Charity Begins at Home


Last week, I had an interesting correspondence with an old friend named Chaz, a pastor in a Midwestern church that would be considered by most people to fall on the liberal side of most political issues. Chaz was writing about the decision by World Vision, the mammoth international charity organization best known for allowing kind-hearted First World folks to sponsor needy Third World children, to open employment to married same-sex couples.


Frederick Marvin, 91, and Ernst Schuh, 89, were married on the steps of Syracuse City Hall. Photo by Joel Rinne.

The announcement came with a reminder that the evangelical-based organization still considered homosexuality a sin. World Vision President Richard Stearns said that the unanimous decision by the organization’s board “allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.” My friend, who has for years sponsored a child in Central America via World Vision, thought of this as a step forward.

I could see his point, but I pressed him on the issue. It’s not about how they decide on the issue of other people’s love lives; it’s the fact that they take it upon themselves to decide at all. How is it, I wondered, that one group gets to choose for another? How does one person decide that another has the right to be who they are, or not? It didn’t seem right that access to the right to be married should be determined by the vote of a board. And it’s willing to give you a job … that comes along with a reminder that you were going to burn in hell. I just wasn’t feeling the love.

Chaz is a thoughtful guy, and we began to delve into our areas of disagreement and to find some common ground, when World Vision cut the whole discussion short by announcing that the board members were changing their minds. Even 48 hours of welcoming all of us into the fold was apparently too much for the leaders of World Vision.

The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman,” said a statement signed Stearns and by Jim Beré, chairman of the World Vision U.S. board. The statement apologized for its failure to be consistent with the Bible’s teachings.

One step forward, two steps back,” wrote Chaz.

Shaving Points

Progress sometimes comes in fits and starts

It’s a dilemma too many Orange fans face going into the Final Four weekend. You picked based on your head instead of your heart, and now you’ve got a bracket that’s in contention while the Orange are sitting on the sidelines.

There’s no denying the quotient of shame and the heavy burden I bear for not picking Boeheim’s guys to go all the way this year. Every year until now I’ve picked the Orange to win the national championship, only to watch cooler heads (or luckier ones, like my nephew Leo, who picks on the based on team mascots) pocket the hundred bucks that my late, great father-in-law, George Winters, endowed this bracket with.

This year I’m tied for the lead, with a good chance of taking the prize.

So if I should win, what am I going to do with this blood money? There can be no enjoying this booty based on basketball betrayal.

So here’s the deal: If I win, the money goes to Bodie Centore, the cute kid you see in the above photos. Bodie is one of the hundreds of people who will get their heads shaved this weekend at Kitty Hoynes a part of the campaign by St. Baldrick’s Foundation to conquer childhood cancer.

To learn more about it — or even better, to help — go to the page for Bodie’s team, the Baldacious Baldies: HERE

You might not feel less guilty for picking against the home team, but at least you can put that blood money to a good cause. And you’ll know for sure that you have picked a team of winners.

New Times Rising

listphotoI’m hoping that you have noticed some new things going on at the New Times lately. Counter to the trends in some towns … and well, some parts of this town … your alternative weekly has decided to dig itself in and try to expand our coverage of important issues, in print as well as online.

In this space, you can expect to see the same brand of commentary on issues local and global that has been appearing under the banner of Sanity Fair for nearly 10  years. I welcome ideas and suggestions for topics.

More importantly, you’ll see our news coverage expanding. We hope to make our modest contribution to informing the Syracuse community on issues that may be falling between the cracks in coverage elsewhere. We don’t pretend to have the answer to the shrinking presence of professional news gatherers in our town; we can only promise to keep shining a light and telling you what we see.

Help us out. I’ll take seriously any ideas that come my way.

This week’s cover story: We’re not interested in merely sounding alarm bells, but we do think the residents of Onondaga County have a legitimate interest in knowing when dangerous cargo is coming through our backyards. When a major rail shipper says it can’t tell us what’s on the train … well, we think you ought to know that. When the county official responsible for emergency management doesn’t think it’s important enough to tell us what the plan is in case of a derailment or an explosion … well, we think maybe you should know about that. (By the way, his name is Kevin Wisely and his number is 435-2525. I hope you have better luck than I did).

One of my favorite quotes about journalism is usually attributed to George Orwell. Sometimes Bill Moyers is credited with saying it:  “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”  It’s unlikely that either Moyers or Orwell ever said it, but it sums up pretty well the type of news reporting the New Times seeks to nurture. And today it’s more important than ever. Stick with us. We’re all figuring this out together.


Ed Griffin-NolanEd Griffin-Nolan is a journalist who believes we have to ask the hard questions no matter whose interests are at stake. Sanity Fair is his weekly take on life, politics and society.

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