Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hello Reddit.com

Wow, Reddit.com has brought a lot of visitors to this blog. Hello!

For all people to whom you can lend a hand, you should. Some people are trying to make it seem a bad thing to be helpful, to be generous. Don't be so selfish. We used to be a nation of people who could not survive without each other, and depended on each other to make it from one year to the next. And from our willingness to treat every other person as friend and neighbor, we built a great nation. Now, as our economy continues to collapse, we will soon be back to those days. Let's respond by getting back to the "good" kind of people we used to be. The economic mess our country is in today is directly related to excessive selfishness. It is time to stop this trend.

Personally, I do not believe the Reddit.com post, that brought so many readers here, to be legitimate. The message seems too contrived - it may very well be the work of a conman. The writer may still be homeless, though. Yes, you should be smart with your generosity. But the work of one unethical person should not be used as an excuse against helping people. When you give help, know enough about the real needs of the person you want to help, and address those needs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Day Is History

Embattled Governor Blagojevich takes his case to TV, and all of TV "jumps the shark."

I'm just saying.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Cost Of Things

Amount spent each year in Europe and the United States on pet food: $17 billion

Cost per year to achieve basic health and nutrition for the entire world: $13 billion

Amount spent on perfumes each year: $12 billion

Clean water for all the world: $9 billion

Amount spent on cosmetics in the US: $8 billion

Basic education for the world’s children: $6 billion

Total amount the US spends on Christmas each year: $450 billion (or 16 years worth of food, water, and education for the world)

Initial cost of the US Government bailout of failing financial institutions: $700 billion (or 25 years worth of food, water, and education for the world)

http://www.globalissues.org

God Said So

I do not assume to know the mind of God. But, something is happening in this country that has happened enumerable times throughout history, even the biblical history of God. For several years now, there has been a movement among the wealthy and powerful in America to harass the poor and the homeless, so to chase them away from the inner cities - inner cities where developers plan to profiteer from redevelopment. There is hardly a city in America where this is not being tried. Still, these efforts are failing miserably, the homeless populations in the inner cities persist unchanged. Yet now we are experiencing a near collapse of the institutions, financial, development, etc., that have been the harbingers of the greed that inspired the mistreatment of the poor and homeless. I cannot say if this is, or is not, God's punishment for bad deeds. But, I can say with all certainty that biblical history, again, has been the best fortune teller.

Anti American

Click image for a sharper image.

Historic Quote

"I won."

-- President Obama, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, in response to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on why he's not including more Republican ideas in his economic stimulus plan.


January 23, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Homelessness Blog

http://journeytohomelessness.blogspot.com/

Bush's Legacy

People try to give ex-President Bush credit for the fact that the U.S. has not been attacked since 9/11. That "on his watch" he kept America safe. Really? 9/11, the worst attack on U.S. soil in all of history did happen "on his watch." And it's not like he and everyone else in the world didn't know that terrorists were gunning for America. If Bush wants to claim credit for keeping America safe, he should have prevented 9/11.

President Bush's legacy is that the worst attack on U.S. soil happened when he was President. He should get full credit for that.

Angry Homeless People

Most chronically homeless people have the common trait of poorly processing anger. Most of their anger is repressed and improperly expressed. Yes, I'd even say that was true of myself. Check out this webpage about anger and how to deal with it. http://www.survivorsswindon.com/angry.htm

More About Economics - Rick Wolff Is A Genius

In this video made in 2007, he predicts the current economic implosion.

The More Information The Better

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oops

About That Video

Many people have asked about the video below. You can find it at http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=capitalism+hits+the+fan&hl=en&emb=0&aq=0&oq=capitalism+hi#

Richard Wolff a professor of economics at UMass Amherst talks on the current "financial" crisis and capitalism in general. A form of socialism is presented as a possible alternative. This talk was presented by the Association for Economic and Social Analysis and the journal Rethinking Marxism

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Commie

Change.Org

I just created a webpage for the Campus For Human Development, a multipurpose service provider for homeless people. On this webpage you can find more information about the organization, leave your own testimonial about the place, and give a donation to it. To get there, click on http://www.change.org/the_campus_for_human_development

thanks for helping.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ad Hominem - I Get These A Lot, Especially #2

ad ho·mi·nem
Pronunciation:
\(ˈ)ad-ˈhä-mə-ˌnem, -nəm\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
New Latin, literally, to the person
Date:
1598

1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

By Any Means Necessary

"By any means necessary" is a translation of a phrase coined by the French intellectual Jean Paul Sartre in his play Dirty Hands. It is generally considered to leave open all available tactics for the desired ends. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/By_any_means_necessary

In the extremely difficult times coming, there is little reason to dither and bicker over "how" homelessness should be eradicated. The goal of ending homelessness is near universal. Although, I do know some advocates who believe homeless people should be left alone, to be homeless unabated. I personally do not agree with this thinking. Every human being needs proper shelter. And, no person or institution should ever be allowed the power to deny people this. Those who create obstacles to proper shelter for homeless people should be considered criminals.

Whatever works to get a person out of homelessness is ok by me. I am not so narrow minded as to believe that only one way works for all people, or that only one way should be allowed. I do admit, grudgingly so, that even the efforts of rescue missions work for some people. Of course they work for very few people. And, for everyone else, rescue missions only add to the misery of homelessness. Still, for everyone who has a need let it be met, so that they may be at peace. If you feel led to support a rescue mission, do so to the fullest. The more people involved in the work of rescue missions, the better they will become.

Room In The Inn is a winter shelter program in Nashville run by the Campus for Human Development. This too is a Christian organization, but with a different approach. And the homeless clamor to get in there. Only when Room In The Inn turns them away do homeless people in Nashville take shelter at the rescue mission. The difference between the two is obvious. At Room In The Inn, the homeless are treated with at least a modicum of respect and dignity - a human necessity that if often lacking at the rescue mission. This is why I promote the work of Room In The Inn over that of the rescue mission.

Once a person is ready to leave homelessness, the best place in Nashville for them to make that transition is at Urban Housing Solutions This is another great organization that I recommend to people wanting to help the homeless of Nashville. They deserve and could certainly use your support. One of their many programs is called, The Academy. This is from the website:
Based on San Francisco's highly successful Delancey Street program, The Academy works to transform the lives of men who were incarcerated, addicted to drugs, and/or chronically homeless. Men in the Academy learn job skills during the day through a variety of enterprises and participate in encounter groups or prepare for the GED at night. The program operates under the "each one, teach one" philosophy in which each resident shares his knowledge with the others. It may be a book report at lunch or the best way to load a moving van or do a math problem. Residents who join the program make a two-year commitment. The Academy's Director and Assistant Director, Frederick Hilliard and James Wheeler, are graduates of Delancey Street. If you wish to apply for The Academy, please call (615) 262-3003, send a letter to The Academy; 822 Woodland St.; Nashville, TN 37206, or send an e-mail to theacademy@urbanhousingsolutions.org

No Such Thing As "Bad" People

"People are not bad. People are just subject to social influence."

Please follow this link to a study on human behavior.
Chaos Begets Chaos

The Pitts

A new blog, to me. Good information here, especially for people in Pittsburgh http://chscorp.blogspot.com

Monday, January 19, 2009

Help For The Homeless - Friends Family Church

As was mentioned in the previous post, after losing a job or source of income, there are many resources a person can tap, to stave off homelessness. Besides family and friends, there are social organizations such as churches, and government institutions such as metro social services, to contact for help.

In asking for help from others, the first obstacle you will face is your own pride. Certainly you will be embarrassed to ask. In asking for help you are admitting that you cannot do everything on your own. Most of this feeling is not so much a part of being human as a part of our cultural conditioning. As much as we take pride in our culture and what it has accomplished, there is much that is still lacking. We tell ourselves that we are the champions of freedom, yet we are very judgmental towards people who are not like ourselves, or as good as we perceive ourselves to be. We talk of freedom, yet demand conformity at every turn. And most any time we discover a person to be less than perfect, we view them negatively, chastise them and threaten to disassociate from them - all the while we ignore and deny our own shortcomings. Still it is this rejection that we fear, when we have to admit to another our imperfections. If we knew that confessing our faults did not result in receiving grief from others, we would talk openly.

Many people have a fear of being taken advantage of by others. Still, we can only be taken advantage of by those people we don't know. And, we don't know people only because we fear and avoid them. By embracing the stranger and including them in our lives we learn about them, and thus remove the “stranger” aspect from them. Of course, there are many families and friends who really don't know each other, either, although their talk would lead you to think otherwise.

Social bonds are the greatest preventative measure against homelessness. And those bonds are created by communication. The greater the communicator, the greater their protection from homelessness. For many people, though, great communication is not a skill they possess. And contrary to popular belief, a person with good communication skills, and strong social bonds, is not necessarily a “good” person. Some of the most notorious criminals were very popular people. For many of them it was their popularity that allowed them to achieve their criminality. But, in our culture we place the popular on a pedestal, and judge the friendless. And we assume the homeless to be friendless, and thus criminal. Since homeless people have not the means to prevent homelessness for themselves, people assume there must be something so wrong with them that they should be feared and avoided.

Certainly, if every person avoided every other person who had something wrong with them, there would be no society, but that's more logic than most people employ.

Anyway, I digress.

Friends and Family,

If asking for help from friends or family, or anyone else, is a matter of pride, just imagine how much less pride you will have asking for help after becoming homeless. It is better so suffer a little now, than a lot later. Even if you don't have great bonds with friends and family, this could be the very think to bring you closer together. If these people don't help you in this very difficult time, at least you know where you stand with them. And that's a good thing for you, even if they say no.

When you approach anyone for help, the most important thing you can do is be honest, completely honest. Some people think that they have to pad their story so to be believed and so to receive the level of help they need. Avoid doing this. Most people will see through the lie and won't trust you, regardless of how real your need is. And if by chance someone buys into your exaggerations, you will have to maintain those lies over the long haul, which is not only difficult, will often require additional lies that become an additional burden, making the work of leaving homelessness even more difficult. I have, though, had the experience of asking someone for help with buying medicine for a cold I had. They asked me how much the medicine was - I had just come from the store, so I knew how much it was. They responded by giving me half what I needed. This made me think that if I had asked for more than it cost, that I would have received what I actually needed. Instead, I was put in the position of having to go about asking even more people for help.

Churches

If you are already a member of a church, and well connected to the life and community of a church, then you have little to worry about. The bonds of a church community can be as strong as any family or friendships. And given the potential of a church to do God's will, it could be your best defense against homelessness. Of course many church communities are fake and fragile. Under the stress of a members potential homelessness you will learn the real strength of its fabric.

If you approach a church for help that you are not already a member of, or have not been a member for very long, you will most likely have a different experience. Biblical principles, like the story of the good Samaritan, go right out the window when churches are faced with requests for help from strangers. I once was told by a church pastor that they would not help me with a particular need, specifically because I was not a member of that church.

Under the pretense of being “good stewards” of its money, as well as the pressure from the IRS to be truly not-for-profit, churches budget their money very tightly, and even pride themselves on how well they can keep to a budget. So, at the beginning of every year, every church dollar is allocated. And church organizations being structured as they are, make exceptions to the budget very prohibitive. Most every church does set part of their budget aside for the unexpected need. But the amount of money allocated – called something like “the pastors discretionary fund,” is usually to small to do any one person much good. And, the pastor is limited, by church council decree, as to whom, how much, and for what, that money can be used. Despite what you may have heard about God, and Jesus, churches are one of the least likely organizations to help a person avoid homelessness.

Of course, if, in the midst of a particular church community, you have a life altering conversion experience, something that convinces that congregation of their special connection to the Divine, then they might be more likely to help you. For a period of time, anyway, as long as you can maintain the genuineness of that experience. And that works more with Fundamentalist churches. Don't expect that to work well with Presbyterians, Methodists, or Catholics.

A post on getting help from government agencies will come a little later.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

People Lie

I've written about this before, and I should have written about it more. And, I'm sorry, this blog has not been the service it should have been.

One of the biggest lies in the homeless industry is the one that says, "many people live just a paycheck or two away from homelessness." It's a great line for those who want to generate sympathy for the homeless, especially when they are trying to raise funds for a charity. But, it's just not true. Besides the fact that it takes a mortgage company, or a landlord a couple months to legally reclaim property, there are many things a person can do to extend their stay in a house or apartment, long after they've lost the ability to pay rent.

Just imagine for a minute, though, about those people who actually believe that lie about homelessness. It creates in them a certain fear. Then imagine them losing their source of income. And after losing their job, and missing a payment on their house or apartment, they receive a letter from the mortgage company, or landlord demanding immediate payment or they will be evicted - another lie. The fear becomes overwhelming. Depression and resignation sets in. And, before you know it, these people are moving into their cars and abandoning their houses and apartments, and just assuming they have no recourse.

(I like that word "recourse." The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as: "a turning to someone or something for help or protection."

That's the other lie that's causing so much trouble for people - the letter from the owner of the property demanding immediate payment, "or else." Of course, this lie, like the first one mentioned, is motivated by money. The bank is just wanting money the easiest fastest way it can get it. And they don't mind scaring a person into handing over their money. And the bank neglects to tell people that they have options, if they are unable to make a regular payment. You can negotiate with the bank for lower payments for a period of time. Well, you can negotiate just about anything, and people are willing to work with you, once you explain your situation with them. And that includes utility bills.

And if for some odd reason a landlord or mortgage company is unwilling to work with you, they are still obligated to following legal processes for evicting a person, including getting a court order to remove someone from a property, and that all takes time. Most people should be able to stay in their homes for at least three months after they've received their last paycheck. And if within that three month period a person becomes reemployed they only need notify people of their new income, and they'll be able to keep their place.

So, please, Don't Panic. You have options. Fight to keep your place. Don't believe the lies.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Don't Panic

Don't Panic. Nothing could be more true. Many of you may be familiar with that bit of advice from the very popular book, "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy." That story is a most improbable one, just as becoming homeless is also improbable, though admittedly possible. "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" is a story of homelessness. The story starts with the destruction of planet Earth, which would prompt most readers to ask, "Now what?"

And so a person finds himself homeless. His world, as he knew it, is completely gone. This would cause many people to freak out. Although freaking out would be completely understandable, it doesn't help. So, whatever you do, when you become homeless, don't panic. Millions of people have been, and have overcome, homelessness before you. The way out is clear enough, though perhaps a relatively difficult task.

According to the most reliable sources, at any one time there are just under one million homeless people in the United States. But those sources also say that about 3 million people experience homelessness at one point or another in a given year. Doing the math, this means that the average homeless experience lasts about 3 to 4 months. For the majority of people, homelessness is a short term event that they experience only once in their lives. If you're about to become homeless, just know that "this too will pass." Don't Panic.

Friday, January 16, 2009

So What It's Cold

Yeah, it's cold out. And that is a drag for homeless people. Here in Nashville, when the temperature drops to a certain degree, the Nashville Rescue Mission will send out trucks late at night to pick up any homeless people willing to go with them back to the mission. Some homeless will take them up on the offer, but most will not. If a homeless person was really of a mind to stay in a shelter, he would have been there when it was open.

Local news stations carried a story last night about the mission and it's attempt to get homeless people in out of the cold. And in those reports the mission personnel excused the rejections from the homeless as being due to drunkenness, etc. Well, let me please remind everyone that the main reason homeless people stay away from rescue missions is because they are demeaning, demoralizing, unclean and uncomfortable places.

Besides all that, the coldest nights in Nashville are still very survivable - as long as people are allowed the means to survive.

Things Are Getting Better

My housing situation has now been secured for the next 6 months. And, I just received a new point and shot camera - a Canon A590is. My never ending thanks to all involved in helping me with all this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Help Me Get A Job

I recently found a New York Times web site that hires writers like me to write on subjects they know about. And their compensation package is generous, enough for me to live on. The website is called http://about.com. I am writing to everyone I know, asking them to contact about.com, requesting they hire me for the job of homelessness writer. I think it would help my cause a lot if I can get a large number of people to write to them on my behalf. You can easily send them a message at apply@about.com.

Thanks in advance,
Kevin Barbieux

These Guys Are Great

A letter from
Mobile Loaves and Fishes: Nashville

The last month or so has been very exciting at Mobile Loaves & Fishes – Nashville. We have several important things to tell you about so please take a moment to celebrate the successes of MLF that were largely possible thanks to YOU.

o MLF is MOVING. Friday, January 16, 2008 will mark a new start for MLF. Woodmont Christian Church has graciously invited MLF to move into their South Hall facility. This move will allow us room for expansion, greater visibility, and easier access for our volunteers. We will miss St. B’s and the great rectory house that they have allowed us to use for the past 18 months. This move is just a stepping stone as we strive to serve even more people in the Nashville community.

§ Woodmont Christian Church

3601 Hillsboro Pk. (corner of Woodmont and Hillsboro)

We will be in the South Hall which is a house on corner of the property.

More information on access and procedures will be sent to individual teams as their volunteer dates approach.

*Our PO BOX and phone number will remain the same.

o 2008 was an incredible year for Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Only because of your help, were we able to serve 25,000 meals to the homeless and the working poor in the Nashville area. 2008 also brought many opportunities for MLF to be visible in the community in order to widen our service area and bring awareness to our mission: Some of these opportunities included:

§ MLF/Belmont Homeless Photography Exhibit

§ The Boulevard Bolt

§ Project Homeless Connect

§ And numerous other speaking engagements and exhibits.

In addition to the above, we were able to reach into new communities to serve. We now serve at the Martha O’Bryan Center every Thursday evening where we feed 150 kids on each run. Additionally, we are partnering with Second Harvest to provide Kids Café for the Cayce Homes Community every other Monday night. On these nights we feed between 300 and 400 kids. It’s an amazing outreach to the community and we hope that we can increase our presence in East Nashville significantly in the coming months.

o Another exciting thing recently happened. We realized that our schedule for truck runs is full! The only openings we have are the sporadic days that occur when a month has a fifth week. We currently don’t staff these because a team would only be able to serve a few times a year. Rather, the dates are sent out to those who have expressed an interest in picking up dates or filling in when we have a need. If you would like to be added to this list, please let me know.

§ We also realize that there are many of you who would like to volunteer but the only thing keeping you from doing so is the availability of dates. We would like to ask for your support and prayer as we expand our ministry. We realize it is time to add a second truck to our program. We are currently making some decision about this exciting expansion. Please consider how you might be a financial, volunteer or prayer supporter as we serve an even great number of people in need.

o Lastly, many have ask us in the recent months how the current economic situation has affected our ministry. MLF-Nashville has been fiscally responsible over the last 12 months therefore, we are in a position that allows us to continue and expand our ministry. We have, however, seen an increase in those that we are serving. The number of people on the street is increasing and we get calls on a daily basis for assistance. While all of us are trying our best to keep our families ahead, please don’t forget our brothers and sisters in need. Next time you are at the office for your make ready or truck run, I hope you will consider making a small gift to MLF-Nashville to help offset the costs of food. Consider this: if each of our 350+ volunteers made a $5.00 gift to MLF one time per month we could stock the truck with food for more than 5 months. You can also make one time or reoccurring gifts online at www.mlfnow.org. (Be sure to designate, Nashville-Center for Contemplative Justice).

Again, thank you for helping Mobile Loaves & Fishes meet our mission of bringing food, clothing and dignity to our brothers and sisters in need.

Give And Take

Click on the image to see the detail of American's stuffing their faces with pizza while avoiding the poor beggar woman.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The 100

Click on the image below to read it clearly.

In The Beginning (2002)

Room In The Inn starts to night. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get in. I'm going to lunch now, then down to The Campus For Human Development, where Room In The Inn is located. I'll try to sign up on a list, if they have one. If I can't get in tonight, I'll probably be in tomorrow night. A lot of it depends on availability. Most people on the streets are looking forward to it. But, it's also the first of the month, when Government checks are delivered. Many of the homeless will be lodging in cheap motels for a while. I imagine that the population of the mission will also diminish to about half of what it was last night - 319 men.

There is are two prerequisites for getting in to Room In The Inn. The first is that a person must attend a short orientation meeting. It's the same thing every year. But, it can be done while you wait to be sent out to a church, so there is no delay. Second, everyone must get a TB (tuberculous) test. That I haven't done either. And it will be up to them just how strict they are with this rule. In years past, they have given a grace period. Although the people of Room In The Inn don't like to turn away homeless people who would like to get in for the night, neither do they want too few homeless asking for a place, because Churches put a lot of work into preparing for the event. It would be sad if a church was expecting company, and no one showed up. Perhaps it is a mixed blessing. For no one to want the service would mean a decline in the homeless population. It's a odd dynamic. To end homelessness would cause a few people (service providers) to lose their jobs. If people think that there really isn't much of a homeless problem, they will reduce their giving to service providers. But then the homeless population might surge causing a sever shortage of resources. What, then, is the best recourse? Well, I'm just rambling here. I must be hungry. Lunch time. See you tomorrow.

Things are getting better all the time for The Homeless Guy. (Do I sound like Bob Dole?) I've got plans in the works. I'll be out of this mess before you know it. Will you still read my blog if I become the No Longer Homeless Guy? I will certainly keep this blog going. And I'll still be involved with homeless issues. Would you still be interested? Hmmm.

A Load Off My Back (2002)

There is a chill in the air. Leaves on trees turn yellow, orange and red. Night comes on sooner, and lasts longer. And theft increases in homeless land. It happens every time, this time of the year.

The rescue mission requires that all persons leave backpacks outside. The homeless can bring personal effects into the mission such as a change of clothes, a book, toiletries, but leave them in green mesh bags on hangers in a special holding area within the mission, when they go on to bed. This holding area is supposed to be secure, doors locked and with security camera, but someone still got into the holding room the other night and took off with a few items, green mesh bags and all.

Though it is also the policy of the mission that no one be allowed to bring pack packs into the mission, the mission does offer to keep an eye on these bags. But their security team does not keep track of which bags belong to whom. And it is common to leave the mission in the morning only to find your backpack missing. Albeit the mission does offer lockers, for a price, a price not everyone can afford. And, there are stories circulating of mission program people, (people in rehab, working at the mission), going through lockers, taking what they will.

Well, it so happens that I too have become prey to theft of my backpack. I carried that backpack with me for some 4 years without anyone ever bothering it. Most of the stuff I had in the bag is easily replaceable. But, in the bag was also my journal book, which I had started at the same time I started The Homeless Guy blog. In this journal I had documented all the events related to the blog and its growth and notoriety. I imagine it contained about 250 pages worth of entries. Also in this journal were all my thoughts and ideas, personal and other. I had been working on a proposal for a book, too. All this is now gone. I can only hope that, since I had the thoughts before, that they will come back to me again.

A Bird In The Hand (2002)

I finally got a pigeon to eat bread out of my hand. Actually, she perched herself on my wrist while she ate at a chunk of bread I held in my hand. Sure, I've been to places where birds climb all over you for food, but this is the first time a Nashville bird has done such a thing. (they aren't as sophisticated as the birds at Capistrano) Still, I felt a special honor, and considered it a reflection of something good within me. ( All is vanity)

Staying Away From The Mission (2002)

There is just too much coffee in my system, and I need to get something to eat. The sermons at the mission have begun to wear thin, and I can see the selfish motivations behind them, more clearly than usual. They disgust me, and I find a night with no sleep to be the lessor of two evils. There is no discussion of the love and forgiveness of Christ in these sermons. All is condemnation.

But Christ sent the apostles out to preach the Gospel - The "Good" News. The Good News is the salvation of Christ, not the damnation of God. If love doesn't come out of you mouth, it is not within you.

Then there is the academic side of the sermons. I don't think that someone needs to be educated to preach, but it sure helps prevent making a fool of one's self. The majority of the homeless know as much if not more about what is in the Bible, than the preachers who are dishing it out. Of course, all that is preached in a sermon must justify it's self, so, when one misquote of the Bible is uttered, it necessarily leads a train of misquotes - a full cargo of fundamental self deception.

Really, I've got to get out this place, soon. Room In The Inn starts this week. Perhaps I will meet someone at one of these churches with the means and inclination to help me out.

Truth Be Told

Not Me But Cool None-The-Less

A Myth About Homelessness (2002)

(It may not be much of a myth in coming years)

There are many myths about homelessness. Hopefully, this blog will help dispel some of these. I will start with the myth about people living just a paycheck or two away from homelessness.

Lets take your average American - we'll call him James, and lets put him in a predicament. Our friend James is not living large, but decently, he's a nice enough guy, just trying to get by in this oppressive world. He has a very modest apartment, with few luxuries, perhaps a tv, a stereo, some books. He works full time, but by the time the bills are paid, and he returns from the grocery store there's not much money left. He looks forward to visits from his friend Kevin, cause Kevin always springs for the beer.

Anyway, things go bad at work, and though she hates to do so, James's boss decides to let him go - he's layed off. ---This is the guy people define as being a paycheck or two away from homelessness, but lets see what happens next.

James's rent isn't due for two more weeks, and he has half the rent saved. The first thing he does is talk to his landlord and explains the situation. The landlord gives him a small extension (with penalty)but he's now got a couple extra weeks of leeway. The first of the month comes and James still hasn't found another job. The electric bill, water bill, phone bill, cable bill (which he just cancelled) has arrived in the mail. Though he isn't a member of a Church, James goes to the neighborhood Presbyterian, and explains the situation. He seems sincere enough, so the Church sends payments to the electric and phone company in James behalf. James is humbled and eternally grateful, renewing repentance for all his sins, known and unknown. The church also gives him a referal to the local food bank where he is given a box of groceries which will last him a couple weeks. Those two weeks blow by and he still hasn't found work. He now avoids his landlord, just like that guy in Crime and Punishment. James calls another Church explaining his situation of late rent. This Church cannot help him, but they refer him to a government agency. After a 3 hour wait in a waiting room, he gets to meet a case manager who works for city. The case manager is a big black lady who's seen and hear it all, yet wonders why a middle-class-looking white guy would ever need assistance. And James feels a little resentment, and guilt. But she doesn't expect to see James in her office again. She tells him that a government check will be made out to his landlord covering the rest of that months rent, including the imposed late fee. After a week the check arrives, written out to landlord. James goes down to pay the rent and his landlord asks if he's found a job yet. He hasn't, but he's been able to catch up on his soaps.

All of this has been a big hastle for James, and has worn on his soul. He's starting to feel depressed, making it harder for him to get out and look for work.

a few more weeks go by, and rent and bills are due again. Though there are hundreds of churches in James's city, he just can't get himself to ask God for that kind of help. He calls his buddy Kevin who is more than glad to help out. Kevin pays James electric bill, and throws him a few bucks for groceries. The Titans are playing the Seahawks that day, so Kevin is more than glad to also bring over a case of Portland to consume as they watch the game.

James calls the electric and phone company and explains his situation. They give him an extension. James hooks up with a temp agency and works enough to cover the minimums required to keep his utilities on. But times are bad and the temp agency has no more work for him. More time goes by and now rent is a month late. He recieves a notice from his landlord saying that he'll be evicted if he doesn't pay up. James calls up his buddy Kevin and laments. Kevin, who has been in this situation himself, tells James that a landord cannot kick him out without due process, and that process usually takes at least three months.

James has now become a regular at the food bank, and the local churches are all aware of James situation. And they worry because James has taken on a desheveled look. His situation has taken it's toll. James is in bad shape. He's stopped looking for work altogether.

It's four months since James lost his job, and the sheriff has just now knocked on James's door. He's got 24 hours to vacate the premises. Swallowing what little pride he has left, James calls his buddy Kevin, and asks for his help. Kevin offers James a couch to sleep on, at least for a while, but Kevin warns him, that he better start paying his share.
*******

Everyone has some community available to him/her which will delay actually homelessness for sometime, perhaps indefinately. And for most people a job can be found again, even though their credit ratings, friendships, and self-esteem will be frazzled. The point to all this being, homelessness can be delayed long after the paychecks have stopped coming. And there is plenty of time to recover from a job loss before homelessness is realized.

Still, it is the bullet, not the trigger, that kills. In the case of job-loss, it is the lack of community that is the bullet - losing the job is the trigger. But we shouldn't stop our investigation there. We need to know how the bullet got into the gun in the first place. We need to ask why some people have no community. It is on this path we may get closer to the causes of homelessness.

Sleeping Out (2002)

Yesterday was an interesting day. I went to the third floor, bagged up all that was mine - which I felt like keeping -and put everything else in the trash. I left my copy of the third floor key on the computer keyboard and left the building - and my job. Things I didn’t feel like lugging around with me I took to a storage facility I rent. I then returned to the library.

Later, I went to the bank and cleared up a little overdraft problem – their mistake, not mine. While there, I got the code numbers to open my PayPal account. For those with PayPal, you know what I’m talking about. I then returned to the library and stayed until it closed. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hrs so I went down to the mission to catch the last feeding at 9 pm. (To spend the night in the mission, you have to check in by 6:30pm – the library closes at 8:00pm.)

The people who eat at the mission at 9:00pm miss the nightly sermon. Because of this, they forfeit their chance to sleep there. Sure, it’s coercion – to offer services to homeless people ONLY if they attend the mission church - but that’s another post. I was planning on staying out last night anyway; there was no reason to subject myself to their sadomasochistic liturgy.

Upon exiting the mission I noticed that some guys had started bedding down, just outside the entrance. I didn’t think this was allowed, and asked them if they’d done this before. They avoided my question, declaring their intent to stay. I thought I’d give it a try, too. I picked out a spot against the courtyard wall and sat down. The guy to my left started talking. The conversation started out in politics, eventually veering into his stories about other missions he had visited. His favorite was in Tallahassee Florida, a block from a university, and not far from the bus depot. During the conversation, we walked next door to pick out some cardboard bedding out of a dumpster. The dumpster belonged to an art store so the cardboard was clean.

The talking quieted down and I put my backpack into “pillow” position, took off my shoes, and put them under my backpack. Just 5 minutes later, someone working at the mission came out and made us leave. (I’m sure the Angels singing in Heaven pause at such a discord.)

It’s about ¾ miles from the mission to the library. I walked back up to the library, and to the little park across the street where I sat on a bench and started writing. It was about 11pm. Earlier in the day Jim told me about a good place to camp, so after a while I headed over that way.

I had heard about this campsite before, and that police had ticketed people for sleeping there. Still, such an experience would be something worth writing about, so I went. The place is a parking lot underneath an abandoned building. When I got there I found it bright, with all the overhead lights on, and about a half dozen people trying to sleep. There was trash strewn about the place, but there were also a couple dozen trash bags, all full and placed up against a wall. Obviously someone had been trying to clean up the place.

I could hear Jim's voice, but couldn't tell where it was coming from. I got up and walked around a bit. I thought he would be just around the corner - not there. I walked out to the sidewalk and there I could hear him better, though I could not locate him. I looked up the side of the building and chuckled to myself. You certainly have to be cleaver to find a place to sleep outside, where the police, or other "concerned" citizens, might find you. Each floor of this multifloor building has an exaggerated window ledge, extending about 5 feet out from the building. And, there is a way of getting onto the next floor ledge, if you know what to look for. It's like finding a secret passage in a Mario Bros. game. When I found them, Jim gave me a hardy hello, but another guy, we'll call him Bull, got upset. Bull was the one who first found this place. "Hey, we can't have a bunch of homeless people coming up here!" Which was funny for him to say since he too was homeless, but he wasn't feeling so humorous. My friend tried to assure him that I was ok, but it didn't seem to help much. Bull stated, and he was right, that once news got out about a good sleeping place, EVERYONE would know about it, the wrong guys will show up, there would be a ruckus, the police would find out about it, chase everyone away, and would close off access to it.

Right after I showed up, yet another street guy showed up, and he was even less welcomed than I was. He was intimidated into leaving - no one was defending his right to stay. But my friend talked to Bull and calmed him down enough so that he consented to letting me stay. Besides my friend and Bull, there was a woman camping on this ledge too. Like a lot of homeless people, they seem normal enough, that is until you start talking to them. At first everything seems fine, until you discover that their thought processes are stuck in a particular mode and they are unable to break from it. This lady could maintain a decent enough conversation, but once she started she couldn't stop, and if you try to break her flow, just to get a word in, she acts offended. So, as she talked I just kept preparing for sleep, unfolding my cardboard, taking off my shoes, putting my backpack into "pillow" position, laying down, closing my eyes, and ignoring her as best I could. Her voice softened as she began to understand the message I was sending. About ten minutes later she stopped, and I fell asleep.

But, the sleep didn't last long. She woke me up, indignant she was, and told me that the snoring section was much farther down the wall. Ok, so I snore too. Actually, I've been told that I am rather gifted in this respect, with the ability to create a volume unlike any other. I was too tired to move so I just stayed awake until she fell back asleep. Then I did too.

Postscript: A couple days after this, the guy called Bull, was attacked while he slept. Someone hit him in the head with a ball peen hammer several times. He died at the hospital. His killer was never found.

Gift Bags (2002)

So, you ask yourself, "Self, what can I do? How can I help homeless people, even though I don't have much?"

Well, there IS something you can do. There are many things that homeless people usually do without, which sometimes seem insignificant, that homeless would be very happy to receive.

This is a project you can do rather inexpensively - and you can make this a project to do with friends, or your Church group, and share the expense - and you can include people of all age groups.

Get some paper lunch bags and fill them with little goodies. This is just a list of things I can think of, that everyone on the streets would need and appreciate. You might have your own good ideas too. -- "travel size" tooth paste and tooth brush and deodorant. A pair of new or clean socks (it's hard to keep feet healthy on the street) nail clippers, a comb, a bar of soap, gloves when it's cold out, a disposable razor, etc. Then add something special, like little Halloween size candies, a personal note that says "I care". You could even decorate the bags with drawings of happy faces and hearts - yeah, even mean ol' grumpy homeless guys like that kind of stuff - even if they don't admit it.

Once you have your care packages together, take them to where homeless people hang out - wherever it's safe for you too. If you aren't a proper adult, bring along proper adult supervision. And personally hand out the packages. Just try to plan to have enough for each homeless person.

Now it does happen sometimes, when you do this, that a street person will then ask you for something you don't have, or you are uncomfortable with giving. Just tell them that the packages are all you have right now, and that you're sorry you can't help more. Sometimes they will try to make you feel guilty so they can get more out of you. Be polite but firm. If you set, and hold to your limits, they will respect you for it. This is a great way of giving. I have received such packages myself - they've always been a blessing.

I Appreciate The Arts (2002)

You might think that the life of a homeless person I just one big downer. Actually, it's full of extremes. Along with the lows come some amazing highs (no pun intended). So, on my way out the back doors of the library, heading for lunch at the mission, one of the street people stopped me and asked if I'd gotten my tickets. Of course the first thing that came to mind was that some feeding places require the homeless to obtain a ticket first. I knew the mission didn't require a ticket, so I asked what was up. In his hand were a couple tickets from TicketMaster. He said they were for the Symphony. I asked were he got them. He said some lady was at the front of the library handing them out. Well, I made a straight line back to the front entrance. The lady was still there. I asked. She said that she only had two seats left, but that they were not together. But then she called out to some guy down the block and asked him if he had adjoining seats. He did, his last pair. Orchestra Level Row S seats 21-22. I checked the concert hall web site. They are very nice seats worth 53 bucks a piece. Follow these links to see where I'll be sitting. Click on Buy Tickets, then click on Jackson Hall, then click on the green section row s - it's in the middle. Tennessee Performing Arts Center We'll be listening to a little Mozart, albeit in street clothes, sitting next to a guy who may actually have some Grey Poupon in his vest pocket !!!

Beggars And Panhandlers (2002)

Ok, so what's the difference between a Panhandler and a Beggar? Well, to my mind there is a difference. The panhandler is stationary, his technique involves picking one place to sit or stand while waiting for you to pass by. The beggar is on the move, his technique involves finding one in the area most likely to buy his pitch. The panhandler works on the odds that a certain percentage of the entire population will walk by him, and throw something into his pan/hat/cup/palm. The beggar is more aggresive, and more cunning; he is the tiger on the prowl, looking for the weak and the young.

Why do they beg or panhandle? Drugs. It sounds too easy to be true. Sorry, it's all about the Drugs. Even when they are honestly asking for help with food, or their electric bill, or diapers, it's because they've spent all their money on Drugs, (which includes alcohol and cigarettes). At first, giving food may seem like a good alternative to giving money, but that only allows them to save their money for Drugs. Drugs, Drugs, Drugs - I can't say it enough. When you give money to these guys, and girls, you are supporting their life destroying addictions.

But you think about Jesus's commandment to give to all who ask; but I don't think He meant for you to give a loaded gun to man who said he wanted to kill himself. Which by the way, is what the homeless are doing - a slow suicide. Life has caused them so much pain that the only way to escape it is by death. Offing oneself is not quite so easy, so for many people they instead drown their pain in drugs and alcohol. And the pain is so great and the addiction is so intense that they will literally do ANYTHING to get it. When the drugs wear off the pain returns, so they are constantly under pressure to keep the drugs flowing. I just can't imagine this to be something God would want us to perpetuate.

The Dope man does not run a charity, but he is willing to take just about anything he can in trade for his merchandize. It's not uncommon for an addict to steal something of great value and exchange it for a small high. When I worked at the convience store I caught a guy with a 300 dollar box of cigars. He would have exchanged it for about 15 dollars worth of crack. Of course he had no idea that he had just taken a full box of Fuente Opus X, easily the most expensive cigars outside of Cuba. I'm sure he didn't care.

You can love him, you can hate him, he really doesn't care. All he knows is that if he is persistent enough, he will get what he wants. And that goes for the beggar as well as the panhandler. The only right answer to beggars and panhandlers is NO. You may have to say it more than once before they understand. No - you can say you're sorry for their situation, but still say NO. Only in a situation where the beggar has become violent, would I relent. By this time he has changed his identity from beggar to outright thief. And robbery is a whole different subject, and ciminal. And speaking of criminal, the United States Supreme Court has determined Panhandling/Begging to be a protected right under the First Amendment Freedom of Speech. If you call a cop and the cop carries the beggar/panhandler away, it's because they have found something else to charge the man with - they usually get them for public intoxication. If on the other hand he is arrested specifically for begging/panhandling, his Civil Rights have just been infringed.

If your insistent NO does not deter the beggar/panhandler, the next recourse is to make that person's time with you the most unpleasant experience possible. Yell loud, get upset, tell him to get away from you, threaten to call the police, (and sometimes you have to). Be more persistent than they are. - Part of why they are successful at getting money from people, is because they catch people unaware. Surprised, and uncertain what to do, a lot of people will just give money - if anything, just to get rid of the beggar. If you make enough noise, everyone in the area will become aware of this guy and his intentions, and will steer clear of him. Thus making his task a lot harder. Also, they fear going to jail, though they could care less about threats of being arrested. In jail, they are forced to sober up - for most, a fate worse than death.

In the big world we stress fairness and equality to all people, but in the case of beggars and panhandlers, as we desire to have them end this type of behavior, we must draw the line somewhere. Just like anyother efforts at behavior modification, it's works best to reward the good behavior and punish the bad.

If you are a business owner, I suggest that you share the expense with other business owners in hiring a security guard. You only need the presence of the guard to keep the beggars moving along.

Just remember that Beggars and Panhandlers are a small minority of the entire homeless population, and you should not judge all homeless people by these bad examples. If a person comes to you for a job, appears clean and sober and capable, though you may suspect he's homeless, don't press the issue. Hire the man. You could just be the break this guys been needing.

any questions? what do you think?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bombs Away

The effect of a Palestinian air strike. The bomb doesn't even dent the asphalt.


The effect of an Israeli air strike. Mass destruction.

So You Know

Arrangements have been made so that I will be able to stay in my apartment for the next 6 months. I'm very thankful for this.

Change.org

The following is a comment to a post on Change.org about homelessness. I thought it was interesting enough to repost it here.
For thirty-five years, I have worked in the trenches in the "war" against the homeless in America.

Ayn Rand and Ronnie Raygun sold this nation on the virtue of selfishness. They couched their antipathy in words of self-reliance and shining mansions on a hill, and more, that Christ Himself was an ultraconservative reactionary who blessed their actions.

These individuals, staunch believers in Corporate Socialism and bailouts, did not believe that one breadwinner was enough. They wanted the same wage per household but wanted two adults to achieve it.

They wanted mothers to abandon their children and work or attempt to work rather than care for their young. The " welfare queen urban legend" was expanded. Children, latch keyed and sociopathic, started killing other children. Still, these right wing ideologues wanted to destroy the safety net established by FDR.

The next hinge to be dismantled was the institutional care for the psychotic and severely neurotic patients. Words like "normalization and socialization" were used to conceal those crowding the streets and viaducts.

Christ had His followers and disciples. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. The homeless had Ronald Reagan and the Bush clan.

This nation, in my lifetime of 63 years, has transformed itself from a caring democratic nation to a kleptocratic theocracy, of and for and by the Corporate elites and Right Wing Religionists.

Our Churches - especially those old and abandoned physical inner city plants - have become shelters and food banks and kitchens for the homeless and the sick. Of course, the majority of these Christian venues are from the " mainline liberal groups" so maligned by the megachurches who teach that Christ loves the wealthy and blames the poor for their distress.

I find nothing of the Christ I love and serve in any of their words or actions. This old rector knows this......Dr. Raymond Sawyer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Homelessness Is An Illness

How do we respond to a person who has broken his leg? We call an ambulance and have the person delivered to a hospital where the person will be treated by a doctor who has dedicated his life to healing broken bodies. And this doctor has studied rigorously for many years in all the sciences relating to the human body, so that he can properly respond to all the potential needs of his patient.

When someone contracts a disease, is afflicted by cancer, ruptures an appendix, we get them the care they need, utilizing all the sciences available – medicines, machines, the most intelligent people with the greatest training and life long dedication to the health of humans.

We use everything available to find the cause, then we proscribe and implement a treatment, and allow a person the time and rest necessary to heal from his or her injury or affliction. And we are also very sympathetic, expressing our care and concern for those in need of healing – we send get well cards, flowers, provide help to the family of the person who is not well.

The human brain is just as much a part of the human body as a bone, spleen, liver, lung, skin, eyeball, toenail, etc. So why is it that when the human brain malfunctions do we respond so differently? All causes of homelessness are brain malfunctions. Whether it's a case of manic depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, anti-social behavior, financial miss management, the problem is within the person's brain. Fix the malfunctioning brain and you end the homelessness.

But we don't do that.

It seems funny to think of refusing to treat a person with a broken leg because of the bad decisions that person made in life. Or, of telling a person with a ruptured appendix that he must fix his injury on his own without help from anyone else. It's odd to think of denying rest and proper nutrition to people who require it to return to health. It's even funnier to believe that if we provided the necessary services to injured and ill people, that it would only encourage other people to become injured and ill too – and that we should fear our city being overrun by sick people, if word got out that we were actually treating and healing them.

So, why do people think that way about homeless people? Why are we afraid to help homeless people get well? Why do we pawn homeless people off on God, and expect God to take care of everything? Aren't you like most people who think that refusing medical treatment and opting for prayer only solutions to illnesses is either crazy or stupid? So, why just send homeless people to a rescue mission and other faith based shelters? Why, when a homeless person asks you for help, all you do is tell him to read his Bible, and pray?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Beer Bust

This is the latest attempt at ridding downtown Nashville of homeless people. Of course, it will be just as successful as other attempts - that is, not at all. It is an attempt to make the sale of single cans of beer illegal in the downtown area. Below the link is the comment I left on the newspaper site.

Please read ~ www.tennessean.com

Wow, I couldn't be prouder of the most of you for seeing the BSness of this idea. And you bet, the people behind this are only after harassing the homeless, believing that homeless people will leave Nashville for it. Well for a couple years now they've been turning up the heat, focusing more attention on the homeless than ever before. And guess what? The homeless are still there. And, they will always be here. First they destroyed church street park, thinking that the park was the problem. Sorry, homeless people still there. Then they rid downtown of church groups feeding the homeless. Sorry, homeless people still there. Now the banning of convenient beer. Guess what? Addiction is the strongest motivator, even stronger than the long arm of the law. As others have mentioned, the homeless will just employ the buddy system to get their drink, if it becomes more expensive. And even if alcohol of every kind was eliminated from Nashville, the homeless addicts would just turn to crack. And I tell you something, you would much rather deal with a drunk than a geeking crack head. Crackheads are very dangerous.

It is funny that cops will bust a homeless person for public intoxication, but not one tourist as they stumble back to their hotel from the honkie tonks like Tootsies and Roberts. And, of course, when these drunk tourists harass the homeless sleeping on the street, the cops won't respond.

Face Me

Hey, I'm thinking that Facebook is the way for me. Request to be a friend at Facebook.com

Also, if you are interested in reading a blog written by smart Jesus followers, try davidsarahdark.blogspot.com

Write A Book?

It's been suggested by more than one person, recently, that I should write a book, possibly using my blog posts.

I really do appreciate the encouragement, but I have a lot of doubt about my future as a real writer. I've been reading over some of my blog posts and I must say, I suck as a writer. Sure, my message may be a honorable pursuit, but measured against the profession of "writer," I don't do so well.

If I am to make a book of my blog, I will have to rewrite a great deal of it.

At least I do see that there are problems with my writing. If I didn't, I'd be in bigger trouble.

Kids These Days

Monday, January 5, 2009

Something I Just Read

"it’s the first week of 2009 and I just completed my first resolution: Take no guff from the homeless. They’ve coasted their way to success far too often!"

Wow...coasted their way to success far too often.

There's so much truth in between the lines it hurts.

Very Orwellian

The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Job Reference

Back when I first started blogging, back in 2002, I mentioned how difficult it was for homeless people to keep their feet healthy. And I suggested to people wanting to help, to pass out new pairs of socks to the homeless. Socks are something most people take for granted, and never really considered the need among the homeless. Socks are inexpensive and easy to distribute. And so people started making socks a part of their homeless ministries. Now, there are whole organizations focused on caring for the feet of homeless people. And foot care professionals (doctors and nurses) are now being employed by homeless shelters. You bet, I'm taking a lot of credit for this.

A month ago, Rachel Hester, Director of The Campus for Human Development asked me what other services should be provided for the homeless, that are currently being overlooked. Well, I never imagined the attention that homeless feet would get after my prompting. It's really hard for me to think on such large scale services. Just how often does a person request only a clean pair of socks and receive in return a full foot check up by a podiatrist?

Well, there is something I have thought about for a few years, but never really mentioned, believing it beyond the scope of the homeless reality. And it has to do with employment - talk about a hobgoblin!

I have seen posted at a homeless shelter, a list of employers willing to hire a person with a Felony record. That's a really good service, but for the homeless, something more is needed.

I once read that the majority of people get new jobs by way of references by friends or relatives. And, that only about 20% of jobs are obtained through want ads newspapers.

So, why not have a reference program available for the homeless? Currently, job services for the homeless operate like every other job service for the general public. And, they throw the homeless to the wolves. Sure, they'll help a homeless person write a resume, and help him get to a job interview with a bus pass. But, once st the interview, the homeless person is completely on his own.

Even in the best of circumstances, job hunting is no fun, and often scary. Rejection is the order of the day. Being that homeless people deal with so much rejection to begin with, it would be incredibly helpful if homeless people knew that half the battle of getting the job was won.

Knowing how employers screen job applicants, homeless people fear the interview process more than most people. Especially for chronically homeless people, who have to convince an employer that a homeless person is worth hiring. I have always resorted to lying on job applications because of my homelessness. And have only been hired by companies that didn't check my references.

There are companies that would be willing to give homeless people a chance, at least I have to believe that such companies exist. But, how are homeless people going to find them? A list, like that for Felons is a good idea. But I would suggest even more help.

First, collect all those employers willing to hire homeless people, and then train them on how to deal with homeless people and their special needs. That way they would know better what to expect of a homeless person, the would know how to create a work schedule so that the homeless person could still get into a shelter each night, and to create arrangements that help a homeless person save his money and not blow it on drugs, etc. And there could be a homeless representative, like a union rep., who could advocate on the behalf of employed homeless people, when problems arise.

I believe you would find many more homeless people employed at decent jobs, if the homeless person knew first that the ground work had already been laid. That even before his interview with the employer, the employer had been advised of his homelessness, history and work skills. And that the employer was still willing to give the homeless person a chance.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Jesus Is Not A Brand

"...any salvation that needs a sophisticated sales pitch is a salvation that won't really do anything. It will make you holy the same way a new pair of Nikes makes you athletic—which is to say, not at all."

Read this thought provoking article in www.christianitytoday.com

Here are a couple of my own thoughts on the subject - although I have yet to read the entire article:

The first thing this has me thinking about is AA's (Alcoholics Anonymous) approach to letting people know about their meetings - they choose attraction over promotion. They attract people by "being" good examples of the benefits of AA, instead of just "telling" people about AA. Thus, AA never advertises in any media. The only way you ever learn about AA, it's work, it's meetings, is by the example of the lives of it's members. And I believe that should be the way all of Church evangelizes.

For the world to know what the church is about, what the church offers, the members of the church need only be examples of the Christian way. They don't need to advertise anything. They just need to be real Christians. And if their example does not lead to growth in their church, they should use this awareness of themselves as a guide to making necessary changes in themselves and their church.

Of course, there are many people who will respond positively to a good sales pitch. And there are blind people who are very willing to follow other blind people.

The Birdman of Alcatraz

This movie is based on the true story of Robert Stroud, a man convicted of two separate murders who spent most of his life in prison, and most of that time in solitary confinement. Well, he used that time better than most. He embarked on a study of birds, eventually writing two books on birds, and discovering cures to bird diseases.

Sometime after publishing these books, Stroud was moved from Leavenworth, where he did his study of birds, to Alcatraz where he was no longer allowed to keep and care for birds. So, he turned his writing efforts towards the penitentiary system in America. His completed manuscript on penology was never published. Because the book exposed many of the problems with the prison system, the authorities were threatened by it. And the final decision on publication of the book was in the hands of the warden.

In the following scene, Stroud and the Warden have a confrontation over the book. The parallels between this conversation, and one that could easily happen between a homeless person and a rescue mission director are many.

Many homeless people say that rescue missions are run like prisons.

fyi - you have to click on the arrow in the center of the pic to start the selected scene. Clicking on any other part of the pic will start the movie from the beginning - which isn't a bad idea either.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Comment I Made Elsewhere

The "Conservative" way is the authoritarian way. There are basically two types of conservatives - those who want to tell others what to do and what to think, and those who want someone to tell them what to do and what to think. And the latter always aspires to be the former.

With Liberals, Everyone is free to do their own thing - except for Conservatives because conservatives are always trying to thwart the Liberal way.

The interesting thing about this, in regards to homelessness, is that Liberals will most likely accept and allow homeless people to exist as homeless people, taking a hands off approach. Liberals are much less likely to harass homeless people. This means too, that liberals are less likely to help a homeless person get out of homelessness.

And Conservatives, believing that homeless people need someone to tell them what to do, are usually more willing to help a homeless person get out of homelessness, but only on condition that the homeless person conform to the conservative way.

A Common Pastime

Along populated coastal areas you'll find old guys out with their metal detectors early in the morning combing the beaches for things of value that have been lost in the sand.

And, in cities across the country you'll find old homeless guys, early in the morning, combing empty parking lots around touristy and nightclub areas, looking for whatever people may have lost there.

When people go out to a club they usually drink. And when they do, they usually get sloppy with their money. Instead of putting change back into their wallets, they just cram it back into their pockets. Then, when it's time to go home, in the dark of a parking lot, they reach into their pockets, and often, along with keys comes money - bills, change, phone numbers of cute girls, etc., falling to the ground unnoticed. Usually, it's not a lot of money, but it will pay for morning coffee.

This early morning, without even really looking I found a 20 dollar bill. Thank you drunk guy, whoever you are.