About Craig Wiesner

Craig Wiesner is the co-founder of Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company (www.reachandteach.com). Craig and his husband Derrick run the company out of their ticky-tacky house on a hill (theirs is the yellow one) in Daly City with their dog Toby keeping watch. In addition to creating and distributing books, games, puzzles, curriculum, music, DVDs, and other products focused on nonviolence, peacemaking, social justice, and healing the planet, Reach And Teach helps non-profits educate and communicate through the web. Tikkun has been a Reach And Teach client for the last four years. Craig is a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a Korean linguist, intelligence analyst, and language instructor (at the Defense Language Institute) from 1979 - 1987. After getting out and coming out Craig led educational efforts for two Silicon Valley technology companies before launching his own award-winning multimedia education company, WKMN Training. Craig is on the board of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice (a Bay Area peace organization), the CEO of MicahsCall.org (a web site that calls people to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God), and his opinion writing has appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and he is a frequent contributor to the KQED Radio (NPR) "Perspective" series.

Isolation Versus Community

Tree of Life Synagogue

Tree of Life Synagogue / Creative Commons / Common Dreams

Last night after meeting with my LGBTQ book club and talking about social isolation, and what I had written but not yet posted about the massacre in Pennsylvania, I thought I should go ahead and post the piece here.

Then, this morning, I woke up to another massacre, this one in a Southern California club. In the hopes that in the midst of so many of our hearts breaking over the news, wondering what in the world we can do to make a difference, I post this so that it might be food for thought and perhaps food for action and hope.

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Thoughts and Prayers? What the Prophet Isaiah Said

17 more dead. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Sackcloth, ashes, bowing your head… Actually, on the night 17 people were killed in Florida, I thought to myself that maybe my husband and I should fast. We didn’t. We did sit and watch the news as details of the mass shooting at a high school in Florida were slowly revealed. We closed our eyes in prayer, feeling helpless, angry, sad.

17 dead, the shooter in custody, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, neighbors, grieving. A chorus rings out “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Two words come to mind when I hear or read that phrase coming from people in power who could do so much more than think and pray. Then, yesterday, the pastor of our church asked me if I would lead the Time for the Child in us all at church this Sunday. “What’s the scripture?” I asked. Curious? Read on!

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On the Road Again

Did you ever have one of those moments when you were having a discussion with people you knew, loved, and respected, and one of them said something that made your jaw drop, or, in the case of our friend Julie, something that left you standing there with a clicking noise in your head? Have you ever found yourself wondering “How did this person come to think this particular way, especially when I see things SO differently?”

That clicking sound, or the jaw dropping, also represents a moment in many cases where we STOP really listening to each other. We dismiss the other person as being misguided, wrong, out of touch… different. Back in 2008, Julie, realizing that across the country people were having those jaw-dropping moments way too much, and feeling like too many people were dismissing each other rather than truly stopping, picking up our jaws, and listening even more deeply, decided to travel across the country in the lead up to the presidential election to really listen, and share, what was going on in people’s lives that influenced how they felt and how they might vote.

Remember that at the time, our country was in the biggest financial mess since the Great Depression and we had been at war since 2001.

There was a lot to be upset about, worried about, and the differences between the two major party candidates were very clear. There was certainly a lot to talk about as one traveled across the country asking people to share what was going on in their lives that might influence for whom they would vote. The chronicles of her first journey in 2008 can be found here.

She also traveled the country in 2012 and you can meet the people she connected with here.

Quick note about these trips… Regardless of which candidate or party a person, couple, or groups of people were going to vote for, Julie found one constant everywhere she went: hospitality. She was invited into people’s homes, gifted with lovely meals, helped when her transportation broke down, and found an openness to share the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of people’s lives wherever she went. She also found anger, frustration, abuse of power, fear, and despair. That’s America. A lot is wonderful and a lot is broken. And here we go again, blaming one person or another for what’s broken and pinning our hopes on one person or another to fix some of it.

Now, Julie is about to head off across the country again, and while some might say that they don’t see any difference between the two major party candidates (really?????), I’d have to say that beyond that comment, in 2016 I’m finding myself with my jaw dropping more than ever, and asking myself more than ever “What the heck are these people thinking?” “What’s going on in their lives and in their communities that’s driving them to vote for one candidate or the other, OR, to NOT vote at all?”

So, it is with gratitude and a bit of trepidation that I watch Julie head off across America to deeply listen to, and share the stories of, people she meets in the cafes, parking lots, downtowns, diners, truck stops, and department stores. I’ll share some of her posts here on Tikkun Daily, but also hope you will bookmark her web site and visit there every day as she posts videos and writes about her journey across America. And, once one candidate or the other wins, we can read, watch, and listen to the REAL needs across our country and work TOGETHER to do something about making America better because ONE candidate, one person, one president can’t make the good better or the fix the problems without us, we the people, taking charge.

Click here to visit Julie’s web site and join her on her journey.


Soon after the news from Nice popped up on my newsfeed an old friend wandered into our shop. Last I’d seen her she had told me that her partner of 16 years had died after a long battle with cancer. She was leaving town, then, and I wasn’t sure if or when I’d see her again. Now here she was, grieving, in need of a friend to talk to. I closed my computer and for the next hour and a half, except when briefly interrupted to help another customer, I spent the time talking… actually, mostly listening.


The other day another woman was standing outside our shop looking lost. I went out and asked what was wrong. “I can’t remember where I parked my car.” I told her that it happens to all of us. “I just lost my husband and ever since he…. My brain just doesn’t work right anymore.”


Most people would walk by my friend and this other woman and not notice that something terrible had happened to them.

Grief. Continue reading

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss?

On Saturday June 11th, as I took our dog out of our shop in San Mateo to get her comfy in her kennel, the friends we’d been awaiting to have dinner with arrived and ran into me on the street. I love these guys like crazy, and we’ve been friends for nearly 30 years, but… they’re kissers, usually right on the lips. And here on our little street in San Mateo there were families with little kids heading this way and that and my mind screamed “they’re going to kiss me right here in front of everyone…. what if………….?!?!?!?” I should point out, unless it isn’t already obvious, that these two friends and my husband and I are all of the same gender, male. They did, of course, go right in for a kiss, this time on the cheek though, right there on 25th Avenue, and the world didn’t stop.

Or did it? Continue reading

Beliefs Don’t Land You in Jail – Actions Do

Booking photo from the Carter County Detention Center

Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis was jailed today by a federal judge for failing to issue marriage licenses, a duty she is sworn to carry out, but which she has refused to do since the Supreme Court decided that LGBTQ people could get married in all 50 states. She claims that her religious beliefs trump the law, saying that issuing licenses to gay couples “irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience.”

“I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs,” the judge said, but “I took an oath.” He noted: “Mrs. Davis took an oath. Oaths mean things.”

According to the New York Times, Judge David L. Bunning said “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order. If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”

One of Davis’ lawyers is quoted in the article as saying “Today, for the first time in history, an American citizen has been incarcerated for having the belief of conscience that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and she’s been ordered to stay there until she’s willing to change her mind, until she’s willing to change her conscience about what that belief is,” he said. “This is unprecedented in American law.”

Pundit (and presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee calls her jailing “the criminalization of Christianity.

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The Invisible Hand — of God

Adam Smith is arguably the most misinterpreted writer and philosopher of the modern era. Credit: National Galleries of Scotland.

My husband Derrick often brings up Adam Smith when we are talking about economics, saying that Smith’s work is misrepresented to say that no one, especially government, should interfere with the markets. This morning I received Rev. Jim Burklo’s latest “musing” which talks about Smith’s work in a refreshing way based on a book by University of Southern California professor of tax law, Ed Kleinbard.

So, with Rev. Burklo’s permission…..

The Invisible Hand – of God by Rev. Jim Burklo

“When the happiness or misery of others depends in any respect upon our conduct, we dare not, as self-love might suggest to us, prefer the interest of one to the interest of many.” Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Book 3, Sec. 1, Chapter 3.

“(What) improves the circumstances of the greater part (of society) can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 8.

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Much Ado About Nothing – Is Religious Freedom Really Threatened by Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi are co-founders of Reach And Teach and manage Tikkun/NSP web operations.

As we waited to check our luggage and get our boarding passes at the Charlotte NC airport we watched as couple after couple got to the counter, handed over their tickets, chatted with the agent, and then went on their way to their gates.

All seemed normal.

Then, when we stepped up to the counter, the agent looked at me and said “You, get back in line!” Pointing at my travel mate, and husband, I responded “We’re together.” She very loudly said “No. You have to come up here separately.” I responded quietly “You’ve had couple after couple come up here and check their bags and get their boarding passes.” She boomed out “You ARE NOT a couple.” “Yes, we are.” “Not in my line you’re not.” She then asked me if I wanted to travel at all that day, because if I didn’t get back in line she would make sure I didn’t fly anywhere that day.

This was around 20 years ago. Humiliated and near tears, I quietly stepped away from the counter while my husband checked his bag. Continue reading

Why This Gay Jew Will Be A Liturgist in Church This Sunday

Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi at their wedding in 1990. Credit: Craig Wiesner.

Twenty-five years ago, on April 8th, Palm Sunday, my husband Derrick and I were married at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto. This Sunday he and I will be Easter liturgists in that same sanctuary which has been our spiritual home for all of these years.

Today as the world remembers Christ on the cross and awaits the good news on Sunday, pundits like Mike Huckabee, decrying the outrage Indiana’s religious “freedom” law spawned, are claiming that folks like Derrick and I are trying to destroy the church. According to the Huffington Post, Huckabee said “It won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel […] and I’m talking now about the unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.”

No sir. The unabridged, unapologetic Gospel of the Jewish carpenter, executed because he dared to speak out against injustice and stood up for the poor, rings loudly in thousands of churches across this country. It is a message of love, hope, redemption, and absolute acceptance, with doors flung wide open proclaiming that all are welcome, and cursed be the one who puts up a stumbling block to the children trying to reach him.

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