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A Call to Live in ALL CAPS

More Untamed Devotions

Terminally ill pastor writes book of sharing love, living fully

Patrick Slack

And do so loudly.

It’s a simple, yet powerful message that Pastor Shane Allen Burton wants to share with everyone. And Burton, a 1987 Anoka High School graduate who served at churches in Andover and Fridley, among others, is shouting it out for everyone to hear in his June release of “More Untamed Devotions,” a follow-up to his first book.

It was a project Burton wasn’t planning to undertake, but one that became important to him upon being diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2019. He had previously beaten esophageal cancer be-fore the disease returned. With so much material left to share, Burton wants to call out a God that loves everyone, and that every person is capable of love.

“The idea of #LIVEINALLCAPS was something that came about before I got diagnosed with terminal cancer,” Burton said. “I always talked about Red from ‘Shawshank Redemption’: ‘Get busy living or get busy dying.’ That was always a concept for me. Talking with my wife Dani about a year ago, I said, ‘I want to live, I want to live life in ALL CAPS.’ Because when you write something in ALL CAPS, it means you’re shouting.

“I want to shout that life is about love: loving God and loving each other. Basically, if it’s loving, do more of that, and if it’s not, knock it off. When I got diagnosed it took on a new meaning: to be fully alive.”

Burton grew up in Anoka County, living in Blaine and Ramsey. He remembers marching in the Halloween Parade as a child and later he graduated from Anoka, with family ties going back generations. Between stops as a pastor he held many different jobs, including insurance agent, pawn broker, mortgage broker, executive director of a publishing company, supervisor in an oil refi nery, editor and store manager in his now hometown of Hudson, Wisconsin. The array of experiences has given him the ability to connect with many different people.

“It was certainly not by design,” Burton said. “There were times in-between serving churches where I just needed a job. Some were just by necessity. But if you’re working with a church, it’s great to know what real life is like. Working for 5 1/2 years in an oil refinery as an average guy, it helped me get a closer look and have a lot more understanding of the people sitting in my church pews. I often say, you can get more understanding and grace on a barstool than a church pew. If life doesn’t go the way you want it, the people on a barstool understand that.”
Burton took that understanding with him as he founded Lifelines, A New United Methodist Faith Community in Andover in 1998 to 2001, later working at Fridley Covenant Church from 2012-2013.

“Meeting all of my neighbors, knocking on doors, and starting in my living room, and then renting out the Andover Cinema and having 100 people show up each weekend was an incredible time,” Burton said. “In Fridley, my fondest memory was of leading worship out-doors in the summer time.”

In 2014, Burton came out with “Untamed Devotions: Stories of a Wild God.” In both of his books, personal sto-ries intertwined with messages of hope and God’s abundant love are shared, with both strongly received.

“Oh goodness, very, very positive,” Burton said. “I suppose I sold quite a few copies on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and direct sales.

“It was funny, I started writing the thing way back when I was working at the church in Andover. My leadership came to me asking for devotions. So I started writing. After a couple months of doing it they asked how it was going and they said, ‘We thought you were just going to go buy us a book of devotions, not write them!”

In the end, the books are calls to all to make the most of their lives, and to bring love, joy and hope to others.

“To have a life that has been lived to the fullest, an abundant life,” Burton said. “To not wake up one morning on your death bed gasping that you have regrets, that you didn’t have the time, the money, to have done that the whole time with love.

“I know it sounds simplistic, but I re-ally truly believe that when we put love in the center as our primary focus, it changes people. It changes events. It changes lives.”

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The Morning Blend Interview with Lora Hyler

There’s no doubt that the world has changed due to coronavirus, and Lora Hyler is on a mission to help kids navigate the new norms. Inspired by Emory Global Health Institute’s competition to help children deal with the effects of coronavirus (no schoolroom, no playdates, changes in family celebrations, etc.), Lora wrote Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free: A Coronavirus COVID-19 Book for Children in just ten days! Today she joins us to talk about her new book and what her hopes are for it globally.

Watch the interview here>>>

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What FDR Did That Addresses the Pandemic

Urban Milwaukee

Op Ed

Creating unemployment compensation, other reforms that are helping us weather this crisis.
By David Riemer and June Hopkins

putting gov in its placePresident Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of 1933-1938 has risen from the history books as Washington frantically struggles to solve today’s crisis. It has become commonplace to state that FDR’s bold leadership is desperately needed again.

What would FDR do to revive the economy and protect Americans from a future economic catastrophe? What steps would New Deal policy makers like Harry Hopkins (whose jobs programs put millions back to work) and Frances Perkins (whose team crafted the Social Security Act) recommend that we take?

Good questions, but incomplete.

What’s missing is recognition that Roosevelt and his New Dealers have already shaped today’s solutions and created the template for future action. Hiding in plain sight, the New Deal’s policies laid the foundation for much of the legislation Congress just passed to tackle the COVID-19 epidemic and revive the economy. The real question is: “What additions to the New Deal should be put in place to get us out of the fine mess we are falling into?”

Here are just a few ways in which the New Deal built the foundation for today’s crisis response and how that framework can be bolstered in the future.

One of the great achievements of the New Deal is Unemployment Insurance (UI). It provides laid-off workers with cash to make up for lost wages. Congress just enlarged this program. The new legislation temporarily add new categories of qualifying workers, lengthens benefits from 26 to 39 weeks through 2020, and raises payments by $600 per week through July 31.

The jewel in the crown of New Deal legislation was the Social Security Act. It created UI. More famously, it launched the old age pensions that we simply call Social Security. One of the law’s accomplishments was to assign a nine-digit Social Security number to nearly all workers (today, all persons). Most of us use it to file our income taxes. The program provides the conduit for the $1,200 checks that most American adults are receiving. No Social Security number, no payment.

An even more important legacy of the New Deal is its fundamental premise: the federal government is responsible for Americans’ economic security. Before FDR took office—before Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins delivered jobs for the unemployed and a Social Security system—the federal government had no permanent structure for helping individuals in economic distress.

The New Deal established a new premise. Beginning in 1933, the federal government started providing large numbers of Americans with the right to assistance when they were beaten down by what FDR called “the hazards and vicissitudes of modern life.” Washington would henceforth raise the income of laid-off workers, low-wage employees, and seniors with insufficient savings. Eventually the government extended protections to disabled workers and seniors needing health insurance.

The laws just enacted by Congress strengthen the New Deal’s fundamental concept that it is the federal government’s duty to provide Americans with a floor of economic security.

To recognize that the New Deal laid this foundation, however, is not to assert that the New Deal’s structure is perfect. Numerous additions and reforms are needed.


As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans will have trouble finding jobs until the economy revs up. The solution is a Transitional Jobs program, a refashioned version of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that Hopkins ran. Transitional Jobs, federally subsidized, would offer temporary paid work to the unemployed and underemployed until they move into regular employment.

A higher federal minimum wage is long overdue. Our system of supplementing earnings—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit—should also be overhauled to cover more workers and provide larger refundable tax credits to wage earners without children as well as working parents.

Congress made a start on paid leave by requiring it for some workers affected by COVID-19. The New Deal’s logic, however, requires that paid leave be available for all workers who need temporary time off to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or an ailing relative Additionally, the New Deal should be expanded to guarantee affordable—ideally free—childcare.

As members of Congress shelter at home, let us hope they recognize how much they relied on the New Deal of FDR, Harry Hopkins, and Frances Perkins in framing their response to the nation’s crisis. Let us then hope, when they go back to work, they will be wise enough to focus once more on bolstering the New Deal model of work-based economic security for all Americans.

David Riemer is former aide to Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist and the author of “Putting Government In Its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0.

June Hopkins, professor emerita at Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus, is the author of “Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer,” and the grand-daughter of Harry Hopkins, who ran the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal.

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David Riemer: Strengthening broad-based economic security with a New Deal 3.0│ Ep. 17

By Arthur Thomas – BizTimes
BizTimes MKE Podcast

David Riemer says that the government structure created by the New Deal has sputtered over the last four decades in the face of international competition and disruptive technology. He also says it will take big changes to reverse declining trust in the federal government.

“The tinkering, making small changes within those four clusters, we’ve been doing for almost 80 years now, is not going to get us out of the mess that we’re in,” Riemer, senior fellow at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, said during a recent Rotary Club of Milwaukee program. Riemer was also previously chief of staff to Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, a legal advisor to Gov. Patrick Lucey, legal counsel to U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy’s subcommittee on health and scientific research and a health policy analyst for the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The four clusters of public policy Riemer referenced include broad-based economic security, means-tested welfare programs, market regulation and market manipulation. In his new book “Putting Government in its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0,” Riemer argues for bolstering broad-based economic security programs and market regulation while eliminating means-tested welfare programs and subsidies.

“I favor making sure that when the market functions it doesn’t harm people, it doesn’t damage the environment, it doesn’t damage workers or consumers or investors,” Riemer said. “That’s not a proper way for a business to make profit or succeed. They ought to succeed because they’re better at producing what they produce, they’re more creative, they sell things that people want. They shouldn’t succeed because they manage dump harmful substances in the air or in the water or have their workers work in dangerous work places.”

Riemer said broad economic security programs doesn’t mean just giving people money. It does include offering the un- and underemployed fall back job opportunities, raising the minimum wage to $10 or $12 per hour, making it easier to get childcare, eliminating disincentives for work and marriage in programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and favoring the ability of unions to collectively bargain.

Hear more from Riemer’s presentation on the latest episode of the BizTimes MKE Podcast.

In partnership with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee

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The Case for a New Deal 3.0

shepherd express

Shepherd Express
Louis Fortis, Editor/Publisher

Dputting gov in its placeavid Riemer graduated from Milwaukee’s Riverside High School. After attending Harvard College and Law School, he returned to Wisconsin in 1975 to serve as legal advisor to Gov. Patrick Lucey. He later held positions with U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Mayor John Norquist and Gov. Jim Doyle. In 2004, Riemer ran against Scott Walker for Milwaukee county executive. He served as founding director and senior fellow for the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. His book, Putting Government in its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0, appeared this fall. Off the Cuff sat down with Riemer to ask about his provocative proposals for sweeping change in U.S. domestic policy

Much of your book deals with economic insecurity. How bad is the problem?

Economic insecurity is bad and getting worse. The official unemployment rate masks a lot of joblessness. Millions who want jobs don’t get counted as unemployed. Likewise, if you work just a few hours, you’re not counted as unemployed. In neighborhoods like Milwaukee’s Zip Code 53206, unemployment—and its cousin, underemployment—remain pervasive.

What is causing economic insecurity to worsen?

The heart of the problem is the labor market’s shortcomings. Compared to the true number of unemployed adults, the supply of vacant jobs is usually inadequate. An equally serious problem: A huge swath of employees—sometimes with two or three jobs—get paid wages so low they cannot escape poverty, much less earn a comfortable living. Unstable positions and volatile hours compound the problem.

When did America stop making progress?

The mid-1970s. Since then, we’ve made no progress in reducing the poverty rate. It’s no surprise. Men’s earnings since the 1970s have been flat. Women’s earnings have not advanced since 2000. For more than four decades, median income has flatlined.

So, what can we do about it?

We need a sharply different approach. I call it a New Deal 3.0. America needs to greatly strengthen two of the “policy clusters” that emerged from the New Deal: broad-based economic security guarantees and market regulation. We should at the same time eliminate the two other “policy clusters” that the New Deal created: means-tested welfare programs and market manipulation.

Can you spell out in more detail what you’re proposing?

To achieve true economic security, we need to focus on making work available—and making work pay. This means:

  • Guaranteeing unemployed and underemployed Americans access to Transitional Jobs, so they can have 40 hours of paid work, if that much isn’t available in the regular labor market.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour, then quickly to $12 per hour, with inflation adjustments.
  • Strengthening our policies for supplementing earnings—the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit—so full-time work always yields an income way above the poverty line.
  • Making it easier to form unions and bargain collectively.
  • Other economic security guarantees are also needed. They include paid leave, excellent childcare and ensuring that adults with disabilities—as well as retired seniors—get benefits well above the poverty line.

And there’s more: Whether health care is a right or not, it’s a necessity. Every American should have affordable and excellent health insurance, as well as long-term care insurance. With this system of broad-based economic security guarantees in place, we should end means-tested welfare programs. We’ll no longer need TANF, SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid and more.

You also talk about creating an effective market? What do you mean?

Two fundamental reforms are needed. First, stop corporations from “dumping.” Second, end the costly subsidies that distort the market. To begin with, the U.S. government needs to stop denying climate change. Instead, we should become a leader in stopping and reversing it. Americans likewise deserve water that is always safe to drink. In addition, government needs to do better in safeguarding workers, consumers and investors from damage. Ensuring that corporations stop “dumping,” and instead profit due to their creativity and productivity, will make the market far more effective.

A second requirement is to get rid of the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies that government doles out. Manipulating the market in order to favor politically preferred types of consumption and investment weakens its effectiveness.

All this sounds wonderful. But in a world of gerrymandering and “dark money,” can we actually make the kind of progress you propose?

It won’t be easy. Change will be incremental. But the Bible tells us that we perish without a vision. As we proceed into the 21st century, it is essential to know where we want to head. My book is meant to be a roadmap that shows the path towards the kind of America we should aim to become.

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BENEATH THE FLAMES is the 2019 Gold Medal Award Winner

beneath the flames
beneath the flamesBENEATH THE FLAMES is the 2019 Gold Medal Award Winner in Fiction-General in The Readers’ Favorite International Book Award competition. Below is the five-star review:
“Beneath the Flames by Gregory Lee Renz is a mesmerizing story that brims with life and humanity, a story that explores themes of race, love, family, and an adventure within the firefighting department. The prose is gorgeous and, from the very beginning, the author had me captivated by the wonderful imagery and the lyrical nature of the story.”—Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite.