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David Cook

On Wednesday, the Hamilton County Commission will vote on a resolution to allocate $100,000 for a memorial honoring Ed Johnson, the African-American man lynched from the second span of the Walnut Street Bridge in 1906.

Some commissioners are supportive; they agree both in the memorial and its funding.

Others, no. The memorial's important, but shouldn't be funded by county money.

"Despite my love and reverence, I'm really struggling with this thought of using tax dollars to pay for historical monuments," said one commissioner.

"There's no question in my mind that this project is worthy [but] I am not going to support using general fund money for the Ed Johnson Project," added another.

Yet only months ago, the commission acted quite differently.

In spring 2018, the commission voted to approve funding to help build a memorial for the five servicemen killed in the July attacks from 2015.

The memorial — located at the Tennessee Riverwalk — cost $750,000; the county offered to pay $250,000.

So why fund one with county money but not the other?

Both Johnson and the Fallen Five were innocent.

Both Johnson and the Fallen Five were killed in acts of horrific violence.

Yet while the five servicemen were serving their government, Johnson was indirectly killed by his. A 1,000-man mob got access to the county jail because a complicit sheriff allowed it.

This is the fog of double-standards.

Why fund one but not the other?

* * *

Remember last weekend?

The fog.

The storms.

The rain.

The rain again.

It seemed Saturday — eight days ago — was the wettest day of my life. But then, like some curse being lifted, we woke Sunday to the brightest of skies, a Pixar blue day, with birds chirping and daffodils — or do you say jonquils? — blooming.

It ended 10 straight days of rain.

During those 10 days, nearly nine inches of rain fell, according to WRCB-TV Channel 3's meteorologists.

Not only has it rained, but it's rained frequently.

Since 2019 began, take a guess how many days it's rained.



"There have been 28 days of measurable rain," said Doug Schneider with the National Weather Service. "If you include days where there was a trace of rain recorded [less than 0.01 inches], then there were 34 days of rain."

(He said this Thursday, which means his 28-day-total doesn't include any rain Friday, Saturday or today.)

In 62 days, we've had about 30 days of rain.

It has rained, on average, every other day.

What are the implications of this? Tourism? Landscaping crews and builders? Outdoor sports teams?

Our own emotions and psyche? What happens when the weather continues to change in unpredictable and difficult ways?

* **

Being gay is not a sin.

Being gay is not a spiritual crime.

No matter how the United Methodist church votes.

In a recent General Conference vote, Methodists from around the globe voted for allegiance to current doctrine that says gayness and Christianity are incompatible.

This is the continued suppression of gay Christianity.

No marriage.

No priesthood.

No full belonging in the spiritual body.

It is a spiritual fog — not seeing gay people clearly. Not seeing their inherent dignity or divinely created sexuality.

"In the four decades I've been an ordained leader in the UMC, we have lost 30 percent of our membership. Our response? Spend millions of dollars and hours of work to decide who else we can exclude," wrote well-known author, pastor and theologian William Willimon in The Christian Century. "From what I know of Jesus, I predict he will not deal graciously with the infidelity of this church born in John Wesley's exuberant, extroverted, 'Salvation for all!'"

What will the church now do?

Will an American-led movement split to form an alternative denomination, as much of the anti-gay vote came from delegate-churches outside of North America?

How does the church heal?

How do gay Christians?

* * *

We often see the police through a fog, unable to distinguish whether they are an aggressive force or heroic and selfless members of the thin blue line.

Not long ago, a local officer reminded me of something:

"Every day," she said, "we wake up and vow to give our lives for each of you. I swore an oath to give my life to the people I protect."

Officer Nicholas Scott Galinger died doing that.

Struck down a week ago by a hit-and-run car, he was out checking swamped and manhole-flooded streets.

He was young, 38, with his whole career — and life — before him.

May the warmest and brightest of lights be with his family, friends and fellow officers.

David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be reached at or 423-757-6329.