Sunday, March 31, 2013
"The Kingdom of God breeds prophets; the Church breeds priests and theologians. The Church runs to tradition and dogma; the Kingdom of God rejoices in forecasts and boundless horizons. The men who have contributed the most fruitful impulses to Christian thought have been men of prophetic vision, and their theology has proved most effective for future times where it has been most concerned with past history, with present social problems, and with the future of human society. The Kingdom of God is to theology what outdoor colour and light are to art. It is impossible to estimate what inspirational impulses have been lost to theology and to the Church, because it did not develop the doctrine of the Kingdom of God and see the world and its redemption from that point of view."Walter Rauschenbusch, A Theology for the Social Gospel, 1917.
Who baked the bread
And broke, and shared
That Passover supper, when he said,
"This is my body
Broken for you"?
When he passed the cup,
Saying, "This is my blood,
The blood of the covenant,
Shed for you and for many.
The fruit of the vine
I shall not taste again
Until I taste it new
In the Kingdom of God"?
Who made the wine?
Pressed the grapes, and made the wine;
Who planted the field, threshed the wheat,
And baked the bread for others to eat?
To clear the cup; to mop,
Perhaps, a single careless drop
Of wine, of God's blood shed;
To gather every scattered crumb
Of broken body, broken bread?
Find grace in the fragments left behind,
As women, later, would come to find
An angel and an empty tomb?
Saturday, March 30, 2013
from A Theology of the Social Gospel, 1917
Friday, March 29, 2013
This very wise reminder crossed my desk from my good friend and permanent supportive housing expert, Bob Voelker. . .
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
Bottom line: this reality is not sustainable for our national life, for community health or for peace and unity.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Their conversation is enlightening and most important.
We all need to get involved for the sake of our neighbors who have become our dear friends.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
It is easy to lose sight of the importance of simply providing our neighbors the food they need in view of their low wages and earning power. Often we think of how food distribution can lead to other opportunities for those who come seeking our assistance with the most basic of human needs. But watching a video like this one reminds me that our work of making food available is an end in itself without further consideration.
My thanks to Michelle Kopel for sharing the video with me.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
In most of the work we do at CitySquare that's the most important quality we bring to the task.
We don't like to give up.
For the past four years we've been engaged in a consortium whose goal is to provide high-quality, permanent housing to 50 of the "most expensive" homeless persons in Dallas County. We calculate cost by accounting for how often a person enters the ER or is admitted as a patient at Parkland Hospital, how often emergency medical services teams are called out to attend to a crisis, how many days a person spends in jail, how often a person is seen by a mental health professional or is hospitalized for mental health issues.
We know the names of the 250 most expensive homeless persons. Each costs Dallas County (not including costs to the city or to the non-profit sector) an average of $40,000 annually!
Our working group composed of representatives from MetroCare Services, Dallas County Criminal Justice, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, Central Dallas CDC, W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation and CitySquare continues to work on building a secure community where 50 of these special people can live, while surrounded by the supportive services that they will need to move forward in a productive manner.
We estimate the annual cost for housing and supportive services to be less than $15,000. We estimate the savings to the community over the next 30 years to be in the neighborhood of $130,000,000!
Currently, we are working to secure the financing needed to deliver the project to the community.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Nathan Rivers, Wendy and I were just sitting on the porch talking. Nathan was finishing up his lunch, an entire rotisserie chicken!
During the course of his meal, Nathan shared a great one liner on his approach to the streets: "Yeah Larry, I walk softly and carry a big thought," he declared. "I look a long time before I leap!"
As we discussed Nathan's attempt to get off the streets and out of "the walk in," a Marshall's car passed by very slowly with the two officers giving the three of us a careful once over.
As the squad car pulled away, Nathan remarked, "Larry, they would have stopped if you hadn't been sitting here."
"Really?" I replied.
"You don't believe me?" Nathan asked. "The only reason they didn't stop is because you were sitting here."
"Because I'm white?" I pressed him.
"Yes sir, that's right," he answered.
Our conversation changed gears a bit as we discussed racism, profiling and how homeless persons are constantly hassled and shoved away from almost everywhere.
"Lots of patrol cars out here today," Nathan observed. "They must be doing a 'sweep' or something."
About 15 minutes later the same two marshals pulled slowly toward us. This time the car stopped and the officer lowered his window. Neither officer said a word. The driver simply pointed his finger at me and motioned for me to come over to the car.
I suppose I was a bit surprised.
"Me?" I asked.
He simply shook his head and nodded yes.
He also pointed to Nathan, skipping over Wendy, and motioned for him to come over as well.
We did as he instructed, moving over to the side of the car.
He asked for ID, which we both produced.
"Do you own this house?" he asked me, the first words he had spoken.
"No, my friend Billy at the gas station here owns the house," I answered, pointing to the station next door.
"Do you have permission to sit here," he went on.
"Yes, I do," I replied, as I turned toward the old service station and called out to Billy for his assistance.
As Billy walked over, the marshal turned to Nathan and asked, "What about you?"
As he attempted to explain Billy's hospitality, Billy leaned into the car and confirmed that the three of us were all his guests.
The officer handed back our identification documents, rolled up the window and drove away without a word.
Nathan spun out a calm, sad commentary on what had just happened.
"They drove around the corner and got their nerve up and came back and confronted you, Larry. It happens to us every day. There just ain't no place for us to go" he said.
Nathan had been to court that very morning to clear up a warrant for a "crime" he committed 7 years ago.
"What was the offense, " I asked him.
"'Sleeping in a public place'" he informed me.
"I'm such a criminal, Larry!" he joked as I noted his eyes filling with tears. "I'm as harmless as a teddy bear, Larry, really."
For his offense the judge directed that he do several hours of public service. He plans to volunteer at the CitySquare Food Pantry. He will be welcomed gladly.
As I've reflected on the day, our conversation, the marshals and the sadness, my emotions ranged from anger, to disgust, to sadness, to shame, to resignation.
One thing I know for certain: most of us have no clue as to how hard it is to be extremely poor and alone on the streets of a city like Dallas, Texas.
We simply must do better than this.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Saturday, March 09, 2013
Friday, March 08, 2013
At the time, Dallas public schools had received federal funding to build state-of-the-art computer labs in all of their high schools. The problem they faced was not having trained faculty to maximize the presence of the new technology for student learning.
This is where our partnership came in.
In exchange for placing highly qualified computer "coaches" in the classrooms at 8 high schools across the inner city portion of the district, we gained rights to use the computer centers to deliver our highly competitive training initiative to selected students.
What follows is a video promoting creativity and "out of the box" thinking in public education.
If you fast forward to the 2:45 minute mark, you'll see NBA star, Chris Bosh, a graduate of Dallas' Lincoln High School describing his experience with "Whiz Kidz."
One thing this experience teaches me is that in impact of what is done today may not be fully realized until much, much later.
My dear friend, McKinley, passed away a few years ago.
Seeing this video brought back so many wonderful memories of "Mack" and our work.
I'm believing he is aware of his impact.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
The assignment involved students studying and researching selected non-profit organizations and reporting to their classmates on what they learned.
I was lucky enough to be present to hear and capture Gracie's presentation on video.
Of course, I was proud of her, and grateful for her reporting on CitySquare!
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Monday, March 04, 2013
Sunday, March 03, 2013
If you haven't got a copy of Larry's book, you need to!
Dr. Bob Biard
Texas A & M Adjunct Professor
This book should be read by anyone interested in urban ministry in America today.
Dr. Jerry Jones
It is a good read--I learned a great deal about your early efforts that I didn't know.
Dallas business leader
Simply put, this is the best, most readable, and most powerful book on the social implications of the Christian religion that I have read.
Richard T. Hughes
Saturday, March 02, 2013
Friday, March 01, 2013
Read his first piece here.
Read Brooks' second article here.
I passed both columns along to a group of my friends. Among the responses that I received is this one from one of my partners at CitySquare, Rev. Gerald Britt: