Tag Archives: Mother Teresa

Humanizing the Dehumanized & Mutualizing the Marginalized

king-quoteHumanizing the Dehumanized…

For a number of posts now the topic has surrounded “Reaching Rahabs,” the prostituted citizens of our own Jerichos. The question now is, how do we treat the dehumanized and marginalized?

Greed appeals to sex for sale          

At her expense, it mirrors hell

A grave inside a human’s mind

They lock the doors and close the blinds

A human life is thrown in a cage

Raped until death, then thrown away

Deeds in the dark the light reveals

And judgment comes when the blood is spilled

They even changed her name

They even changed her name

They even changed her name

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I’ve been going to the Catholic Church lately

francisNo, I’m not converting to Catholicism, praying to Mary, or going to confession; but for the last year or so I’ve been going down the street to Mission Dolores Church during the week to pray and read the Word. It’s a peaceful refuge from the din of my crowded urban neighborhood in San Francisco and a great place to meet with the Lord. I absolutely love being in the cavernous stone and stained glass sanctuary for relative solitude and quiet. I seldom have the place all to myself, but when I do it’s like being in the Holy of Holies – well, sort of.

I’ve often been accused of being quite verbal (though other words have been used to describe it), so quiet or silent prayer has never really been my forte. When I pray, my lips are usually moving and sound, sometimes a lot of it, is projected out into the air, and I hope also into heaven. Nevertheless, I’ve found that words are less important in some places at some times. Maybe that’s why the Spirit has drawn me to this place, so he can get a word in edgewise, which I might take into consideration in the things I reflect back to him in prayer. (I really only say this as a preemptive strike against a barrage of “Amens” from any of you who think I talk too much.)

Anyway, I was at Mission Dolores the other day wondering, besides the serenity and solitude of it, what it is that keeps drawing me back to the Catholic Church. Three things came to mind: A sense of history, a concern for poverty, and a theology of suffering. Continue reading

Servant Subversion versus Fortification

Wash-FeetWhen I embarked on it I had no idea that this writing on Jeremiah 29:11 would take me on such a circuitous, even arduous, journey. I confess that I’ve ranted more than I intended about such things as the nature of “prosperity”, how we achieve it, and when we will fully receive it. In my most recent post I suggested five inadequate ways Christians tend to approach living in this foreign world of Babylon. Whether or not you’ve made the effort to follow my ramblings I hope you’ll give the next few posts a chance to provoke you toward a forward trajectory that may or not be novel to you. I’d like to propose a biblical alternative to those aforementioned strategies, a road not-so-well-travelled that I’ll call “Servant Subversion.”

I’m aware that by itself the word “subversion” carries a decidedly unChristlike connotation. When I first ran across it in Christian context I recoiled. In fact, it felt to me like diametrically opposite of the way of Jesus. It felt political, economic, and all too earthy to be a biblical idea. Continue reading

Friendship at the Margins

I heartily recommend a book by Christopher Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl called, Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission (Resources for Reconciliation) 

Backgrounds and other pictures 017One of my least resistible inclinations these days is to befriend people on the margins. It’s something I get to spend more of my time doing than ever before in my up-until-recently white middle-class life. [Well, the white part hasn’t changed except in my mind.] But I can’t say that it’s been without its challenges. Not being the most patient person God ever made, I struggle at times with compassion fatigue over the sometimes glacially sluggish spiritual progress of some of my friends in the street. This book came at a good time for me.

Pohl is professor of social ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and Heuertz is a contemplative activist who founded a ministry called “Word Made Flesh” that is incarnationally located among the poorest of the poor in a number of nations. Heuertz is not only a firebrand follower of Jesus and lover of the poor, but he’s a brilliant thinker and engaging author. I love his other books, Simple Church and Living Missionally. But of the three, this one on the practice of friendship-making among the weak and unnoticed people of the world
impacted me the most. Continue reading

Manna, Meat, and Money (An appeal for a less self-indulged and more Christ-centered Christianity) Part 5 of 5ish

LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

Thus far, we’ve been talking about manna and meat. I’ve been saying that manna represents the all-sufficient Bread from Heaven, Jesus; and in contrast, meat is what we demand from God when Jesus isn’t enough for us. But where does money fit into this picture? Well, Paul, who taught that the Old Testament narrative was relevant to New Testament believers (1 Corinthians 10:1-11), proposed in a subsequent letter to the same church a startling application to the manna story.

In the process of challenging the Corinthians to pony up to give aid the poor in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8-9), Paul borrowed a piece of the manna metaphor to teach them about the spirit of generosity and egalitarianism in the Church. This time he associated manna to money. While Jesus identified himself as the Heavenly Man(na) with which we should be abundantly satisfied, Paul leveraged the imagery to show how we should relate to our material resources and demonstrate a radical liberality. “Just as God had insisted on equal portions of manna for all his people in the wilderness, so now the Corinthians should give “so that there may be equality” in the body of Christ.” Ron Sider Continue reading

On being neighborly (Who do I have to love and how much?) Part 6 of 5ish

love your neighbor“I won’t mix in politics. War is the fruit of politics, and so I don’t involve myself, that’s all. If I get stuck in politics, I will stop loving. Because I will have to stand by one, not by all.” Mother Teresa

Neighborly: Characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, kind, obliging, helpful, hospitable, civil, generous…

Okay, so I miscalculated! Six doesn’t fit neatly into five, but that’s the beauty of the “ish.” I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d get a little longwinded, so I covered myself with the all-purpose “ish.” No promises, but my new best guess is 7ish.

We’ve been doing a passage perusal of the oft repeated command to “Love our neighbors as ourselves” from Moses to Jesus to Paul and now to James. If you’ve been following along with each post, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed that the “neighbors” referred to in these passages are people who come from everyplace on the planet and will include, not only those who look and act the same as us, but those who are quite dissimilar from us.

I’ve made no secret that we Christians have a responsibility to rethink, in light of Scripture, our view of the discarded dregs of our own society as well as people who come here from other places fleeing from bone crushing poverty and/or brutally oppressive regimes. Though our neighbors live near and far, this is the aspect of neighborliness I felt compelled to highlight. I admit my grief about many of my fellow Jesus followers who seem to hold too narrow a definition of “neighbor” and carry little to no sense of duty for hospitality to our international neighbors. Continue reading

What Jesus Thought About Universal Victim Blaming (Part 2 of 5)

As you can see this is the second piece of a five-part essay. If you’d rather read it all at once, you can find it in barneywiget.com

Mother Teresa told of a time when she spoke at a conference on world hunger in Bombay. “I was supposed to go to that meeting and I lost the way. Suddenly I came to that place, and right in front of the door to where hundreds of people were talking about food and hunger, I found a dying man, I took him out and I took him home. He died there. He died of hunger. And the people inside were talking about how in fifteen years we will have so much food, so much this, so much that, and that man died. See the difference?”‘ Continue reading