Benny's World

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Thank You, Dr. George Tiller and Eric Holder

A few minutes ago, I went to to read about the preparations for George Tiller's funeral. I've been very concerned for the family that a bunch of wingnuts would show up and try to disrupt the funeral service or block people for paying their respects. One wingnut is there already, but he is not protesting Dr. Tiller's life as much as he is supporting Operation Rescue and the fundies.

Fortunately, the US Marshals are there, along with the Wichita Police for security. The funeral service is at 10am. The American Legion came to honor Dr. Tiller's service in the military. Seems fitting given it is D-Day's 65th anniversary.

I will give an update later when I find more news, but for now, may the service go well. He's earned his final rest, and his family deserves to honor his memory. According to, Wendy Anderson, spokeswoman for Tiller family, just distributed written copies of this statement:
"Family, friends and colleagues have come together to celebrate the life of a devoted humanitarian and loving father, grandfather and husband, George R. Tiller, M.D. People are here today from across the country to celebrate and honor the life of a man who wholeheartedly dedicated his life to kindness, courtesy, justice, love and respect."
I'm praying for peace and for Dr. Tiller's family. It's horrible what they went through, all for women's health services.

Thank you Eric Holder, our national AG, for providing more security requested by the family.

Update: NOW has 25 women standing strong for the family in front of the Church. (photo courtesy of

My note in the virtual guestbook for the family:

May Dr. Tiller's family find peace and strength during a time of shadows. You can be proud of Dr. Tiller's accomplishments, especially as a family man. You knew his passion for saving women's lives. You knew him as a person of faith. I wish you well as you go through your grief for his loss. Indeed, we are all saddened by his loss, but yours is more than ours. You knew him better than nearly all of us.

And for Dr. Tiller also, Mahler's #2, Resurrection, last movement:

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Elizabeth Edwards at Quail Ridge Books

Elizabeth gave a reading of her book a couple of weeks ago. BW reader Cherbium pointed to this video on the Huffington Post. She gets the credit for finding this gem.

Elizabeth is funny and engaging.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Always Good to Hear from the Resilient Elizabeth Edwards

I found a podcast from a phone conversation between Elizabeth and Deborah Kotz of US News and World Report. It was released today.

If you prefer to read excerpts, you can go here.

Hearing Elizabeth always heartens me about her strength.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

KoKo Taylor Passed the Great Divide Tonite

I saw KoKo Taylor do a dance on behalf of Libraries.. albeit a vendor paid her. That was OK.

I will miss her. She was awesome.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Four Freedoms (with Updates)

Yesterday was another terrible day of terrorism at a church. Little did I know when I put up the Sunday Morning Music that within a couple of hours, someone of the right wing persuasion carried out a homicide on a parishioner, this time in Wichita, KS.

The parishioner was not exactly unknown to many; it was Dr. George Tiller, a practitioner in women's health and reproductive rights. His clinic provided termination of pregnancy in its last trimester in order to save the life of a mother who would have died from the complications of birth. As Desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland succinctly penned in her diary about Dr. Tiller's clinic's services:

Tiller was not only serving women in Kansas. Many states, including Iowa, lack any clinic where women with a compelling medical reason can get a late-term abortion. (Contrary to propaganda you may have heard, healthy women with healthy pregnancies can't just walk into Tiller's clinic and get an abortion in the third trimester.) I have no idea where these women will go now.
This is not a bravado moment for the Randall Terry and his ilk at the moment, even he thinks it is. Politically, it serves the moderate wing of GOP (such as the Megan McCain's) poorly. Why?

Let's get back to a term that the GOP likes to use: Freedom. Freedom this, Freedom that. Has to do with Lincoln's fight for freeing the slaves. But they forget what it really means in pragmatic terms.

Remember FDR? The man who led us during the worst economic times? He created Social Security, something the Republicans despise and call an entitlement. FDR also spoke of a different type of entitlement January 1941, when FDR gave a speech to Congress, in which one section is commonly known as the Four Freedoms. Here is the excerpt:

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look
forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression
-- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world
terms, means economic understandings which will secure to
every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants
-- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into
world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments
to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation
will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression
against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

The community that welcomed Dr. Tiller was violated on two of those freedoms. Last evening, I wrote to Lowell Michelson, the senior minister of the Reformation Lutheran Church (site of the murder), via their website:

Dear Pastor Lowell:
Today two of the four freedoms that FDR spoke of nearly 4 decades ago were violated in the sacred ground of your church. I want to commend you and your parishioners for staying strong with the membership of Dr. Tiller and his family of your church, and not being afraid until this terrorist entered your hallowed place of worship. My thoughts are not only with Dr. Tiller's family, but of you and your church. I hope you will reclaim your sacred ground and ensure the community that terrorists are not tolerated and they are to be brought to justice.

In faith, my prayers,

I read this morning that Planned Parenthood and specific other clinics would be guarded by the US Marshals. I hope they lend support to the RFC during the funeral. Too many lunatics will be out protesting and safety is an issue. Thus, what about our freedom to worship without fear? I'm probably more sensitive to this issue because a UU church was terrorized by wingnut who was homophobic. A Baptist minister in Illinois was gunned down during a service earlier this year.

I think those who oppose abortion rights should reconsider that the suspect had been making others afraid because of a document he read last year (the Defensive Action), doing so at a sacred ground to worship the God is terrorism because it is aimed at a community, not just a person. President Obama issued this statement, and I agree wholeheartedly:


I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.

It is important, as Pastor Lowell wrote in his most recent newsletter:

As our world and neighborhoods become increasingly diverse on all fronts, it is imperative that we engage each other with attitudes of hospitality and a willingness to listen in the name of
Jesus. It is hard work, but we cannot retreat to ourselves. We need each other.

Don’t check out – tune in.
Listen – everyone has a story.
Discover what you have in common.

Celebrate how God is at work in others. Recognize that God is at work through you.

Amen, Pastor.

My chalice burns brightly for the church and for the Tiller family as they work through the grief of this murder. And I would imagine the TVUUC is reaching out to the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita to reclaim its freedoms violated in a sacred place.

Update: Pastor Dan at Street Prophets penned an excellent diary, questioning the "Christianity" of anyone who carries out violence against someone.

Update II: The RFC issued a statement this afternoon, very much aligned with what I posted here:

The Reformation Lutheran Church family is shocked and deeply saddened by the violent murder of Dr. George Tiller, a longtime member of our congregation, that occurred in our church home May 31.

Our congregation strives to be a safe place for all people. We deplore the violence that took place within the walls of our church. Further, we reject any notion that violence against another human being is an acceptable way to resolve differences over any issue. We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.

In the wake of this tragic event, our deepest concern is for the family of George Tiller. We ask the community to join us in prayer for them as they face the difficult days ahead. Our hearts ache with them. We also ask that the family's privacy be respected.

Members of Reformation Lutheran Church have been deeply affected by this tragedy. To address their needs, we are assembling a team of crisis intervention specialists.

In this time of uncertainty, we stand firm in the promises of Jesus Christ: forgiveness, hope, love, and new life, even from death. We pray for healing and peace to be restored. We offer our thanks for the many prayers of support from across the country. Your words of encouragement are a blessing to the people of Reformation Lutheran Church and Wichita.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Morning Music for Marriage Equality

Last night, JeremiahFP (originally a JRE supporter in 2007) posted a diary at DK about his engagement to Karla. They've been together for 11 years, known each other since a summer camp. This is a big step for them, but what they recognize is that 50 years ago, the marriage wouldn't have been allowed legally or culturally. Why? The couple is interracial.

Today they are leading a rally for marriage equality in Queens. The NY state assembly is scheduled to vote on marriage equality soon. Jeremiah and Karla want to see it passed. They, like yours truly, do not see why gay people are ready for a legal commitment, shouldn't have one.

Karla is an actress and she sang at a Broadway for Equality concert a month ago. Here's the clip. Hope you enjoy her talented voice as much as I do.

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