Category Archives: Squalor

Alcoholism basics

(A message I sent family on 26 April 2006.)

Disease, or sin?

To the best of my knowledge, the “disease theory of alcoholism” began with Dr. Robert Silkworth, at the time of St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, coincident with the beginnings of A.A. “Dr. Bob” referred to the condition as an “allergy”; for whatever reason, these folks’ bodies respond to this substance differently than others’ do.

This theory and its ramifications are, today, largely taken for granted throughout the scientific world. Whatever the disease’s cause, behavioral strategies are needed, too, if the subject is to manage the disease and live a normal life. The same is just as true of diabetes or near-sightedness or hay fever.

The competing view, that drinking problems reflect sin or some kind of moral deficiency, still has its grip on the popular mind. The predicaments that problem drinkers create for themselves and for others, are bad enough in and of themselves without the added burden of this stigma. My late father insisted until his last lucid day, that it was all a question of “will power.” I remember visiting Mom at home sometime prior to 1990, and finding on the bookshelf different books by Hazen G. Werner, an Ohio Methodist bishop whom my father fervently admired, and finding certain passages that my father had marked wherein the author discounted the disease theory and blamed it all instead on, as it were, sin. I shook my head at the untold, needless damage such words do.
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Smoking, part 1

(Originally published 09/28/13 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Republished here 10/31/13.)

(Saying “part 1” just in case. There may or may not be a part 2, etc., in the future.)

My patronage has changed, and as a result I must quit smoking. As of 09/27/13, I have not managed this very well. As a result, I’m now in a terrific financial bind.

Forget about not having any more money for smokes; in this coming week, for financial reasons, I may have to spend several nights at a much less desirable shelter; where I don’t want to use the bathroom, haven’t figured out how to shower, and clean clothes aren’t available every day. Then there are the issues of getting prescriptions filled and buying disposable underwear, of which I’m almost out.

Motivation doesn’t matter when one’s facing necessity. However, I have had ample reasons for motivation:
Continue reading Smoking, part 1

Me, Me, Me

(Originally published 06/06/13 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Republished here 10/30/13.)

This has been a very heavy day, and there’s a lot here. For the moment, at least, I will not try to organize this.

Darkness at times appears to serve Light; destruction, to serve creation.

It is a rude awakening for me to have to revisit the world of infantile self-centeredness, apparently to have to re-learn correctly this time (at age 57!) some things I didn’t learn correctly on the first go-round.

A world where it is correct for me to want things only for “Me, me, me!”
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Giving it all away

(Originally published 05/09/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Republished here 10/30/13.)

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

About the Parable of the Talents

Main points:
(1) God always provides more than you need.
(2) Use well what you’ve got now; only then will you get more.
(3) What you abuse, you lose.
(4) Absent a disease process, chronic poverty is not a natural condition.

I write as a man with next to nothing, concerned principally for others who have next to nothing.  God put me in this position for a reason.

I am strongly tempted to want to rename it “The Parable of the Bootstraps.”

Continue reading About the Parable of the Talents

The Parable of the Talents

(Originally posted 10/08/13.)

Matthew 25:

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24 “Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’[”]

On the one hand, I don’t believe Jesus ever said these words. (Link) On the other hand, I firmly believe in the principles expressed, and will have occasion to refer to this text many times.
talk show host, on air talent, radio talk show, the homeless blogger >

Chaos overwhelms the poor

(Originally posted 08/06/14.)

Some weeks ago, I stood in line awaiting check-in at the shelter. This place charges $3 a night. I was holding my money in my hand, and someone playfully tugged at it. I snapped. I said, “You don’t value your life much, do you?”

Minutes later, I explained this to someone else. I said, “Don’t take a man’s last dollar.” “Why not?” he asked. I said, ” ‘Cause that’s the one he’ll die for. That’s the one he’ll kill for.”

Don’t take my last dollar. That’s the one I’ll kill for.

I’ve been on hard times since 2004. If I lose, or am robbed or cheated, of $20 or $50, that’s a pretty significant amount. But it doesn’t hurt all that much if I have more, and know more is coming. However, if I lose, or someone robs or cheats me of my last $1 — that’s the one that really hurts. That’s the one I’ll kill for.

These memories came to me as I reflected on Maggie Fox’s 08/29/2013 article, “Poor people aren’t stupid; bad decisions are from being overwhelmed, study finds.”
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A MUST-READ CONCERNING JUSTICE AND POVERTY

(Originally posted 10/05/13.)

The Marshmallow Study Revisited

For the past four decades, the “marshmallow test” has served as a classic experimental measure of children’s self-control: will a preschooler eat one of the fluffy white confections now or hold out for two later?

Now a new study demonstrates that being able to delay gratification is influenced as much by the environment as by innate ability. Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer—12 versus three minutes—than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations.

The article explores the issues in some depth.

Courage to walk unarmed

A Nation of Cowards

Jeffrey Snyder suggests that carrying a handgun is both a right and a duty of every law-abiding citizen.

This is hard for me to relate to; as, for all practical purposes, no such people exist in my world.

Gun lovers’ slogans include, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Forget laws; in my world, only outlaws have guns now.

I have no impulse to join them.
Continue reading Courage to walk unarmed