Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Faith Works 03-05-05
By Jeff Gill

One of my little personal treasures is a carefully laminated newspaper photograph of Jim Short going in to vote. His wife, Virginia, is holding his arm, and a neighbor is holding the door of their local school where the polling place was set up.
Jim died not very long after this picture was taken, with the effects of Parkinson’s disease finally overwhelming his ability to breath. He knew he was likely to not see those he voted for sworn in, let alone serve out their terms, but this veteran of World War II knew where his place and duty lay, and his family and friends were going to help him fulfill his calling.
I think of Jim when I watch Pope John Paul II on television, a man I’ve never met but whose service, like Jim’s in the Marine Corps, has touched my life and for the better. My freedom and confidence in the world my family lives in is due to the steadfastness and faithfulness of those who have stood against Nazism and Communism.
And I laugh, and think of Jim again when I hear people ask, “will the Pope step down?” The former archbishop of Krakow has often said “Jesus did not step down from the cross” in answer to that question, a response which says volumes to those of us who have known individuals who put the greater good over personal comfort. Whether in combat, in ministry, or simply in getting out of their home for one of the last times to cast a vote for candidates they respected, there are heroes all around us, and John Paul, bishop of Rome, knows he represents many such lesser known folk even as he is also “the vicar of Christ.”
Parkinson’s is a disease, and like breathing, it will lead to death if given enough time. It does not carry away brain cells, or rewire your thoughts, but it does mask the emotions you still feel just as strongly behind a frozen set of facial muscles. The mask, the tremors, and the slow debilitation of walking and working leads far too many to assume it has mental effects. (Ask a blind person how tired they get of people talking slowly and too loudly to them!)
Recently, two movies won Academy Awards for best film and best foreign language film that affirm what some call the “right to die,” but many others would call the “right to assisted suicide.” One disability rights activist said the next morning after the Oscars: “Good thing there wasn’t an animated feature about putting us out of everyone else’s misery, or it would have been a clean sweep.”
I think the Pope would agree. He is aware and active and ready to serve, whether for a month or a year or possibly another decade. Whose misery is he needing to sooth: his own, or that of those who see a once vital man weighed down by illness and see possibilities for themselves they’d rather not confront?
May God bless John Paul for his faithful example before the world, and in another of the marvels of this modern age, if you’d like to say thank you this Lent, just drop “Il Papa” an e-mail through
He can’t type anymore, but he can hear a “thank you” as well as any of us. Maybe even better.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio. You can e-mail him at a less impressive address,
Notes From My Knapsack 03-06-05
By Jeff Gill

Give ‘Em The Works

So far this winter, the Little Guy and yours truly have made krispy squares, irish soda bread, fresh pasta, and some spectacular messes. Iron Chefs in training we ain’t, but we can demolish a Kitchen Stadium with the best of them.
Many more snow days and delays, and we’ll be making deoxyribonucleic paper chains, with an atcg cgat gatc hey ho!
As a stay-home dad, my Y chromosome seems to lack certain craft alleles, but moms who hold down the home fort daytimes tell me that this is not just a guy thing, after all. Too many days with the kids a) at home and b) not able to go outside can result in tensions, trauma, and too much snack-bribing (or is that a guy thing?).
Then we have Spring Break looming on the horizon. Some of you may be heading for Cabo San Lucas, but most of us are likely to be cruising around Cabo San Licking County for the week. What to do? Should we load up some neighbor kids in a fit of altruism and head for the screaming steelcage scrum called COSI and kill a day in Franklin County?
OK, I’m exaggerating (a bit), but while COSI costs about half a home equity loan (see first half of sentence) and leaves your ears ringing for the rest of the week (no exaggeration at all), what about “The Works”?
Y’know, “The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology” just south of Courthouse Square in Newark, at 55 S. First St. Haven’t been there yet? That’s true for far too many Licking County parents and kids. Think it’s expensive? Try $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (all you grandmas and grandpas watching kids the last week o’ March), and kids are $2.
“The Works” is a locally focused museum, but also a Smithsonian affiliate, which tells you something about the quality of what’s interpreted there about “History, Art & Technology.”
We went there for their free day on President’s Day Monday a few weeks ago. It was full of kids and families, but you could hear yourself think. There were lots of activities going on, but not of the “slap a few buttons and run to the next so-called exhibit” that so many sci/tech museums have. The glassblower was putting on a show that kept a certain six year old interested for a straight through twenty minutes (Aaron, would you come by our house and do that, just so my wife believes me?), but the glowing orange maw of the furnace helped, too.
I grew up on the famed Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and about the only thing I didn’t feel matched up at The Works is that they don’t have a captured German sub out back to tour (Howard, are you working on that one?), but they have a Print Shop, Wood Shop, and Art Studios that are all real working sites, not just displays.
Speaking of art, if you want to invest a few more dollars but get more time out of The Works experience for your elementary kids, they have some Spring Break “camps” coming up.
There’s a “Spring Break Art Camp”for students in grades 4-6 that runs from 9:30am-12:30pm, where you produce your own children’s picture book during a one-week camp.
From their web site “Each day you will create a page for your book using a different illustration technique including drawing, watercolor, printmaking and collage. You will also tour The Works Print Shop, create your book cover and bind your book. By the end of the week, you will have a complete, handmade book that you can read to your little siblings or friends!”
Or there’s also a “Spring Break Museum Camp” for students grades 3-6 from 1:00pm-4:00pm.
They plan to help your child “learn about Bridges and Structures ... Discover the History of Flight and experiment with your own glider ... Work with wood to build your own birdhouse” and of course “much more.”
Both Spring Break Camps are held Monday, March 28 through Friday, April 1.
Cost for each camp is $85 per student.
For more information, call The Works at (740) 349-9277.
If you just want to pick your time and length of visit, they are open any week Tuesday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm; or on Saturday from 11 am to 4pm.
The admission is cheap at twice the price, and a family membership is just $50 for the year. Marcia Downs and the staff have put a great facility together for Licking County, so come see and spend some time there this Spring Break. You’ll see us there for sure.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply pastor around central Ohio; he and his wife have worked on designing a number of museums and exhibits, and they know good stuff when they see it! If you have news of another visitor experience in central Ohio you’d like to share, e-mail