Category Archives: Homelessness

Taking off for the weekend

The mission principally serves two groups.

First (in too many ways) are the “clients,” 450 men enrolled in the 12-month residential drug-and-alcohol treatment program; for which reason they are commonly called “programmers.” Each of them has a permanently assigned bunk and some form of closet space, and can use the mission as a mailing address.

I need to keep in mind that, but for the program, most of them would be homeless.

Second (in too many ways) are the “guests,” no more than 60 homeless men on any day, who are provided accommodations overnight; for which reason we are commonly called “overnighters.” We must vacate the premises no later than 6:00 a.m. daily, cannot leave anything behind, and cannot return until 3:00 p.m. We cannot use the mission as a mailing address.

Note the distinction between “clients” and “guests.”

At the end of the work day one day last week, I walked toward the parking lot carrying my two heavy bags. Programmer W____ P__ came toward me, walking in the opposite direction, and said, “Bill, you look like you’re taking off for the weekend!”

I said to myself, even programmers don’t get it.

He can take off for the weekend; I can’t. I have nowhere to go and nowhere to come back to.

The way he saw me is the way I look all the time.

(Originally posted 05/10/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reposted 01/15/14.)

talk show host, on air talent, radio talk show, talk radio, the homeless blogger

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The Gospel vs. George Will, and other stories

In “recycling” these old posts, my practice has normally been to reproduce the whole post.  In this instance, I’ll merely link to it:

The Gospel vs. George Will, and other stories

What got me at this writing was this passage, which strikes me as awfully current:

“Josh Barro is one of those who just didn’t get it. To me, the whole row has been about free speech. It is unacceptable in this country that mere shifts of the zeitgeist should force an individual’s conscience; that we should become a thought-police state.”

That was dated 01/11/14.  I’m struck that we may now be at greater risk than ever, of becoming a thought-police state.

Giving it all away

At work on Tuesday 05/08/12, the radio station they had on the PA played Genesis’ “Giving it all away.”

People see things different ways given their personal circumstances.

I know nothing about Phil Collins personally. But in all likelihood, were he to “give it all away” as he understands it, he would probably have a lot left.

Not I.

All I own is the contents of two heavy bags. Giving it all away would be a simple gesture. And afterwards, I would have nothing.

———— ♦ ————

That afternoon, as usual, as soon as I got to my bunk I sat down and got out my medications for the evening. The guy assigned to the bunk above me was a newcomer, real clean-cut, a Jake Pavelka lookalike.

“Got any goodies in those pill bottles?” he asked.

“No,” I answered.

“It’d been cooler if you’d said yes,” he said.

As usual, I put my meds back in my zipper bag when I finished, and, as usual, I locked it.

Because of guys like him.

(Originally published 05/09/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reposted 10/30/13, 12/29/16.)
talk show host, on air talent, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

Swimming against the tide

The Trump administration’s alternative Christianity

In recent weeks, I have become strongly motivated to become upwardly mobile. This raises theological issues.

Phil Zuckerman is a non-believer. He has no accountability to Jesus or the Scriptures. He doesn’t have to walk the Christian walk or talk the Christian talk. He doesn’t face the challenges, or have to do the work, I do as a follower of Jesus. Yet he wants to prescribe what Christianity must be.

He ascribes a certain Christianity to those who surround Donald Trump, and finds fault with it. I have no need to adopt or reject that Christianity. I have my own to practice. But it is not what Zuckerman wants to prescribe to me.

What’s wrong with Trump’s cronies? Apparently, as Zuckerman sees it, what’s wrong with them is that they’re prosperous. The love of God, as he portrays it, does not apply to prosperous people, but instead the poor. Only the poor.

So, according to the Christianity Zuckerman would prescribe for me, if I become prosperous, God won’t love me any more.

If anyone finds that he says differently from that, please advise. I welcome correction.

(Sigh.)

To walk the path to which I feel I’m called, I may need to focus on a Jesus saying Zuckerman does not cite. In fact, I have never heard any liberal cite it. Nor has it ever been cited in the chapel services at the homeless shelter where I stay; where they seem to think that all that matters is what one believes, and never what one does.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. … So let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

In other words, do praiseworthy things.

Praiseworthy actions glorify God.

If I were to become self-supporting, would that be praiseworthy?

Might my example encourage or inspire others?

Might I even teach, by example, the ways whereby one may become self-supporting?

Would that serve God?

As to the whole thrust of liberal ideology, it appears that, if I strive to do what I feel called by God to do, I’m swimming against the tide.

Fusion; Scruffy people in commercials; The most bizarre Xmas ever

(Originally posted 12/30/13.)

George F. Will’s 12/21/13 column, “A dazzling bright future dawns in New Jersey,” is an infomercial for a fusion energy project.

Two points:

“Because of its large scale and long time horizon, the fusion project is a perfect example of a public good the private sector cannot pursue and the public sector should not slight.”

Whatever became of the concept of venture capital?

Continue reading Fusion; Scruffy people in commercials; The most bizarre Xmas ever

Aromatherapy, Millet and Celebrities

(Originally posted 12/23/13.)

In the past, I’ve seen many print ads that use the word “aromatherapy.” They seemed to me only to be selling fragrances, and I didn’t see the point of using that word.

Light endorses the Bach Flower Remedies. I’m skeptical.

Continue reading Aromatherapy, Millet and Celebrities

The Rich and the Rest of Us

(Originally posted 04/18/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reposted 12/11/13.)

From a flyer announcing a presentation tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Enoch Pratt Free Library:

Record unemployment and rampant corporate greed, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunitites in a paralyzed nation — these are the realities of America, land of the free and home of the new middle-class poor.

In The Rich and the Rest of Us, award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading public intellectuals, take on the “p” word — poverty. They challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it is and how to eradicate it.

I cannot attend that presentation, even if I wanted to, since as of 3:00 p.m. I must head back to the shelter to stay in for the night.

I know little about Cornel West and nothing about Tavis Smiley, but I do know something about poverty. I do not believe it can be eradicated. Thus any analysis that supposes that it can, is mistaken at its core.

talk show host, on air talent, talk radio, the homeless blogger

(3) Baby steps

Efforts to dialogue with Dan Rodricks’ position (that is, take it seriously) led to a lot of confusion and self-doubt in my prayer time Friday morning 10/25/13.

The past week’s instability in my support system had forced me to ask for and accept significant (by my standards) amounts of money from acquaintances who had never donated to me before. It was as if the Cosmos was retaliating for things I said in “Chaos overwhelms the poor.” Am I a panhandler already myself? Is there any shame in that? Am I in any way a better investment than the drunks who panhandle on the street?
Continue reading (3) Baby steps

(2) Obstacles to my prosperity

Dan Rodricks complained that a recent Baltimore City ordinance on panhandling failed to address “the underlying issues.” He has failed to address them either; so, I thought I would. Here are those I personally see:

CHECKLIST

TREATMENT ON DEMAND. Drug and alcohol treatment needs to be available on demand. This doesn’t affect me personally, but does affect panhandling — and prostitution, petty theft, shoplifting, smash-and-grabs, larcenies, and in fact all crime of any type. It’s not just traffic fatalities — half of all crimes are committed while someone is either intoxicated or seeking drug money. Continue reading (2) Obstacles to my prosperity

(1) I stay at the best shelter on the East Coast

… which shall here remain nameless, for reason that I also have harsh criticisms and don’t need any reader, however well-intentioned, to draw me into controversies not of my own choosing. The administration is rigid and authoritarian, and if I ever need to ask a favor it’s best I not be seen as a troublemaker.

I had ample time to prepare for homelessness. I packed up all my stuff neatly to make it easy for the landlady to dispose of. I gave away practically everything of durable value — dumbbells, tools, kitchen utensils, foodstuffs. Angie wanted to keep the bird feeder going after I would leave, so I showed her how. I was able to ask around and find out the highest-rated men’s homeless shelter in town. I went there at once when I became homeless March 7, 2011, and except for three nights, have been there ever since.
Continue reading (1) I stay at the best shelter on the East Coast