Jim Kline

The New Battle For Voter Rights

Oct 5, 2018
flickr user / Vox efx "I Voted" (CC BY 2.0)

It was the early 2000s, and time for me to cast my vote -- something I had done every election year since college. 
So I was startled to learn that my name wasn't on the registration list. Thinking I was at the wrong polling place, I drove to the other location, only to be told the same thing. And it was here that I came to appreciate living in Illinois. 

The America We Know And Love

Aug 31, 2018

Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham is bothered by immigration. Really bothered. According to her, "The America we know and love doesn't exist anymore." 

All Are Welcome

Jul 27, 2018


The dictionary definition of "ordain" is precise: "To invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority." In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, that tradition continues to this day. 


The Benefits Of Civility

Jun 22, 2018

Seated across the table from me was a gentleman whose social and political beliefs were, to say the least, the polar opposite of my own.

I listened quietly as he expounded on a number of issues and bided my time. Typically I have no problem expressing my point of view in these discussions, but this was not a typical situation.

When he sensed my reticence, I joked that -- in the interest of group harmony -- I was suppressing my liberal viewpoint. He laughed, but he understood my reasoning. What was about to take place would be a first for both of us.

The Real Reason For Shame

May 18, 2018

I am not a betting person, but I would be willing to wager that no one has ever seen an opinion piece titled "Heterosexual Teacher Shames First-Graders."

Yes, that would be ludicrous, but no less ludicrous than the headline I did see recently: "Homosexual Teacher Shames First-Graders." The author of this screed was Laurie Higgins, cultural analyst for the Illinois Family Institute, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Paean For An Open Primary

Apr 6, 2018

We have just finished a primary election in Illinois, and yes, I voted, but only on a non-partisan referendum issue.

For decades, I have questioned why primary voters are made to make a public declaration of party preference, when other states have found alternatives to this intrusive requirement. Twenty years ago, while a Wisconsin resident, I was able to vote within a single party ballot without revealing that choice.

A Note On Forgiveness

Mar 2, 2018

The small hand-written note, left on my desk after a day of teaching sixth graders many years ago, caught my attention.

"Mr. Kline: I am sorry. Will you forgive me? David."

As students go, David was neither saint nor sinner. Or perhaps, in the words of Martin Luther, he was both, as all of us are. I carried that note in my wallet for years and later moved it to a file for safekeeping.

As I think about that student and the request he was making, two things immediately come to mind.

A Lesson Learned ... And Lived

Jan 26, 2018

It was a cold but sunny winter day in the 1960s, not unlike some of the days we have experienced recently. I was 15, so personal transportation was my own set of legs.

Those legs would take me on a long solo walk over the frozen Kishwaukee River, and give me a lesson that day which, 50 years later, I have not forgotten.

A sudden "crack" and my right leg was knee deep in frigid water. As I quickly glanced at the surrounding ice, I chose the safest path to shore.

Finding Peace In This Season

Dec 22, 2017

Many years ago -- shortly before Christmas -- I learned that I was about to become unemployed. All non-essential purchases stopped, including the Christmas tree that would have gone in my living room.

Christmas Eve arrived, and I headed outside into the snow while carrying a small backpack. Upon reaching a wooded area at the edge of town, I stopped near a thornapple tree and removed my pack.

Why Is That A Reason To Oppose?

Nov 17, 2017

Sometimes, while reading a news story, a single phrase will appear to jump out at me, essentially telling me all I really need to know.

That was the case recently, when a proposal to build a senior housing complex was strongly opposed.  The audience groaned when they learned that the vast majority of occupants would be "low income."

As someone who definitely qualifies as “low income,” and for whom home ownership is an abandoned dream, I'd like to offer these thoughts:

The Odd Case Of The 'White Male'

Oct 13, 2017

I'm a white male -- like Anders Breivik, Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Charles Whitman, Timothy McVeigh, Dylan Roof, and Stephen Paddock. And it was the action of these men that now prompts me to offer my deepest apologies.

Celebration Amid Personal Loss

Sep 8, 2017

At various times in my life, I have wondered if I might ever be guilty of "schadenfreude" -- finding pleasure in another person's discomfort. It would take a heartbreaking setback of my own to prove to myself that I would not.

The True Meaning Of Heart

Aug 4, 2017

I didn't know him. He wasn't a relative. But I would make a five-hour drive to Charles City, Iowa, for a memorial service honoring a 15-year-old whose sacrifice would give life to five others.

Logan Luft -- a wrestler, outdoorsman, and excellent student -- would be declared brain dead after an ATV accident on July 4. When he had acquired his driver's learning permit, he chose to be listed as an organ donor. His family would honor that request, and his liver, pancreas, and kidneys would give new life to four individuals.

Overcoming The Darkness

Jun 30, 2017

One year ago, our nation was shocked by another mass murder. This time, it was the killing of visitors to the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

The darkness of senseless violence closed in on the Orlando community just as it has in so many other cities. Questions, blame, suggested solutions, and despair all gather in a mix that asks the unanswerable question, "Why?"

But darkness, by definition, is the absence of light. Darkness is overcome when even a single small point of light declares its power to illuminate the void.

A Life Of Quality Content

May 26, 2017

At first glance, my 12-year-old grand-nephew, Frank, is like most boys his age.

He loves pizza, sleepovers with friends, and playing with the family dog. He even hosts his own YouTube channel devoted to Minecraft, Legend of Zelda, and the many other video games in which he has become proficient.

But beneath the surface lurks a reality of his daily life which no child should have to deal with. Now in the final stages of an aggressive cancer, he faces each day with courage, acceptance, and wisdom beyond his brief years.

Defining My Own Family

Apr 21, 2017

A Rockford-area organization has, for several years, been active in promoting families, and that's a good thing. What isn't good is its insistence on narrowly defining its idea of a family -- a married man and woman and their children.

Some organizations, often with "family" in their name, seem obsessed with their own idea of what they call a "natural" family and will often put derisive quotation marks around the word when commenting upon those which don't neatly fit their traditional religious views.

The Problem With Judging On Looks

Feb 24, 2017

We are often told to never judge a book by its cover. My corollary to that axiom is, “Never judge an intellect by its occupation.”

For several years, I was the dump keeper for a small community in Wisconsin. Recyclable items such as magazines would be brought to the site as well. During periods of inactivity, I would often take the opportunity to read material dropped off by local residents.

Jim Kline

Feb 17, 2017

DeKalb County resident Jim Kline grew up in Genoa and earned a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois and an M.S. in Outdoor Teacher Education from Northern Illinois University.

A proud parent and grandparent, he enjoys backpacking, cycling, kayaking and cross-country skiing with family and friends. In 2002, he completed a 3,000 mile bicycle ride across the U.S. and in 2016, at age 65, hiked to the summit of Colorado's tallest peak, Mt. Elbert.