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Archive | Voices and Views

Pastor apologizes for denomination’s decision

The editor rejected the following “From the Pulpit” article because it didn’t offer “hope and healing” (the guidelines for that venue) to everyone. 

I want to apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community for the harm my denomination has caused you. You have likely seen the headlines regarding the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. The General Conference voted to affirm and strengthen the current language in our Book of Discipline which states that all persons are of “sacred worth,” but “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” 

Many United Methodists disagree with this decision, including me. I’m sorry that one more act of harm has been added to the mountain you have already endured. 

During Lent, the current Christian season we are celebrating, Christians strive for a deeper connection with God because we recognize that we are flawed human beings. Each one of us needs forgiveness and mercy and grace—so much grace.

The irony is that grace is the defining tenet of Methodist belief. We believe God’s grace pursues and surrounds us throughout our lives, and comes to us most profoundly in Jesus. Grace leads us to the reality of God’s love for us in Jesus. Grace convicts us of that reality, and grace grows our relationship with Jesus. Grace is available to each and every person.

So I’m sorry that General Conference voted to limit grace. Know many United Methodists are grieving this decision, and are working to find a solution.  Undoubtedly, our denomination will split. A significant number of United Methodists are working to birth a New Methodism which will offer grace to all persons.

Each and every person is beloved of God. None can earn God’s love. That’s called grace. May each and every one of you know that grace every day.

Rev. Kim DeLong

Courtland Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave N.E.

Rockford, MI  49341

Editor note: Rev. DeLong’s letter expresses her own personal opinion. She is not speaking on behalf of Courtland-Oakfield UMC.

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Put recycle items in proper dumpster

Dear Citizens of Kent County,

What will it take to get you to put your recycle items into the proper dumpster at the North Kent Transfer Station on 10 Mile Rd? There is a Joni Mitchell song called “The Big Yellow Taxi” and in that song there is part of a lyric which says, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” What would the citizens of Kent County do if the recycling dumpsters were taken away? Can Rockford landfill handle more unnecessary items? I see people throwing cardboard into plastic/metal/glass/paper dumpsters. I see unnecessary trash/garbage in these dumpsters. I see large black plastic garbage bags filled with who knows what in the dumpster. Empty the bags. Reuse the bags. The recycling personnel have no use for them. The bags just get tossed in the landfill. I was told by the person who runs the scales that if a dumpster is mostly filled with unnecessary items, the whole dumpster is dumped in the landfill. 

Citizens of Kent County, stop abusing the system. Those of us who are 70 years of age or younger wouldn’t handle a depression or a situation like WWII where people had to reuse and recycle. We have this mentality of just throwing things out. “Out of sight out of mind”—is that the thinking of those who abuse the system? I would like to see the persons who abuse the system fined. But it would be impossible. Take the time and sort out what you have and put it in the right dumpster! You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Lenn Perry

Kent County Citizen

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American politics’ great divide

By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative and Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government

One of the more striking political developments of the last few years has been the partisan sorting of American voters. It used to be that both the Republican and Democratic parties covered some ideological ground. Now, it’s so habitual for conservatives to make their home in the GOP and liberals in the Democratic Party, that party and ideological labels stand in for one another.

Still, you have to be careful. Because when you’re talking about something as complex as Americans’ political beliefs, there’s really no such thing as uniformity.

I often run into conservatives who support liberal positions on one issue or another, and vice versa. It’s very easy for political elites to overstate the degree to which ideological categories actually apply to real people.

True, the divisions that separate liberals and conservatives are real. On social issues, many find themselves sharply divided: over same-sex relationships, the place of marriage and family in our society, and, of course, abortion. This last may be the most divisive issue of all.

And they are sharply divided over the role of government and government intervention in the lives of Americans on economic matters. This is in part a conflict over welfare and the degree to which government should be involved in programs to alleviate poverty or to protect working people from the bumps, bruises, and hardships dealt out by the national economy.

Yet even here, the divisions are not as sharp as they used to be. Over and over, I’m reminded that learning a voter’s views on one issue could tell you next to nothing about his or her views on others, or may actually mislead you.

It’s pretty common these days to bemoan the ideological divisions evident in our politics, especially when the differences are weaponized for partisan purposes. But I’d argue that far from being debilitating, the political debate they give rise to is a sign of the vigor of the political system.

Sure, trying to deal with deep-seated differences is extremely difficult for a politician. But it’s also part of the attraction and the challenge of politics. And if you see voters as the complex opinion-holders they really are, common ground may not be as impossible to find as it can seem at first glance.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar of the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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What is Solon Township trying to do?

On November 6th, 2018, the voters in Solon Township voted down Ordinance No 18-4-Z.

After the election, the Solon Township Board added to the moratorium on residential development in the Township. This extension has resulted in a moratorium totaling approximately two years. Because of this moratorium, Solon Township is in a lawsuit.

I ask you now, how much of the Solon Township taxpayers’ money is the Board going to spend on an issue which was already voted down in the November election? 

Gary Johnson, 

Solon Township


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What great legislators have in common

By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative and Senior Advisor 

for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government

Each of the great politicians and legislators I’ve known over the course of my career in Congress was very different. They were masters of the rules, or unassailably knowledgeable about a given issue, or supremely watchable orators, or consummate students of people. But they also shared key traits that I wish more elected officials possessed.

For starters, the great politicians I’ve met enjoyed the game, and they worked on the skills needed to play it well. They were adept both as politicians and as legislators — which is not as common as you might imagine. They were good speakers and adroit persuaders, whether on the floor of the Congress, addressing a convention of thousands, or sitting in a supporter’s living room with a dozen strangers.

The men and women I most admired embraced a life in politics because they believed they could make a difference. They had confidence in themselves, their ideas, and their ability to find their way out of tough spots. They were not dismayed by the give and take of politics; if anything, they relished it. They might have faced heavy criticism for a political stance or legislative maneuver but they were never defeated by that.

And they could master legislative detail. This may be hard to see from afar, but serious legislating requires mind-numbing work—sitting alertly through hours of expert testimony; digesting the reports of committees and subcommittees; thinking through how even small word changes can affect the course of legislation or the impact of a law; going through the intense editing process known as legislative “markup.”

Effective legislators not only don’t mind this, they see it as an opportunity to put their imprint on the law.

As I think back on men like Tip O’Neill or John Anderson or Mike Mansfield, and on women like Edith Green and Lindy Boggs, I’m struck by their sense of obligation to the country and their palpable commitment to doing the right thing.

They worked long, almost inhuman hours, and sometimes they made mistakes, but they were never bowled over by them — they believed they were helping to push the country forward, and that was a powerful motivator to stay in the fight.

Many of the strongest political leaders I met over the years had a passion for leadership. This may seem obvious, but think about it: there are 435 members of the House and 100 senators, and simply by virtue of being there they’ve exercised leadership in one form or another. So the people who in turn rose to the top of those ranks had something extra: they wanted to be leaders of the leaders.

And not just in Congress. Their attitude toward the presidents they served with was interesting. They obviously had areas of agreement and disagreement on policy, but underlying those were two key themes: they had a deep respect for the office of the presidency, and they insisted that the president display equal respect for the Congress.

If a president in some way showed disregard or disdain for Congress as an institution, that was a serious mistake, because people like O’Neill and Mansfield took the idea of a co-equal branch of government seriously.

They applied the same sensibility to their colleagues. They were serious about strengthening the institution from the inside. They recognized that their work could only be completed if the institution was shored up and reformed in a way that gave it the strength to push its goals forward.

They sought to build its capabilities — for research and analysis, for oversight, and for all the capabilities a branch of government charged with making policy might need.

When he first arrived in what he called the “President’s house” — the first president to do so—John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail to let her know he had arrived and that “The Building is in a State to be habitable.” And then he appended this: “May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.”

Forgiving him his assumption about a president’s gender, isn’t that the hope we all have to possess as citizens? That our political leaders are ever honest and wise? I certainly do.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar of the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Practicing politics at a high level – part 1

By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative and Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government

 Over a lifetime in politics, I’ve met a lot of interesting, impressive politicians. But those I truly admired were men and women who were adept at the arts both of politics and legislating — a rare combination of talents. They’re a reminder these days of what consummate skill looks like.

Wilbur Mills, a Democrat from Arkansas who chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, was a master of legislative detail. When Mills was on the floor, it was never really an equal debate, because his grasp of the internal revenue code was so overwhelming.

Jim Wright of Texas and Hale Boggs of Louisiana, also both Democrats, were great orators with vibrant, unique voices. They seldom referred to notes, but I suspect they practiced — the chuckle in the right place, the extended pause at the perfect moment.

Edith Green, a Democrat from Oregon, was a potent force behind Title IX, the 1972 law that did so much to end sex discrimination in education. Green, too, was a highly effective debater, who had a keen sense of when the time was right to wage a fight. She paved the way for many talented women who followed her.

Charlie Halleck of Indiana and H.R. Gross of Iowa, both Republican, were parliamentary masters who could stall or just plain defeat legislation by the adroit use of just the right parliamentary maneuver. John Anderson of Illinois served as the principal Republican voice at a time when the GOP was in the minority. He was a powerful debater and took delight in verbal combat, while making plain his devotion to the nation.

You couldn’t call Tip O’Neill, the legendary Speaker of the House from Massachusetts, a great orator. But he was a truly great politician. He had a knack for putting people at ease, calming tensions, and softening debates.

Mike Mansfield, the Senate Majority Leader from Montana, had similar gifts. He was decent, humble, fair-minded, and spread credit to everyone around him while taking none for himself.

Finally, Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma somehow managed to unite northeastern liberals and southern conservatives in his party. They opposed one another in ideology and culture, yet Albert often reconciled the irreconcilable with grace and insight. He listened patiently to people, trying to understand their points of view, patch things up, and find even the tiniest plot of ground for consensus.

 Next: What they all had in common.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar of the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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What’s in a name?

By Judy Reed

Shakespeare tried to answer that question in Romeo and Juliet. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I don’t know if the Sand Lake Fire Chief would agree with that, nor do I know whether he smells sweet. When I see him at a fire scene, the air smells like burning wood and so does everyone else. The acrid odor of smoke fills your nostrils and burns your eyes and gets in your hair and I usually leave feeling like I need to take a shower. No sweet smell of roses there.

Recently, he and his crew, along with the Cedar Springs Fire Department, fought a fire in Nelson Township where many animals died. I wrote about it in last week’s Post. When I write about something like that, I try to identify the person with their job title and their name. And when you read it, you think, oh yeah, I know him, or her. The problem is, you might not have recognized the name of the Sand Lake Fire Chief in last week’s paper. Or maybe you sort of did. 

While banging out that story on my trusty keyboard last week I morphed the current Sand Lake Fire Chief (Ed Holtzlander) with the former Fire Chief (Bob Hawkins) from about 7 or 8 years ago. Yes, that’s right. I called him Fire Chief Ed Hawkins.

Ed called and ribbed me about it. I couldn’t believe I did it. Why that name popped out of my brain and on to the page I’ll never know. I can only guess that it’s because I’ve been at this job for a long time (12 years full time and 12 years part time before that) and I have seen a lot of people come and go. I apologized for the error. Thanks, Ed, for taking it in stride. Look at the bright side: at least I had two chiefs from the same fire department. It could have been worse—I could’ve typed “Ed Fraser” or something, and then I would have had some explaining to do to both you and Marty! (Marty Fraser is the Fire Chief in Cedar Springs.)

As I said, I don’t know about smelling sweet, but I think it’s pretty sweet what you all do every day—putting your lives on the line to put out fires, helping the injured at crash scenes, giving aid in medical emergencies—all for low pay and little thanks. You deserve better. And I’m sorry I got your name wrong. 

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What does it really mean to be patriotic?

Lee Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton, Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government

Patriotism has been on a lot of people’s minds lately. Just ahead of the midterm elections, The New York Times noted that two clashing visions of patriotism were heading to the polls. President Trump and Republicans saw patriotism as “conspicuous displays of respect for the traditional expressions of America—the flag, the military, the Pledge of Allegiance.” Democrats, by contrast, saw it as protecting the norms and institutions of our democracy.

I don’t entirely buy this distinction, at least when it comes to partisan labels. I’ve known plenty of Democrats who consider it patriotic to honor the flag, the military, and the Pledge. And I’ve known a lot of Republicans who value our democratic traditions.

But the two broad strands outlined by The Times inarguably exist. For myself, I believe that patriotism means getting on with the serious business of improving our country. It means that we strive to ensure that we live up to our pledge of liberty and justice for all. In this formulation, patriotism is best expressed not in parades or speeches or exhortations or conspicuous displays, but in what we do.

So much of our national discussion of patriotism is about military heroes. This is important, but it’s an incomplete view of love of country. We encounter patriotism at all levels of American life. The teacher in the classroom, the parents who raise their children to be good citizens, the clerk who keeps town records and helps people vote, the ordinary working person who goes about her tasks with dedication and proficiency — patriotism can be found everywhere in our communities, among people who pursue their lives with the good of the country at heart.

We have inherited a magnificent political legacy, a set of customs and traditions that give ordinary people the tools and power to improve life for themselves and succeeding generations. Patriotism lies in our efforts to enlarge that legacy so that it applies to all citizens.

It means we defend civil liberties, the right to dissent, and the equality before the law of all Americans. And it means that upholding our core values — tolerance, mutual respect, the right of everyone to be heard, the belief that in pursuing our own lives and interests we all are capable of contributing to the vibrancy of our democracy — is every bit as patriotic as placing our hand over our heart while reciting the Pledge.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar of the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Vet appreciates anonymous note

This note was given to my husband, a 91-year-old WWII veteran, at the Burger King in Cedar Springs by a young lady who recently graduated from Cedar Springs High School last year. I thought it might be appropriate to post the letter to all local vets. My husband was deeply touched by her verbal “thank-you” as she pushed this note toward him as she left the restaurant.

Here is the text: 

Dear World War Two Vet,

Hi! I am a stranger, but I am indebted to you. It is because of people like you that I can do the things I do. I do not know or understand what you’ve been through, but I appreciate your commitment to keeping the country safe. You have my utmost respect and gratitude. Thank you for your sacrifice and service. Thank you for being willing to put your life on the line to keep total strangers away from harm. America is founded on men with hearts like yours. You are a true hero.

A thankful stranger.

A few people suggested that I submit the letter to the Post to not only recognize local vets but also to recognize the thoughtful young lady, who like many others these days show their gratitude long over due to vets still living, who deserve to be thanked.

Margaret Bieszka, Plainfield Township

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