SHAWNEE — The eighth-grade assignment might have sounded almost easy at first.
At its most basic level, the “Honor Project” instructed students at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Shawnee to live their lives for eight days.
But it came with a special condition: no moral shortcuts, no hurting friends or family, no breaking any rules.
“I don’t think they expected it to be as challenging as it was,” said Kathy Clevinger, the religion teacher who organized the project.
She even participated along with the students, knowing it would mean a week without so much as even sneaking a little chocolate.
OVERLAND PARK — “People always ask me what I’m doing,” said Chuck Jansen, a parishioner from Church of the Ascension here. “And I say, ‘Well, I’m in my fourth quarter.’”
The fourth quarter, according to Jansen, is the time in life when you give back. “And I’m just trying to give back,” he said. “I’m trying to be significant, trying to touch people’s lives.”
Inspired by men he encountered while leading a Christ Renews His Parish retreat, Jansen has decided to “give back” by producing a collection of faith stories on CDs and downloadable MP3s.
Though he currently is a real estate agent, Jansen has a background in theology and taught high school religion for 12 years.
“I’ve run a lot of retreats and done a lot of events in the church,” he said. “But that retreat (Christ Renews His Parish) kind of taught me to respect and love and count on the Holy Spirit.
Crucifixion. Does the word convey any terror to you?
Have you heard it so often from such a young age and seen such a vast array of crucifixes over the years that it has been rendered tamed? It was not that way for Jesus and his followers. There were many examples of people the Romans left hanging for days struggling to breathe, moment by moment, until the muscles of their legs could no longer raise their bodies for a breath. “Here is what we will do to you if you step out of line.” Crowd control through primal fear.
It was a time of great unrest, a time when many were expecting the Messiah to come soon and drive out the deeply hated Romans and restore a free Israel. The Romans noticed when anyone drew followers. It was always a threat.
PRAIRIE VILLAGE — Chip. Chip-chip. Chip.
Bob Cunningham is chipping away at a thick tree branch to create a notch. Once finished, he places another branch perpendicular to the first, to form a cross.
And his smile says it all.
As Cunningham peers through his round glasses at the creation he holds in his rough hands, it doesn’t look like much. But it means the world to him.