Monday, January 23, 2017

Racism, location and enduring poverty

Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life


In 1940, a white developer wanted to build a neighborhood in Detroit.
 
So he asked the US Federal Housing Administration to back a loan. The FHA, which was created just six years earlier to help middle-class families buy homes, said no because the development was too close to an "inharmonious" racial group.

Meaning black people.

Read and view more  here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Holy Unrest

   Divine Dissatisfaction

Let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction.
Let us be dissatisfied
until America will no longer have
a high blood pressure of creeds
and an anemia of deeds.
Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls
that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort
and the inner city of poverty and despair
shall be crushed by the battering rams
of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied
until those that live on the outskirts of hope
are brought into the metropolis of daily security.
Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast
into the junk heaps of history,
and every family is living
in a decent sanitary home.
Let us be dissatisfied
until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools
will be transformed into bright tomorrows
of quality, integrated education.
Let us be dissatisfied until integration
is not seen as a problem
but as an opportunity to participate
in the beauty of diversity.
Let us be dissatisfied until men and women,
however black they may be, will be judged
on the basis of the content of their character
and not on the basis of the color of their skin.
Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol
houses a governor who will do justly, who will love
mercy and who will walk humbly with his God.
Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall,
justice will roll down like waters and righteousness
like a mighty stream. Let us be dissatisfied
until that day when the lion and the lamb
shall lie down together, and every man
will sit under his own vine and fig tree
and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until that day
when nobody will shout White Power!
—when nobody will shout Black Power!—
but everybody will talk about
God’s power and human power.

The road ahead will not always be smooth.
There will be still rocky places of frustration
and meandering points of bewilderment.
There will be inevitable setbacks here and there.
There will be those moments
when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed
into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams
will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted.
The road ahead will not always be smooth.
There will be still rocky places of frustration
and meandering points of bewilderment.
There will be inevitable setbacks here and there.
There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope
will be transformed into the fatigue of despair.
Our dreams will sometimes be shattered
and our ethereal hopes blasted.

Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on
in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.





Thursday, January 19, 2017

Change makers

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

Jack Kerouac

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prophetic Communities


The Church’s Role


The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. If the church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit the loyalty of millions and cause men everywhere to say that it has atrophied its will. But if the church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo, and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will enkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace. Men far and near will know the church as a great fellowship of love that provides light and bread for lonely travelers at midnight.

Friday, January 13, 2017

My friend Terry, the entrepreneur

After weeks of above average temperatures in Dallas, the cold snap whipped us hard last Tuesday night.  I mean, from over 70 to below 40, that's a real snap!

Upon arriving at my office Wednesday morning, I found this note taped to my door.


Terry and I have been friends for a few years.  We met on the street when he approached me offering to do a couple of card tricks.  I obliged with a $5 tip.  He wowed me and others who gathered with his 1/2 magic, 1/2 stand up routine.

He's never been much of a beggar or panhandler with me.  Too proud and independent.  Only when really pressed to the edges does he ask for help of any kind.  Last Tuesday evening at the end of the day, he stopped to see me to ask for special assistance as the note reflects.

I was busy when he came in, and he was gone when I got free.

This note shook me a bit, as I thought through what the night must have been like for him outside.  I had seen him the day before, and finally convinced him to make an appointment to see our staff who could really help him head in a new direction.  We talked several times that day, actually to the point of distraction.

As I worried about him on Wednesday morning, he showed up for a cup of coffee!  It was a relief to see him.

I asked him if he had made the arrangement with his friend to stay in out of the weather.  He told me that he had solved the problem himself.  He then went on to tell me how he had found shelter back of a restaurant dumpster.  He went into great detail about how he used scrap lumber and tin siding to construct a warm little home that blocked the wind that forced him to bed down around 9 p.m.

"That little house made me happy," he told me.  "It was just too cold to stay up, so I went to bed when I finished building it.  I got a good night's sleep, Larry!" he exclaimed.

When I commented about my amazement at his creativity and toughness, he simply replied, "Well, Larry, you know me; I'm an entrepreneur at heart."   

Well, Terry, that's one way to look at it for sure.

Just one snapshot from a guy I count as a friend. . .and, we're working on finding real housing for him. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dear Mr. President-Elect

Rev. Paul Rasmssen, Senior Minister at the Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, delivered this message to the church on the Sunday following the 2016 national election.

 You'll want to listen, I can assure you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Mistakes We Make When Giving



The Wall Street Journal published a very helpful article on the mistakes we make when we give or think about giving with the most impact. 

Read this provocative essay here

Pop Quiz:  True or False  "It is best to give money if the goal is highest impact." 

Monday, December 19, 2016

I see the Christmas story every day, all year long at CitySquare:

. . .the young women who discover they are pregnant before they are married.

. . .the poor fathers who lapse into homelessness at crucial moments.

. . .the kinfolks who believe with every new born child that the family is poised for better days.

. . .the ordinary, common, working people who show up to see hope, sort of like the shepherds.

. . .the immigrants who live on the run because of unjust public policy and cruel leaders.

. . .the political officials who go home another way to keep from confronting the oppressors who    threaten the poor and their children.

. . .the arrival of babies and the spread of joy and longing for better days and better options.

. . .the angels, ah, the angels who clearly visit us in strange disguise, but clearly other worldly.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Run, Mary Run

This is from The Brilliance. 

Some may find it offensive, but the story of the birth and childhood of of Jesus was anything but peaceful.  It would be easy to write additional verses to this song, lyrics dealing with hunger, homelessness, and exclusion.  The ability to hear the contemporary truth of scripture through careful and faithful contextualization--ancient and modern--transforms people and systems. 

May we have ears to hear. 

Like far too many children today, violence, discrimination, fear, poverty and life "on the run" characterized the earliest experiences of this special baby.

As we worship the Christ child, may we really see him in the children who suffer today, near and far.


Friday, December 09, 2016

"What am I worth to you?"

My friend, Joe is dying.  Joe has advanced stage cancer. 

I've known him for about three years.  I met him on a street corner.  Almost all of that time Joe has been homeless and on the street. 

Thanks to a public health benefit, Joe's health care as he reaches the end of his life has been really excellent. Ironically, Joe's had the best living situation of his life during his time in a couple of local hospitals and a rehabilitation center. 

Joe and I have stayed in touch by phone, and I've visited him in the care centers where he's been receiving treatment. 

Earlier this week I visited him in the hospital.  He is weak, battling pneumonia and the cancer.  As always, he was glad to see me.  We visited for a while, and then, I had to go to get to another appointment. 

As I prepared to leave, Joe asked me. "Larry, can I get a $20 bill from you?"

I said, "Sure, Joe, that's an easy one," as I lifted the bank note from my wallet. 

"Here you go!  Are you going to buy you something better to eat," I asked and motioned to his untouched, cold meal the nurses had set before him. 

"Yeah, man, I'm going to find me a great buffet," he exclaimed, flashing his broad smile.

As I turned to leave, he called out, "Larry, how long's it been since I asked you for a $20?" 

"Long time, Joe, long time," I answered. 

"I love you man," I told him.  "I'll be back by."

"I love you, too, Larry," he replied.

As I walked to my car, I remembered our street routine, repeated so many times.  Joe would ask me for money.  Usually, I gave him $20 at a time for something to eat. He needed a little help because he hated the shelters and preferred the freedom of the street, as cruel and unforgiving as it was.  At least with the street, he could deal on his own terms. 

As I recalled those times, it hit me.  Joe didn't really need my $20.  He wasn't going to any buffet.  He's headed to hospice. 

What Joe needed was to know that I'd still honor his reqeust. Joe needed to know that he was worth something to me, that he was special, that we were, after all, friends. 

As I pondered in my flashback mode, I realized that is all Joe ever needed from me.  The money possessed varying degrees of value to him, depending on his circumstance.  But being able to approach a friend and have a request honored, there was what he really sought. It all translated to his own sense of worth.

My, my. 

Joe, old pal, you're worth so much more than you understand, so much more. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Advent Conflict


Advent tensions. . . reading the Gospels

A "virgin birth"                                       A teenage mom

Emmanuel (God with us)                        A very poor child     

A father's dreams                                    Harsh reality facing fathers

A political tyrant                                     Suffering people

Oppression and lies                                 Dishonesty with the poor

Refugee family                                        Immigrants systematically excluded

Children murdered                                  Children in toxic stress

A special child                                         Syrian children

Surprised by joy!                                     Tables turned upside down

Birth                                                         All people included

Waiting ended                                          Celebration of jutice realized

Wise men & shepherds                             Classless community

Advent                                                      Advent



                    

                                      

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Chideo comes to CitySquare



Chideo provides an effective platform for non-profit leaders, as well as celebrities, speak up for their causes. 

Not long ago, Chideo added a podcast feature.  Check out my interview with Drew Hamilton here or here

Thanks, Drew and Chideo! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Inhuman Generosity

One of the real special blessings of my life is friendship across miles and years.  My longtime friendship with Randy Jolly has meant the world to me.  Just today, Randy sent me one of his uplifting notes.  It is worth simply quoting. LJ

Larry,

A great quote from the recently departed poet Leonard Cohen:

"I'm very fond of Jesus Christ.  He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of the earth. Any guy who says, 'Blessed are the poor.  Blessed are the meek,' has got to be a figure of unparalled generosity and insight and madness. . . A man who declared himself to stnad among thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless.  His position cannot be comprehended.  It is an inhuman generosity.  A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embarced becasue nothing would weather that compassion." 

Love you brother,
Randy

Monday, November 21, 2016

Race and Homelessness

The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance hosted representatives from the Center for Social Innovation to lead a discussion of race and homelessness in Dalllas. The presentation is the latest in MDHA's "Hard Conversations" serires.

Thought provoking and relevant!

Watch it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Race and Homelessness

Racism and Homelessness
African Americans make up 13% of the population, both in the U.S. and in Dallas.
 
Across the country, on average, African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population, and 28% of the unsheltered homeless population, which is troubling, in and of itself.
 
However, in Dallas, African Americans make up 67% of the homeless population, and 70% of the unsheltered homeless population! 
Read more from Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Hey man, got any spare change?"

People ask me all the time: 

“What should I do when approached by a homeless person for a handout?”
 
And, of course, I have no idea!
 
Oh, I have ideas, but no standard idea or answer.  Everyone is unique, including people without a place to call home.
 
So, I follow "my gut" most of the time with no predetermined, stereotypical response, just like I repsond to others who do have homes in which to live. I realize this deficency on my part drives lots of people crazy, especially professionals!  But, so be it. 
 
One thing I do know from lots of experience: I find it hard to walk on without at least “knowing"  or acknowledging a person who asks me for a little help. 

For me, my entire duty as a person is to come to know God, and in the process, come to know the people I encounter for meaningful engagement with both. 

Every encounter should be considered worth a response of kindness. 

Every person is worthy of my repsect, even if I decide not to honor their requests by providing exactly what they seek. 

What I  always can do is respond with gentleness, attentiveness, openness and respect.   

 

 
 
 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Direction on Power


   Psalm 15

Lord, who can be trusted with power,
and who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have let go of selfish interests
and grown beyond their own lives;
who see the wretched as their family
and the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
and worthy of the people’s trust.
Their compassion lights up the whole earth,
and their kindness endures forever.

 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Political Leaders and God

Psalm 72

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King Political Leader

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice.May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,    and crush the oppressor.

May he live[a] while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes[b] bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
    render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts.
11 May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations give him service.
12 For he delivers the needy when they call,
    the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
    and precious is their blood in his sight.
15 Long may he live!
    May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
    and blessings invoked for him all day long.
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
    may it wave on the tops of the mountains;
    may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
    like the grass of the field.
17 May his name endure forever,
    his fame continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed in him;    may they pronounce him happy.
18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.