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GREAT BEND, Kan. - Sometimes something is right in front of your face, and you don't notice it. The Bible repeatedly warns against the sin of "usury" - of charging excessive interest rates. There was a historic consensus among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that charging high interest rates is wrong.

I have sat through hundreds of sermons in my life, and I've never heard this issue mentioned once by a clergyman. The "pelvic" issues seem to be the only issue most pastors want to talk about - abortion, and issues regarding sexuality. The Bible contains thousands of verses that admonish us to help the poor. Yet economic justice simply isn't spoken of much today.

It reminds me of the story of the two monks. One obsessively studied various religious sects, to the point where he would spend hours a day reading and talking about obscure offshoots of mainline religion. His fellow monk got fed up and told him: "Sects, sects, sects, that's all you think about is sects!"

A Merry Christmas to All

MANHATTAN, Kan. - One of my favorite of all holiday traditions is Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. I know I am not alone since, at one point, circulation of this little tale was second only to the Bible. Dicken's life was almost as fascinating as his literature, and unfortunately, often as sad. According to Kathryn Harrison, who wrote "Father Christmas," for The New York Times Review of Books,

"What is true is that Christmas, more than any other holiday, offered a means for the adult Dickens to redeem the despair and terrors of his childhood. In 1824, after a series of financial embarrassments drove his family to exchange what he remembered as a pleasant country existence for a 'mean, small tenement' in London, the 12-year-old Dickens, his schooling interrupted - ended, for all he knew - was sent to work 10-hour days at a shoe blacking factory in a quixotic attempt to remedy his family's insolvency. Not even a week later, his father was incarcerated in the infamous Marshalsea prison for a failure to pay a small debt to a baker. At this, Dickens' 'grief and humiliation' overwhelmed him so thoroughly that it retained the power to overshadow his adult accomplishments, calling him to 'wander desolately back' to the scene of his mortification. And because Dickens' tribulations were not particular to him but emblematic of the Industrial Revolution - armies of neglected, unschooled children forced into labor - the concerns that inform his fiction were shared by millions of potential readers. ..."
Dicken's redemption becomes our joy and a cornerstone of popular culture, but it also becomes a nice reminder that it is not a crime to be poor. Criminalizing poverty is particularly devastating to children.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - The film adaptation of Thomas Frank's best selling book: What's the Matter with Kansas? will be screened at Lawrence's Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts Avenue, from December 21 through the 30th.

Author Thomas Frank will appear at a screening on Saturday, December 26, 2009 at Liberty Hall. The screening will begin at 7:10 p.m. and Mr. Frank will appear afterwords to talk about the making of the film and to take questions from the audience.

Whereas the book What's the Matter with Kansas? explored the 2004 national election, the film explores the 2006 Kansas election and whether the religious right will continue to drive working and middle-class voters to the Republican Party, to vote against their own economic interests.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is Books: November 2009. The next archive is Books: January 2010.

If you want to browse other topics, you can also check our Table of Contents. The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.


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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Books: December 2009 section.

The previous archive is Books: November 2009. The next archive is Books: January 2010.

The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.

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