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Thursday, March 4, 2010

BOE, Plainfield politics: Is your Devil too large?

Comments on my Plainfield Board of Ed election post yesterday (see post and comments here) put me in mind of J.B. Phillips' classic Your God Is Too Small.

Or, rather, a mirror image metaphor: the intensity of demonizing -- of Dr. Gallon, Dan, various BOE candidates -- suggests to me that some folks' investment in the BOE race indicates their 'Devil is too large'.

In the first place, because some folks don't read me carefully word-for-word and just apply their cardboard-cutout view to a post, trying to make it sound like I say things I don't say.

Secondly, because the BOE situation -- and political life in Plainfield generally -- is no more and no less messy than the rest of life, generally speaking.

I believe we can get much farther, much faster and in much better shape if we think before we speak (or write), investigate the real world and real-world options, look for common ground and common-sense solutions, and resist the tendency to demonize everyone with whom we do not see eye-to-eye on every question.

As for
J.B. Phillips, his book Your God Is Too Small was an eye-opener to this young whippersnapper when he entered college to prepare for ministry in the Evangelical United Brethren Church (of blessed memory; sometimes known as 'the German Methodists').

Converted at a Billy Graham rally in Toronto at fourteen, I became something of a sensation in the two yoked EUB congregations in Dunkirk and Laona, NY. For the local faithful, the thought of raising up a preacher from among them was enticing.

And preach I did, thanks to Pastor Byron Esch, a gentle steelworker-turned-preacher who saw something at work in this young kid, putting him in the pulpit on a frequent basis. (Unlike with the boy preacher Jimmy Joe Jeeter in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, there was never any evidence of miraculous healings, and no radios falling into the bathtub.)

Having been imbued by these same congregations as articles of faith that card-playing, dancing and lipstick were sure signs you were on the road to perdition, it was quite a shock to find -- at one of the denomination's very own colleges, mind you! -- college-sponsored dances, all-night dorm dayroom card-playing, and preachers' daughters wearing lipstick!

J.B. Phillips had a remedy for that: stretching your ideas of God.

It would behoove us to stretch our ideas of the Devil, too.

PS: Eventually, I became a pretty good card player.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Nice try, but the comments tend to follow the dictum: "Above average people talk about ideas, average people talk about events, below average people talk about people."

Anonymous said...

This comment doesn't have much to do with the article - maybe peripherally - but i see no references in your blog to this issue, so here goes.

Yesterday I got a letter from the City of Plainfield - tax advice about property taxes. For this year my property tax is around $7,000. OK I can live with that, an incremental (i.e., Small) increase from last year.\

What scared the HECK out of me was the message in a box at the top, to the effect that Due to state aid, Plainfield does not have to charge me the REST of my property tax which is $12,000.


I have never seen a notice of this nature on the tax advice before.

This notice freaked me out and had me upset all day long.

I called up Cory Storch to ask about it but he never returned my call.

I am concerned that tripling my property tax would drive me out of my home.

I was very worried all day long. Then I went out to dinner and mentioned this issue to my dinner mates.

One of them is a retired Tax Manager and she explained to me that since Plainfield has Urban Enterprise Zones, part of the deal with that is that they do NOT charge me that extra property tax unless they lose their UEZ.

Essentially that whole notice in the box was a Scare Tactic.

Plainfield wants me to think that if Gov. Christie cuts aid to municipalities, then my taxes will go up $12,000 per year.


Brought to me by the Democratic government of Plainfield.

I imagine a whole lot of other homeowners got this notice and are similarly scared.

You should cover this issue.

Anonymous said...

Dan, your blog is evidence that your own devil is much too large. You demonize certain people all the time and frankly, you set a bad example and consistently contribute to the fractious nastiness of politics in Plainfield. It's too bad--you do have talent, but you misuse it.

Elizabeth Olmstead McBride said...

Dan, I'm trying to find Shirley Esch, whose Dad was the minister you write of in Laona, NY. Shirley and I were nursing school classmates. Do you know where she or any of her family is now? Thank you so much.

Dan said...

To ELizabeth McBride -- I tracked down the obits for Byron and Mary Esch online, which led me to discover that Bobbie (Robert) was living in the Easton, PA area. Did find an email and phone number for him, but sadly all that was lost when my laptop got fried this past summer.

Try using and see if you have any luck.

Also, you can drop me a line at my Gmail, which is easier to stay in touch --

I would love to know how the Esch 'kids' are doing (I'm hitting 72) -- we had such grand times growing up together in those wonderful little congregations!!