mnl's links and places to visit!

mnl, Queens, NY: my homepage
Loving Grace Ministries--Let's Talk About Jesus: webpage of my favorite Christian radio program--no right-winged Republicanism here!
New Life Fellowship Church: my home church!
Irene Cara: my fanpage to one of my favorite stars
Phil Hartman: man of 1,000 faces and voices: started shortly before he died. One of my favorite Hartman sites
Dead Celebrities Society : Why laugh at death? Because it scares us! "Tributes" to those who have gone on before us. Warning: not for everyone.
MNL, QUEENS, NY: DISCUSS!: forum/message board. Come to the message board, pick a topic (relevant to this website) and start talking!
MNL's Holiday Page: Celebrate, Commemorate, and Party!: my how-to's on marking those special occasions, like Christmas, birthdays, etc. Scriptures included.
Exploring the Mind of Pia Cruz: a fascinating, complex site by one of my churchmates. Jokes, Bible commentary, dreams, poetry--and she wants to make a film, too!
Lmbaz: a work-in-progress by another churchmate.
"Never Enough...": the official Micky Dolenz Home Page: the Dolenz-sanctioned website of my favorite male star.
Hartmania!: Central location linking to creative works inspired by Phil Hartman, written by fans. I wanted this site so much I finally created it! Has its own guestbook, too.
New Hope Community Church, Flushing, NY: Of Pastor Stephen Schwander--who also goes to New Life Fellowship (come check this out)!
Ike and Heather's Place!: a young married couple in NLF; their family home page.
Lifetime Online: Dad's Diary: "In-house" column by Lifetime executive and former college classmate Brian Donlon. (A blast from my past.)
Listen up, Littleton!: my response to the Columbine High massacre: with essay, poem, letters, and links. (under construction)
Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher: Website of the ABC-TV late night show. Maher is mentioned in an essay here, and I like him a lot!
Anti Pat Robertson/Christian Coalition Page: Some heavy scrutiny and criticism--at least some of it warranted--of the "700 Club" host. Includes a lively guestbooks ranging from Christians to skeptics to atheist to pantheists.

MNL's   Thought   Waves!

I like whatever I create to have meaning--or at least
be entertaining.  Here will be essays, letters, Bible
studies--who knows, maybe even a short play!

What's here:

--A TALE OF TWO HEARTS: David, Michal, and worship
  (study by Linda Johnson)
  Matthew Shepard (letter)
--JOAN, THERESE, MARIA...PHIL? (essay with references)
--IN TRIBUTE TO MIKE McALARY, 1957-1998 (essay)

What's not here:
My response to the Columbine shooting is too vast for 
this page.  Check the links for the website.

Reactions?  Please sign the guestbook below! 
Or visit MNL's Message Board below, and
open a discussion!


"You are the salt of the earth... You are the light
of the world. ...let your light shine before men, that
they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in
heaven."  --from Matthew 5:13, 14, 16.

How do you and the world interact?

The India-Pakistan nuclear bomb race.  The first anni-
versary of Princess Diana's car crash.  The Irish peace
process.  The collapsing Russian economy.  The Clinton-
Lewinsky scandal.  The murder of Phil Hartman.  The 
yo-yo stock market.  The McGwire-Sosa home run race.
Plane crash in Nova Scotia.  Attacks on gays in 
Greenwich Village.  The Million Youth March...and that's
just this year!

As things happen "out there", you might be touched in
your heart, mind, or emotions.  You might devour the news,
skim it, ignore it.  You might discuss the news with 
friends.  You might rejoice, weep, get mad.

A news event might illuminate something in your personal
life.  It might move you to act, to change something in
your personal life.  You might even get involved somehow
in the event itself: a letter, a contribution, an Internet
entry, a rally, a memorial service, an act of volunteerism.

Answer these questions to yourself, then share if you will.

i.   What public event--past or present, city-wide, national,
or global--deeply touched you?  (Preferably something in
your lifetime.)  How did you respond to it?  What did you
WANT to do?  WHY did it touch you?  What did the event say
to you about yourself, God, life?

ii.  Were you ever involved in a public event?  How?

iii. What news event has reminded you of a Bible story or
a Scriptural quote?

Some "news events" in first-century Israel involved Jesus--
the slaughter of baby boys in Bethlehem, the execution of
John the Baptist, Jesus' relative.  Let's see how Jesus
relates to two events that have "nothing" to do with him.
Read Luke 13:1-5.

1.   What were the two events?  How did Jesus find out 
about one of them?

2.   What lessons, or comments, does Jesus extract from
these events?

3.   How does Jesus relate these events to his purpose?

4.   How does the parable in Luke 13:6-8 (the parable of
the unfruitful tree) relate to what Jesus said before?

5.   How might what Jesus said in Luke 12:54-59 relate?

In Acts 17:16-34, Paul walks into a foreign culture--Athens,
Greece.  How does he relate? How does he interact?

1.   What does Paul see in Athens that disturbs him? (v16)

2.   Where does Paul find an opening already in that
culture to introduce Jesus and the Gospel? (v22-23)

3.   What else in that culture does Paul use to support
him? (v28)

4.   What cultural trait makes the Athenians susceptible
to hearing the good news? (v19-21)

5.   How do the Athenians respond to Paul's message? (v32-34)

6.   In what current event or cultural trait TODAY do you
see an opening to spread the Gospel?  Have you used an
event to introduce the Gospel?

NOTE: This isn't necessarily a call to activism (though it
could be!).  This is a call to let the Spirit use current
events to illuminate things within you--to learn a lesson,
to bring God's light into your life or even into the event
itself.  This could be one of God's ways of revealing your
"passion" and how he wants to use you in the world.




   "Where will you lay down your life?"  William Sloane
Coffin asked his congregation that question when he was
senior minister at Riverside Church in New York City in
the 1980s.

   We [New Life Fellowship Church; this study was given in
my small home group] have been studying in Hebrews 11 about
faith and God's unique path for each of us.  In life we can
face danger: social, emotional, spiritual, financial, even
physical danger.  Abel merely worshipped God and was killed
for it.  Abraham made some choices when he thought the 
Egyptians might kill him to get Sarah.  Ultimately, unless
Jesus comes first, each of us will die, somehow.  So where
will you lay down your life?

   Though no fault of her own, Samson's Philistine bride 
found herself in danger of her life.  Let's see what 
choices this young woman made in the face of danger, and
whether those choices helped her.  Read Judges 14 and 

1. How was the young Philistine woman put in danger in
the first place?  (v. 14:15)

2. How did the young bride respond to the threat?  (v 16-17)

3. What might she have done instead?  What would YOU do?

4. What happened as a result to Samson, the men, and the
bride by the end of chapter 14?

5. What did Samson do at the beginning of chapter 15?  
What eventually happened to the woman? (v 15:6)

6. In light of her choice in chapter 14, did she finally
get what she hoped to accomplish?  Or did she get what
she hoped to avoid?

7. Could she have saved her life had she chosen differently?
How might a different choice have affected her inner life,
her relationship with Samson, her father, the men?

8. If you're willing, share a time you faced danger (not
necessarily physical) and how you handled it.

9.  Look at 2 Timothy 1:7.  Pray to God for spiritual
boldness, discretion, and wisdom.

6-15-98 approx.


A TALE OF TWO HEARTS: David, Michal, and worship
Study by Linda Johnson, New Life Fellowship

(Note: this study was written for the Youth Ministry at
New Life Fellowship)

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-23
     1 Chronicles 15:25-29

1.  What does this story say in your own words?

2.  What was Michal's heart toward this event? (v16)

3.  What were Michal's complaints?  Why do you think she
felt that way?

[mnl's note: look also at 1 Samuel 18 and 19, and 
 2 Samuel 3.]

4.  What ended up happening to Michal?  Who do you think?

5.  List the kinds of things Michal would say if she were
at your church.

6.  What would happen to Michal's heart if she remained at
New Life (or your own church) with that attitude?

7.  Whose heart is more like yours?  David's or Michal's?
In what ways?

Assignment: during church next week do a check on your own
heart, your attitudes, thoughts, and what you find yourself
doing during the worship/praise portion of the service.
Pray on it all during the week.



Her actions:
--She sits during worship watching what everyone else is
doing (balcony seats are best!).
--She only sings or claps when "her song" is being played.
--She gives a weekly critique on the worship team and 
dancers, musicians, singers.

Her complaints:
--I don't like this kind of music.
--What kind of dance is that????
--It just isn't in my nature to act like that.
--I don't sing that well anyway.  I'm not a singer.
--I'm too sleepy to stand up.

Her heart:
--What would people think if I got all excited.
--I must look cool at all times.
--She's focused on people and herself, not God.

Her "end":
--Critical, complaining, thankless.
--Spiritually dry and barren.
--Feels she must be missing something.  Why is 
everybody else so excited?


Now reread 2 Samuel 6:14, 17-13
and 1 Chronicles 15:28-29

1.  Describe the setting of the events described in this
passage.  What must it have looked like and sounded like?
Can you compare it to any festivity you have ever been to?

2.  What was in David's heart at the time of the return of
the ark?  Why did he dance?

3.  What was Michal doing while all this was going on?

4.  What was David's intent as he entered his home?  What
was he met with?

5.  What was David's response to Michal's complaint?  Say 
it over in your own words.

6.  What was David's "end"?  (2 Samuel 7:8-9, 12-16)

7.  From where did God bring David? (2 Samuel 7:8)  From
where did God bring YOU?


(becoming a worshipper)

* Get to know who God is.  Spend time alone with him
  every day.

* Build "altars".  Remind yourself often, through 
  journaling or sharing your testimony, what God has
  done and is doing for you

* Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal whatever pride, arrogance,
  bitterness, ingratitude, or sin prevents you from 
  becoming a worshipper.

* Learn about worship.  Make it a part of your prayer life.
  Read Psalms and buy worship tapes that you like.  Practice
  in private.

* OBEY GOD.  He does not call us to be judges of others or
  observers.  Nor does he want us to follow Him from afar.
  His word commands us to worship, and His character proves
  He is worthy of our praise.  Stop making excuses.

[mnl's note: I make reference to Michal and David in other
writings on this page.  Look throughout the story of David
in 1 and 2 Samuel, read about Michal, and you may gain more
insights into her character, her "changes", her motivation.]



In the Oct. 2-8, 1998 issue of Back Stage, the theater trade
magazine, was an article to which I wrote this response:

     I just read the article "Catholic League Blasts
Plays".  I'm not surprised the league's president 
believes "the artistic community...hates Catholicism
most.  The higher education community is a close second."
Artists and scholars need to question, explore, probe.
Religion based upon fear hates scrutiny.  I say the faith
that can't stand up under questioning is no faith at all.

     Centuries ago, actors and jesters were welcome in
church events--remember miracle plays?--until actors
satirized church abuses.  Then theater was labeled
satantic and tossed out of the church--like the Pharisees'
reaction to Jesus' parable against them (Luke 20:9-19).
[the parable of the tenants]

     Yes, sex is part of the arts/religion controversy.
I believe art, sex, and spirituality have the same source
in the human soul--the source of inspiration, sensitivity,
passion, high aspiration.  Fearful religion seeks to 
shackle the soul all to itself.  True faith puts God 
first, releasing the soul to love and respect God and 
people without fear.  Art and sex are cherished, 
expressed appropriately-not repressed.

     God is creative; so are we.  The Bible endorses 
most arts, especially music, dance, pageantry, poetry,
and fiction (parables).  Sculpture and crafts helped
build the Tabernacle and Temple.  You could say holy
communion is a living sculpture, a "performance art",
of Jesus' sacrifice.

     Often we misuse the arts like we misuse sex, 
money, power, intellect--and religion.  With God, we
individuals each represent God differently, like
rainbow colors from One Light. We are God's finest 
artwork.  Without God, we--artists, churchgoers, 
politicians--misrepresent Him.


(Biblical references: Psalms 45, 149, 150; Exodus 25-31;
II Samuel 12:1-14; II Chronicles 3-5; Luke 22:14-20)

(Backstage printed this letter in late Oct. or early Nov. 1998)

The murder of Matthew Shepard
   Funny how selectively people punish sin.  Two men
tortured and murdered Matthew Shepard, who was gay--
and small and frail.  I doubt those same men would
torture and murder a big burly football player who 
committed date rape, or a college professor who slept
with another man's wife.

   In Texas, James Byrd was dragged to death because 
he was Black.  In Wyoming, Shepard was slain, too, 
for being different.

   Two thousand years ago, another "Shepherd" was 
tortured and murdered because he was different.  He
died for Matthew and his two murderers and the girl-
friends who covered it up.  Those who are still alive
can still repent and seek forgiveness.  Really, which
is worse: to proposition someone or to kill someone?
(Read James 2:8-13.)



After I wrote this letter and sent it to USA Today's
letters page, I thought: decades ago, jazz singer
Billie Holliday sang that "Southern trees bear strange
fruit"--referring, of course, to lynching.  Seems 
these days, Wyoming fences bear strange scarecrows.

I'd said in the letter I sent that Matthew Shepard
was an actor, because I'd seen a video on a news show
of Shepard as a child giving a performance.  But no
news article I saw called him an actor; some said he
majored in political science.  Maybe that performance
I saw could've been a speech or debate as well as a
monologue or poetry reading.  The video was meant to
point out a special gift that was lost to us through
this murder.

I distributed copies of the above letter at the protest
and counter-protest at the Manhattan Theater Club on
West 55th Street over the new play "Corpus Christi",
which depicts a gay Christ-like character named Joshua
who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas.



Note: I've since read an Internet memorial to Matt Shepard,
at  Shepard was
an actor after all, involved in theater since age 5.  Which
makes the loss all the more tragic to me, since I'm an
actress and playwright.  RIP.




The people cried out, "Hosanna to the son of Arkansas!"
on Palm Tuesday, and the Pharisees didn't care.  No, the
morally upright Pharisees panicked and rushed to hold their
overnight trial.  Linda Iscariot had already handed over
the victim.  And I thought I heard the cock crow as
campaigning Democrats, then moderate Republicans, denied
him three times.

Nicodemus Dole spoke up for him, but High Priests Gingrich
and Starr brought in witness after witness against him.
After all, didn't he associate with taxgatherers and
prostitutes?  By dawn they impeached him.  Since they
couldn't legally execute him by themselves, they brought
him before Pontius Senate.  Pontius said, "He's crazy,
but I'll censure him and let him go."  The high priest
replied, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of
the Constitution."

Can the Sanhedrin stir up enough of a crown to shout
"Remove him!  Remove him!" and change Pontius Senate's
mind?  Will the American people wake up from their 
Passover night's sleep to find their "king" headed down
the Via Dolorosa?  And if he "dies", will he rise again?

Why am I having all these Easter images at Christmastime?



--the last chapters of all four Gospels
--The Book of Esther
  (Haman, prime minister of Persia, builds a gallows to
   hang Mordecai the Jew, Queen Esther's cousin.  If you
   don't know the ending, I won't spoil it for you.  But
   boy, does it fit!)



As you know, I, like many others, was deeply and prolongedly
affected by the Phil Hartman tragedy.

I grew up with an eclectic Christian background--Roman
Catholic, Episcopalian, Congregational--and personally
accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior in 1979, when I was 22.
In grade school two saints' stories impressed me--Joan of
Arc, and Therese of Lisieux.  Both were French young women
who died early, and their stories are very different.  Now
I don't pray to either one, yet their stories still
inspire me.

Joan is an obvious hero; she is to France what Mulan was
to China and Deborah Sampson Gannett was to the American
Revolution (although Sampson wasn't a leader).  A soldier
who defied convention, led by heavenly voices, Joan's 
unique faith led her to an English execution at about age
20--burned at the stake as a witch and heretic.  She wasn't
declared a saint until 1920--some four centuries!

Therese Martin--or Therese of Lisieux--wanted to be a 
missionary but was too sickly to go.  Instead, she became
a nun, prayed for missions, and wrote inspirational letters.
She admired Joan of Arc.  Therese died of tuberculosis at
24, in the late 19th century.  From what I read in grade
school, Therese grew up following the "little way"--
facing life's everyday hardships--like sharing your food--
with grace, patience, and kindness.

The story of Phil Hartman--what I read about him from his
co-workers, friends, and fans--started me wondering if he,
too was/is a genuine saint.  Unusual to think this of a
Saturday Night Live comedian, but from what I read, he
definitely had his spiritual, devout side.

His story--which has captured my mind and imprinted on
my soul--seems to combine elements of Joan and Therese.
Like Joan, Phil had a glorious career and a tragic,
malevolent death.  Like Therese, he seemed to meet life's
everyday challenges--particularly on the job--with
humility, patience, and a sense of service.

My heart wants to adopt him as another saint.  My mind
says, "You don't even know if he's saved or not."  My
spirit says whatever else, Jesus is first.

His death by domestic violence reminds me of Maria 
Goretti, the 12-year-old, early 20th century Italian
villager, who was fatally stabbed when she resisted 
a neighbor who tried to rape her. From her deathbed,
prompted by her mother, she forgave her attacker.

Only God knows if Phil Hartman is written in the Lamb's
Book of Life.  I hope he is.

Bible references: Hebrews 11; John 12:20-24;
Cain and Abel; David and Michal; Samson and Delilah;
David and Saul; Hosea and Gomer; Jael and Sisera;
Judas' suicide; Judith and Holofernes (Apochrypha).




January 1, 1999--"Oh.  It's been 7+ months, and I still cry
over him  Do you still miss him as much too?"  A woman or 
girl wrote this into a Phil Hartman message board.

Over seven months--it seems Phil Hartman will take his 
place with Elvis, Marilyn, Diana, Jimi Hendrix, Jim
Morrison, Sinatra.  A couple of decades ago--I mean in
the 60s--people were still remembering Jean Harlow,
Rudolph Valentino, Harry Houdini.  Of course, this 
means Hartman's memory could be exploited too, like
Diana, Elvis, Marilyn, Sinatra, JFK.  Or maybe our
treatment of his legacy will be more dignified, like
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think the reasons Phil's life and death have gotten
to us are:
1) the shocking way he died--and the underlying theme
of betrayal.
2) what we know of Phil's great talent and positive
attitude--humility, joy, generosity, helpfulness--
and also the fatal flaw of withdrawal.
3) what we know about Brynn--obsession with looks, 
envy, suspicion, frustration, rage, violence.
4) general themes of alcohol and drug abuse, gun
possession, domestic violence, the drive to succeed.

It's a classic struggle of good and evil.  Look at
Cain and Abel.  Samson and Delilah.  David and Michal.
(Michal wasn't all evil, but she was bitter.)  David
and Saul--how Saul out of jealousy and insecurity 
tried unsuccessful to destroy David.

Betrayal--in the current White House scandal, we forgive
Bill and Monica more readily than Linda, and we admire
Hillary's loyalty.  In Dante's Inferno, Francesca da
Rimini and her brother-in-law Paolo are tossed about by
the winds of their unchecked passion.  They were murdered
by her husband, his brother, when the man discovered their
adultery.  "The depths of Caina awaits he who took our
lives," Francesca tells Dante.  Caina--named after Cain--
is reserved for those who kill their relatives.  In the
deepest depths of hell--Satan's jaws--are Judas, Brutus,
and another man.  They are men who betrayed, and helped
to kill, their masters.  Betrayal by our closest friends
and family hurts deeply, and scares the hell out of us.

Phil's talent and attitude--March 1998, I saw part of
the Pee Wee Herman special on HBO.  I stared at Captain
Carl.  "Who's that?  He's so familiar!"  In May, I found
out.  I knew of Phil's work on SNL, saw a couple of
NewsRadio episodes, heard his voice on The Simpsons, was
vaguely aware it was him on 1-800-COLLECT TV ads.  But
the gamut of his work was overwhelming.  No superstar,
Hartman's reach was broad rather than high.  He proved
you didn't have to have your name highest on the marquee
to make a difference.

And I kept reading how he responded to the fans, how
respectful and low-maintenance he was on the set, how
loved he was by his co-workers.  I read, separately,
of a rock group that insisted on a bowl of M&M's in
their "green room" (the room performers prepare and
relax in before and after a show), and a certain color
M&M had to be removed.  One M&M of that color, and
they wouldn't perform.  I read that Phil had been kept
waiting two hours for a limousine that was supposed to
drive him to the set.  The director said that most
actors would've been livid.  Phil's response: "It 

I'm glad Entertainment Tonight, in their retrospective,
included a clip where Phil said, "I pray the Lord's
Prayer before every performance.  I really do."  When
his father died, Phil said his faith sustained him.
Jesus was one of his favorite SNL roles, and Victoria
Jackson, a believer, said she discussed Jesus with Phil
in his office.  Phil also said he had an "Eastern 
philosophy", to view life with "reverance and awe".
(To those who think "Eastern philosophy" and Christianity
can't blend, I'll remind you that Judaism and Christianity
began in Israel, in the Middle East, in Asia.  What we
mainly have in the USA is a Westernized version.  That's
not wrong in itself; what's wrong is thinking that
Westernized Christianity is the only true Christianity.)

Of course Phil wasn't perfect.  He tended to withdraw
from his wives--maybe it's hardest to give to those who
are closest to you, who would more likely demand more
and more.  This is why Lisa, his second wife, divorced
him.  And I read Phil encouraged Brynn to have plastic
surgery after plastic surgery.  He may have been as
obsessed with perfect looks as she was.

Brynn's attitude--maybe this hurts me the most, identifying
with Brynn.

About four years ago, a man usurped what I felt was my 
position within a certain organization. I was willing to
share the position, but not to lose it to him.  One night,
walking down the street, I caught myself imagining hiring
a hit man to kill him.  Not that I would've done it: he
had too much good to contribute to the world; I would've
gone to prison, losing my freedom, burdened with remorse,
curtailing my career; and God wouldn't have like it either.
I haven't physically hurt this man at all, though I have
emotionally bruised him and verbally put him down, to his
face and behind his back.  I had to look deep into myself:
why was I THIS angry at him?  I had a lot of soul-searching
to do, between me and God.

Oh, Brynn, why didn't you take it to God, or did you?
Why did you try to drown your pain with alcohol and drugs?
Why didn't you control your anger?  Of course, I can't
know what happened within herself.  I can't judge her insides.

And this isn't a "Burning Bed" scenario, either.  She
abused him.  She wasn't strong enough to really harm him
without a weapon.  But she did deeply scratch his arm once.

She felt she'd given everything up for him without much
return.  She never felt beautiful enough.  In early 1998,
HBO rejected a script she'd co-written--a dark comedy
involving drug abuse and a husband's murder.  And this
brings in another question: where does a woman find her
fulfillment?  In marriage and children?  In career?
In self-expression?  Or some other source?

Whatever the story of Phil and Brynn Hartman means to each
of us--with its classic themes--I hope we can each digest
and learn the lessons, work through the grief, keep the
positive results, the seedlings that grow from a fallen

A Separate Peace (novel)--John Knowles
Amadeus (play)--Peter Shaffer



From USA Today, Monday, December 28, 1998, Life section,
Lifeline column: written by Cesar G. Soriano from staff
and wire reports:

  "MEMORIAL: Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper columnist
   and author Mike McAlary died Friday at age 41 from
   colon cancer.  The New York Daily News columnist, 
   who had worked at all three of the city's tabloid
   newspapers, was considered one of the top police
   reporters.  He also wrote the novel Sore Loser and
   the novelization for Cop Land, starring Sylvester
   Stallone and Robert DeNiro."


The Mike McAlary I remember had a curly bush of blond hair,
a smooth face, maybe freckles, no moustache and certainly
no wrinkles.  In 1975, he came as a freshman to Pace University-
College of White Plains when I was a sophomore.  We both
majored in journalism, but he came with professional 
experience already, having written for his hometown paper.
He didn't contribute much to our college paper, but he
did become freshman class vice-president, then president
when the frosh president had to leave school.  I'd 
interviewed Mike and the two other freshman officers for
our school paper, but failed to write up the piece.
Which may illustrate why he became the big success in 
journalism and I didn't.

When his book "Buddy Boys", about corruption in the
77th precinct in Brooklyn, was released in 1988, I
phoned him.  He remembered me.  "Let's do lunch," he
said, but we didn't.  I never saw him as an adult, and
I never got his autograph on my copy of "Buddy Boys".
But every now and then I read his column in the New
York Daily News...or the Post...or the News...or the
Post...  Newsday columnist Sheryl McCarthy--whom I sang
in chorus with in Riverside Church--said McAlary had
risen paper-hopping to an art form.

Sept 18, 1993--the day I moved out on my own, Mike
had his near-fatal car crash on the FDR Drive.
I prayed for him, as did many others.  Months later,
when I heard on the TV news that his column was out
again, I rushed out to buy a copy.

Mike McAlary died of cancer December 25, 1998.
In the many tributes to him in all three papers he
worked for, one quote from him said, "I lived the
life I dreamed about."

In August 1997, Mike postponed chemotherapy to cover
the Abner Louima case, where Brooklyn cops beat and
object-sodomized a man in custody.  

I remember William Sloane Coffin's question to his
Riverside Church congregation: "Where will you lay 
down your life?"  Maybe these days I need to find
heroism in death; I don't know for sure if McAlary
hastened his death by postponing his treatment.  But
it seems Mike McAlary laid down his life on the altar
of justice of fighting corruption and oppression.

His Louima stories won Mike the Pulitzer Prize in
April 1998.  I hope now he's receiving an even bigger
prize: hearing God say to him, "Well done, good and
faithful servant!"



To read more about Mike McAlary, go to the New York 
Daily News webpage at,
or try clicking here
and here.

McAlary's books are:
Buddy Boys; Cop Shot; Good Cop, Bad Cop (non-fiction)
Cop Land (movie novelization)
Sore Loser (novel)

which you might want to find through the Barnes & Noble
link below.



I didn't write this poem.  An anonymous writer posted this 
poem in front of the apartment building which was Guinean
immigrant Amadou Diallo's home.  Unarmed, Diallo was shot 
and killed February 4 by four white plainclothes cops looking
for a rapist.  The policemen shot 41 times, hitting Diallo 19
times.  Diallo was portrayed as a kindly, hard-working, well-
educated man.  The rapist the cops were trying to find when
they killed Diallo is still at large, and has struck again.


When you look at me
  What do you see
Am I innocent until proved guilty
  Am I your enemy
Or were you sent here to protect me
You occupy my neighborhood
  Like an invading army
Killing my brothers, killing my sisters
  What am I to do
You trample on my rights
  The courts find you not guilty
 You celebrate, and you smile
As you and your comrades compare stories
  Justifiable homicide, they say it was
    Another black man is dead
His mother cries
His father asked why
Justifiable homicide they say it was
  Another black man is dead.

--Anonymous, February 1999


"There's education, Mama!  Education like there's never been before!"
--Dolores (Dwan Smith) to Effie (Mary Alice) in SPARKLE (1976--set 
in Harlem 1958)

Much study wearies the body.--from Ecclesiastes 12:12

Twice this week my old neighborhood made the news.  Sunday a
literal raging bull--a charging bovine--met his end in the
Ravenswood Projects, Long Island City, Queens, NY.  The very
next night WABC-TV Channel 7 broadcasted a special news report
on a reading program at PS 111Q--a block away from Ravenswood.

Now I've never set foot in PS 111--well, maybe once--but my
brother Ken went there, excelling in their gifted program.
(My sisters and I made the honor roll at Catholic school.)
That was the 1950s and 60s.  Today, PS 111 is a "failing
school", the recipient of a new program made to bolster the
students' reading levels in a hurry.

So Monday evening I phoned my siblings and eagerly awaited
this special TV program about "back home", or something
close to it.  And found myself fighting to keep awake during
the broadcast--and not just because it was approaching 
midnight.  For the delayed ABC-TV "Nightline" program that
followed woke me right up.

Consider facts I remember from the PS 111 show:
  --gym & music classes cancelled so the kids could drill 
  in reading.
  --no time to teach a required social studies text so 
  the kids could drill in reading.
  --question of whether the kids, unlike adults, couldn't
  take the pressure of such intense drilling.
  --the students were "learning to test"; that is, the main
  goal was to pass a standardized 4th-grade reading test.
  --one teacher said (paraphrase), "There's no joy...the
  kids don't laugh."

Some kids upped their reading levels; others didn't.

"Nightline" talked about school counselors available to
kids at a white suburban school and a black "inner-city"
school in a violent neighborhood.  Purpose: to give kids
a chance to "vent" and share their problems and concerns,
and prevent another Columbine.  Adults--professional and
I think parents too--meet once a week to gauge and direct
this program.  Kids get an emotional outlet and adults 
who care.  An unexpected side-effect:  THE STUDENTS' 

As Oprah Winfrey now says every day: Remember your spirit.

I believe physical ed and creative arts touch a person's
spirit the way mere drilling-reading cannot.  Literature, 
of course, can move the spirit and psyche.  

Oh--"Politically Incorrect" that night also touched on
education, Bill Maher and his guests arguing whether posting
the Ten Commandments in schoolrooms will prevent school
shootings.  "PI" has humor (some derisive), deep thoughts,
quips, wrestling with issues, and often, wrestling with God.
I stayed awake for that one, too.

Education vs. indoctrination.  To educate, to EDUCE,
is to bring out what is already there and hidden within.
To indoctrinate is to each to conform outwardly to
principles and practices.  If indoctrination is 
"the Law", education is "the spirit".

The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.
--in one of the Epistles

Parents, do not exasperate your children; 
instead, bring them up in the training and
instruction of the Lord.--Ephesians 6:4

Train up a child in the way he should go, and
when he is old, he will not depart from it.--Proverbs.
(note: in the way he or she should go, in God's
design for that child--not the way you want him 
or her to go.--MNL)


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