death row and ‘Stations of the Cross’

For Good Friday, I went with a group for a prayer service in front of the State House in Atlanta.   One t-shirt read:   “Jesus was a victim of the death penalty.”   The group leader this day, Calvin Kimbrough, said we were gathering in front of the State House because the legislation for Georgia’s Death Penalty law was crafted inside.   (The group does a protest vigil here on the day of practically every execution.)   Ed Weir has a ministry to those on death row in Georgia’s Jackson Prison.   He said the first time he went there, upon entering, he was questioned by a guard — positioned high up in a 50 foot tower.   “He was the receptionist,” Weir laughed (only sort of).   He said once past this guard, he was led through an underground tunnel, past a series of heavy metal doors and finally into the room where the prisoner was.   A prisoner who is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day.   A prisoner who has little hope of ever seeing the outside again. “There is more to a person than the worst moments of their life,” Ed quoted Murphy Davis, co-founder of the Open Door Community here. Note:   I also saw a very dramatic “Stations of the Cross” depiction today at the Open Door.   It was a series of posters from around the world depicting each station.   Some examples:   For “Jesus carries his cross,” a Mayan father carries a small wooden casket on his back through the streets toward the cemetery.   His son had just been killed in war-torn Guatemala…   For “Simon helps Jesus,” two six-year-old South American boys push a heavy cart of rocks with the caption:   “They bear each others’ burdens where children have no time for study or play…”   And for “Jesus falls a third time,” there is a picture of a stick thin woman in India dying alone on the sidewalk below a shop window featuring expensive, pristine statues of Jesus.   The caption:   “When people ignore the true     image of God in one another…”   And so it will be today in ‘pristine’ churches with pristine statues across the country.   People, many people, will go, will pray, will sing laments about Jesus’ death… and then give hardly a thought (much less any significant money or volunteer time) to help those dying without health care insurance; to help those dying of starvation in the Third World; to help those violently dying on the urban streets of America…   It’s like we’ve bought into this ‘Hallmark Card’   version of Jesus, while the ‘true’ Jesus sleeps in the back alleys with the homeless.   And we sleep in our comfortable beds next to the expensive, pristine cross on the wall.   Note 2:   Leo Chang comes to the Open Door Community for Holy Week from Memphis Theological Seminary every year.   He goes out on the street for the week in solidarity with the homeless.   Last year he was robbed at gun point.   Undaunted, he’s back again this year.   “I feel a call to be out here with the people who are poor,” he said to me.   Note 3:   The day I was homeless in the city, a group of us were discussing the Biblical scene where Jesus angrily turns over the tables in the temple.   During a short talk at an Open Door service later that evening, I said if Jesus came back today to Atlanta, I believe he’d ‘turn over’ the huge Coca Cola sign shadowing Woodruff Park.   They make non-nutritional beverages at a profit, while one sixth of the world doesn’t have access to clean drinking water.   I said Jesus would then overturn the Georgia Pacific Lumber high rise just beyond the other end of the park.   I said if GP is like so many other lumber companies these days, they rape the land without much of a second thought about environmental consciousness.   Then… I said Jesus would probably come to our apartment in Cleveland, where he’d turn over the maybe a-little-too-nice kitchen table made of Georgia Pacific wood — spilling the Coca Cola can on top of the table in the process.   We Americans are, indeed, complicit.

About Joe Schriner

Common man, Common sense, Uncommon solutions. "In an era when presidential campaigns run on multi-million dollar war chests, lavish fundraising dinners and high gloss television ads, Joe Schriner is a different breed of candidate." - The Herald, Monterey, California. Joe at a glance... Age: 56. Family: Husband of 17 years, and father. Faith: Catholic. Home state: Ohio. Graduate of Bowling Green State University. Journalist and author. Also a former addictions counselor, with an emphasis on family systems. Independent presidential candidate in four successive election cycles. On the road campaigning extensively. In between campaign tours, now does part-time house painting and light handyman work to make ends meet (aka: Joe the painter). Volunteer work with: Brown County (OH) Board of Mental Health; Catholic Worker outreach to the poor in the inner city of Cleveland; We Are the Uninsured Healthcare Movement in Ohio. Inner city youth league baseball and soccer coach (won some, lost some). Hobbies: Trying to beat his wife at "Scrabble," weight lifting, swimming, photography, sandlot baseball, soccer, football and basketball with his children. In Joe's words... I'm, for the most part, your average Midwesterner, I told the Duluth (MN) News. I jog in a pair of gray sweats. My favorite spots to eat are your basic diners. Whats more, I cut my own lawn. Oh, and Im running for president. I told the Lancaster (OH) Eagle Gazette that the reason I am running for president is that I am a concerned parent. That is, I don't want to leave a world of climate change, war, abortion, rural and inner city poverty, violent streets, nuclear proliferation, astronomical national debt, little social security, dwindling access to healthcare to our children. What sane parent would? Now, I didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or even Rutgers for that matter. I went to Bowling Green State University where I majored in journalism. I then worked for a couple intermediate-sized Ohio newspapers. I later became an addictions counselor. And in 1990, as a lead up to the presidential run, I took my journalism skills on the road to look for common sense solutions to the societal problems I outlined above. And in some tremendously extensive, cross-country research (that has continued during my years of campaigning), I've found those solutions.        Getting policies enacted... Amidst abject poverty on the Southside of Chicago, I learned how to end homelessness. In Atwood, Kansas (pop. 1,500), I learned how to balance the National Budget. In Grand Junction, Colorado, I learned how to get quality healthcare for all. In High Springs, Florida, I learned how to end global warming, for good. In Eunice, New Mexico, I learned how to unequivocally solve the immigration issue. And it was with this information, and much more, that I am running for president. No big money. No special interest backing. Just with tried solutions to make the country a much better place for our kids. While campaigning for president the past 12 years (and over 100,000 road miles), I've been telling people about these answers in hundreds of talks, more than 1,000 newspapers, a lot of radio, television and in a very up-close-and-personal way on the street corners of America. I told Channel 10 News in Albany, Georgia, that I can get a policy enacted long before I ever get to D.C., if somebody picks up on an idea and tries it in their town. And who knows how far out it will ripple out from there. So in a small way, I said during a talk at Toledo University, I am already president now! The students all smiled, politely. Be the change... I am also a firm believer that this won't be a better world for our children until more of us follow the saying: Be the change you want to see in the world. In this pursuit, my family and I try to live the messages we are conveying, at least the best we can. On a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, I said our platform asks some people to consider moving into the inner cities of America to live side-by-side with the poor. So our family moved to the heart of Cleveland, Ohio, where we volunteered at an outreach to the poor. I told the Tifton (GA) Gazette that our family has also set aside a Christ Room for the homeless at our place. And in D.C. we'd do the same thing in the West Wing. Just like I may well be looking for a youth baseball team to coach when I get there. I recently coached an inner city Rec. Center League team in Cleveland. On draft day I picked the kids who looked liked they'd be picked last, first. And apparently I did pretty well with this, because we lost almost all the games. Many of the kids on the team, sadly, didn't have a father at home. And many of these families don't have healthcare insurance either, just like two million other Ohioans. To help try to reverse this, my children and I have done volunteer work for the We Are The Uninsured Movement in Ohio. The reason our children are involved is because Liz and I want them learning as much about helping others -- as they do learning about math, science and English, I told The Mississippi Press. In fact, our education platform calls for a lot more local community involvement with students. I we also propose many more classes be focused on environmental awareness. To do our family's part for the environment, we created a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone." (I even put a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone" sign up in the front yard, to Liz's embarrassment.) We live in small places, use little air conditioning, cut the thermostat back in the winter, bicycle or walk almost everywhere within a five-mile radius and we recycle practically everything. And in D.C., we'd do all this as well. I mean, those big black limos alone can be such gas guzzlers anyway, right? Heal the family... "My concern for the environment, for the disadvantaged, for the unborn flows out of my spirituality. I'm Catholic, and trying to live the essence of the Gospel message is what I try to be about," I told columnist Mike Haynes of the Amarillo (TX) Globe News. And part of living the Gospel message is being centered in faith, having time for family, being concerned about others. I'm not the poster guy for all that, but I try. What's more, its Liz and my role to make sure our children have a wholesome and emotionally healthy upbringing. And I have some additional expertise in the latter area. Besides having been a journalist, I was also a counselor who worked with family system dynamics. And it is my contention that the current breakdown of the family in America (parents being physically or emotionally abusive, or absent, or addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, media entertainment, work) is creating a constellation of societal problems, I told ABC News in Monterey, California. Because of these dysfunctional family dynamics (and they seem to be everywhere these days), kids grow up depressed, angry and emotionally empty. As a result, incidence of domestic violence, street violence, addiction, mental and emotional problems spike in kind for the next generation, and the next... "So to heal the country, you have to heal the family. Theres just no way around it," I told the Bangor (ME) News. And we have a solid plan to do this, based on research weve done in Arthur, Illinois, Holbrook, Arizona, Carmel Valley, California, etc. Snow shoveling... Now when I'm not grappling with these pressing societal issues, my wife Liz is beating me at "Scrabble" (an issue in itself), or I'm playing racquetball with some buddies, or I'm trading baseball cards with our kids. That is, I'm doing all this in between doing chores for Liz. During a campaign talk in Wichita, Kansas, I was asked what the first thing I'd do as president was. I responded that "wed get to D.C. in January, so it would probably be snowing. If that, indeed, were the case -- the first thing Liz would have me do is: shovel the walk. " That will probably be a new one for the Secret Service. And so it goes... Joe

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