Saturday, November 09, 2019

Notes from my Knapsack 11-21-19

Notes from my Knapsack 11-21-19
Jeff Gill

Two or so cheers for temperance

One hundred years ago . . . that's the opening of more than a few columns or news stories, marking the centenary of this or that important event.

The end of World War I last year around this time, other such anniversaries get marked, but you'll hear little about how on Oct. 28, 1919, the Volstead Act was finally enacted, and took effect January 17, 1920.

Prohibition is the general term, but the enabling legislation was the Volstead Act, and in terms of national regret and forgetting it's up there with the Dred Scott Decision and Plessy v. Ferguson with legal precedents we'd like to sweep under the historical carpet.

Unlike our long struggle with slavery and civil rights, Prohibition only took twelve years for us to reverse, but the impact of that period had lasting effects, some would say right down to the present. And it began before 1919, with the Anti-Saloon League and its head, Wayne Wheeler, setting up shop just west of here in Westerville, Ohio in 1909. Their influence led Granville to interfere in Newark politics around saloon enforcement in 1910, resulting in mob violence and the lynching of an Anti-Saloon League deputy officer on Courthouse Square, and hard feelings that echo in county relations to this day.

Prohibition is generally considered by folks on the left and the right to have been a classic "bridge too far," an extension of state power into personal behavior that was ultimately unenforceable and unmanageable, undermining civic authority in other areas by looking foolish in the decade-plus of Prohibition failures. It's cited today around drug policy, and most immediately around cannabis regulation and legalization. "How did Prohibition work out, huh?"

And it's true, managing people's bad habits through passing laws and promoting enforcement as a tool of social control has limits. Smoking was not made entirely illegal, but I'm still impressed with the changes we've made over the last quarter-century; likewise drinking and driving, which was largely shrugged off in my youth, and now is much less common and generally frowned upon by drinkers and non-drinkers alike. All without making alcohol illegal.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat concerned to see the boozification of almost everything, from lemonades to ciders to seltzer water. Beer is sold in a variety of places I never would have expected to run into it, or step in it; wine is the genteel beverage of choice on TV and by even the most moderate of celebrities. Does everyone need to spend most of the day buzzed, or is this just alcohol marketing run wild?

So I'd like to offer two cheers for a quaint subject: temperance. Sadly it's become associated with Prohibition, but that's not what the word really means at root. 2020 might be a good year for The New Temperance to become popular.

Temperance just means restraint, or more importantly, self-restraint. Making your own choices, and not those of the marketing department. To be temperate might mean having one drink, not five; in other cases, it might be choosing the beverage that isn't "with added alcohol!"

Temperance doesn't have to be abstinence. It could just be moderation. But in 2020, that might be revolutionary.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's temperate in most things. Tell him what you think of the New Temperance at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Faith Works 11-9-19

Faith Works 11-9-19

Jeff Gill


Warmth and shelter and other human needs



As you all have no doubt noticed, it's getting cold again. And that means a number of us in Newark and Licking County have been thinking about what to do for persons who are among the unsheltered homeless. The Newark Homeless Outreach crew has been at work every Saturday right on along, God bless them, and we just passed the one year mark for Vertical 196 on South Fifth Street as a weekday meal and hospitality ministry of the Licking County Jail Ministry.


And a group has been meeting literally since a few weeks after the last warming shelter effort was made last March to debrief doing overnight shelter for those not served by the current emergency shelter programs. The Licking County Foundation has hosted, our county Emergency Management Agency has taken a leadership role, and we have the county Health Department, Red Cross, Humane Society, Licking Memorial Hospital, the Transit Board, and many faith groups all at the table.


The Salvation Army has stepped up and offered to be a leader in this effort, as they long have been in emergency shelter services -- and one of our challenges in the last two years has been their 60-bed shelter on the east side of their building is full with families for pretty much the entire year, let alone in the wintertime. But they have started doing breakfast as much for warming as for the food Mondays through Saturdays, in their dining hall area where the weekday soup kitchen/lunches are served, and the weekend evening dinners.


But until all the Christmas gifts are allocated and relocated from the Toy Run that was this past weekend, and the start of the Angel Tree program, which so many of you reading this help support, they don't have room to do an overnight warming shelter. Newark Central Christian the back-up plan, through Thanksgiving. After Dec. 1, the primary location will be at the Salvation Army, which works out logistically and practically in many ways. But until then, with some transportation help from Newark Naz and the county Transit Board, if we have a series of nights forecast for below 10 degrees, the Warming Center effort will be looking to Newark Central to host.


Beyond Thanksgiving, if we need to provide emergency warming shelter space for those who aren't in our regular shelters (Salvation Army east-end, St. Vincent Haven, New Beginnings), the dining hall and adjoining area of the Salvation Army can host, but we will still need volunteers. This is where you have an opportunity, which is this Wednesday night.


There will be a training for Warming Center volunteers on Nov. 13, at 6:00 pm to about 8:00 pm or so, in the chapel at the front of the Salvation Army post on E. Main St. If you attend, you are not obligated to volunteer -- you might decide you can help in a different fashion after hearing out the training information, and that's just fine. But if you'd like to be better equipped to assist with a warming center night this winter, this training can answer your questions and help your understanding of homelessness and unsheltered persons in the wintertime.


You do not need to sign up in advance, but they'd love to know how many to prepare for. You can contact them directly at 740-345-8120, or let us know at the church office and we'll pass the word along. I know many churches have a Wednesday night program or Bible study (we do at my church), but if you are led to learn more about serving those who have no where else and no one else to turn to, you won't go wrong attending this training.


Thank you for your prayerful support of the work of service in Christ's name that we did last winter, and will be part of again in the coming months!


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's gotten to know lots of new sisters and brothers on the streets and in the meetings around this issue in the last year. Tell him what you hope to see happen in 2020 at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.