The Column Ends Abruptly
Presumed forthcoming print changes at The
Star, suddenly presented to me 2012 November 3 Friday, led to the conclusion
of my writing the “Faith and Beliefs” column the next day, after 18 years
and 947 columns. Because The Star has made no announcement, I am writing
this. [Dec 8: The Star has still not acknowledged the end of the column,
presumably to minimize comment.]
The column was initially compensated, but
when The Star financial situation tightened in the past few years it became
a voluntary contribution to the community. An on-line option was studied,
but various factors make it unsuitable at this time.
I hope to continue in other ways to contribute
to the community. I appreciate The Star's past expansion of coverage of
religious issues in the metro area and the skilled editors who taught me
about better writing. I am grateful to those about whom I wrote and especially.to
my faithful readers.
Those wishing additional information may
read an excised version of an "exit
interview" in PDF.
An unsolicited comment from David Nelson
appears here, Folks have asked to whom
they can express their opinion; here are some options
followed by others' unsolicited comments.
Sad Day for KC Star
To The Kansas City Star
November 7, 2012
I was saddened to open the Wednesday paper
FYI section today and not find the wisdom and thoughtful column of my friend
Vern Barnet. For 18 years I have been reading his weekly reflections
about “Faith and Beliefs.” He has reminded me that religion is about
more than religion. It is about science, education, entertainment,
daily living, parenting, loving, politics, economics, sexuality, and the
list could go on. Dr. Barnet is one of Kansas City’s rare treasures.
His wisdom about world religions and his willingness to share his insight
has enabled this city to become one of the most welcoming communities for
all people. Through CRES he made possible the “Gifts of Pluralism”
Conference only weeks after 9/11. His vision created the The Greater
Kansas City Interfaith Council. I would often ask Vern why “Faith
and Beliefs” was not syndicated and shared beyond the KC Star. He
reminded me that the column was not generic but a very intimate part of
our city and more often than not informed us of events in our city and
I am one of the lucky ones who will continue
to receive Vern’s amazing gifts. He is my best friend and I read
and discuss books and the events of the day on a regular basis. But
I am sad for this city. I am sad for his his critics who often got
more of his time than his friends. He answers every email with honesty,
compassion and courage. I am sad since we can read Dear Abby, Miss
Manners and Billy Graham in dozens of newspapers, but “Faith and Beliefs”
was only in The Star. This great city lost a bit of its greatness
David Nelson, D.Min. The Human Agenda
A slightly shortened version
was submited to the Kansas City Star today. They limit letters to
Readers request —
Folks have asked
how they can express their opinions as David Nelson has, above. I am not
encouraging this. But as I have always tried to respond to my readers,
below are some options. I think it is unrealistic to expect The Star to
reverse its decision (no one in management has even acknowledged my "exit
interview" and to date no announcement about the conclusion of the column
has appeared), but I recognize that readers have a right to express their
opinion about what kind of content they want from their paper.
Letter to the Editor (for publication):
website form at bottom of page
letter off-line then paste into form)
Letter to the
The Kansas City
1729 Grand Blvd
Email to management (not for publication):
Mike Fannin, Editor
and Vice President
Steve Shirk, Managing
Ass’t managing editor-features
Since preparing this short
list, I've learned that readers have contacted others in Star mangement,
but I am not encouraging or discouraging whatever readers may wish to do.
Damn. Damn. And double damn. Say it ain't so, Joe!
What a downer. The Star is simply further sinking into insignificance
and banality. I hadn't always followed your column in long times
past, my focus flitting hither and yon elsewhere, but since I started working
on this new novel--dare I say it--I read it "religiously." I feel
like there's been a death in the family. :-(
Very sorry to learn we will no longer have your articles in the Star! I
sent an email lamenting this conspicuous omission to the Features editor.
I am still praying and cussing. As --- said, we need more of Vern, not
I just discovered at cres.org the cancellation of your column. I
read it faithfully and was also in awe of how you responded to readers
on the website. This makes me sick at heart and actually almost physically
sick. Stupid, senseless, insightless, wrongheaded, wrong in every
way. What a loss to the community! Unbelievable.
I hope there is an outpouring of protest. Not that that would
fix anything, of course. The Star probably wouldn't report it if
there were. Nevertheless, I will submit my two-bits' worth of outrage.
Your column was an ongoing manifestation of light, love, intelligence,
exquisite sensitivity, scholarship, kindness, compassion, sanity.
Well, there is no end of such attributes. So, like all manifestation,
it returns to its Source in the great Silence.
Non-attachment is indeed difficult!
Did I miss something? Did not see your column yesterday. Peace!
. . .Was free too much for the Star to pay you? . . . .
This morning I have had the chance to read the "exit" interview at the
CRES site. A sad moment, even if only some months away from 1001.
I will miss the column and will now make it a weekly habit to check on
cres.org, to see if there is some kind of post
Beautifully said, Vern. Good luck, and I hope we'll meet in person one
must have missed where it said that your column is ending. I am sorry to
. . .for many years your column was the best ongoing commentary in the
paper. . . . on the topics of beliefs, religion, spirituality, inter-faith
understanding, and discussion of cultural events related to these subjects,
it was unsurpassed as a resource to the community. . . . it was a beacon
of intelligence, sanity, scholarship, and kindness. That canceling it was
a major loss to local readers and a very bad decision.
I have . . . followed your column for years. I sent it to --
and -- each week. Below is the letter I sent to the Star editor. Your column
is a great loss to me, yet has and will continue to greatly strengthen
my commitment to the “Whole”.
can’t begin to imagine my disappointment in opening up the Star again Wednesday
morning to find out that you have dropped Rev. Barnett’s spiritually inclusive
column. I had hoped that last week was an oversight. In my opinion, in
this time of growing divisiveness in this country and the world, we more
than ever need voices of spiritual unity and understanding. I’m sure you
have had local pressure from some groups to eliminate Rev. Barnet’s column,
yet I’ve seen your paper stand up against many giants. At least you owe
us, the subscribers supporting Rev. Barnet, an explanation. I, for one,
would like to see more local news articles instead of fewer.
have missed your weekly writing in the KC Star. What happened?
Thanks for missing me! I miss my faithful readers! . . . . I think The
Star has decided not to announce the end of the column in order to minimize
complaints that the paper . . . decided not to continue it. I know others
have written to The Star but so far nothing has appeared. I really appreciate
your letting me know it was of value to you!
Estaghfirullah for the Star's dropping your column for Billy Graham.
Whatever happened to religious pluralism?! (I do suspect that it
is coming whatever the status quo does to try to stop it, however.)
We miss your column. Hoping everything is ok with you healthwise.
writes to The Star
“Sadly, a voice of wisdom is missing from the Kansas City Star. Impatiently,
we await an explanation to our question: why has Dr. Vern Barnet’s
informative column been discontinued?
Dr. Barnet has a unique ability to raise essential questions, to apply
the wisdom of sages to modern crises, to connect the dots between art,
science, the earth, our deepest spiritual yearnings, our human relationships,
and the major world religions which thrive in the heart of America.
His column enriched our hearts and minds, providing a context for elevated
conversation about those essential verities common to all faiths.
His transformative column motivated thousands of believers and non believers--whether
followers of primal faiths in communion with nature, Asian spiritual practices,
revelation-based monotheistic religions, free thinkers, or liberation movements—to
put aside fear and prejudice, to cross state, neighborhood, and ethnic
boundaries, to meet face to face, to know one another and to be known,
establishing trust and understanding where none previously existed.
The interfaith movement initiated by Dr. Barnet has just begun. It
will continue into the next century, as his legacy. Regrettably,
the Kansas City Star may be less relevant to that process.
comments on the above letter to The Star
What a beautiful letter! I also wrote one. But it apparently has
not been chosen for publication, as I have not had that phone call. Maybe
your letter will make a difference!
I have missed your column in the K C Star so much, and have not been able
to find out why it was discontinued. It is most disturbing to me
that Billy Graham's is printed everyday, as if all of the readers are of
that very fundamental Christian belief. Helen Gray has not responded
to my e--mail, after one week. I hope to hear from you that something
can be worked out so that a more balanced voice is expressed in the Star.
I don't have a computer, just this little Mailstation, which can send and
receive e-mail. My address is :[ ]. I look
forward to hearing from you. I have read and appreciated your column
for many years, and have saved many of them. Thanks,