We Simply Can’t Afford to Care

I offer the homeless man sleeping on the front porch of the Congregational Church of Patchogue a bottle of cold water and a plastic cup of fruit cocktail with a pull-off lid before I tell him he has to move and there is no public shelter I can refer him to. We simply can’t afford it.

I have no moralizing jeremiad to lay upon anyone this Sunday morning. I simply see another collective, victimization brewing in our never-ending quest to blame. Meanwhile, Kurt Cobain’s “Unplugged” sweater just sold at auction for$334,000.





Welcome to “Jesus of the People” by Janet McKenzie. I met her in Albuquerque at a Father Richard Rohr conference and have been in correspondence with her ever since. Fr. Rohr had included the major exhibition of her work as a presentation on equal footing with the talkers. AND NOW THE BACK STORY: Janet submitted this in 1999 to an art contest asking for submissions for “a 21st century depiction of Jesus.” She received hate mail, death threats, and Westboro Baptist Church planned a protest at her rural, small farmhouse ~ but it was cancelled due to a blizzard. Those are the folk who protest at funerals of gay civilians and soldiers they call fag***s at the gravesite in the presence of family and friends of the deceased. This humble, quiet, private artist has more courage and integrity than any artist I have ever met. Visit janetmckenzie.com


THE HEAVEN vs. HELL, SAINT vs. SINNER, JESUS vs. SATAN THING SEEMS REDICULOUS sometimes. But I happen to very much like the notion that rampant narcissism, cruelty, and indifference to others is not without consequences. Even if “heaven” and “hell” etc. are artificial constructs ~ it is an attempt to call people to a greater good that shall, now or later, be rewarded.

By the way, I am aware that some people take offense to the Euro-looking, Aryan-feature Jesus depiction. Others take offense to this depiction of Satan. They claim he has blonde, blow-dried hair, small hands, and orange (not red) skin. Okay. Whatever. Beauty (or the lack of it) is in the eye of the beholder. All depictions, for me, fall into the REDICULOUS category as well. I am talking about deeds and attitudes, not appearances. So, who do you thik will win this arm-wrestle?angel and Jesus


Kyra backpack openKyra backpack closed

MEET MY FRIEND WHO RECENTLY STARTED COLLEGE WITH A BRAND-NEW, BULLET-PROOF BACKPACK. Nice, huh? It is designed so that she can even fit an infant or toddler inside that she can grab as she runs for her life. When I was her age, I had a backpack with a peace sign and a Beatles quote “Give Peace a Chance” written on it. In one generation, this is what has become of us. I am not assessing blame. I am contemplating responsibility. This is a gift from my generation to hers. Peace & Purpose, dwightleewolter.com

Are You Willing To Be Blind for 15 Minutes?

ARE YOU WILLING TO BE BLIND FOR 15 MINUTES? (AN INTERACTIVE CHURCH EXPERIENCE) A children’s choir, in blindfolds, will sing about seeing. The adult choir will sing blind. Those in attendance will be invited to don a blindfold (or not) for part of this service. An artist has created a painting that a blind person can see that will be offered to the blind co-presenter. Being unable to see can heighten your senses. Being unwilling to see can deaden them. “Intentional & Unintentional Blindness” is Sept. 22nd at 10:00am at the Congregational Church of Patchogue (Long Island). All are welcome, regardless of religious affiliation, conviction, or neither. Peace, Dwight Lee WolterBlind congregation

The Mass Incarceration of Persons of Color with Substance Use Disorders

Is it acceptable to disproportionately incarcerate people because of the color of their skin, their national origin, or their economic class? Of course not!
Is it acceptable to disproportionately incarcerate people because they have a disease? Of course not! The prisons are not, for example, flush with diabetics who cannot consistently manage their blood levels.
Is it acceptable to disproportionately incarcerate people because they are suffering from a substance use disorder involving alcohol and other forms of drug addiction and dependency? Of course, it is!
The prisons of America are flush with all sorts of people of color; people of various ethnicities; and people born and raised under the influence of a suspicious zip code.
They have at least one thing in common: they very possibly are suffering from addiction. Some people may commit crimes under the influence of alcohol and other drugs who are not addicted in a literal sense. However, according to a New York Times article (Christopher S. Wren, Jan. 1998); illegal drugs and alcohol contributed to the imprisonment of up to 4 out of 5 inmates in the nation’s prisons and jails. And while up to 65% of incarcerated people meet diagnostic criteria for addiction ~ only 11% are receiving treatment.
Way back in 1956, the American Medical Association declared addiction to alcohol and other drugs to be a disease. Four years later, in 1960, the American Psychiatric Association did the same. But over 50 years later, we are imprisoning people whose crimes may very well be symptoms of a disease that demands to be fed by any means necessary. And yet we still often act as if addiction is a moral weakness, sin, or lack of willpower for which addicted persons should be ashamed. Why? It is an illness. Have you ever tried willpower over a case of diarrhea?
America has a mass incarceration problem. America has 5% of the world population, but we harbor 25% of the world’s prisoners. And of those massive numbers of prisoners in America ~ 60% are persons of color. A staggering number of them are young, African American, Latino, and male. They may not be saints. But they very well may be addicted and thereby, by definition, incapable of consistently making healthy choices. The road to recovery, for a variety of reasons, may be inaccessible to them.
People in prison have often done some terrible things. If you do the crime, few would argue that you should do the time. However, we can, and should, talk about color, ethnicity, poverty, mental illness and their relation to incarceration.
And it is illogical, counter-productive, unjust and downright dangerous to talk about incarceration without also talking about addiction.
We cannot arrest, judge and incarcerate our way out of an opioid epidemic and into a sense of safety. Justice and common-sense demand we do better.

Dwight Lee Wolter is the author of six books in the fields of addiction and recovery; including three on blame, anger and forgiveness.prison 2

Complicity in the OD Death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill

kennedy 2Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. Whether you live on Park Avenue or on park bench; whether you have been to Yale or to jail; addiction is right here, within or beside you.
There is no family, religion, school, hospital staff, police department, military branch, government, race, ethnicity, economic class, sovereign nation, rural community or urban metropolis that has not been or is not presently suffering under the whip of the cruel taskmaster named Addiction.
If you do not accept this, then you are under the influence of yet another disease. That one is named Denial. And Denial can be every bit as much a killer as is addiction. As a matter of fact, it is part of the syndrome of addiction.
People are already calling the overdose death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill part of “the Kennedy curse.” That helps keep addiction away from our own living room, sanctuary, child’s school and the driver of the car in front of or behind us. People prefer the cause of death to be suicide, depression, lost love, bad luck, karma, heart attack ~ anything rather than that of addiction. Just wait for all the rationalizations and explanations that come with a death by addiction. People will call it anything but what it is.
Individual and/or collective denial contributes to the death of someone every single day.
Addiction has many guises, masks and partnerships: depression, suicide, mental illness, compulsivity, risky behavior, creativity, obsessive thought and behavior, isolation, religious zealotry and garden variety neurosis. It will even attach itself to your most noble dreams, goals and ambitions. And then it will take you down. Never up. Always down.
Addiction will even convince you that it is saving your life while it is killing you.
Opioids are the number one killer of people under the age of 50 in America. Not handguns. Not car crashes. Not cancer. We are and have been in the midst of an opioid epidemic for a few years now and you would probably not know it if you go to church, for that matter. Church is often (have you noticed) a hotbed of Denial.
Many pastors, pontificators, philosophers and pundits have stopped reading this brief blog long ago. For those of you left ~ thank you! Mold grows in shadows and darkness. Thank you for helping to bring this issue into the light. We need more of it.

On Bubble Gum-Flavored Beer & Cotton Candy-Flavored Vaping


Blue Point Brewing, a Long Island brewery owned by Anheuser-Busch as a flagship, test market targeting younger customers, including hipsters and millennials, is now selling bubble gum flavored beer. Bad idea.

This is akin to cotton candy flavored vaping. What next? Candy cigarettes? Oh, I forgot; they have been doing that since I was a kid 50 years ago. But candy cigarettes are not drugs. Alcohol and nicotine are.

In December, 2018, the Surgeon General declared e cigarette use among youth to be “an epidemic.” The Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration also declared it an epidemic. Is kiddy flavoring of beer a route to a similar fate? Is this really what Amheuser-Busch wants? The Clydesdale horses are impressive! And now comes the bubble gum.

Overall beer sales were down in 2018, but craft brew sales were up. Craft breweries will get creative to attract younger drinkers, just as nicotine sales executives think outside of the (cigarette) box to boost sales and end-up with cotton candy and other flavored vaping products.

Adults want to drink? Your choice. Adults want to smoke. Okay, if you insist. But flashbacks to childhood candy is a rather transparent attempt to lure younger and younger persons to imbibe in their products.

Maybe Blue Point Brewing needs a crossing guard to get them to the playground of younger users. But the crossing guard should disarm them of messaging about how cute, silly and fun bubble gum beer can be.

Otherwise, children might get hurt.

The First Food Eaten & Drink Poured on the Moon 50 Years Ago was Communion

On Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis, including the words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light… and God saw that it was good.” Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.’”
And ~ almost exactly 50 years later, on July 20, 1969, on the Apollo 11 moon mission, Buzz Aldrin received communion in the spacecraft that had landed on the lunar surface, and shortly before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. The elements had been consecrated by Aldrin’s pastor at Webster Presbyterian church in Houston, Texas.
Aldrin spoke to the ground crew and his words were broadcast to the world, “I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”
Without it being broadcast to the world, much of which he knew was not Christian, Aldrin took the wine and bread he had brought with him to space with the knowledge of NASA. He recited scripture from John 15:5. Thus, the first foods ever eaten or poured on the moon was the Christian sacrament of communion.
Aldrin later recounted in his memoir, “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup,” he later wrote.
Lunar Communion Sunday is still celebrated annually at Webster Presbyterian in Houston. However, in his 2010 memoir, he wrote that he’d come to wonder if he’d done the right thing by celebrating a Christian ritual in space. “We had come to space in the name of all mankind—be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists,” he wrote. “But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”
The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is far more than a phantasmagoric orgy of lights, music and film footage. It is also, for many, a deeply spiritual manifestation of ancient scripture. For others, it is a fulfillment of the utterances from children and adults the world over who gaze into a clear night sky and say, “Oh, my God! Look at that!”

Really? Still? Hate Backlash Against Two Pastors Supportive of Pride Theme at Long Island Alive After Five 25,000 Person Event

WHEN THE WORD “HATE” IS NEWLY INTRODUCED to the fingerprint-wiped, anonymous, verbally obscene, multiple letters with photos of young, black men engaged in sex acts with each other (racism always adds spice to homophobia)… letters with sentences carefully phrased to avoid criminality are sent to my church, the Chamber of Commerce, select leaders of the Alive After Five Committee and others here in Patchogue, Long Island, New York ~ I decided to not “just ignore it” as advised by some today as I once did when my community had the same response to hate directed at Latinos. The result was my presiding at the funeral of a Latino hate crime murder victim; and the taunts, bad press and hate mail I received for two years after that.
And so I will not ignore it, and will let you in on the sickening and hateful backlash against the LGBTQ+ communities, their allies & advocates. I remain proud of the United Church of Christ that ordained its first openly gay pastor 47 years ago and are still, apparently, hated for it. May God bless the LGBTQ+ communities and what we have in the past & sometimes still put them through. Thanks to the writer of this letter who informed me that I am gay. I didn’t know that until I read the letter this morning. I guess the writer cannot imagine a heterosexual pastor being disgusted at homophobia. Well, my sweet, live and learn! And now, an excerpt of just one of the letters I am talking about:
“To open the paper, and immediately get an in-your-face about “Open and Affirming”, featuring two gay “pastors”, is an outrage…not only in the positioning, but the content being about two homosexual men, who are no more “pastors” than the man in the moon. Homosexuality is unnatural, an affront to nature and history, and is clearly forbidden and/or frowned upon by most cultures, and church teachings…and is stated as such in the bible. These two gay men are shams… hypocrites… phony believers in God and his word. They should be run out of town. Yet, the Advance puts them front and center as though they are credible exhibits of “open and affirming”…translation: push the gay agenda as much as possible. “We’re a faith-based community who believe that God is love and love is God.” They interpret God’s love to support their own needs and to rationalize their sickness and perversion. We wonder if they think about God while having oral and anal sex with other men. And to have an expose about Jacqueline Routh, Alive After Five etc., and her sexual “struggles”, is pathetic. Like all homosexuals, she should seek emotional and psychological help… The constant in-your-face theatrics cause much disgust and hate in the straight community… Most normal, heterosexual people find homosexuality disgusting and offensive…an affront to nature…and blasphemous to God if one believes.”
Reading the above letter once again, I am mindful that many people are somewhat conflicted about LGBTQ+ matters. I do not believe prejudice is the exclusive domain of any one political party, religious affiliation, philosophical beliefs, economic statue, ethnic identity, or geographical region. The Congregational Church of Patchogue includes many people with a rich variety of thoughts and beliefs. But we manage to remain civil in our discourse, and as open minded and open hearted as we are able. I do not believe that trying to silence people who try to silence you is a good tactic to promote communication.
I want to thank the Long Island Advance newspaper for their willingness to discuss this in their paper. I wish to thank the 5th Precinct of the Suffolk County, NY, Police Department who are investigating this matter.
I wish I could speak, individually or in a small group, with the person who wrote these letters. I really do. In the meantime, I pray for the restoration of our individual spirits and the soul of our community. And I pray that a safe and joyous time is had by all at the Pride Theme Alive After Five summer event to be held tomorrow, June 27, 2019.
Dwight Lee Wolter

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