Recently, after opposing the idea of extending Augusta's bus service in Columbia County, I got two types of feedback. Many agreed; just one disagreed.
But she's an important one.
Carolyn Moore, pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, read me chapter and verses of James 2. In essence, it says that Christians are guilty of ungodly favoritism if we show favor to the wealthy and discourage the poor.
I have no choice but to plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of public opinion, where forgiveness is fleeting.
We really aren't very charitable, are we? We got a pretty good answer recently when Martinez Elementary parents began gathering signatures opposing a nearby transition home for alcoholics.
Many comments regarding the residents of the home were anything but Christian, though most of the people who signed the petition probably consider themselves Christians.
Face it. We like to help the downtrodden at a distance, to keep the unclean at arm's length. Send a donation to the soup kitchen, especially if it keeps 'em from moving in next door.
But the speck I'm seeing in society's eye is the plank in my own. I don't want public-transit buses coming further into Evans because there is a strong correlation between bus ridership and crime; yet as Moore counters, not everyone who is poor is a criminal.
And I don't want more apartments; owners make better neighbors than renters, and our schools already are overcrowded. Yet as Moore again reminds me, not every solid citizen can afford to buy a home.
I'm afraid I'm guilty on all counts, and it's caused quite an internal struggle. How does one square up civic and fiscal responsibility in a secular society with their Christian faith that demands a charitable attitude toward the less fortunate?
Moore insists one is impossible without the other. James 2 backs her up.
So, does this mean I'm suddenly in favor of taxpayer-subsidized bus service or high-density housing?
Nope. But I no longer feel smug about having so many people agree with me when one gentle disagreement carries such weight.
Toughen up, Ron
Ron Thigpen is a smart businessman, and has long and ably served in appointed positions on the county's Development Authority and on the Planning and Zoning Board (he's chairman of both). He plans to ask the voters for a job for the first time next year when he runs for County Commission.
He obviously needs to thicken his skin first.
This past week, the president of the Windmill Homeowners Association said Thigpen has a conflict of interest and should stay out of the discussion of the Riverwood West rezoning. Thigpen is vice-president and chief operating officer of Georgia Bank and Trust Co.; Robert Pollard, the Riverwood land owner, serves on Georgia Bank and Trust's Board of Directors.
When such a charge is publicly made, reporters routinely give both sides an opportunity to make their case and let the readers sort it out. A reporter sought Thigpen's response, and he gave a decent explanation of his refusal to abstain from the discussion - but asked that the entire topic be kept out of the paper because it was a personal attack on (his) integrity.
Oh, please. Thigpen is a great guy, but he'd better outgrow that defensive attitude before he runs.
If Thigpen is afraid his ethics are called into question just because a reporter asks for his side of the story, how will he handle a bruising political race? Cry like a school girl?
C'mon, Ron. Toughen up.
I wrote the other day that the Columbia County Republican Party got all four members of the county's legislative delegation to attend its recent breakfast, while the Chamber of Commerce didn't.
I was half-right. State Rep. Ben Harbin was absent from the GOP meeting.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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