post-abortive situations as well

“In one important respect nothing has changed. Our mission still is to love God, love others. That stays the same for Christ followers,” he points out. “We’ve just been given more opportunities now to show God’s love.”

ADVICE & RESOURCES FOR MEDIA & OTHERS

Below are a few websites I’ve bookmarked for editors, reporters, and other journalists who want to responsibly cover ramifications of Jackson v. Dobbs in the days ahead. One big recommendation: Follow the SPJ Code of Ethics and Poynter’s guidelines on MINIMIZING HARM for all involved. That is the second tenet of the SPJ’s ethics code.

If you want a quick site to see what a variety of polls report, Pew Research has one. Here’s the link: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/06/24/what-the-data-says-about-abortion-in-the-u-s-2/

Crossway, a non-profit publisher, has a plethora of resources, including a free eBook titled “The Case for Life.” Here is the link: https://www.crossway.org/articles/resources-related-to-abortion-and-the-sanctity-of-life/?utm_source=Crossway+Marketing&utm_campaign=b4f76743b3-20220620+General+-+Abortion+Resources&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0275bcaa4b-b4f76743b3-303141957

Some others: www.care-net.org

www.heartbeatinternational.org

https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp


For Slavic Full Gospel Church, 6/10

June 10, 2022

https://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/amistad/whats-their-story

Passion and Productivity
Conclusion

Google Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1YjMuJiHkfAIuIuC6sIxhuOho1NAg5YS-CarleTjA-HU/edit


Порятунок і допомога

March 31, 2022

Захід зі збору коштів спрямований на порятунок життів в Україні

BROADVIEW HTS. – За даними ООН, щонайменше 4 мільйони українців покинули свою країну з початку російського вторгнення 24 лютого. Понад 3000 мирних жителів були вбиті, а також 10 000 або більше російських і українських солдатів.

Один із загиблих – пастор, преподобний Сургій Ільчук. Російські війська застрелили преподобного Ільчука (на фото нижче), коли він виконував свою шосту рятувальну місію з порятунку мирних жителів, які опинилися в пастці в Києві і навколо нього.  У преподобного Ільчука була дружина і шестеро маленьких дітей, які всі були присутні на його похоронній службі в Яру.

“Майже всі українці мають сім’ю, яка безпосередньо постраждала від цієї війни”, – говорить Роман Скальський, диякон і адміністратор Слов’янської церкви Повного Євангелія. “Наша спільнота ніколи не стикалася з чимось подібним.  Ми в сльозах. Ми з дружиною були дуже засмучені, тому що, незважаючи на те, що ми тут у безпеці, у нас є родичі і сім’я в Україні, і ми відчуваємо смерть, біль і страждання, які завдаються нашим близьким. “

Слов’янська Церква Повного Євангелія вжила негайних заходів, щоб допомогти своїм близьким і землякам в Україні, що перебувають під загрозою зникнення  . Церква направила команду з дев’яти добровольців до Польщі на початку цього місяця, щоб допомогти в зусиллях з надання допомоги. Волонтери перевірили 108 валіз, повних аптечок, джгутів, бронежилетів та інших бронежилетів.

Преподобний Сургій Ільчук Від

Але це тільки початок. У суботу (2 квітня) з 10.m:00 до 2.m:00 проводиться збір коштів на підтримку україни в церкві, 5581 East Wallings Rd. в Бродвью Хайтс. Волонтери вже підготували до заходу понад 4700 п’єрогів та інших хлібобулочних виробів, доступних для пожертвування на будь-яку суму. На цьому заході будуть мистецькі заходи та інші можливості для створення стипендій.

Сам Скальський приїхав до США як біженець більше 30 років тому, після падіння залізної завіси. Колись він був призовником в російську армію.

“З радістю і гордістю ми бачили, як Україна піднялася з нуля, частини Радянського Союзу 31 рік тому, до приголомшливої нації”, – говорить він. “Ми ніколи не могли зрозуміти або повірити, що це може статися з нашим народом в період відносного процвітання.”

Скальський незабаром повернеться з іншою командою волонтерів до Польщі та України. Цього разу вони сподіваються мати ще сотні бронежилетів, а також медичні матеріали та іншу допомогу.


БРЕХНЯ, БЕЗГЛУЗДА АГРЕСІЯ НА БЕЗЗБРОЙНИХ ЦИВІЛЬНИХ ОСІБ

Однією з тем, яка викликає гнів у Скальського та інших українців походження, є дезінформація, брехня і пропаганда, яку російський режим на чолі з Володимиром Путіним намагається нав’язати світу.

“Особливо прикро чути всю брехню, яку Путін говорить нашому народу і його теж”, – пояснює Скальський. “Брехня, така як українці, нацисти, або що українці мають ненависть до росіян, або що росіян переслідують, – все це не відповідає дійсності. Брехня робить її ще більш болючою, і що особливо важливо для всіх знати, так це те, що багато українців говорять російською мовою, включаючи мене.

Журналісти, правозахисні організації та українці спостерігали за навмисною агресією Росії та жахливими нападами на беззбройних цивільних осіб у багатьох містах. Ракети, артилерійські снаряди і бомби знищили квартири, школи і навіть лікарні. Російські солдати обстріляли і вбили некомбатантів, таких як преподобний Ільчук. 

Росія також переслідує церкви, які не приєдналися до путінського режиму. “Україна також є однією з країн Європи, яка найбільш відкрита для Gospel”, – додає Скальський. “Це відправка місіонерів в Росію і в інші місця по всьому світу.

Окрім протидії брехні Путіна, Слов’янська Церква Повного Євангелія зосереджена на тому,  як вона може допомогти біженцям та людям, які перебувають у небезпеці в Україні, прямо зараз.

РЯТУВАЛЬНИКИ, ЩО ЗАГРОЖУЮТЬ ЖИТТЮ

Слов’янське Повне Євангеліє має потужні етнічні шнури, що зв’язують його та його членів з наданням допомоги та рятувальникам в Україні, приблизно в  5000 милях від північно-східного Огайо.

«У нас є зв’язки з друзями і родичами по всій Україні, людьми, які знаходяться на передовій зусиль з надання допомоги», – каже Скальський. “Ми їх знаємо. Ми регулярно спілкуємося з ними по телефону. Ми знаємо, що деякі з них ризикують усім, щоб допомогти врятувати інших».

Одним із контактів Скальського є о. Генуя Мохмемко, чия сім’я усиновила 35 дітей-сиріт у Маріуполі на далекому сході України.

“Преподобний Мохмемко висловився проти російського вторгнення в 2014 році, і йому пощастило, що він зміг отримати свою дружину і всіх їхніх дітей в безпечне місце в Західній Україні всього за день до початку вторгнення”, – пояснює Скальський. “Зараз він повернувся до Маріуполя, намагаючись допомогти вивести інших цивільних осіб. Ми намагаємося допомогти таким рятувальникам, як він”.

Скальський також бачив повідомлення про те, що сотні тисяч чоловіків з українського походження зараз повертаються в рідну країну, деякі допомагають з полегшенням, а деякі борються з росіянами. “Вони знають, що це “зроби або помри” зараз в Україні. Вони не хочуть повертатися до утисків, які мала наша нація за часів колишнього Радянського Союзу”, – сказав він.

У середу (30 березня) понад три десятки волонтерів зібралися у Слов’янській церкві Повного Євангелія, щоб підготуватися до суботнього збору коштів громади. Багато підлітків клали бронежилети в бронежилети, а також євангельський трактат у кожному жилеті. «Допомога зверху» – це назва трактату.

“Ми також покладаємо нотатки та біблійні вірші в поставки допомоги”, – говорить Скальський. “Ми хочемо, щоб всі, хто отримує ці матеріали, знали, що за них моляться, і що ми робимо все можливе, щоб протестувати і допомагати їм.”

Преподобний Рік Дункан є пастором-засновником церкви долини Куяхога, сусідом Повнослов’янської євангельської церкви. 6 березня преподобний Дункан дав недільне послання там Ось трохи того, що він сказав:

“Я не знаю, коли Бог врятує Україну. Я не знаю, як він втрутиться. Але я знаю це, тому що Бог могутній, справедливий, щедрий, суверенний і гідний, Він зробить шлях для народу України. Божі наміри не може зупинити Володимир Путін. Одного разу зло буде переможене. Слава йде!

У Римлянам 8:18 сказано: Бо страждання теперішнього часу не гідні того, щоб їх порівнювали з славою, яка нам повинна бути відкрита.

“Ми повинні молитися. Ми повинні дати. І ми повинні служити. І ми робимо все це з надією і впевненістю, що Бог буде працювати все разом для Своєї слави і на благо Свого народу”.

ЯК ВИ МОЖЕТЕ ДОПОМОГТИ

Нижче наведені рекомендації суми пожертвувань. Ви можете покрити ще один з цих пунктів з вашим пожертвуванням:

Аптечка                                                                      $ 15.00

Зупинити кровотечу / Джгут Kit                               $ 30.00

Бронежилет 3-го рівня з бронежилетом $ 300.00

Якщо ви також відвідуєте суботній захід, ви можете пожертвувати будь-яку суму , поки ви там. Якщо ви не можете бути там особисто, ось посилання для пожертвувань:

https://sfgchurch.churchcenter.com/giving/to/ukraine-aid

    *     *     *     *     *

Місто Парма і Бюро перепису населення підрахували, що понад 4000 людей, народжених в Україні, зараз живуть в Пармі. Кілька сотень студентів західного кампусу Cuyahoga Community College мають українське походження.

Одна з них, Соломія Островська, була головним організатором іншого збору коштів для підтримки допомоги та порятунку в Україні. Ця подія відбудеться в суботу ввечері (також 2 квітня) в Caffeine Lakewood в центрі цього передмістя. 100% доходів підуть до Клівлендської асоціації Майданів, некомерційної організації, яка направила в Україну сотні тисяч доларів на гуманітарну допомогу, починаючи з 2014 року. Це також благодійна організація, яку Cuyahoga Community College (мій роботодавець) виділив для пожертвувань на допомогу Україні.

Листівка знаходиться внизу. Слава і Соломії за те, що вона стоїть за цим. (Відмова від відповідальності: Соломія є одним з моїх студентів в Tri-C.)  Ви можете отримати квитки на цей збір коштів на www.caffeinelakewood.com


T.C.O.Y.

January 18, 2022

CUYAHOGA FALLS, JANUARY 18 — One lesson we should have all learned from Covid-19 is that self-care is critical to our physical and emotional health. As the global pandemic continues, researchers tell us that we’re spending more time on screens (especially smartphones), less time exercising, and less time interacting face-to-face with others.

Many of us aren’t as healthy with our diets. We’re not sleeping well, and we’re more likely to be battling with mental health challenges such depression, isolation, heightened fear, and greater-than-normal stress. Depression rates TRIPLED and stress was far greater than normal in some population groups, according to a study at Brown University published in October (see below).

There is no one solution for all of these situations. But one thing you can do – and do well – is to TCOY, or take care of yourself.

Fortunately, some of my Cuyahoga Community College friends have developed tools to help us with this. You can type “Tri-C Help is Here” on your phone, or click to the link below.

Take care of yourself
A “screen shot’ of some of the assessments and help that is available from Cuyahoga Community College. You do not need to be a student at Tri-C to access these screenings and assistance.

https://www.tri-c.edu/policies-and-procedures/suicide-awareness-and-prevention/self-assessments.html

On this site you can find “Help is Here” apps which you can install on your smartphone. You can also find some very helpful self assessments for general and specific mental wellness subjects. Just above here is a screen shot from the webpage:

There isn’t a “one answer fits all” for the mental health challenges we’re facing as we muddle through this situation. But here are some of the choices I’ve made for daily living:

  • I’m reading/journaling/praying at the beginning of every day.
  • I’m taking “wellness time” — walks outdoors whenever I can when the sun is out. My digital watch exercise tracker is set on my taking 10,000 steps or more a day.
  • I’ve greatly reduced my “screen time” also, and I have designated a couple of hours each day as “screen free” periods. The average American now spend about 5.5 hours a day on screens, and it’s my belief that this is contributing to a general malaise and sense of pessimism.
  • I’m also taking “recharge time” every day now, because me (and a lot of other people) have been running their lives with their tanks near empty for too long. 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION AND FOR CLASS DISCUSSIONS

  1. What’s your plan? What steps are you taking, every day, to TCOY or take care of yourself? Write down the plan, and then keep it in a place or way (on your smartphone or on an index card) where you refer to it multiple times a day.
  2. Without betraying confidential information, share observations and feedback with your classmates about their TCOY plans.
  3. How can the members of your class encourage each other to better TCOY?

There is also one additional great benefit for you when you’re better at TCOY, others. You might have a friend or a sibling who is struggling right now. By becoming better at practicing self-care, you could assist others. You could even possibly help save a life.

AND A FINAL REFLECTION

We all fall down. Yesterday, after 21 inches of snow fell in my neighborhood, I literally slipped and fell in the snow and ice while shoveling.

Other times we fall down emotionally, mentally, or psychologically. It’s not uncommon, and it’s more common nowadays due to increasing demands placed on us all.

It is what happens AFTER we fall is what matters. A scene from a movie 40 years ago reminds us what we all need to do after we fall down. The late, great actor Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins) says the three words that the director of “Chariots of Fire” named in the scene, Get Up Lad. Take it to heart.

Link to a news release about the Brown University research: https://www.brown.edu/news/2021-10-05/pandemic-depression


Christmas Miracles

December 13, 2021

We love stories of miracles at Christmas time. Several years ago, many commemorated the 100th anniversary of the famous “Christmas Truce” during World War I. It really happened, although of course this video account is a bit fictionalized by the candy maker. Here’s a link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KHoVBK2EVE

My story’s pretty simple  – out of the blue, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 bladder cancer in late January. Additional testing added Stage 3A renal failure to my diagnosis. I went through four rounds of adjunctive chemotherapy in the spring, and had a six-and-a-half hour surgical procedure which removed my bladder (and other body parts) in late June. I was released from SummaHealth Hospital on July 2.

Early on July 5, Kathy and I celebrated Independence Day a bit more when my urologist/oncologist called. He wanted to share the Good News with me person-to-person. All the biopsies from my surgery had come back negative, meaning that after the surgery there was no sign of cancer in my body.

Kathy and I ringing the bell symbolizing the end of chemo treatment, late May 2021

A follow-up CT scan in late October found the same thing, N.E.D. or no evidence of disease.

My thoughts about Christmas 2021 are so different now than they were 11 months ago (Will I be here for Christmas?) or even six months ago (What kind of treatment might I be undergoing at Christmas?).  God carried me through and I’d be glad to share more with about that if you’re interested.

But as you prepare your heart for this Christmas, words of advice which I would share with you are these: Never take it for granted that there will be another Christmas.

You know I will hug my loved ones a bit more tightly this season. I’ll want them to linger with me a little longer. I’ll share all the joy and happiness I can, as December 25 will have special meaning for me.

It can for you too. We celebrate life, Christ’s birthday. Christ came into the world so we can have life, and so we can have it more abundantly. That’s the real gift of Christmas, the first gift – God’s greatest gift – for us all.

Whatever place in life you are in at the end of 2021, whatever your personal circumstances, that one gift – Jesus Christ – is all important. We can walk in the light, have fellowship with one another, and be free from sin. (1 John 1:7) thanks to this gift.

As Christmas approaches, take a moment to think about words we don’t often hear. Word that aren’t sung in the World War I truce video. After “Jim” meets “Otto,” the two sides share the spirit of Christmas together. The song playing in the background is “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Some of the words to that song are:

My urologist/oncologist, Dr. Joshua Nething, who treated me with excellence in 2021.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I’d like to leave you with a couple of final thoughts this Christmas season.

ONE – What do you dread or fear? If you put it into the perspective of the arrival of Christ in our lives, that fear or dread could soon be mighty small. His “Everlasting Arms” have carried me through so much, including cancer in 2021. He’ll carry you through as well if you put your faith and trust in Him.

TWO – We all have an “Otto” or an enemy in our lives. What might you do, or how could you live, in this holiday season to show love and kindness to that person?

You too can help make Christmas miraculous in the eyes of those you love and care about, simply by how you reflect Christ’s love – and the gift of Jesus – this holiday season.

If you want to have a conversation about my blog posts, email me at johnkprof@gmail.com or call/text to 234-542-4487.


ACKNOWLEDGING OUR BLESSINGS

November 25, 2021

Reflections from the first national Thanksgiving in 1863

By presidential proclamation, November 26, 1863, was the first day when our entire nation commemorated Thanksgiving. It had been a regional holiday, practiced primarily in New England, prior to President Lincoln taking the step of proclaiming the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Lincoln did so for many reasons, but a foremost one was at the behest of Sara Josepha Hale. A prominent author (“Mary Had a Little Lamb”) and magazine editor, Hale had written letters to seven U.S. presidents dating back to the 1840s, petitioning that the U.S. adopt a national day of Thanksgiving. Lincoln acceded to her request. He also issued proclamations calling for days of prayer, fasting and humiliation several other times during presidency.

REVISITING THE PROCLAMATION

Issued in a horrific Civil War which would eventually claim 700,000 to 750,000 lives, North and South, Lincoln’s Proclamation need to be examined in the context of the era. It’s worth noting that four times as many Americans attended church regularly than voted in the 1860 presidential election. Faith was essential to the lives of both “Yankee” and “Rebel” families, and leaders of both sides in the Civil War regularly lifted fervent prayers to God for deliverance and for victory on the battlefield.

The U.S. was still primarily an agrarian society in the 1860s. While the Proclamation acknowledges growing industrialization in the North, its primary purpose, stated in the first paragraph, was to give thanks to God for a year that “has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”

It also asks that God and Lincoln’s countrymen and women show mercy to the families of the dead and the surviving family members of dead soldiers.  An average of 504 men (and women) died each day due to the Civil War. In the Proclamation, Lincoln commend(s) to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged,” 

Today, 158 years later, we can still learn a lot from the Proclamation that set aside the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens, in Lincoln’s own words. Calamity links 2021 to 1863. Then it was “a great civil war” to use the phrase from the Gettysburg Address. Now it is the lingering global pandemic of Covid-19 and its aftermath.

WE IGNORE THE SOURCE OF OUR BLESSINGS

It seems that the further we move in time from the Civil War, the lesser our nation and society’s reliance upon God. More than 159,600,000 people cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential election. A fraction of that number, about 52 million, worship in church regularly, according to Outreach magazine.

But we don’t need research to demonstrate this. Watch the various television networks, especially the news/talk channels. Peruse “trending topics” on social media. We see God continually marginalized and minimized in our society.

Celebrity gossip, sports and fashion are almost always at the top of the list of what’s popular on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets. You’ll have to look hard to uncover posts about God, or about any faith.

Compare that to how Lincoln’s Proclamation stated that the nation’s wealth and prosperity “are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.” 

WE CAN ONLY HARVEST WHAT WE PLANT

All too often today we ignore the obvious. We gave tens of millions of people unemployment money due to Covid-19 for about 18 months, then we wonder today why there are “Help Wanted” signs everywhere and shortages of workers in virtually every segment of our economy.

Our federal government has granted $900 billion to state and local governments in response to Covid-19. Local governments are healthier, economically, than many have been for many decades. But it’s estimated that we have added about $5.2 trillion to the federal deficit through Covid-19 relief funding.

If we examined the actions of the federal government by the standards of Lincoln’s era, we’re spending far more than we are taking in. Or in agrarian terms, we’re trying to harvest a lot more crops in the fall than the number of seeds we have planted in the spring.

The public recognizes this. In an October 2021 Gallup poll, 52 percent of the American public said that the government is doing too many things that should be left up to individuals and businesses. Among independent voters, 57% now say the same thing, a change of 19 percent in just the past 12 months.

WE REPEAT OUR MISTAKES

It was divisiveness which caused the Civil War. Slave states vs. free states. Only until after Lincoln decisively moved in favor of ending the “house divided against itself” mindset and committed to abolishing slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation and other executive actions did the war move towards a successful prosecution and conclusion.

In what direction are we moving as a nation today? Are we becoming more or less united?

Red states vs. blue states. Vaccinated people vs. unvaccinated people. Even bathrooms are battlefields. About five years ago, the Associated Press news service prepared a series of stories about “Divided America” It’s linked below. In reviewing some of the stories, it struck me that we’ve become even more divisive in many respects than we were just a few years back.

It would be beneficial if we devoted some time this Thanksgiving to unity. Perhaps around the Thanksgiving table we should devote 10 minutes or so to discussing what brings us together as Americans, and try to focus on those values more and more every day instead of issues which further divide us.

“The President quite unwell” but it’s not just the President

On Thanksgiving Day, 1863, the assistant personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln was named John Hay. Later in life Hay would become one of the nation’s most important Secretaries of State. But on November 26, 1863, a 25-year-old Hay was working for Lincoln, and he also happened to be an avid diarist.

He wrote that on that day he heard a sermon from Rev. Dr. Charles Hall at the Church of the Epiphany. Then he added the words quoted above about Lincoln’s health.  And Hay was quite accurate. Lincoln had contracted varioloid fever, a mild form of smallpox.

Eventually Lincoln recovered from this, but others working in the White House died of smallpox later that fall and winter.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2021, our nation is quite unwell. We know it.

There are two things we can do about that.

  1. Just as Abraham Lincoln called upon the nation to do in 1863, we can be praying and petitioning God. We can give Him Thanksgiving for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us and on our land. We can ask Him for healing, for help, and for comfort.

    This is personal for me. Ten months ago I was diagnosed with Stage 3 bladder cancer, and nine month ago with Stage 3A renal failure. I write today medically diagnosed as “N.E.D.” or no evidence of cancer disease in my body after major surgery in late June. I give God thanks and praise for His blessings to me.
  2.  We can choose light, not darkness, in the way we talk and in what we post on social media. We live in ways which unifies people rather than divides them. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)

Backbiting, divisiveness, and conflict cannot exist in the light. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr’s lessons can move us from division to unity at Thanksgiving and throughout the 2021 holiday season.

Kerezy is associate professor of Media & Journalism Studies at Cuyahoga Community College. He’s also been a ministry leader and a contributor to “Pause for Prayer” at Moody Radio Cleveland for nearly 20 years. This is his 111th blog post since the first one in 2007. You can reach him at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu or at 234-542-4487.

SOME SOURCES:

American Experience, PBS “The Civil War by the Number”  https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/death-numbers/

The first Thanksgiving Proclamation can be found in countless places. Each year the Washington Examiner reprints it.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/abraham-lincolns-thanksgiving-proclamation

2020 election turnout: https://www.cfr.org/blog/2020-election-numbers

Church attendance: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

Public opinion on the role of government: https://news.gallup.com/poll/355838/americans-revert-favoring-reduced-government-role.aspx

Covid-19 relief funds to state and local government:  https://www.covidmoneytracker.org/

Role of government:  https://news.gallup.com/poll/355838/americans-revert-favoring-reduced-government-role.aspx

Divided America:  https://www.ap.org/explore/divided-america/

Lincoln’s Health in November 1863: https://www.civilwarprofiles.com/abraham-lincoln-smallpox-and-the-gettysburg-address/


Nick’s story

November 9, 2021

NOV. 9 —  Nick Folkens returns home to the Cincinnati area from Indiana University’s Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center today. He’s now a patient there receiving clinical trial medication aimed at stopping the growth and impact of glioblastoma cancer cells in his brain. 

Nick will soon be entering the 10th year of his cancer battle. It began in December 2012 when, at age 13, he had a grand mal seizure. A CT scan and other diagnostic tests revealed that Nick had a tumor the size of a racquetball, located on the left side of his brain in the frontal and parietal lobes. Anti-seizure and steroid medication helped, but doctors decided surgery was necessary. In a 10.5-hour procedure, they were able to remove about 70 percent of the tumor in February 2013. 

Pathology reveals that Nick’s tumor was a grade 2 (not invasive) diffused Astrocytoma “It was kind of like a splattered egg across my brain, and that’s why they were unable to get it all,” explains Nick. 

The surgery also left the right side of Nick’s body paralyzed. “Slowly, after therapy, everything came back except for my right hand, which was a struggle for me as I’m right-handed,” Nick recalls. He was grateful for the excellent medical treatment he’d received at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center, but at times his condition required more specialized attention.  

At age 13, Nick received a series of 30 proton radiation treatments at Indiana University Medical Center in Bloomington. After that, he has remained on anti-seizure medications. 

“After these (treatments) I went to Archbishop Moeller High School and was able to have a relatively healthy life, with MRI checkups a couple of times a year,” Nick says. But after graduating from high school, brain scans showed the tumor was growing again. So Nick’s doctors elected to do another surgery, this time in December 2017, while Nick was a freshman at Xavier University. 

“A month after my second surgery, my monthly chemotherapy treatments began,” Nick recalls. “In the beginning, everything was going smooth and not a lot of the chemo side effects were kicking in, but when I was almost done with my first year of college, I began to get very sick. I did not realize the toll that chemotherapy would have on my body.  

“Months into my treatments, my blood counts lowered, and I began to feel extremely nauseous for most of the remain treatments. I soon could not step foot into any medical facility without feeling like I was going to vomit,” Nick adds. “The support of family and friends helped me push through the harsh period in my life.” 

Again, pathology indicated that the remaining tumor cells were low grade. As chemo treatments ended, Nick hoped and prayed for a return to normal life. Around this time, he met Elizabeth Carusone, a student at the University of Cincinnati, through a mutual friend. Their first date was at the Newport Aquarium. Soon it was love for them. 

Of course, Nick’s health situation was foremost in his thoughts as their relationship blossomed. “I was even hesitant to tell her about my cancer at the beginning,” he remembers. “I thought it (my condition) would be ‘stable’ again, as it always had been since HS.” 

Elizabeth learned about Nick’s diagnosis from both his words and actions. “He was so scared to take his hat off in front of me,” she recalls. “He kept a hat on for weeks. The first time he took it off I realized that, yes, this (cancer) is for real. He had been treated with chemo, and I I could live with that in the life of a man I loved.”

Their relationship grew and thrived as they and others lived in the shadow of Covid-19. In October 2020 the couple were together at Elizabeth’s family home in Centerville when Nick had another grand mal seizure, passing out on the bathroom floor. “Dad’s an EMT and mom’s a nurse, and they knew just what to do (to save Nick),” Elizabeth says. “But this was something different. This had never happened to Nick in my time of knowing him.” 

Diagnostic tests revealed that the tumor cells were spreading again. Nick had his third surgery in November 2020. This time the pathology contained bad news: The glioblastoma cells had become invasive, and were also higher in intensity. More chemotherapy followed. 

Through it all, their love became even stronger. Nick proposed to Elizabeth in the winter of 2021. She said yes. Elizabeth was wrapping up her studies and obtaining her bachelor’s degree at the University of Cincinnati, helping care for Nick, planning for a wedding, and welcoming a new family member – pet puppy dog  Mowgli – all at the same time. 

Meanwhile, Nick continued on both chemotherapy and physical therapy, having to learn again how to use the right side of his body. Through all this, Elizabeth and Nick were married on September 4. 

On October 12, an MRI revealed that his tumor was still progressing, and it had metastasized to a new area of Nick’s brain.  

Nick’s care team at Children’s Hospital Medical Center had been searching for possible clinical trials for him. Their research resulted in a list of 15 possible medications, and then focused on one, an IDH1 (Nick’s type of glioblastoma) inhibitor drug from Eli Lilly. This is a “genetic marker” drug which is designed to confuse the cancer cells and to stop their growth. 

Nick will be at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis two days each week for the next four weeks, then two days a month afterwards. Fortunately, the medication is administered orally (no more IVs or ports). 

Please pray: 

Pray for God’s will to be done for Nick, and for Elizabeth. Pray that if it be God’s will, that this clinical trial would be a success and that this developing medical would successfully stop the growth of the IDH1 cells in Nick’s brain.

More details about Nick are on his CaringBridge web site: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/staystrongnickfolkens


Early Thanksgiving

October 30, 2021

Thanksgiving came four weeks early this year. On Thursday (October 28) my urologist/oncologist Dr. Joshua Nething gave me the great news that the CT scan and the blood draw, done earlier in the month, are showing N.E.D. or no evidence of disease. Cancer is gone.

 I’ll be getting regular check-ups into 2022 and beyond, but my gratitude for this prognosis is beyond comprehension. Having known so many people who’ve struggled with cancer, and many who are still struggling, it’s a bridled gratefulness. My bladder cancer was caught early enough, and even though it was classified as Stage 3, I was blessed in that the prescribed course of treatment succeeded.  

PART EIGHT IN THIS BLOG
SERIES ON FACING CANCER

So what’s next? There are a few things —

  1. Let my light shine: The battle in the last several months drew me closer and into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. I came to rely on Christ more than the doctors and specialists. The medical community treated the disease. Christ, the Great Physician, treated the whole body and kept my attitude and my heart on a positive and upbeat course throughout the treatment. Now that I’m on the “other side” of this, I want my light to help others on similar journeys. As Paul wrote, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the Glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  2. Share the experience, help others: As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve written a speech titled “The Last Five Minutes” where I discuss my cancer journey. I’m seeking more opportunities to present this story to men’s groups, church groups, and civic groups as well. Email me at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu, as I’d appreciative of the opportunity to speak with your group. Additionally, I’m privileged to help lead a support group for those who are battling cancer, both patients and families/loved ones. Details are below.
  3. Live a more “undirected” life in prayer. There are many things we can never understand because we’re on the wrong side of Heaven. I cannot fathom why I’ve been healed from cancer, when others who are or have been far more worthy of healing haven’t had that happen. But there is a role model for prayer – Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion, Christ used both DIRECTED and UNDIRECTED forms of prayer. He said “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” That’s a direct prayer request. But then Jesus added, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” That is undirected prayer. Jesus asked that God’s will to prevail over his own requests. (Matthew 26: 38-39) My desire is to be more like that, to seek God’s will every time over my own. I also pray that anything that might shade me or hide me from God’s love and light would be removed.


My trust, faith in Christ as my risen Savior, keeps me in the joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, someday I too will experience my own final rising. If you want to know more about this, here a website you can visit: https://godlife.com/

Finally, if you are in NE Ohio and are battling cancer, consider becoming part of Cuyahoga Valley Church’s Cancer Support Prayer Group. We meet virtually once a month, and are planning to move to “live” meetings in January 2022. You can find details by emailing me or Greta Smith at Cuyahoga Valley, gsmith@cvconline.org or at this web site. https://cvconline.org/connect-with-us/

Indeed, Thanksgiving will be most special this November.


Taliban, media and social media

August 20, 2021

Should terrorist organizations be allowed a platform on social media? Three top leaders of the Taliban have 800,000 followers on Twitter. Should those accounts be suspended?

WKJA, Heartfelt Radio’s Gabrielle Collins and Mark Zimmerman interviewed me on this subject on August 19. This is a fast-paced 18-minute interview, loaded with information. Hope you’ll glean some knowledge by listening.

Here is a link to listen to the station: www.heartfeltradio.org


REDEEMED

August 14, 2021

CUYAHOGA FALLS, August 14 – Redemption (noun) rəˈdem(p)SH(ə)n/ (pronunciation) the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. (definition from Oxford Language Dictionary)

Redemption has fallen out of usage nowadays. Our culture doesn’t discuss sin. We don’t see posts about errors on social media. And when we encounter the word “evil” today, it is frequently misused by one group of people to describe the actions of their political opponents.

However, we all do agree that some things are evil. Mention cancer, and there’s unanimous consensus about how horrific this disease is. What I’ve learned about cancer since my diagnosis on January 21 is consistent with the world’s view of it. In past posts on this blog I’ve gone into detail on causes of cancer, and also on aspects of treatment.

On June 28 at 5:25 a.m., I checked into Summa Health for a major surgery involving four organs (two of which were removed) plus biopsies (laboratory examinations) due to my medical condition. I had been diagnosed with stage 3 bladder cancer and stage 3A renal failure in the winter.

Frightened? Of course. Apprehensive? Sure. Afraid? A bit, but more encouraged and uplifted than fearful.

How could that be?

There’s only one answer – God was walking with me through this trial.

How do I know?

Never in my life had I felt so uplifted, so encouraged, as I had as I journey through my diagnoses, through exams, through treatment, and then through surgery. Hundreds of people contacted my wife Kathy and me, telling us how they were praying for us.

At the same time, I felt a sense of assurance and calm which can only come from one source, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. It was as if a gigantic hand put my tiny hand into its immense one, and said “Don’t worry. I’ve got this. Everything’s going to be OK.”

And it was.

Surgery went more than six-and-half-hours. I’m still recuperating nearly seven weeks later, regaining strength and learning how to adjust to life missing a couple of body parts. But I came through the process just fine. That’s a tribute to my surgeon, Dr. Johua Nething, the surgical team and the medical professionals on floor H5 (the new Medical Tower) at Summa, and everyone who cared for me during my five-day stay in the hospital.

It’s also an answer to thousands of prayers.

NED and the more important life


At home recuperating, Dr. Nething called me with excellent news. He told me that the biopsies had all come back “negative” or clear, meaning that at this time there is NED or No Evidence of Disease, in my body. Dr. Nicholas Pleat, my oncologist, re-affirmed this in my appointment with him earlier this week.

Those are the words which people battling against cancer long to hear. There are various acronyms in the world of oncology for this. NEC means no evidence of cancer. NERD means no evidence of residual disease. NERT means no evidence of recurrent tumor. They all add up to the same thing: as near as medical specialists can tell, the disease is gone.

The evil has been removed. I’ve been redeemed.

Grateful? Of course.

Watchful too. I’ll have a follow-up CT scan a couple of months from now, and more follow-ups in the months ahead. The medical team will be on guard for the first couple of years, post-surgery, searching for any recurrence.

But just as NED is great news, we remain prayerful and vigilant. I’ve made changes in my lifestyle, permanent changes for the better.

We continue to pray for many friends and a couple of family members who are still in a battle against this evil. God has plans for everyone, and I learned long ago that there are some things I will not understand on this side of heaven.

One part I do understand: We all have an important decision to make, one with a much greater impact than whether a person shows physical NED. In the book of John, chapters 3 and 4, Jesus speaks with two people who were about as polar opposites as was possible in 1st century Judea. One was Nicodemus. The other, nameless, is a woman at a well in Samaria who had married and divorced five different men.

Nicodemus was a very righteous man with no obvious sins. In fact, he was a recognized spiritual leader. Yet Jesus realized that he had a cancer called sin – a self-righteousness that was, perhaps, undetected by most people. Jesus said he needed to be redeemed by being “born again.” 

There was ample evidence that the Samaritan woman at the well was a sinner. She was an outcast from her society because of her immoral life. She, too, had a cancer called sin. Jesus said that she needed to be redeemed by drinking “living water.”

Both people had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. He became their heavenly Healer. He gave them the good news: NED! For both Nicodemus and the woman at the well redemption meant that there was now No Evidence of the Disease called sin! 

Have you had that personal encounter with Christ? Have you been redeemed? Jesus lived a life we could not live, and died the death we should have died, in order to heal us from our sin. When we receive Him as our Forgiver and Leader, we are redeemed, are “born again,” drink His “living water,” and are also pronounced NED.

Redemption means that Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well and her friends are now enjoying eternity in heaven. Where we spend eternity is far more important than the next CT scan.

JOIN US, AND FINALLY

If you are a member or attendee at Cuyahoga Valley Church and are in the battle against cancer, you too can receive that same envelopment and encouragement I experienced. The church has been a Cancer Support Life Group. The group is holding online prayer sessions on the third Wednesday of every month, and the next session is Wednesday August 18, beginning at 7 p.m. Contact Greta Smith at CVC, gsmith@cvconline.org, or at 440-746-0404, to connect with the group. Its members want to pray for you, support you, and help you in this journey.

And if you are part of a community group, or civic group, I’ve written a speech about my journey with cancer. It’s about a 15-minute speech titled “The Last Five Minutes,” and I’d be glad to share it with your group. Just email me at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu, and put the word SPEAKER into the subject line please. Or text me with that word SPEAKER to 234-542-4487. Glad to speak in person in Northeast Ohio, or virtually elsewhere, about the road I’m on.


LIVING DAY TO DAY

June 15, 2021

Part Six on facing cancer

(Links to past posts are below)

CUYAHOGA FALLS, June 15 — In a couple of weeks, a urological surgeon whom I’ve come to know and trust – Dr. Joshua Nething — will put me into an operating room at Summa Health in Akron. He and his surgical team will then make a handful of small (1 to 1.5 centimeter) incisions into my stomach and abdomen area. From there, Dr. Nething will use robotic arms to conduct laparoscopic surgery on me for 7 to 10 hours.

When the surgery is done, the bladder, prostate, some lymph nodes, tissues and other parts will be removed from my body. These parts now contain, we hope and pray, any remaining cancer which was discovered inside of me back in January. It’s serious business.

How do you feel? Are you worried? What’s going through your mind?

Those are three common questions I’ve been asked as friends, family members and loved ones learn about this upcoming procedure. They are really wondering, “John, how are you making it? How are you doing now, day to day?”  

There’s a simple answer to all these questions.

God. 

God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit, has given me great confidence and even a sense of peace as my date with this surgery approaches.

In a real sense, God has been preparing me for this surgery for almost all of my adult life. How? Through His Word, the Bible.

If you had five minutes with my study Bible, you’d see it’s dripping with ink from underlined passages and notes in the margins. It holds a bit of what I’ve learned in 20+ years at Cuyahoga Valley Church (CVC), and in my faith journey even before Kathy and I joined CVC. My Bible is a time machine in a sense.

There is a great benefit to listening, taking notes, and gleaning insight – or what some call “Aha moments” – from Sunday worship messages and from Bible readings. These have strengthened me, and deepened my relationship with God. It is a great source of comfort and assurance as my trial – the surgery – approaches. 

This is all planned according to God’s will. Paul writes in Ephesians 4 how Christ gave “…the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints (us) for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Verses 11-13)

So, just as squirrels stockpile food in autumn for the winter, God has been “stockpiling” me with wisdom and insight from church leaders and parachurch activities I undertake, such as Bible Study Fellowship, for these trying moments in my life.

So, what truths from God’s Word have I “squirreled away” that are helping me now?

1. God loves to give life. I can look at the notes on Ezekiel, Chapter 37, for example, and my mind goes back to sermon messages at CVC on March 20 and March 27, 2011, when pastors Chad Allen and Rick Duncan were teaching us about how God restores and gives life to even dead and dry bones.

2. Jesus can be trusted. Like many churches, CVC has a regular Bible reading plan. So I can “travel” back to April 2014, when this plan had us all reading the book of Mark. Sleeping in a boat one evening on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was awakened by His disciples. A fierce storm arose on the lake, and the boat was taking on water. Jesus stood, said “Hush, be still.” The winds died down and the waves dissipated. Then Jesus went to the disciples and asked, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4: 35-41)

3. My life is in His hands. In late December 2019, my wife Kathy and I worshipped with our friends Barb and Pete Metzelaars at Steele Creek Church in Charlotte, NC. The message that day came from Matthew 7. In my Bible I boxed and highlighted verse 27 “And who of you, being worried, can add a single hour to his life?” Little did I know how powerfully those 14 words and that morning’s sermon message would resonate with me just 18 months later.

It is God who has carried me and Kathy through so much since my cancer diagnosis back in January. I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, but I’ve been through multiple surgeries (including one removing the tumor in late January) and four cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy already. I’m blessed that so far, I have been able to bounce back from these many challenges.

Below is a part of a “cancer by the numbers” glance which I shared with family members and close friends last week. On January 1, 2021, I had no knowledge whatsoever that I would be facing any of these difficulties and trials.

MEDICAL TREATMENT BY THE NUMBERS IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS 

14  “Hospital outpatient” visits where chemotherapy treatment was administered and/or scheduled (this includes follow-up steroids and fluids)

11  Visits to a doctor’s office (almost all to urologist or oncologist)

4    Diagnostic examinations (four different locations)

   Surgical procedures (two at Summa, one at Parma)

46  Medical claims submitted to health insurance in the last five-and-a-half months (John alone)

0    Number of days overnight in a hospital (this will change soon)

$177,500 plus   Total of medical bills received thus far for my cancer diagnosis and treatment. We thank you God for good health insurance.

So my heart is filled with gratitude towards God and to the goodness of so many others as well. Family members, friends, even strangers have filled our mailbox with cards and notes. People have provided meals, gift cards, devotional books and more, outpouring in support of me. Thank you seems so underwhelming, as these expressions of gratitude have deeply touched my heart. This all helps keep me strong.

Kathy and I continue to keep our focus on friends we have known and new friends we’ve met who have been on much longer paths and roads in their cancer journeys. We also pray for the successful launch of a Cancer Support Group at our church, Cuyahoga Valley Church. The church initiated a monthly prayer ministry for this, and its next meeting is Wednesday, June 16 (virtual) at 7 p.m. If you know of someone whose life is touched by cancer, ask them to connect with Greta Smith at Cuyahoga Valley Church at gsmith@cvconline.org for details about us. We want to pray for, and help, as many struggling with cancer as possible.

Finally – Vin Scully is a national treasure. He was the voice of Brooklyn Dodger and Los Angeles Dodger baseball games on the radio and on television for 67 seasons. Prior to calling a 1991 Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs game, Scully described Cubs outfield great Andre Dawson as having a bruised knee and “is listed as day-to-day,” he said. 

Then Scully paused and added these words: “Aren’t we all?”

So, since you, too, are living day-to-day, what will you do daily to access God’s Word in order to stockpile His wisdom to face some challenges that are sure to come your way someday?

As I face the robot and the knife, I take great comfort in that sentiment. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 remind me not to worry. I’ll be day to day, every day, until the Lord wants me to spend day after day for all eternity someplace else besides on earth. I’ll be with the One who eliminates all reasons for worry, who calms every storm, and who gives life to dry bones forever.

Link to Part V https://wp.me/p9toG-r1

Link to Part IV https://wp.me/p9toG-qf

Link to Part III https://wp.me/p9toG-q1

Link to Part II https://wp.me/p9toG-pA

Link to Part I https://wp.me/p9toG-p5

Next — after surgery — in the margins


Get Up Lad!

May 11, 2021

FIFTH IN A SERIES ON MY BLADDER CANCER

AKRON, May 11 — “Do you have any hearing loss, or ringing in your ears?”

“Do you have nausea, or are you vomiting?”

“Are you feeling dizzy?”

These are a few of the many routine questions nurses at Summa Health ask me on the days when I’m there for chemotherapy treatments.

Chemotherapy isn’t for cowards. Those battling cancer know that the very powerful medications administered to slow the growth of or kill tumor cells also have side effects which can do damage to a healthy body. I am three-fourths of the way through neoadjuvant chemotherapy, prescribed for treatment of my cancer.

I am on schedule to complete this chemotherapy prior to an upcoming surgery which will remove my bladder, along with some adjacent body parts, this summer. Research has demonstrated that this form of chemotherapy improves the odds of the cancer being defeated. Also, there’s no assurance that I’ll be able to have chemotherapy in the future.

Like many others in this battle, it’s usually not just one fight against one health situation we are facing. Some of us also deal with comorbidity factors, or additional adverse conditions often occurring along with a primary disease. For me, the comorbidity is the possibility of kidney damage. The tumor which was removed from my bladder in late January blocked one ureter tube, causing my right kidney to undergo hydronephrosis, or enormous swelling. That was the source of severe pain which put me into the emergency room, which in turn led to the detection and cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

I had the “benefit” of seeing how just how badly swollen one kidney had become during a three-hour renal scan back on my birthday in February. (The medical term for this is a Mag3 diuretic renogram. It showed my right kidney operating at under 20 percent of what would be normal.) As a result, my medical team is carefully monitoring creatinine levels and eGFR numbers as they administer chemotherapy.

This comorbidity makes my treatment a bit more challenging. Kidney toxicity is one of the side effects of cisplatin and gemcitabine, the two main chemo drugs I’m receiving. Through it all, I cannot say enough wonderful about the team of oncology nurses at Summa Health. They care deeply about their patients. They joke about us having “oceanside” and “mountainside” views out the windows of the Jean & Milton Cooper Pavilion there while we receive treatments.

It’s been about 110 days since my diagnosis. I’ve read more than a half-dozen books, visited dozens of websites, and asked a hundred or more questions of a lot of people about my treatment and prognosis. The more I learn, the more apparent it becomes that cancer is something we (humans) allowed into our world.

What are the main causes of bladder cancer? According to the Bladder Cancer Action Network, smokers have 3-4 times the risk of getting bladder cancer. I have never smoked, but my parents did. There are some studies indicating a relationship between second-hand smoking and bladder cancer.

Whites are twice as likely to get bladder cancer than Blacks. The older you become, the greater the odds. Additionally, exposure to man-made chemicals puts people at greater risk. This includes chemicals to make paint products, textiles, dyes, printing materials and rubber.

Where do all these come from? Us.

We humans introduced this into our world. We’ve created a society of trade-offs. We benefit greatly from how we use rubber and its synthetic versions for example, but we live with the fact that a small number of workers employed in this industry will have ill health effects as a result. We accept the trade-offs as a part of our daily lives.

It has been that way since humankind introduced into the world. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul points out that God did so “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption, and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

Cancer is evil. It is a horrible disease, and I’m in the early phase of coming to grips of how it may impact me. But I also know that the groanings of cancer are labor pains of a new creation. God is using this affliction for something better. Paul also writes “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

There’s one outcome we all have with 100 percent certainty, death. Cancer is a poignant reminder of that reality. Something wonderful – heaven – is coming on the other side of our life on earth. I take tremendous reassurance in that.

Another fact from the Bladder Cancer Action Network is this: by 2025, more than 750,000 people in the U.S. will be able to call themselves survivors of bladder cancer. God may count me in that number. But no matter what, victories or setbacks, I will praise God for what He’s done for me and how He’s growing me.

We will all face setbacks in life from time to time. In the 1981 Academy Award-winning film “Chariots of Fire” Scotland’s finest Olympic runner, Eric Liddell, gets knocked down at the beginning of a quarter-mile run. In both real life and in the movie, Liddell bounces back and not only finishes the race, but wins it.

“Get Up Lad, Get Up!” is the exhortation which a coach at the track meet, Sam Mussabini (played by the late great actor Ian Holm) says. Watch it the next time you’re knocked down, and maybe it’ll give you the inspiration to get up too.

END NOTE – I’m completing a speech titled “The Last Five Minutes” which discusses my cancer journey. Health willing, I’ll be glad to give this speech to civic clubs, cancer support groups, and church groups. Email me at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu if you are interested. Please put “The Last Five Minutes” in the subject line of the email.


The best, maybe for last

May 10, 2021

It’s been the most unusual of semesters for me at Cuyahoga Community College. The lingering effects of Covid-19 meant a lack of person-to-person instruction for many of our classes. Additionally, a last-minute adjunct faculty cancellation had me step in and teach a class which I had the privilege of creating for Tri-C. We titled this course “blogging” when it debuted in 2007, but since then we’ve changed its focus and its title a few times. Over the intervening years it became “blogging and social media,” then “social media and blogging” and finally just Social Media Communication, MJS 1320. Many thanks to our student media adviser JIMI IZRAEL for his helping shape this course over the years, by the way.

While I taught 50-plus students in four different classes this spring, the Social Media Communication class and its students got a significant share of my attention. It had been 4-5 years since I last taught the course, and the power and influence of social media has grown immeasurably since then.

The students in the class acquitted themselves very well, mastering the course outcomes we at Tri-C have established for the course. The three major objectives of MJS 1310 are to monitor real-time conversations using social media and online tools, to develop or review a strategic social media plan for a philanthropic or social justice cause, and to learn about and evaluate the journalistic and PR/promotional usage of social media based on best practices.

Social Media & Facebook Live event on May 20

Most of the students did quite well in all three of these categories. Additionally, I want to express my gratitude for the following organizations for involving these students in some aspects of their social media activities or planning:

  • North Coast Athletic Conference
  • D-Day Ohio
  • Benjamin Media
  • Cuyahoga Valley Church
  • Unify Labs
  • Building Hope in the City

THANK YOU for providing our Social Media Communication students with some great opportunities.

This marks the completion of my 18th year of serving as an instructor/professor at Cuyahoga Community College (both full and part-time). I will be teaching MJS 1320 Film Appreciation and COMM 1010 Public Speaking over the summer. I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing in the fall semester. Health willing I hope to be back in the classroom, and seeing students live in a classroom setting once again come August.

FINALLY – Special thank you to Adam Sennott, President, and the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. They are holding a Facebook Live event on Thursday, May 20, and I’m the lead discussant on the program’s focus, which is China’s growing media influence. This is an outgrowth of my research and studies about Disinformation and Disinformation Campaigns in 2019-2020. Media Warfare has been an integral part of the Chinese Communist Party’s “Three Warfares” strategy for nearly 20 years.  With the help of journalists Mary Hui (left, below) and Eric Wishart, we hope to educate and inform others in the Fourth Estate about China’s strategies and tactics with respect to news and information. It’s vital information. Here is a link to the program: https://fb.me/e/1n5AlZbOb

It’s an honor to do this Facebook Live event. CNN’s Don Lemon was the last person to present in this format at SPJ New England, so we have a challenging act to follow.


C C C E E E *

April 2, 2021

* Short for Covid, Cancer, Cross, Easter, Eyewitnesses and Exam

By JOHN KEREZY

APRIL 2, 2021 — Fill in the blank: “I had no idea that I would be experiencing _________________ in the 12 and a half months following the onset of Covid-19.”

What would you write into the blank space? No doubt we’ve all experienced challenges in the last year. Life interruptions, unexpected obstacles, difficulties, disappointments, and distressing news are just some of things that probably come to mind.

So some might ask this: “Are you content with the amount of strength, hope, faith, and courage you’ve had to deal with these trying times?”

My “fill in the blank” is pretty easy. Soon I will celebrate the first Easter since my cancer diagnosis in late January. Nothing changes a life like cancer, and certainly one views important days such as Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday quite differently after learning you have cancer.

People battling this dreaded disease have a deeper perspective about death. Some of them know that 2021 could be the last time they commemorate Easter on Earth. I’m blessed. My diagnosis and treatment are very favorable. I should be around for many more Easter Sundays.

Not so for Timothy Keller. Rev. Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, overcame thyroid cancer nearly 20 years ago. Late last year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, just was he was working on his latest book, titled Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter.

Recently Keller wrote an article in The Atlantic, titled “Growing My Faith in the Face of Death.” In it he writes this:  

I pray this prayer daily. Occasionally it electrifies, but ultimately it always calms: And as I lay down in sleep and rose this morning only by your grace, keep me in the joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, I will someday know my final rising, because Jesus Christ lay down in death for me, and rose for my justification.

The good news which Keller, millions of Christians, and I all share is what is known as justification. One can find details about this in reading Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Chapter 5, Paul compares Adam with Jesus Christ. Adam died a sinner, and it was the immorality of Adam and Eve which introduced evil and sin into our world. By contrast, Christ, “through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” (verse 18)

That is the essence of Good Friday, the meaning of the cross. Christ placed the burden of humanity’s sins on himself, and sacrificed His own life as justification – or substitution for — those sins. Jesus did this in a most horrific of ways, voluntarily subjecting himself to a physically brutalizing death on a cross just outside Jerusalem.

But the next part of the story is even more critical. It is Christ’s resurrection from death, which we celebrate at Easter, that is the single most important event in recorded history. Parts of Romans, Chapters 4 and 6 contains details of why this is important. God raised — resurrected — Jesus from the grave. This means that Jesus’ sacrifice of himself was accepted as atonement, and that through the resurrection God tell us people that we too are free from the wages of sin. “But for our sake,” Paul writes in Romans 4:24-25 “…it will be credited, as those who believe in Him (God) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

The resurrection represents victory, triumph over death and sin, for anyone who believes in Christ. And the resurrection was real and physical. After Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ met with his disciples and others in and around Jerusalem. He walked for hours with two men (Luke 24). He met with friends and followers (Matthew 28, Mark 16, John 20-21, Act 1), and ate meals with them. He was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses, including 500 at one event, AFTER His death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15: 3-8). The resurrected Christ proves God’s acceptance of Jesus’ body and blood sacrifice for us.

These eyewitnesses are important, as they serve to verify events. Right now our nation is riveted to the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer sitting in judgment for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring. Prosecutors are presenting witnesses and eyewitness testimony in court proceedings.

Eyewitnesses who see activities and events are routinely asked to testify in legal proceedings. The bible record tells us there were more people on earth who saw the resurrected Christ than those who witnessed what happened to George Floyd last May. (Of course there were no videos during Jesus’ time on earth.)

Sacrificial death, victory over the grave, and the resurrected Jesus are all basic tenets of faith – the evidence of things unseen – for believers of Christ. And those who believe know that they will have an eternity of Easter Sunday celebrations in heaven after their last Easter on earth. Christ Himself told us about this in the book of John, Chapter 3.

These facts give Timothy Keller and tens of millions of believers like him across the globe a rock-solid reassurance. They also give me great comfort about eternity in April 2021, my first Easter with cancer.

If you’ve read this far, why not spend a minute more and take a grade-yourself type exam, a self-assessment? 

You may not have been diagnosed with cancer, but you probably have experienced something that interrupted your life that was both disappointing and difficult. 

Thinking about that interruption to your life that has been disappointing and difficult, take the following self-assessment. Give yourself a score on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high.

___ The fact that I know for certain that I will have an eternity of Easter Sunday celebrations in heaven after my last Easter on earth has given me strength as I faced my recent disappointing and difficult circumstances.

___ The reality of the resurrection of Christ gives me a rock-solid reassurance and great comfort that I will one day experience a resurrection, too.

___ My trust, faith in Christ as my risen Savior, keeps me in the joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, I will someday experience my own final rising. 

___ When I face distressing difficulties that may have a disappointing outcome, I still have hope because I believe that Jesus Christ lay down in death for me and rose for my justification.

Where did you score highest? Where did you score lowest? What steps could you take in order to grow your faith and increase your hope?

If you’d like to learn more about the kind of hope mentioned in this blog, visit: https://godlife.com

Kerezy is an associate professor of media and journalism studies at Cuyahoga Community College. He has been blogging since 2007, has contributed to “Pause for Prayer” at Moody Radio Cleveland for more than 15 years, and has served for decades in ministry in Northeast Ohio. You can email him at johnkprof@gmail.com


Out of the (comfort) zone

February 10, 2021

Ever go into a prison? I have, and the process takes you way out of your comfort zone. You surrender everything in your pockets and/or purse. You’re subjected to an extensive search. You are watched constantly, and under video surveillance, as you spend time with the inmate you are visiting. You finish with a heart of gratitude that you are able to leave, and that you’re not the person on the inside of the walls and fences. Prison is a place most of us would give anything to avoid.

In 1973-74, Charles “Chuck” Colson was at the epicenter of Watergate. He had served as special counsel to then President Richard Nixon, and he’d committed crimes. Prosecutors gave him an option of pleading guilty for a less serious offense (conspiring to break into Daniel Ellsberg’s office), probably evading jail time and perhaps even keeping his law license. But Colson refused, because it would mean lying. Colson had recently accepted Christ into his life and he couldn’t bear the idea of telling lies, even to save his own skin.

Chuck Colson’s
prison “mug shot”

Instead, Colson chose to plead guilty to a lesser offense, “disseminating derogatory information to the press about Daniel Ellsberg while he was a criminal defendant.” Because he wouldn’t plea bargain with the Watergate Special Prosecutor, Judge Gerhard Gesell gave Colson a sentence of up to three years in federal prison. Heading for jail, he was undeterred. “What happened in court today was the court’s will and the Lord’s will,” Colson told the media. “I have committed my life to Jesus Christ, and I can work for him in prison as well as out.” Little did he know how prophetic those words would become.

On July 8, 1974 – one month before Nixon resigned the Presidency – Colson became federal prisoner number 23226. Soon he was at Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Alabama. Although he faced death threats, Colson decided to begin a Bible Study while in jail. He helped prisoners who couldn’t read or write with their parole letters. And he volunteered to do menial jobs, such as mopping floors, while incarcerated. Going from Brooks Brothers suits to orange-and-black prison stripes was way out of the comfort zone for Colson, a Marine whose pedigree included Brown University and George Washington Law School. Upon his release in 1975, Colson returned to Maxwell soon after — as a visitor. He had developed a heart to help and to serve those in prisons.

Eventually Colson formed Prison Fellowship International, a non-profit which now has 500 staff and board members and 33,000 volunteers working to improve the lives of prisoners in nearly 100 countries across the globe. Prison Fellowship has had more than a third of a million prisoners graduate from its “The Prisoner’s Journey” Bible study and leadership training program. Chuck Colson’s life became another example of what many call the “Genesis 50:20 plan” when Joseph told his brothers that what others had intended for evil, God made for good.

*  *   *   * *  *   *   * *  *   *   * *  *   *   * *  *   *   *

So you’re probably thinking, “How does Kerezy’s story about prison Chuck Colson relate to what he’s going through?” I’ve been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Some consider cancer worse than prison. God’s not telling me that. He has simply pulled me out of my comfort zone, and at the same time he’s challenging me to put my full faith and trust in Him. I’ll soon be facing some hard times, as both chemotherapy and surgery are in the treatment plan for me later in 2021. But I’m feeling confident that I’m at the right place, at the right time, for the right purpose.

My unbelievably supportive wife Kathy is now also becoming a nutrition coach. She’s reading up on diet and foods for my type of cancer, and she’s purchased over-the-counter vitamins and supplements to help build up my immune system as I begin chemotherapy. There are going to be a lot more fruits and vegetables in my daily meals. Fortunately, we have an excellent company in Northeast Ohio named Vitamix which produces the highest quality of blending machines, and one of those will be in use a lot in our kitchen going forward.

I am so blessed. Kathy and I want to thank everyone for the cards, letters, meals and advice which we’ve received. More than a thousand people read my blog about my diagnosis. There’s a link to it below if you haven’t done so and want to know more about what’s happening to me.

One thing is certain: Cancer has me out of my comfort zone, but it won’t imprison me. I’ll continue my daily life as much and as well as I can. Not knowing how I’ll respond to chemotherapy, I am preparing “just in case” lessons if end up needing a substitute instructor to step in for my classes at Cuyahoga Community College. Kathy and I are preparing for the worse, but praying, hoping and believing the best.

*  *   *   * *  *   *   * *  *   *   * *  *   *   * *  *   *   *

Some time back, Facebook began offering its users the option of using the platform as a fund raiser for causes. Many of us have donated to charities and to special funds for people facing severe medical situations. I’m not in the camp of needing assistance, so I want to help others. For years, Kathy and I have supported various ministries which have helped those in prison.

Helping the homeless is one of the
many outreaches of True Freedom Ministries
. Picture is from their website.

So for my 64th birthday, coming February 22, I’m asking friends, classmates and family members to help us in supporting True Freedom Ministries. Based in Cleveland, True Freedom (TF) is True Freedom (TF) Ministries is an evangelical, non-profit organization dedicated to reaching people locked in jails and prisons, the homeless, and those trapped in addiction across Ohio with the Gospel message. TF also operates a homeless ministry and an addiction recovery ministry.  TF relies heavily on funds generated from its annual banquet. The 2020 TF banquet was virtual due to Covid-19 and as a result, giving is significantly down.

TF is a ministry partner of Cuyahoga Valley Church (CVC), my congregation.  CVC has provided sermons for TF which are currently being broadcast in 21 of the 30 Ohio prisons, reaching 31,000 inmates. You can find out more about this ministry (and if you’d rather, you can give directly to them) at this website:  https://www.truefreedomministries.com/ Or you can donate to Facebook through this link:
https://www.facebook.com/donate/860533618063664/ I don’t quite have the contacts and influences that Chuck Colson had, but I’m hoping to raise $3,000 for True Freedom Ministries in this manner. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE for your support of this terrific cause.

Finally, I want to welcome 16 special “new friends” I have reading my blogs. They are students in my MJS 1320 Social Media Communication class. I am privileged to help direct and guide them into learning about ways to use social media more effective for themselves and their careers. They will be doing their own purpose-based social media posts and blogs in the weeks ahead. The best ones will appear on the website www.eyeoncleveland.com, a site I set up several years ago to showcase some of the work of my students. Hope you’ll visit it sometime.

Stay Safe. Stay Strong. Strive for ways to make a positive difference when you too find yourself out of your comfort zone.

PS — Author JCL Faltot did an interview with me for his “The Narrative Lens” podcast recently. We covered a lot of territory about the media today, and a bit about my background as well. If you’re interested, here is a link to it: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-2cfdy-f92320 

SOURCES

Metaxas, Eric “7 Men,” Nelson Books, Copyright 2013 and 2015

http://pfi.org

https://www.truefreedomministries.com/


A group no one wants to join

January 27, 2021

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Jan. 27 — Around New Year’s Day I began experiencing sharp discomfort in my right side, below my ribs and above my hips. I took some ibuprofen each day, expecting the pain to subside. Instead it got worse, eventually becoming too difficult to bear. I called my doctor, Dr. George Saridakis, whose office said, “get to an emergency room.” Tuesday, January 5, found me at Western Reserve Hospital

There the radiology tech took some CT scans. Next they gave me a contrast dye cocktail to drink and put me through the machine again. About 30 minutes later, the ER’s MD informed me that I had an approximately 2 cubic centimeter “something” in my bladder area. The descriptive word LESION is on the discharge papers. I was referred to an Akron area urologist, Dr. Joshua Nething, and given an appointment for Thursday, January 21. They told me, going in, the expectation was that Dr. Nething could remove this lesion through a probe.

That’s not exactly how it turned out.

At the medical appointment, Dr. Nething’s face did a 180-degree change when he saw the “something” on his camera. At about 11:40 a.m. he said to me, “John you have cancer.”

Those weren’t the words I’d anticipated. Suddenly I was in a group one no one ever wants to join, a life shattering one we’d all want to avoid.

Other Examples: There is an organization called Compassionate Friends, and while perhaps we know people who might “qualify” you really would not choose to be in this one, as it is a support group for those who’ve lost a child to early death.  Kathy and I were “Blue Star” parents when our son Tyler was in the Marines. Gold Star parents are those who have lost a son or daughter in combat, defending freedom. We know Gold Star parents. It’s a difficult road for them each and every day.

Almost all of us have friends and/or relatives who’ve been on the road with cancer. We don’t want to travel down that road, because despite constantly-improving research and treatment, one branch off that road leads to the end.

My first day with cancer was a good one. Dr. Nething had a cancellation on his surgical schedule, so I accepted a 5 a.m. appointment on Friday, January 22, for surgery at Summa Hospital in Akron.

Kathy and I spread the word about this to a few friends on Thursday night. We are SO GRATEFUL for all the prayers and well wishes we received then, and that we keep on receiving.

Everyone at Summa was excellent. I hit the operating room around 7 a.m., slid over to the operating table, and the anesthesiologist had me out in minutes. (For those who want to know more specifics, the procedure I underwent is called TURBT.)

I came too around 8:15 a.m. in a recovery room, and immediately turned into a motormouth as the anesthesia began to wear off and the nurse there put me through post-operative steps. Dr. Nething did not see me, but he talked with Kathy. He said:

  1. They got the tumor out, but it was bigger than the CT scan at Western Reserve had indicated.
  2. He “scraped” (his words) around the tumor to take out as much additional tissue as he dared, without rupturing the bladder wall.
  3. He knows there is still more cancer there.
  4. “It looks ugly.” Those were his exact words.

We are SO BLESSED. The head of surgery at Summa, Dr. Eric Espinal, is an old speech and debate friend. I coached all three of his children at Revere High School. (Aside – time flies. Two of them are now in medical school.) He chatted with Kathy and me for a couple of minutes before we left on Friday. The care I received there has been excellent. Then came more blessings. Food, visits, and words of comfort came at Kathy us from so many friends and neighbors — already — that I’m losing count.

Me awaiting surgery on January 22, protected by a “Wabash Always Fights” mask and reading the New Testament Daily Devotional which Cuyahoga Valley Church is using in 2021

We realize today that a more thorough diagnostic scan, a complete biopsy report, and follow-up treatment recommendations are in my near future. But there are a few things I know right now:

  • KATHY’S BEEN A ROCK FOR ME. She has been a source of strength and comfort ever since that night in the E.R. (and they wouldn’t let her accompany me there due to Covid.)
  • I WILL FIGHT THIS. It has been apparent for a long time that God has placed me with people, places and situations to ensure a better future for me. When I went to Wabash College eons ago, I learned the college’s athletic motto “Wabash Always Fights” applies to more than just the sports fields. I’m listening better than ever now. I’m a learner again. I am going to soak in everything my doctors and others have to teach me about this. I will do what I can in this battle to win. It is way too early to assess how it will unfold, so at this juncture the preparation is more mental and spiritual.
  • THIS BATTLE BELONGS TO GOD, NOT ME, and God’s ways are FAR better than mine. If God takes me home in 2021 or 2031 or 2041, that’s His timing, His choosing. I’ve lived a full and terrific life. Each day is a blessing.

For the past several years, one of my favorite Bible verses has been Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul, the writer of this book, is telling the readers in Philippi that he, they, and all of us need to press on in our faith journeys.

My prayers are for the strength needed to press on, to face this with courage and faith. I’m also praying that there are still stories out there which God wants me to tell.

Psalm 18: 31-34

For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?

The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.

He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and he set me secure on the heights.

He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

I will post about the battle on this blog site from time to time. I’m blessed with thousands of friends, and you are welcome to stay connected with me at johnkprof@gmail.com if you wish. You’re also welcome to post comments. I would ask you to “friend” me on Facebook if you seek more regular updates on my health.

Stay strong. Stay safe.


Polarizing the results

November 8, 2020

Imagine there is a nation hostile to the United States wanting to further divide our country. Suppose it began by helping convince partisans of one side (let’s call them Democrats) that they were going to win the November 2020 election in a landslide.

But on Election Day, no overwhelming majority for one candidate or party emerged. Instead it was seen as a nail-biter of a contest, with both Democrats and Republicans going to bed on November 3-4 believing that “their” side had won.

Image from Cuyahoga Valley Church, Fall 2020

Next came dramatic changes, fairly quickly, in the official state vote counts. Many in the public saw election results in a half-dozen states (namely Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania) all indicating that one candidate for president (named Trump) was ahead on election night, then – day after day – state after state ended up having official results which favored the other candidate (named Biden). In some of these states, vote tabulations had been suspended for a period of time, and when they resumed there were immediate and dramatic changes in official counts by tens of thousands of votes in favor of one presidential candidate.

By Saturday, four days after the election, candidate Trump was expected to win in only one of these six states where votes had him ahead on election night. As the results from the state where a U.S. Supreme Court Justice issued a temporary restraining order concerning some of the ballots – Pennsylvania – finally came in, the news media declared that candidate Joe Biden had won and was now President-elect Biden.

Could Suzanne Collins or John Grisham write a better thriller?

Tragically though, this is all true. It is also fraught with horrific implications for our democracy. From the White House to the Biden house in Greenville, Del., on to the 50 state capitals to the court system, and eventually to 1 First Street NE in Washington DC (home of the U.S. Supreme Court), we had better do all we can to get the story right. If we don’t, then we collectively allow the Washington Post’s slogan of “Democracy dies in darkness” to become reality.

Let’s try to unravel what’s happened in the last several days.

  • THE POLLS

“How could these polls be so wrong?” That’s a question which many of us are asking. On Thursday, President Trump uttered the term “suppression polls” to describe what he and others believe, that some surveys were intentionally designed and conducted to discourage voters from even casting ballots.

Does the evidence support this? Let’s look at one state, Wisconsin, for an answer.

On October 28, ABC News/Washington Post announced results from a poll it commissioned on voters’ opinions in Michigan and Wisconsin. That poll shows Joe Biden had a 17 percentage point preference over Donald Trump in Wisconsin.

Later that same day, Marquette University Law School (based in Wisconsin) released a poll, the latest in a series of polls it conducted about various candidates and issues there. That poll (and the one before it) indicated just a 5-point percentage preference for Biden.

On Election Day 2020 in Wisconsin, Biden received 49.6 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 48.9 percent, a difference of 0.7% (and about 20,500 votes). If one closely reads the methodology of both surveys, the ABC/Washington Post poll claimed a margin of error of 4 percent and the Marquette University claimed a margin of error of about 4.4 percent among likely voters. Therefore, the Marquette Poll team can state its poll was accurate within its range of error.

No so for the ABC News/Washington Post survey, which was off by more than 12 percent compared to Election Day balloting AFTER taking into account the margin of error. Links to stories about both polls are below, as well as a PDF from Langer Associates (ABC’s long-time polling firm) explaining its methodology. In the methodology, Langer reports that it intentionally oversampled one party (Democrats) over another (Republicans) as it drew up its survey population.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/covid-surge-hurts-trump-wisconsin-biden-leads-closer/story?id=73834112

https://law.marquette.edu/poll/

Readers can make up their own minds. In my opinion, some of these polls were sampled and conducted in such a way that they intentionally came up with results which did not match the sentiment of the voters as they cast ballots, before or on Election Day. The motivations of media outlets commissioning the polls are certainly worth examining, if we are desirous of seeking truth and having integrity in the election process. (Aside to ABC News: it may not be a good journalistic practice to let the president of the polling firm you’ve hired write the story about the poll on your web site.)

  • THE LAW AND LAWSUITS

Did you know that more than 300 legal challenges to the 2020 elections have been filed in dozens of states BEFORE election day, many of them by Democratic interests? Due to (you guessed it) Covid-19, both political parties sought changes to the ways in which voters could legally cast ballots in this month’s election.

There are three main categories of legal challenges in the works:

  1. OBSERVING/TIMING: Almost all states have laws permitting representatives of both parties to monitor the counting of the ballots to ensure the count or canvassing is done properly. In at least two states (Michigan and Pennsylvania) it appears that one party has been prohibited from having representatives observe. If that’s the case — as it violates the law — those ballots would then be in jeopardy of not being counted due to the illegal actions of local elections officials.

    In at least two states (Pennsylvania and Georgia) elections officials violated the laws passed by their own state legislatures by allowing votes received after 8 p.m. on election day to be counted. This is part of the basis of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s temporary injunction against Pennsylvania (mentioned above), requiring it to set apart all ballots received after the 8 p.m. election day deadline. Treating ballots which come in after an election is over as legitimate is tantamount to inviting unscrupulous people to cheat the system. Same thing with prohibiting observers from watching vote tabulations. Malevolent forces are far less likely to attempt to cheat if they’re being watched.

  2. TAMPERING: Another issue is either collecting ballots illegally (harvesting) or collecting ballots in such a way that makes it possible to change or tamper with the ballot itself. While some states allow forms of ballot harvesting (where the person who cast the ballot isn’t the person who turns it in), many states prohibit the practice. A case of ballot harvesting by a Republican campaigner in 2018 in North Carolina resulted in the overturning of a Congressional election. There were numerous reporters assigned to cover this story, in The New York Times and elsewhere. A link below goes to the Times story. (HINT to journalists: This is no time to be lazy. Do your job and investigate these yourself. Writing “The president, without evidence” is abrogating your own responsibility as a reporter to seek the truth, then report it.)

  3. FRAUD: This is perhaps the easiest to understand. The Republican Party in Nevada, has asked Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate two different aspects of the board of elections’ operation there. In one, it appears than more than 3,000 people who have moved out of the state were sent absentee ballots despite the elections board knowing they citizens have moved. (See below) Yes, every vote counts, but obviously some people might end up with opportunities to vote twice (or more) if they were mailed ballots from different states. Again, you can download this evidence yourself. It’s at the end of this post, courtesy of the work of reporter Catherine Herridge of CBS News.

This election is the largest turnout in U.S. history. About 74 million people casts ballots for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, the most ever. More than 70 million cast their ballots for Donald Trump-Mike Pence, the second most ever. Yet it is a razor-close contest still. If just two votes per precinct (on average) were changed among the unofficial results in five states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — 63 electoral votes would switch along with the outcome of the election.

FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY

What’s next?

If he wants to lead all the people, as he stated in the election campaign and repeated in his speech on Saturday night, Joe Biden should call upon all election officials everywhere in every state to fully cooperate with all investigations into illegalities in the election system. So should Donald Trump.

For that matter, so should every American who believes that the integrity of the elections process is important. If you think every vote should count, ought you also believe that ballots cast illegally should not count? This is not a Republican “thing” or a Democratic “thing.” It’s much bigger than that. The integrity of the voting process and our right to freely choose our leaders is what truly hangs in the balance right now.

For that same reason, we should also resolve to fix the problems in our election and ballot counting system so this doesn’t happen again. Writing in The Hill, Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley has repeatedly pointed out flows in the current voting system. In that publication on Thursday, he said this:

“Legal analysis in a presidential election is often like doing a medical evaluation of a patient in full cardiac arrest while riding a moving roller coaster. For a country on the edge about rioting and claims of unfolding ‘coups,’ this is hardly an ideal condition for dispassionate legal analysis.”

Professor Turley is right. But it’s also the predicament we find ourselves in at the end of the first full week of November in 2020. Patience remains a virtue. Remember, it wasn’t until December 12, 2000, that the U.S. Supreme Court issued the ruling which resolved the presidential election that year. Getting it right is far more important than getting it quick.

The U.S. is a democratic republic, not a banana republic. We should follow the will of the voters and the rule of law 100 percent of the time, and Joe Biden, Donald Trump, the 144 million or so people who casted ballots in this election, and all other Americans should want it the same way.

Integrity should be more important than outcome. All who love democracy would want to have judges and our wisest leaders affirming the outcome of a presidential election. Proverbs 11:`14 reads “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Critically important: Once the 2020 election is resolved, through official certification of vote counts, court rulings, or a combination of both, we should all acknowledge the winners as the legitimate President and Vice President of the U.S. The inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. faces enormous challenges. We should all take steps to defuse the further polarization of our country.

In a future post, we’ll examine the role of Big Media in 2020 as well. It is very disconcerting to see Facebook and Twitter taking such aggressive steps toward removing users’ posts from their social media platforms. The two have very different approaches, but both become publishers when they make judgments about removing content. As I tell my MJS 1010 students, Who Decides Who Decides?

QUICK ASK

If you haven’t done so, would you pay some attention to the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA) website? It has developed a wealth of information and resources, including a “rumor control” Question and Answer section about the 2020 elections. You will continue to see misinformation and disinformation about the vote count on your social media feeds. Don’t spread something which is not true. Here’s a link to CISA’s web site.

https://www.cisa.gov/rumorcontrol

At end: remember the beginning of this blog?

Of course, other nations have been operating disinformation campaigns to influence how we American think and vote in 2020. Just Thursday, the Justice Department announced that it has seized 27 web sites set up by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard. The purpose of the sites, some of them disguised as news websites, was to further ferment disinformation and dissention into our national dialogue about the outcome of the election. “The FBI is aggressively investigating any evidence of foreign influence and the unlawful spread of disinformation by hostile nations,” said Craig D. Fair, FBI special agent in charge.  

We’ll review more about this – Disinformation from China, Russia, Iran and others — in the weeks ahead. Below are the documents mentioned above in this post.

SOME SOURCES USED

https://www.wbay.com/2020/10/28/biden-leads-trump-by-17-points-in-wisconsin-in-abc-newswashington-post-poll/

https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/524577-the-three-states-to-watch-as-election-challenges-mount

https://thefederalist.com/2018/12/14/ballot-harvesting-became-new-way-steal-election/


Trust, verify, analyze, and Try Three

September 4, 2020

CUYAHOGA FALLS, SEPT. 4, 2020 — TRUST – (noun) Firm belief in the character, strength, or truth of someone or something. Trust is a critically needed cornerstone of any democracy. Today the trust supply is rapidly dwindling. Tragically, research indicates there is little or no trust in the media as we enter the last 60 days before the 2020 election. Rather than serving its important “Fourth Estate” functions of speaking the truth and keeping an objective eye on government, the media is perceived as a part of the problem.

On Monday (Aug. 31), Pew Research Center released a comprehensive report on how Americans view the media. The basis of the research was two polls, a survey of 10,300 U.S. Adults in Feb-March and a second survey of 13,200 adults August 3-16. Here is a one-paragraph excerpt:

“Many Americans remain skeptical toward the news media, questioning not only the quality of journalists’ work but their intentions behind it. For instance, no more than half of U.S. adults have confidence in journalists to act in the best interests of the public, or think that other Americans have confidence in the institution. And the public is more likely than not to say to say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on.” (Emphasis added.)

There is also a sizable “trust gap” between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the media. The Pew Report says this:“Six-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents cite a desire to mislead audiences as a major reason why significant mistakes make their way into news stories, compared with about a third of Democrats (32%) who feel this way.”

Earlier this summer, Gallup and the Knight Foundation released findings from an exhaustive “2020: Trust, Media & Democracy” report. For it, Gallup & Knight polled more than 20,000 U.S. adults. They found this: “…deepening pessimism and further partisan entrenchment about how the news media delivers on its democratic mandate for factual, trustworthy information. Many Americans feel the media’s critical role of informing and holding those in power accountable is compromised by increasing bias. As such, Americans have not only lost confidence in the ideal of an objective media, they believe news organizations actively support the partisan divide. (Emphasis added.)

Many people go a step further, blaming our nation’s divide on the press. Overall, 74 percent of Americans place either a great deal or a moderate amount of blame on the news media for political divisions in the U.S. Republicans (75%), Men (55%) Whites (54%) and Independents (51%) place a great deal of blame on the news media.

Here is a link to this from Pew Research: https://www.journalism.org/2020/08/31/americans-see-skepticism-of-news-media-as-healthy-say-public-trust-in-the-institution-can-improve/

Here’s a link to the full report:

The Gallup/Knight survey is especially troubling in that about 70 percent of Americans now say that bias in news coverage is a “major problem” in our democracy. Those who report on and write stories for our media have a tremendous credibility problem right now. The survey breaks down as follows:

• Too much bias in the REPORTING of news stories that are supposed to be objective (73%)

• Too much bias in the SELECITON of what stories news organizations cover or don’t cover (70%)

• An increasing number of news sources reporting from a PARTICULAR POINT OF VIEW (such as conservative or liberal) rather than being neutral (69%)

One might surmise that the sharpest differences in trust center around coverage of the 2020 elections, but it goes deeper still. In news reports on the Coronavirus we are witnessing a dismaying lack of public trust in the media. In another Pew Research survey, conducted in June, by a two-to-one margin, the public then was seeing MORE partisan viewpoints in news about the Coronavirus outbreak. By 41 to 22 percent, the public said Coronavirus news coverage was more partisan rather than less so.

This is especially important, as the Centers for Disease Control have asked states to make preparations to begin the administration of a Coronavirus vaccine by November 1. Only in 2020, where hyper politization of all aspects of life has happened, would medical and political officials react negatively to the news of a vaccine inoculating us against a disease which has killed 180,000 Americans. The CDC announced this “get ready to vaccinate” news via a letter to state health officials, and additionally indicated that it’s anticipating a vaccine permit application from McKeeson Corp, which has contracted with CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.

We are all witnessing the growing divisiveness in response to Covid-19, where health, science, government and politics have intersected with the arrival of the virus. It was an estimate from Imperial College, London, that as many as 2.2 million Americans would die of Covid-19 which set off both alarms, propelled state and federal governments into draconian action, and created hysteria over Covid-19. We have now lived through the first-ever quarantine of just about our entire population — healthy people — in response to this pandemic. While staying at home we consumed an all-time high amount of social media “news” about the pandemic.

And that’s part of the problem. Perhaps we should have listened more closely when the World Health Organization warned us about an “infodemic” of misleading information about the disease. Yet all of us have seen, and some of us have been part of, controversies playing out in the public square over:

  • When to re-open businesses
  • Whether to mandate masks
  • When and how to restart K-12 schools
  • When and how to resume in-person college learning

What are the facts? What evidence should guide our decision-making? How firm is the character, strength, or truth of Coronavirus information? We Americans are continuing to pay a steep price for a lack of trust.

VERIFY

VERIFY (verb) – Make sure or demonstrate that (something) is true, accurate, or justified. Isabella Garcia-Camargo sounded the alarm on Saturday evening (August 29). Garcia-Camargo had investigated malicious narratives across social networks with the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), and she’s also helped the SIO launch its Election Integrity Project.

Watching videos on her Twitter accounts, she saw a murder. Michael Forest Reinoehl shot and killed Aaron  “Jay” Danielson during protests that night in downtown Portland. (There are news accounts all over the media about this. Reinoehl went into hiding after the shooting. There was a warrant issued for his arrest. The U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task force found Reinoehl Thursday evening in nearby Washington state, and Reinoehl was killed in exchanging gunfire with the U.S. Marshals.)

But for Garcia-Camargo on Saturday, It wasn’t simply one video catching her attention. She quickly came across FIVE different versions of “enhanced videos” of the murder in her news feed. Some were sped up. Others were slowed down. Garcia-Camargo concluded her Tweet with the words “be cautious w/ what you amplify right now.” You can read her Tweet below.

What is happening in the U.S. this summer cries out for changes in social media platforms. Evil actors are intentionally putting false or misleading stories, photos and videos across social media, and counting on us – on you – to spread misinformation. Here are two more examples:

  1. In June, the Wall Street Journal reported that people operating social media accounts based in Pakistan and Botswana had posted supposedly “live” videos of policy brutality against Blacks in the U.S., and that these videos were viewed at least 20 million times before they were taken off social media platforms. In the violent aftermath, tens of thousands of people have been arrested, and at least 29 people have lost their lives. One cannot estimate how much the 20 million plus views of fake videos contributed to the violence which accompanied the protests, but we know that 50+ cities in the U.S. had sufficient violence that led to arrests and/or injuries to participants and to police.
  2. The pattern of violent response to fake videos continued in August. This statement was buried in paragraph eight of an Associated Press story on the violent protests and looting in Chicago on August 8-9:

“Further ratcheting up the tensions in the city was a video circulating on Facebook that falsely claimed that Chicago police had shot and killed a 15-year-old boy. Posted at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the video shows upset residents confronting officers near the scene where police shot and wounded an adult suspect they said had fired at them that day. By Monday morning, the footage had been watched nearly 100,000 times.”

We have known for years that this evil intent was coming. Government and business IT security has been preparing. Nearly five weeks ago, the Director of the National Counterterrorism and Security Center William Evanina warned us about it publicly in Congressional testimony and through a press release. “The American public has a role to play in securing the election, particularly in maintaining vigilance against foeign influence,” he said. “At the most basic level, we encourage Americans to consume information with a critical eye, check out sources before reposting or spreading message, practice good cyber hygiene and media literacy, and report suspicious election-related activity to authorities.”

This situation cries out for your involvement, to take social media much more seriously. Verification of the stories which we read, the pictures which we see, and the videos which we watch is more important than ever. Misinformation efforts are coming at us in social media from all directions, both domestically and abroad. Just this week alone, social media giants Facebook alone took action to remove more than a thousand accounts and pages originating from just two countries, Russia and Pakistan, citing “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

How many accounts, and from where, might the security staff at Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms might be missing?

Fortunately you can take action to verify. In June, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) put out a primer about Russian disinformation campaigns aimed at Europe. Below is the organization’s recommendations:

NATO’s Top tips to spot disinformation and stop its spread

  1. Check the source: Look at the source of the information – who has published it and shared it? A site that does not clearly state editorial responsibility is not trustworthy. On social media, check an account’s handle or username – if it has many random letters and numbers in succession, it could be a bot (an automated account). If you see an unverified account posting content hundreds of times a day, alarm bells should ring. Try using a free bot detector, and employ online tools, such as, which flag and rate misinformation sites. (One of my favorite sites is www.mediabiasfactcheck.com) It does daily updates on true and false news stories circulating on the Internet.
  2. Check the tone: Disinformation is often designed to trigger an emotional response. Be cautious of content that uses emotional language to elicit a strong reaction. Fear and anger are big drivers that allow disinformation to thrive.
  3. Check the story: Real news is usually covered by more than one source. If mainstream media are not picking up the story, there’s a good chance it can’t be confirmed. By running a search, you might find that independent fact-checkers have already debunked the story. Fact-checking sites, such as the above-mentioned mediabiasfactcheck.com and BBC Reality Check, allow you to check the accuracy of stories.
  4. Check the images: Does an image show what it claims? Platforms like Google, TinEye and Bing allow you to run a reverse image search to see where an image appears on the Internet and discover similar images. Tools and applications, such as SurfSafe and Serelay, can also help you determine whether an image has been doctored.
  5. Check your own biases: Research indicates that people are much less likely to identify disinformation if it aligns with their own beliefs or preferences. Be smart and think about whether you are sharing content because you know it’s true or just because you agree with it.

If you go to www.dicampaigns.com, you will see about a dozen stories about Disinformation (DI) campaigns and their origins. It should be a cause for alarm, and you can counter disinformation with every social media post you make or share.

ANALYZE

ANALYZE – (verb) Examine methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of something, typically for the purposes of explanation and interpretation. Where is the U.S. headed? Is our nation going to continue upon the path we set for ourselves back in September 1787, that ongoing effort to “establish a more perfect union” as the preamble to the Constitution reads?

Or are we now too impatient for reforms and are we demanding a revolution? If it turns into a revolution, does that mean a second Civil War? When one hears the words “deconstruct” or “dismantle” in a conversation, what comes to mind? Does that language indicate reform to you, or does it say instead that we should abolish our current system of government?

This distinction is critical.

When our nation’s Constitutional Convention adjourned and submitted its work, the U.S. Constitution, to the states for ratification 233 years ago this month, there was near unanimity among the delegates that the Constitution would need amending from time to time. That is why Article V of the Constitution exists. There are two different ways in which our Constitution can be changed through this Article, and since 1789 we have made 27 amendments. The abolition of slavery (13 Amendment), extending suffrage to women (19 Amendment), and reducing the voting age to 18 (26 Amendment) are just some of these changes.

So when the words dismantle or deconstruct come up, what is the end game of those using them? If someone tells you that the U.S. is internally corrupt, does that person seek to reform our system of government, or toss it out – violently if needed — and replace it? How would you react to a call to “disrupt” the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure? To replace it with a village raising children? These are some of the words we are frequently hearing from leaders of protest movements these days.

Author and thought leader Eric Metaxas has taken note of this. Interviewed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on September 2, Metaxas reacted to a New York priest repeating word-for-word themes from Black Lives Matter in a homily during a mass. (There is a link to the entire story just below)

“The people who are using these new terms — Systemic racism, white privilege — these are Marxists…,” Metaxas said. “They hate God, and on the BLM website they reject just about everything a Christian would say.” Metaxas went on to point out the alarming parallel between the Nazis’ co-opting of the church in Germany. “(They) forced the churches to play along just enough so that slowly they could confuse people and take over.” (More on Nazi Germany strategy follows below.)

Metaxas went on to issue a warning to pastors and all Christians. He said, “If you don’t reject this (cultural Marxism) with everything you have, you’re bringing about the death of Christian faith in America, which by the way is the only hope for people who think racism is wrong.” Metaxas also pointed out that Karl Marx was an avowed racist. Here is a link to the story:

But there is still more.

Alex Robinson penned a fascinating monograph which appeared in the Duke Law Journal, titled “’Foreign Agents’ in an interconnected world: FARA and the weaponization of transparency.” Robinson is Legal Advisor, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and an Affiliated Fellow, Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession. The monograph explains the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), other laws which have amended it, and how FARA can be improved. It is a fascinating read for anyone who is desirous of seeing less foreign interference in governance in the U.S. (This has been a past and probable future blog topic.)

Robinson points out how Harold Lasswell, one of the founders of Twentieth Century political science, utilized a “parallel test” by identifying 14 common themes of Nazi propaganda. Lasswell then compared the themes to the speech of leaders of Nazi Germany to uncover parallels. Some are obvious, such as “Nazi Germany is just and virtuous.” Others were negative themes. One characterized the U.S. and the United Kingdom as “internally corrupt.”

Other Nazi propaganda themes called out the U.S. for having “political and economic injustice” or “spiritual decay.” Others still directly targeted U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, calling them “reprehensible” and describing them as “responsible for suffering,” among other evil characterizations.

Do some of these propaganda themes should sound familiar?

Yes, as they are being employed regularly in the 2020 presidential campaign. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, former VP Joe Biden, and many others have repeatedly characterized Donald Trump’s actions as reprehensible. USA Today, the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Time, and the Washington Post are just some of the media outlets which have published stories calling Trump morally corrupt, mimicking another one of the Nazi propaganda themes.

Here’s a third: Trump is responsible for suffering. In fact, Biden campaign deputy manager Kate Bedingfield put it in writing. In a campaign memo dated April 21, Bedingfield wrote, “Trump’s failure is a uniquely American phenomenon.” It contrasts the United States with countries such as South Korea, Canada and Germany, and says Trump is “responsible for unimaginable pain and suffering — and we need to be clear and unshakeable in communicating this to the American people.”

This is not an endorsement for Trump, nor a repudiation of Biden or Bedingfield. Instead, it is a plea to you: Analyze what you are seeing and hearing. If the communication conveys radical overthrow of change of the American system of government, it is certainly healthy to be skeptical of it. If the words of one candidate, attacking another, are parallel to words and themes of Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, maybe that should be a real cause for concern. We pride ourselves in a full and fair exchange of ideas, not pandering propaganda messaging.

The phrase “October surprise” alludes to news events deliberately created and timed to influence the outcome of an election. This is usually pulled off by one political campaign or party to pull a late-in-the-process “gotcha” on the opposing candidate or side. (NOTE: Perhaps The Atlantic misread its calendar.) Watch for multiple instances of this, from both sides, coming at the public earlier than usual in 2020. Analyze before you react and before you hit “share” on anything.

TRY THREE

Finally, here is a simple suggestion: This is already the most challenging, most divisive, most racially charged, most violent, most confusing and most exhausting year many of us have ever experienced. You can be a difference maker. You can be a voice of calm – of reason – in these tumultuous times.

Rather than joining the “feeding frenzy” of negativity, stand up for some simple analysis of what is happening as we make up our minds and go to the polls to elect our leaders. And remember, there are important Congressional races, gubernatorial choices, and elections for judges and many other important local offices on the ballot as well. The method you are about to read can apply for any elected office.

NAME THREE — in a friendly conversation with a relative or friend, ask them to name three things which their candidate for office (Biden or Trump, in the case of the office of President) has accomplished. This should not be difficult. Don’t disagree, just listen. Keep it to three, as it forces each of you to ponder what’s most important in the way you see the office, the candidate, and why you think s/he is best.

THREE MORE – in that same tone, ask for three reasons why they are voting FOR the candidate of their choice. Keep the conversation polite and upbeat. Don’t “go negative” by giving or allowing a “not voting for the other guy” type of response. Accentuate the positive about the candidate you support. Challenge your friend or relative to do the same thing.

Signs on adjacent lawns on a residential main street in Cuyahoga Falls

Kerezy is associate professor of Media & Journalism Studies at Cuyahoga Community College. Prior to that, he worked in public relations and in journalism. His views are not those of Cuyahoga Community College; however, he offers civic and community talks on the media and on disinformation campaign in his capacity with the college’s speakers’ bureau. You can book him as a speaker, virtually or “living” depending upon Covid-19,  by clicking here: https://forms.tri-c.edu/Player/SpeakersBureauRequest?_ga=2.197385256.641785534.1598232317-1316326465.1597967099


More than ever, where futures begin

April 27, 2020

There are 30,000 college students in Northeast Ohio who know just how well Cuyahoga Community College responds to a crisis. They are still learning, everyday, as our nation works its way through the aftermath of this phase of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We were supposed to have 13,000 online students when Tri-C resumed classes from its spring break on Monday, March 16. But Covid-19 forced the college to move 100 percent of our learning from “seats” to “sign ons” via our classroom management systems and supportive communications software. It was a daunting challenge.

Challenge accepted.

tri-c-logo-rgbAs we prepared, we were blessed to have knowledgeable leaders who literally have been through challenging times before. Our president, Dr. Alex Johnson, was chancellor at Delgado Community College in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana in 2005. About 70 percent of the college’s buildings suffered substantial damage from the hurricane.

Our administrators and faculty benefitted from a combined faculty-staff Crisis Response Plan which we crafted in 2009 — 11 years ago — as part pf preparations for the H1N1 flu. My high school speech and debate students know the mantra of P-P-P-P-P-P: Proper Practice and Preparation Promotes Perfect Performance. Having a plan, and having administrators and faculty who carried it out, was also a tremendous benefit.

Almost overnight, Tri-C went from offering 2,500 to 5,000 online classes. Our online population more than doubled to a total of 30,000 students. We greatly and quickly expanded our technological infrastructure to meet this sudden demand.

It’s not been easy. Cuyahoga Community College’s Online Learning and Technology (OLAT) team has put endless hours of preparation for this transition. Joint faculty-administration crisis teams have assisted the transformation process. We continue with weekly online meetings to improve the effectiveness of our learning, to ensure that students and faculty receive the tools and help they need to thrive, and to continuously improve how we deliver learning online.

Our faculty are now developing and posting 800 to 1,000 new videos explaining lessons each week in MediaSite alone, one of our several software packages deployed for learning. We have about 700 exams (many are final exams) going through ProctorU. We have held more than 110 faculty learning forums attended by more than 750 faculty members. Another 450 faculty members have received help from or attended virtual lessons which our Centers for Learning Excellent (CLE) Team has developed.

college consensusBy many measures, we’re doing extraordinarily well at this. The organization College Consensus has ranked Tri-C as No. 25 in the nation on its list of top online programs, compared with more than 1,000 two-year schools across the U.S. User-friendliness of learning platforms and online degree offerings are some of the criteria used for the rankings.

College Consensus noted that Tri-C’s flexible program allows students “to continue working and living their busy lives” while taking classes. It also highlighted access to academic counseling and educational resources.

And there’s more. Cuyahoga Community College’s workforce division develop several short-term online training programs in the fields of information technology, health care and manufacturing. These brand new online learning programs can help NE Ohio residents build new skills while they are sheltering at home through this pandemic. Once businesses reopen and we all build to that “new normal” which is coming, these people will return to the workforce with new a new skillset, ready to thrive in the years ahead.

YOUR TURN

If you are a college student living in Northeast Ohio, you might be facing uncertainty about your higher education. Perhaps your university or college isn’t offering the courses online you need to earn your degree. Perhaps you don’t want to think about being really far from home as our nation continues grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic.

A great alternative is ready and waiting for you at Cuyahoga Community College. We’re just a few clicks away, and we’re well worth exploring as a way to ensure that your learning continues in the safety and security of your own home. Hundreds of our courses transfer to meet degree requirements at all four-year public colleges and universities in Ohio. They have already been certified as such at the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Where to begin: www.tri-c.edu/get-started/visiting-students.html

Questions about how to  register: WestStudentHelp@tri-c.edu

The general college website: www.tri-c.edu  (Click on Take A Class to see a course listing)

Additionallly, You can e-mail me at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu and I’ll be glad to share with you a one-page list of virtual contacts the college has prepared for all its current and prospective students.

And if you want to watch a “non professional” video which covers the benefits of taking online courses at Cuyahoga Community College this summer, click here:

Nope.

I don’t know how classes will be offered in the Fall 2020 semester at college or universities in Ohio or across the U.S. No one knows that yet.

I do know this: Cuyahoga Community College is where futures begin, and we will continue to be that in any modality, whether the learning is online, in a seat in a building, or some combination in the future.

(Blog author John Kerezy is Associate Professor, media and journalism Studies, at Cuyahoga Community College)

SOME SOURCES

https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2020/04/the-strengths-weve-built-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak-will-accelerate-our-recovery-alex-johnson.html?fbclid=IwAR2U4hPTaJT9CmkhUNe-D7FY1nytrGWKOL79yuUGq9VcmzyPgEvtcWJoFxo

https://www.chronicle.com/article/A-Community-College-Continues/63796

https://www.tri-c.edu/news-and-events/news/online-learning-program-at-tri-c-ranked-among-nations-best.html?fbclid=IwAR3vzf_OkVV_KvVxWMTBFESl86UHpt80Y6E-r1iWwSG06-y8RrG-o5ofWWU

 


Six things my MJS students need to know

August 25, 2019

UPDATED FOR JANUARY 2021

Cuyahoga Community College has completed a transition of our course sequencing and even our name.  What was once JMC .. Journalism & Mass Communications, .. is now MJS or Media and Journalism Studies. We effected this transition to more accurately reflect what we offer in our curriculum, what’s happening in the work force (more and more jobs are available in social media and public relations, less so in journalism), and to better align our courses with those in the program at Cleveland State University (CSU). As about 45 percent of Tri-C graduates who go on to earn a bachelor’s degree to that at CSU, it makes the most sense for us to align that way.

Here’s a link to all our course descriptions: MJS Course Descriptions

Here is a link to the course transfer sequence for those who plan to obtain a degree at Cleveland State:

Click to access csu-journal-and-promo-com-ipc.pdf

New year, new President, some of the “same old” concerns due to both academic studies and Covid-19, yet one thing stays the same: Students are understandably curious about their professors.  Below, in less than 500 words, is a brief “statement of philosophy” which should help you do better both in your academic studies and in your life.  It is six snippets of advice:

  1.  If you’re green, you’re growing. If you are ripe, you’re rotten.  We all need to practice continuous improvement in everything we do. Higher education teaching wasn’t my first profession. I’ve even joked about being an “accidental professor,” going from an adjunct (part-timer) in 2003-2004 and moving up the college professor ladder, slowly, step by step, over the past 18 years. I earned a certificate in college teaching, a second master’s degree, and a wealth of knowledge and experience about how to teach and how to motivate student learning in the past decade.  If a guy who’s over age 60 can keep learning, you can too.
  2. You need a S.I.P. a self-improvement plan, for all areas of your life. Yes, academics are important.  So is taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Finances are important. Faith is important. Relationships are important.  So are family members and loved ones.  What’s your strategy to become better in all of these areas?  How do you carry out that strategy?

    john half cropped

    The next challenge — A another Half Marathon.

  3. Setbacks should only be temporary. We all have them. I needed surgery at the beginning of this year, and after then I had to follow the full advice of the surgeon and medical team to recover. You’re going to lose a job, a relationship, a loved one.  It’s how far we come back AFTER suffering a setback or getting knocked down that really matters.  Watch this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXA1jsHYLNs
  4. If you talk with me and share with me your aspirations and goals, you’ll never find a more caring professor dedicated to helping you succeed.  My former students have jobs and careers, working at places such as Great Lakes Publishing, Belle Communication, WKSU, WKYC Channel 3, the Cleveland Museum of Art, large public relations agencies, and NBC Universal in Hollywood. They got there through hard work, and through sharing their aspirations with me (and/or other professors).  I’ll go to great lengths to encourage my students and help them do well, if they put forth the effort.
  5. You have been created for something great — greater than you know right now. You want to have all the knowledge and preparation you can so when that opportunity for greatness arrives, you are ready to walk through that door to success.
  6. We ALL need challenges. It’s how we improve.  I’m resuming training soon to run a half-marathon in April 2021. I’ve done this several times before. (YES, I follow a specific training program and a goal for events like these.)  With God’s blessing, the favor and support of my wife, and some good fortune (meaning no accidents or setbacks), I’m confident I can complete the course and rise to the challenge.  I’ll be a better and healthier person as a result.  Challenge yourself this year.  You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of achieving.  “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

John Kerezy, Associate Professor, MJS, Cuyahoga Community College
john.kerezy@tri-c.edu  or 216-987-5040 or (Google Text/Voice) 234-587-7784