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.
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, email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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 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)
3 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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Please put “The Last Five Minutes” in the subject line of the email.
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.
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
Cuyahoga Valley Church
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.
* 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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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
Metaxas, Eric “7 Men,” Nelson Books, Copyright 2013 and 2015
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:
They got the tumor out, but it was bigger than the CT scan at Western Reserve had indicated.
He “scraped” (his words) around the tumor to take out as much additional tissue as he dared, without rupturing the bladder wall.
He knows there is still more cancer there.
“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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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:
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.
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.)
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
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?
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.
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.
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 partisandivide. (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.
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 (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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – (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.
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.
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
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.
As 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.
By 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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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:
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)
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 is a link to the course transfer sequence for those who plan to obtain a degree at Cleveland State:
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:
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.
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?
The next challenge — A another Half Marathon.
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-987-5040 or (Google Text/Voice) 234-587-7784
Last week my friends Mark Zimmerman and Gabrielle Collins of Heartfelt Radio (91.9 FM in the Northeastern Ohio area) asked to interview me on “Mornings with Mark and Gabe” about the Delta variant of Covid-19 from the perspective of a believer in Christ.
After prayer and consideration, I consented to the interview. It wasn’t a quick decision, but a necessary one.
Public health shouldn’t be a political “wedge issue” aimed at dividing one group of people from another, but it’s become just that. Tragically, this has filtered down to the church level. I’ve heard of members of congregations who have left churches due to the Pastor and/or Board’s policy on masks. There have been instances of congregation member who chose to leave a church simply because they disagreed with when and how the church resumed “in person” services emerging from Covid-19.
We know from public opinion polling that more than 25 percent of the U.S. public which regularly worships at a church, mosque or synagogue is afraid of returning back to worship due to Covid-19.
In my humble opinion, that shouldn’t be happening. Listen and let me know your thoughts.
Here’s my take, in two parts, from the interview on Heartfelt Radio conducted on August 3.
Note that opinions in the interview and on this blog post are my own, and not those of Heartfelt Radio or Cuyahoga Community College. You can click on the form below if you wish to comment, or email me at email@example.com.
ENCLAVE AT OLD MILL POND, June 18 — Like many neighbors who originally built and moved into the Enclave at Old Mill Pond in 2017-2019, we were told things by the builder Ryan Homes. Some of us were told things by Mayor Don Walters. Many of us were told by both, with specificity, that there would be a nature trail built adjacent to Mill Brook and around Old Mill Pond. Kathy Johnson Kerezy (my wife) and I heard Mayor Walters say this to us in his office at City Hall when we moved here in June 2018.
Three-to-four years have passed since these promises were made. In April, I wrote a letter to Mayor Walters inquiring what was happening with this trail. His reply was surprising.
“The proposed future trail around Mill Pond you mentioned was never planned to be constructed at this time….” Is part of the response. You can see both my letter and his reply (highlights added) here:
When I shared these letters with my neighbors, there was also a lot of shock and dismay at this apparent back-tracking. The more our neighbors discussed this, the more we felt we are not being informed well at all about what’s really happening with the construction of we have now come to be told will be “Phase II” of a project developing a long nature trail from near Wyoga Lake and Pleasant Meadow Blvd to Old Mill Pond.
There is much more to this. Our neighbor Tom Schmidt has assembled documents, reports, a lot of helpful background information and placed it all at one website for all of our Enclave at Old Mill Pond neighbors. Click here for these detailshttps://oldmillcfo.wixsite.com/my-site
As a result of these and subsequent communications (including about our property taxes), it’s become apparent that the mentioned and promised trail might not begin until 2023, or even later than then. About a dozen neighbors met and discussed this subject on Monday, June 14. At that time, we decided that we would like our Ward Councilman, Mike Brillhart (who has been an advocate for the trail and a good guy), to come and to explain the status of this nature trail to us. Additionally, many of us have chosen to launch a petition drive to ask City Hall for a face-to-face meeting with us, and to provide details about the City of Cuyahoga Falls’ plans.
If a neighbor knocks on your door, please sign the petition. There’s strength in numbers and – regardless of whether you were told about this nature trail by Ryan Homes, someone at City Hall, or both – we need a much better explanation of what’s happening (or not happening) than has been provided thus far.
If you want to join our group, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please put Old Mill Pond Trail as the subject. (By the way, we asked our Homeowner Association to get involved in this matter. Its officers declined to do so.) Thanks. Thanks also for prayers and best wishes on my upcoming surgery as well.— John Kerezy
CUYAHOGA FALLS — I was supposed to undergo another cycle of chemotherapy this week. But it didn’t happen. I was “rejected” at the Outpatient Infusion Center at Summa Healthcare on Tuesday.
I had followed all the preparation steps and was “good to go” for the treatment. But my blood wasn’t. The infusion medical team wisely monitors the health of all its patients prior to administration of drugs. After arrival and preparation for infusion, a key step is a laboratory analysis of one’s blood. Mine showed a low white blood cell count, and a very low component of neutrophils within the blood analysis. This means that temporarily I’m neutropenic. Or in simpler terms, the white blood cells in my body aren’t numerous enough right now to withstand the chemotherapy drug which was scheduled to be administered. Vulnerable was the word I’d heard.
So my oncologist/hematologist, Dr. Joseph Koenig, “pulled the cord” on my scheduled session. Now I wait and see when and how the white blood cells will rebound as my body recovers from last week’s chemo sessions. Rejected.
At first it was a disappointment. Then I came to some realizations:
I’m not alone. The nursing staff at Summa told me that chemo infusion does not happen occasionally due to what is discovered in the blood analysis. My experience with these professionals thus far (four visits) has been nothing short of amazing. They all have professional certifications, such as Oncology Certified Nurse, over and above their bachelor and nursing degrees. The nurses and others there have taken excellent care of me (and hundreds of other chemotherapy patients) at Summa already in 2021.
I’m in excellent hands. Dr. Koenig came to my chemotherapy station and personally reviewed & explained the medical situation to my wife Kathy & me. I left disappointed but grateful for their care and reassured that this is just a temporary setback.
A couple of hours later, reassurance grew even more. A second set of blood results appeared electronically on my medical chart, and it showed continued improvement in my kidney function. Friends, family, and co-workers know that I’ve been asking specifically for prayers about one of my kidneys, and those prayers are being answered in a most affirmative manner.
As the day progressed, the more that I thought about this rejection, the better I felt about this outcome. About 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ also experienced rejection. He was just an average guy, and neither his mother (Mary) nor father (Joseph) had any prominence in his hometown of Nazareth. In fact, no one significant had ever arisen in Nazareth. Not even his brothers believed in Jesus, the apostle John wrote (John 7:5).
In his ministry, Jesus encountered rejection again and again from the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees and Sadducees. They derided him, continually questioned him, and put him down at every opportunity. The Pharisees would even challenge his miracles, pointing out how some of these broke Rabbinical law about the Sabbath.
But the worst rejection came in the Garden of Gethsemane near Jerusalem, where one of Jesus’ own disciples – Judas – betrayed him. There he was arrested, tried, tortured, then murdered in the most horrific way of his time, crucified on a cross. On what we now call Good Friday, it seemed to the High Counsel of Jerusalem and the Roman rulers of the area that they had eliminated Jesus from the scene for all time.
Then came Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday. From then onward, the capstone which the builder rejected has become the corner stone. (I Peter 2:7) So much for rejection.
Thinking about Jesus was a powerful reminder that we are never alone, never rejected. God is constantly at work in the lives of people who believe in Him. “Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3)
So in conclusion, please continue to pray for me as my doctors, my wife Kathy and I continue our fight to be victorious over bladder cancer. Yes, I might experience another rejection or setback in this journey. But I’m never alone. There is victory, over rejection, over cancer, over setbacks.
Sudden weight loss in a short period of time. A change in bowel or bladder habits. A sore that does not heal.
These are some of the seven warning signs of cancer. Below is also link to a brief description of these seven signs. Refer to it, and if you see yourself or a loved one exhibiting one or more of these see your doctor as soon as possible.
A CRITIQUE OF RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE AND QUESTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT
“Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty in defining move of presidency.” That was the headline in the online version of the Washington Post on Saturday, after the U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to approve a so-called $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package.
The headline and the story shouts at us, and in a really tragic way, about the horror of what is taking place is the profession of journalism in 2021. One wonders if there are any real journalists left in Washington DC, or if the White House Press Corps and others are simply following orders from a Big Brother.
But before delving into Orwell, let’s look at some facts. The first tenet of the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, adopted in 1926, is “seek the truth, then report it.” So let’s compare the headline in the Washington Post to the truth.
FIRST SIX WORDS – Is $1,400 per person showering money? How does that compare to the $1,800 per person (in two different checks) which President Trump’s administration pushed through Congress in 2020? Is one better than the other? Should President Biden get more credit because there was zero bipartisanship in his bill, where Trump obtained unanimous support from the Democratic Party’s members in the Senate and many Democrats in the House for the passage of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020?
NEXT THREE WORDS – How can the Washington Post or anyone say that a stimulus bill will be “sharply cutting poverty”? Where’s the evidence? Those in the financial press who have tracked consumer spending and consumer savings after the CARES Act have reported that the biggest usage of stimulus checks thus far has been to increase savings and reduce debt.
LAST FOUR WORDS – Mr. Biden was in office for a total of 45 days when this bill passed the Senate on March 6. For almost all previous presidents, most news analysts would use the first 100 days in office as a mile post when they would make known their first opinion about a president’s performance In office. But with only about 3.5 percent of his term of presidency underway, the Washington media is heralding this legislation as defining.
WHAT ISN’T BEING COVERED
This legislation is entitled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. There are some pretty basic and simple questions which reporters need to ask. They include:
Who’s being rescued? As many have pointed out, only 9 percent of the funds allocated are being send to the public in the form of stimulus spending.
Who is benefitting? Where is the other $1.5 billion going, and who will hold those receiving these funds accountable for how the funds are spent?
For how long will taxpayers be repaying the spending in the proposed legislation? Some provisions of this bill extend payments out to 2028, and some of the medical provisions will go on indefinitely after that. The Committee for a Responsible Budget is estimating that the true cost of this bill will be $4 trillion over its lifetime. These long-term, systematic changes in government programs have received scant media attention.
Regardless of personal beliefs, members of the press in Washington, DC, should be getting answers to questions like these from government officials, and then sharing those answers with the public.
QUESTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT
President Biden’s press secretary, Jennifer Psaki, has said that the President will hold his first press briefing later this month. To help those in the White House Press Corps, here are some questions which should be asked of President Biden.
You got elected by campaigning to “crush the Coronavirus” yet more than 21% of all U.S. Covid-19 deaths – 115,000 so far – have occurred in your first days in office. It appears you will meet the goal you set of vaccinating 100 million Americans in your first 100 days of office, and that’s good. What steps are you taking to ensure we aren’t hit by one of the Covid-19 virulent variants which are impacting other nations?
Follow-up question: More than 525,000 American have died of Covid-19. Shouldn’t we want to know the source of this global pandemic, and take steps independently to investigate the cause and – if need be – punish those nations or persons responsible? We lost far fewer lives in 9-11 than we have due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Follow-up question: As many as 15,000 New York residents who were diagnosed as positive for Covid-19 were moved from hospitals to nursing homes there just one year ago. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo then covered up the Covid-19 death statistics reported in nursing homes to the general public. What steps will the federal government take to investigate and prosecute Governor Cuomo for his illegal actions? Will the government try to reclaim the billions of dollars in support and equipment it provided to New York, or take any actions at all against the state for its malfeasance?
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. has risen 18 percent between the week before you took office and March 8. Prices are higher now than they were at any week in calendar year 2020. As the pandemic lifts and restrictions disappear, will your administration take steps to keep help prices lower, or will consumers just have to get used to ever-rising gasoline prices?
In March 2020, Congress passed and your predecessor signed a $2.2 trillion Coronavirus relief bill, known as the CARES act. This legislation won unanimous approval from the Senate, and passed overwhelmingly in the House via a voice vote. The current relief bill did not have a single Republican vote of support in the House or in the Senate. You campaigned saying you would unite our country, but many observers who watched Congress in action last week are saying bipartisanship is dead. What will you do to achieve your campaign promise of unifying the country? Or will you encourage your Democratic colleagues to continue to ignore the will of people who elected 50 U.S. Senators and 211 U.S. House members who are Republicans?
Follow-up questions: In your first two days in office, you signed 30 Executive Orders. That’s 16 more Executive Orders than your predecessor signed in all of calendar year 2020. As of March 8, you have signed 59 Executive Orders. Don’t Executive Orders usurp the power of the Legislative Branch of government? Why aren’t you following the Constitution and allowing Congress to introduce more legislation?
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is estimating that due to tax credits and expansions of government payments, the true cost of the American Rescue Plan Act will be about $4 trillion. What would you say to those in their ‘20s and today and tomorrow’s children, who will be paying for the cost of this legislation through decades of higher tax burdens?
Business Insider has reported that your administration is looking at revoking or reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The public is seeing more and more “flagging” and social media questioning of posts, especially on Facebook. Are Facebook and other social media outlets now acting like publishers in vetting the content of others? Will you modify or repeal their special protections they enjoy under Section 230?
Follow-up question:Time magazine and other media outlets have reported that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative contributed $300 million to voter drives which helped you get elected in last year. Is that going to influence how you treat Facebook and other Big Tech companies?
FINALLY: Back to Mr. Orwell
In George Orwell’s novel “1984” there are three slogans or mottos which the party propagates among the people of Airstrip One (London) and Oceania (England). The third one is Ignorance is Strength. It means that an unthinking public would never doubt what the government says, and in this manner those in power will remain in power in perpetuity.
If you haven’t read the novel, one key theme of Orwell’s work is constant warfare. Oceania has always been at war. It is always easier to run disinformation campaigns with impunity, citing warfare as the rationale for the propaganda constantly emanating from the Party in Oceania.
Oceania has an internal enemy also, named Emmanuel Goldstein. Once an “in the Party” person, Goldstein is now the subject of perpetual contempt and hatred. In viewscreens (televisions) all over Oceania, at 11 p.m. every evening there is a program called “Two Minutes Hate” in which Goldstein is condemned and castigated.
There seems to be a similar version of that today on MSNBC and CNN, but it’s not confined to the 11 p.m. hour. Just watch either of these networks for one hour, any hour, of the day. Count the number of times they reference the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, and write down the adjectives and other descriptive words they use about the man. You will see the similarities as well.
PERSONAL NOTE: This may be the last blog post at this site for some time. I’m undergoing medical treatment for a serious health issue. I hope to put out a story on the 2020 election on my blog www.dicampaigns.com later this month. Please bookmark that site, and this one, for future reading and reference.