by Jim Denison (abridged)
The more that violence fills the news, the more we need examples to give us hope. That's why Tom Hanks is such an important role model for our culture.
Hanks' movies have grossed nearly $10 billion worldwide. His portrayal of Fred Rogers in the recent release A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is his 71st film.
But Hanks is known at least as much for who he is in real life as for who he is on the movie screen. His powerful recent interview with the New York Times is subtitled: "Hanks is playing Mister Rogers in a new movie and is just as nice as you think he is."
Here are some examples cited by the Times reporter: When Hanks was shooting Angels & Demons in Rome, a bride and her father couldn't approach the chapel because of the film crew, so Hanks stopped filming and escorted them to the altar.
He once bought some boxes of Girl Scout cookies, then offered selfies to passers-by as an enticement to buy.
He found a student's ID and used his Twitter feed to get it back to her.
What do college students want most in a mate?
Time magazine reports that researchers asked 2,700 college students to narrow down the characteristics that were most important to them in a lifetime mate, and one emerged from all cultures: kindness.
Kindness works for churches: Congregations in California are responding to the state's housing crisis by sharing their parking lots with people who live in cars, providing mobile showers for the homeless, and exploring ways to build affordable apartments on their own land. One minister explained: "This is just one part of how we live out our faith."
Kindness works for managers: according to Forbes, science now shows that it's more productive to praise people for their successes than to correct their mistakes.
Kindness even works for popes: Pope Francis hosted 1,500 homeless and needy people for lunch as the Roman Catholic Church marked its World Day of the Poor.
Why is kindness newsworthy? One reason is that it is so rare.
Jesus taught Christians to "love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High" (Luke 6:35). His best friend reinforced His message: "Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18).
On February 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached from Mark 10:43, where Jesus stated, "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant." Dr. King offered these observations:
"Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
"You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant."•
See the full article and more of Dr Denison's writing at denisonforum.org