I guess I am still reeling this morning. Sunday (yesterday) was an interesting day for me.
My thoughts remain somewhat disconnected, but at bottom everything comes together under a heading something like "protecting the interests of poor folks in the city."
I suppose I should apologize in advance, since I know that my ramblings will not be received so well by many readers.
Yet, I can only come out of my "daily space" and what I experience there.
I won't apologize now that I've warned everyone! I'll just ask for indulgence to get my thoughts out where I can continue to work them through.
Yesterday began for me in one of the largest, most affluent and "successful" congregations in our city. I'm not kidding when I tell you that there was a long line to get into the sanctuary for the second service of three for the morning.
My assignment was to speak to one Sunday School class.
People were everywhere.
The several parking lots were filled with exceptionally "nice" cars--read luxury here. Folks were dressed to the nines. Police were everywhere directing traffic through the amazing jam of cars that is a weekly reality for this church.
Wealth virtually oozed out of the pores of the place.
It strikes me that this one church could play a huge role in changing the face of Dallas for generations. . .if the focus could change from church to community, from charity to systemic reform, from meaningful reflection to bold and unrelenting action.
Sorry, but I can't help but wonder how adopting such an expectation for the group might affect the lines waiting to get in or the overcrowded parking lots. (Remember now, I warned you that you would need to be forgiving of me today!)
I enjoyed my time in the class and I shared my observations.
Upon arriving home, I learn that funding for the New Orleans and Gulf Coast rebuilding effort will most likely come from cuts to Medicare, health and human services and education. It occurs to me that other programs, already cut to the bare bones, will not escape Katrina's post-landfall knife. The poor in cities all across the nation will be called on to sacrifice for the poor in the Crescent City.
Nothing new here. We have seen it happening here in Dallas over the past three weeks. Our low-income citizens have been frozen out of a number of opportunities as Katrina evacuees have gone to the front of several lines.
Still, in the aftermath of this terrible storm, I find this bewildering.
I also recognize that nothing is settled, But could this disaster be used by ideological "reformers" to further choke our collective response to poverty as a nation? I have seen enough to believe that it is very, very possible. . . no, likely.
The escalating cost of war. The escalating cost of a natural disaster. The amazing growth of the urban poor across the nation in every city. Mounting federal debt. No tax increases. Does this really add up?
I wonder if we really recognize where the several loci of sacrifice reside in this equation.
My son-in-law observed, during a brief visit yesterday, that the next Supreme Court nominee will likely be a person of the extreme right. The resulting hullabaloo will divert our attention from the plight of the poor in our cities. Momentum will be lost and the poor will continue to suffer.
I pray that he is wrong about the diversion. I pray that people of faith will keep the spotlight trained on the poor and determine to be deflected by nothing.
My eyes filled with tears several times yesterday.
Today will be no different, I know.
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