Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Jesus lunch more than free food


Waukesha Freeman 4/21/16 Page A06 Opinion

Jesus lunch more than free food

Protests cannot silence the message

As legend has it, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues just sat in a field and composed “Tuesday Afternoon,” inspired by the day. “Tuesday, afternoon. I’m just beginning to see, Now I’m on my way … .” On the album (yes kids, we had albums) the title was “Forever Afternoon,” which takes us back to our youth when sunny afternoons seemed forever.

“Those gentle voices I hear, Explain it all with a sigh.” For the youth of Middleton seeking something, an explanation of the now and the hereafter, one explanation was available at a nearby park on Tuesdays. It began with a small group of parents and students gathering together to break bread at lunchtime and discuss the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. As these things do, it grew into something more, free lunch for the multitude and the Word.

“Jesus Lunch” takes place at Firemen’s Park, a park leased — but not exclusively — by Middleton High School. The parents booked the park for the lunch just like any other group having a gathering in the normally bucolic setting. Socrates lured the youth of Athens with strange ideas. These parents are offering food not preapproved by Michelle Obama.

The kids don’t even have to stay for the Christian message when they show up for the food. “Feed my lambs,” Jesus told Peter, and these parents do.

If you’re looking for the harm, it takes proximity to Madison to come up with it. Middleton school administrators worried because the discussions of Christianity are on property used for school purposes. These are the types of people that worry whether St. Valentine’s Day cards say “St. Valentine” or that Christmas school concerts actually have Christmas carols.

It really doesn’t matter what the school administrators think because the event is being held in a public park. They could be having Scientology lunches with Tom Cruise and the school district couldn’t stop it.

That hasn’t stopped the usual forces of “tolerance” to demonstrate their intolerance. Tuesday’s repast for the students was joined by protesters. Yes, protesters, including an 18year-old high school student who,according to the Wisconsin State Journal, complained, “I have had to defend myself and explain myself so many times this week. People don’t get it because people don’t think beyond themselves.”

Middleton High School has apparently failed in the teaching of irony.

The MacIver Institute, where I am also a contributor, went to the park to capture the madness of the protests on video. Chants of “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Jesus lunch has got to go.” Adults yelled at children preventing them from speaking to the other children that were present. A pair of Jewish rabbis yelled at parents how they are dividing the school.

It never occurred to any of the protesters to try to organize their own lunches, celebrating everything from the Anabaptists to Zoroastrianism. The miracle of our First Amendment is that, while the practice hasn’t always been perfect, there’s room for all beliefs in America, and all are free to share their beliefs.

The lack of a constitutional issue has never stopped the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation from involving itself, and they joined the protest, too. They even offered tempting desserts to lure the youths of Middleton High School away from the Christians. Apparently a few wayward youths indulged in the sin of gluttony.

The atheist group’s attorney Ryan Jayne told the MacIver Institute, “Parents should know when they send their kids to school, they’re not going to get preached at by other adults who are luring them with food.” Just preached at by those with brownies, chocolate chip cookies and a promise there is no God.

Thirty years ago when I was a high school student, I visited another rather modest public space where, long ago, five loaves and two fishes fed a multitude of “five thousand men, beside women and children.” The crowd waited there for Jesus of Nazareth not because of the promise of a free lunch, or even cookies and brownies, but because they hungered for something more. It was the promise of a forever afternoon, and that promise has endured far more than Madison lawyers, feckless school administrators and an angry mob of protesters.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)



Thursday, 04/21/2016  Pag.A06 Copyright © 2016 Conley Group. All rights reserved 4/21/2016
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