In Philly TONIGHT: Mayoral Candidate Forum on Homelessness & Poverty


client-mouth-beard-bwIn Philadelphia, there is a non-partisan group called Vote for Homes that advocates for political action around issues of homelessness and poverty. Tonight they are hosting a forum with the candidates in Philadelphia’s mayoral race to ask them all the same set of questions regarding housing, economics, social justice, homelessness, and poverty. The event will be moderated, and the candidates will be pressed hard to really answer the questions and not give political non-answers. It should be incredibly eye-opening to the values of the candidates. Here’s the info:

Real Solutions for Hunger & Homelessness Mayoral Candidates Forum
Thursday, May 7 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Broad Street Ministry
315 S. Broad Street, Center City Philadelphia

Location is wheelchair accessible. Sign language interpretation will be provided.

Weekly Must-Reads {2.12.14} | Creation, Masturbation, & Communism


guy-newspaper-reading

Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a Reading List for you all to enjoy–too long, in fact. These were some of my favorite things I read this week. What were some of yours?

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In defense of creationists | The Week
Michael Brendan Dougherty

I referenced this at the end of my post yesterday, but this is a stunningly beautiful piece that wrestles with humanizing those that frustrate us the most in the Christian family. A must-read for sure.

Escaping the Prison of the Self: C.S. Lewis on Masturbation | First Things
Wesley Hill

Don’t overlook this piece too quickly. It is an incredibly powerful piece that speaks to how all of us–married, single, gay, straight–engage our sexuality in this world. It showed me how having celibate unmarried people in the world is necessary for healthy marriages, as well as how masturbation ruins even good friendships.

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How to End Homelessness (this is what I do for a living) [VIDEO]


philly-rowhomes-neBelow, you will find a brief documentary that was done at my wonderful job, Pathways to Housing, to highlight the work that we do. It features many of the clients and coworkers I work with, and I had the chance to be present for a few of the film shoots. It is so beautiful and well-done. I’m so happy to share with you all a part of me that I don’t really talk about much in the rest of my life.

(Also, if you’ve lived in Philadelphia for a few years, you might recognize some folks in this video that you used to see on the street. But now, they have housing.)

I have spent most of my time in the field of social work pretty disengaged intellectually and emotionally. The older, more subtly coercive model of social work marked my previous companies, and the way the work was structured definitely played more to my weaknesses than my strengths. This left me in a constant state of feeling like I was terrible at my job. And so, it was just easier to not invest much of myself into it at all.

And so I’m only now learning how much of a difference it makes to love and adore your job. This is where I’m at now. I’m at an amazing company with amazing people doing amazing work that produces amazing results. I feel I’m good at my job, and I feel like I’m flourishing professionally, intellectually, and emotionally in it. There’s so much hope and excitement over my work. Here a couple of things I’ve recently heard clients say:

“When I was homeless, I felt like an animal, stuck in a concrete jungle. I only came out to eat and survive. Now that I have housing, though, I feel like a human again. It feels good to be human.”

“I haven’t been homeless my whole life, but I’ve always been a human being.”

And so, though much of my writing (and conversation) is centered around religious, political, and church things, I’m happy to share a little bit of how I spend 40+ of my hours each week. I hope you are encouraged and that you are offered a little bit of hope in the midst of our urban brokenness.

Last night, I broke bread with Kenny G [a blog classic]


Today, I was reminded of this story, so I thought I’d repost it. I hope it encourages you as you head on into your weekend.

Channeling my inner stereotypical-broken-hearted-teenage girl, I went to WaWa last night to pick up some Ben & Jerry’s (Stephen Colbert’s “Americone Dream”, in case you were wondering.  I’ve written before about the spiritual experiences both  B&J has brought me.). I had just gotten off work and was about to head home, pig out, and catch up on some TV. I pulled in, got some gas, and then pulled up to the side of the actual store to get my ice cream.

I saw the usual poor guy sitting on the pavement on the side of the building asking everyone that passed by for their spare change. The usual little battle happened inside my mind: Oh God, I’m going to get asked for money aren’t I? Okay, what walking path can I take that keeps me just far enough away from him that he doesn’t actually ask me. I’d rather say nothing than have to say no and feel bad later. Ah! What am I thinking! Stop it, Paul! Why are you so heartless? This is not the Gospel. Serve him.

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Death & Dignity: what’s the point?


philly-life-wall

Next week I head to Guatemala for the Lemonade International Blogger’s Trip. Having been introduced to this organization, I’ve been following their blog closely, trying to get to know them more and more.

A couple of days ago, they posted about a tragic loss. A member of their school, Herber Giovanni Sandoval, died a couple of days ago at the age of 17. In the conclusion of their post, they said this:

“We are especially grateful to the youth group at Lifepointe Church in Raleigh, NC for sponsoring him while he was still attending the Limón Academy.”

I immediately had the image of the youth group kids or sunday school class at that church who probably spent years following the story of Herber. I wondered how they would feel and respond to this news. How would the leaders help them process this? Would it impact the kids at all or would they be too removed from it?
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Philly’s Outdoor Feeding Ban: Good for the City, the Church, & the Gospel (ii)


Yesterday I wrote a post about the Philadelphia ban on outdoor feeding of the homeless. I wrote about how the issue here is not about hunger, it’s about choice. It’s also not a religious freedom issue, as some groups say. These feedings have been one way that Christians have tried to accomplish their call to serve the homeless. Banning these outdoor feedings does not ban our service, just one particular way we’ve done it. Lastly, I talked about how honoring someone’s dignity is more about acting for their greatest good more than it is about creating space for them to choose whatever they want.

Today, I want to talk about how this ban is actually good for the Gospel in this city.
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Philly’s Outdoor Feeding Ban: Good for the City, the Church, & the Gospel (i)


Update: the second (and final) part of this article is up, where we discuss some ways to look at this theologically.

Just over a month ago, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia announced a controversial plan to ban the outdoor feeding of homeless individuals in the city parks and on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, home to many of this city’s finest museums, including the soon-to-open (and just as controversial) Barnes Foundation.

This has been met with the expected and understandable anger and protest from many of the city’s hunger-based non-profits and faith-based homeless ministries that participate in these outdoor feedings (the ban is still in process and has not been enforced yet). Some leading homeless advocates support it.

Many of these religious groups understandably feel like this move is an over-reach of cold, heartless government, trying to keep the church from doing its God-given call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Many have felt like this is an imposition on the religious freedom of the Christians of Philadelphia.

I would like to, as humbly as possible, disagree.

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