… seek justice …

Justice is blind. – iustitia caeca est.

… towards the end of the 15th century, “justice” has been portrayed as ‘blind,’ but is it?  was it ever?  what does “justice is blind” even mean?

… according to Webster’s Dictionary;  justice* means “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments” and just** means “what is morally upright and good.”  now that “maintenance” and “administration” is primarily, in the world we live in, conducted through courts of law and wars, administered by lawyers, judges, politicians, police and military personnel.  the determination of what is “just” has been primarily regulated to our governments who make laws based on what they view as justice.

… this legal system determines a just, proper, fitting reward or punishment based on adherence to these laws.

… the state wants to be worshiped.  it want you to believe that “they” are who is responsible for justice, the final authority over “what is morally upright and good” in a society.  they build armies and police forces to enforce their ideas of ‘what is morally upright and good.’

When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers, I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the
Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”” Isaiah 1:15–20, ESV

… we live in a world where >21,000 children starve to death DAILY ..  where billionaires spend $61,000,000 to launch their $250,000 cars into space just for fun…

.. justice .. the quality of being just, impartial, or fair..

… is there any justice left on the planet Earth?

… until the smallest child born into slavery in every country is set free,
there is no justice …

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” Matthew 25:34–36, ESV

Poverty – Jason Upton

There’s a power in poverty that breaks principalities
And brings the authority’s down to their knees
There’s a brewing frustration and ageless temptation
To fight for control by some manipulation

But the God of the kingdoms and the God of the Nations
The God of creation sends his revelation
Thru the homeless and penniless Jesus the son
The poor will inherit the Kingdom to come

Where will we turn when our world falls apart
And all of the treasures we’ve stored in our barns
Can’t buy the Kingdom of God?

Who will we praise when we’ve praised all our lives
men who build Kingdoms and men who build fame
What will we fear when all that remains
Is God on His throne, with a child in his arms,
and love in his eyes
And the sound of his heart cries.

*jus•tice \ˈjəs-təs\ noun
[Middle English, from Anglo-French justise, from Latin justitia, from justus] 12th century
1      a: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
b: JUDGE
c: the administration of law especially: the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
2      a: the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
b      (1): the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action
(2): conformity to this principle or ideal: RIGHTEOUSNESS
c: the quality of conforming to law
3:      conformity to truth, fact, or reason: CORRECTNESS

**just \ˈjəst\ adjective
[Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French juste, from Latin justus, from jus right, law; akin to Sanskrit yos welfare] 14th century
1      a: having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason: REASONABLE 〈a just but not a generous decision〉
b archaic: faithful to an original
c: conforming to a standard of correctness: PROPER 〈just proportions〉
2      a      (1): acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good: RIGHTEOUS 〈a just war〉
(2): being what is merited: DESERVED 〈a just punishment〉
b: legally correct: LAWFUL 〈just title to an estate〉 synonym see FAIR, UPRIGHT—just•ly adverb—just•ness \ˈjəs(t)-nəs\ noun

Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

#MeTooMen #ChurchToo

… on my Twitter feed the other day, there were many stories about a ‘pastor’ of a mega-church, Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN, who confessed to a ‘sexual incident’ that involved a teenager that he abused when he was a youth pastor many years ago.  the girl was 17 yrs old at the time.

… as i am very concerned for the condition of the universal church and body of Christ, i was curious to find out what this particular ‘church’ was saying.  i looked up their Facebook account and started reading the feeds.

… what i read shocked me.

…  people were writing that they were driving hours and hours to come to this weeks service in support of Andy, the man who admitted that he had sexually assaulted a 17 yr old girl 20 yrs earlier.

.. i read comments like; “she’s lying, Andy is a good guy.” and “she’s just looking for attention.”

.. i responded that maybe she was looking for the attention she should have received when she was abused 20 years ago.  and i posted a scripture.

Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; who make darkness light, and light darkness; who make bitter sweet, and sweet bitter. Woe to them that are wise in their own conceit, and knowing in their own sight.
Isaiah 5:20–21

… when i went back i found that they had blocked me.  i find it interesting that the church would block me for posting words from the Bible that they claim they follow, but it is not the first time, and i doubt it will be the last.

… the thing is …

“i believe her.”

… and why shouldn’t i?  Mr. Andy only gave a public apology in front of the ”whole’ church’ AFTER she had made a public post as part of the #MeToo movement against the sexual abuse by people in power.  it was only AFTER Mr. Andy had posted on his social media in support of Matt Lauer, another sexual abusing man who also said he was sorry, (but i didn’t do that).

… and you see, i am a 52 yr old man, and i have a story from when i was a 15 yr old freshman in high school myself.  i already hear the screams ‘get over it.’ and i have, but just because 37 years have gone by, doesn’t mean i have forgotten, or that it hasn’t played an effect on different decisions i have made throughout my entire life..

… in 1979 i was a freshman in high school, attending a private boarding school called St. Paul’s College High, in Concordia, MO.  when i was in 7th grade, i had an encounter with the LORD that dramatically changed the course of my life.  i was only 12, but i was happy and content, and i loved people.  i spent a lot of my spare time reading my Bible, and although my mother and step father took us to our Missouri Synod Lutheran Church every Sunday, they weren’t happy with my new found happiness. 🙂

… so they took me to our pastor so that he would straighten me out.  the pastor had suggested that i was called into the ministry, and he suggested that i look into this High School that also had a two year College on the same campus whose entire focus was pre-ministerial.

… due to a law suit where my father didn’t pay my mother any child support for like 7 years, he agreed to pay for my 4 years of private boarding school education and she agreed to not pursue the entire debt.  i enrolled and started classes – wonderful classes in Old Testament studies, Greek studies, Hebrew studies, New Testament, Geometry,  – anyways, i though i was close to heaven.  remember, i’m just 15 at the time.

… i found out that the majority of High School students were rich kids who were trouble makers, whose parents sent them to this school so that the school would deal with them.  the High School was supposed to be geared towards the ministry, but it seemed that only the college students were actually serious about the things of God.

… there were some extra-curricular activities of praise and worship, Bible studies, etc. that some of the college students were leading and i and one other HS student got permission to hang out with the college group.  the college group had plans to travel to Chicago, IL around Christmas time and attend a conference called Evangelism Explosion.  we were going to spend a day of ‘door to door’ evangelism, and spend some time at O’Hare International Airport, busiest in the world at that time, doing ‘evangelism.’

… the plan was that the students would all break up into two’s and be assigned to different host houses from the church we would be visiting for the seminars.  me being the youngest person in the group (5 years younger than most) i was assigned to a big house that had enough room to house 4 people, 2 rooms with bunk-beds.  and it just so happened that i was assigned with the 3 male college sophomore leaders of the entire group from St. Paul’s.

… when we broke into rooms, i was in a room with the assistant to the assistant.  he took the bottom bunk and we went to bed.  as i remember it was cold, it was Chicago in December, and he asked me if i wanted to get into bed with him as we could stay warmer.  my 15 year old self thought this college man made sense so i did.  today, in 2018, it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but back in 1979 Mid-Western America, to even consider that something was wrong – was just wrong.

… i’m not going to go into details, but lets just say that after numerous attempts to say no (not verbally as i recall, just no consent) i ended up doing things i did not want to, and when he went to the restroom to clean himself up, i got dressed and ran to the room of the two head leaders and told them what had happened.

… they told me i was wrong, that the guy who just abused me was engaged to be married, and i must have misunderstood the whole thing.  they sent me back to the room, where i got back into the top bunk and waited for my abuser to come back to the room.

… of course i’ve never mentioned this before.  why would i?  but 37 years later, i can think of thousands of things in my life that were forever changed on that night, mostly because people with authority over me, abused me twice.  once physically, the second time mentally – by victim blaming.  the shame, “how dare you say something so evil against such a good person!”

… and so i will loudly now say, that

I believe Jules Woodson. STOP the victim blaming.  SHAME on you who call yourself the Church of Jesus the Man called Christ.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Timothy 3:12–13

.. googling Global Thermonuclear War…

SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?

… 34 years ago, in 1983, a movie came out starring Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, and Ally Sheedy, called Wargames about a young computer hacker named David Lightman (Broderick) who wants to hack into a video game manufacturers computer to play a video game before it is released to the public.  using an old-style acoustic coupler modem to access the internet, young David finds a computer hooked to the internet in Sunnyvale, California which seems to have some games in it that he wants to play.  he finds out that the computer he hacks into is actually the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), a United States military supercomputer originally programmed to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war.

… i was a senior in High School then and many, many things have changed since that time.  at that time the governments of the Eastern Bloc and the governments of the Western Bloc were in a state of geopolitical tension called the Cold War. even though we had ‘duck and cover nuclear bomb drills‘ in school, we felt relatively secure because of the doctrine of mutually assured destruction – basically, ‘if you throw bombs at me, i will throw bombs at you, and neither one of us will survive.’

Stephen Falken: The whole point was to find a way to practice nuclear war without destroying ourselves. To get the computers to learn from mistakes we couldn’t afford to make. Except, I never could get Joshua to learn the most important lesson.
David Lightman: What’s that?
Stephen Falken: Futility. That there’s a time when you should just give up.
Jennifer: What kind of a lesson is that?
Stephen Falken: Did you ever play tic-tac-toe?
Jennifer: Yeah, of course.
Stephen Falken: But you don’t anymore.
Jennifer: No.
Stephen Falken: Why?
Jennifer: Because it’s a boring game. It’s always a tie.
Stephen Falken: Exactly. There’s no way to win. The game itself is pointless! But back at the war room, they believe you can win a nuclear war. That there can be “acceptable losses.”

… we started the drills after this country dropped atomic bombs on Japan, ending World War II where this country killed 90,000146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki.  we were taught that as long as we were the only country evil enough to drop an atomic bomb, then the world would stay relatively secure from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

… the Cold War ended in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union.

… the recent news has caused me to Google things i would prefer not to.  things like;

  • how many nuclear weapons does North Korea have?
  • how many nuclear weapons does Russia have?
  • what is global thermonuclear war?
  • what is a tomahawk missile?
  • how many tomahawk missiles did the US drop on Syria?
  • how much stock does the US President have in the company that builds tomahawk missiles?
  • why is the US Government spending more than the next 8 nations combined on it’s military?
  • how many continents does the US have military bases on?
  • do polls in Russia really say that Russia should retaliate against the US for bombing Syria unprovoked?
  • what is a MOAB bomb, and is it really the largest weapon on the planet that is NOT a nuclear weapon?
  • was the US President really golfing when he ordered the destruction of Afghanistan with the MOAB bomb?

  • did the Vice President of the USA really go to the DMZ and threaten North Korea?
  • how long will it take for an atomic bomb to reach the US mainland once it is deployed from North Korea? Russia? China?
  • has the US really killed over 30,000,000 people on earth since WWII?
  • did the US really start wars in Iraq and Afghanistan based on lies?
  • how many did the US kill because of those lies?
  • does the US have any real friends left in the world that President Trump has not insulted or just plain pissed off?

… so many questions.  but the biggest question in my mind is;

do people in the United States of America know that their nation is the nation in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ that is known as Babylon and that their destruction will take place ‘in a day’ unless they ‘change their minds’?

And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.” Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”” (Revelation 18:2–8, ESV)

“how about a nice game of chess?”

A War on Homelessness, or a War on the Homeless?

A War on Homelessness, or a War on the Homeless?

by Nick Cooper, nick@nickcooper.com •  originally printed in Free Press Houston (freepresshouston.com), April, 2012

On March 2, Hank Rush, the CEO of Star of Hope Mission, who makes a quarter-million dollar salary for his work with the poor, joined several other homeless service leaders in signing a commentary in the Houston Chronicle.  They gave their support to a new law that would impose a $2,000 fine on unpaid volunteers for sharing home-cooked food with the needy in public.

Going so far as to criminalize bringing a box of fruit into one’s house, to keep it out of a hot car for a few hours before going to share it, the law would have been laughable if it weren’t a threat to the food supply of a vulnerable population.

Wondering why homeless service providers might consider supporting a law that was so potentially devastating to Houston’s homeless population, activists began researching Star of Hope.  The first news item that came up, was that Mayor Annise Parker had announced a massive public / private partnership with the Star of Hope, just four days before the commentary was published.  $3 million initially, and $1.5 million per year thereafter, was planned for a “Sobering Center” for people found drunk in public.  Touted as a cheaper and less punitive alternative to incarceration, the project would benefit Rush and other signatories to the commentary.

    The Mayor, ‘Balance,’ and Her ‘Emergency’

    The Mayor and Council Member James Rodriguez began promoting the new ’emergency’ law, though the nature of the emergency seemed to be constantly in flux.  First, council members were told there was a crisis of food poisoning of the homeless, but the Mayor dropped that argument after being forced in open session to admit that there was no info to back up her claims.  Next, they switched to talking about trash being left by organizations feeding the homeless, but apparently there was no study of that either.  Eventually, Parker and Rodriguez seemed to settle on the main issue at stake here: the property rights of downtown business owners.

“I perceive this ordinance as trying to balance the rights and the needs of different groups of people,” said the Mayor.  Apparently, for her, the homeless are the ones holding the upper-hand in this imbalance, and the victims, the downtown business owners, require the City’s emergency help.  The ‘need’ of property owners is being trampled by the need of the homeless to eat, sleep, and excrete.

She compelled city council to act urgently to control trash and excrement, not by putting out more receptacles and toilets, but by policing the food supply.

“While the Mayor professes to try to help the homeless,” said civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, “she’s done nothing to put in sanitary facilities that the homeless might be able to use.”

After years of ‘civility’ ordinances which criminalize homeless people for lying down, Houston City Council moved quickly towards enacting this new level of oppression.

The open secret here is that the only urgent matter is the opening of the new Dynamo soccer stadium.  With homeless sleeping nearby, the Mayor wanted one more tool to evict the homeless encampments.  As if to confirm this, City Council passed another urgent measure in March: drinking alcohol in public would be legalized in lots owned by, and at times set by sports venues.  Without even an acknowledgement of the irony and scandalous timing of these two amendments, the City granted sports fans an exemption to an anti-homeless law that had been on the books for almost 20 years.

While of course, ‘property rights’ doesn’t seem like an ’emergency’ issue, the Mayor didn’t let that slow her down. She ramped up pressure on the council to pass this law to force volunteers to show police specific prior written permission to share food.  Coalition for the Homeless President / CEO Marilyn Brown supported the law as “a good first step,” despite the fact that she had just personally conducted a Faith Initiative focus group in which every single participant opposed mandatory requirements for those sharing food in public.  Any council member considering voting for the law had to ignore the opinions of the hundreds of homeless and others who came to speak against the law over three sessions of City Council.

The public pressure forced the Mayor to change the law, stripping it of the important details.  It no longer explicitly criminalized things like the sharing of home made food, but since the process for obtaining permission was never disclosed, it was anyone’s guess what the criteria she or subsequent Mayors might choose to use for granting permission.  Home made food might be illegal, it might not, it just depended on the unwritten criteria of whatever agency has the job of granting permission.  The new version of the law temporarily hid the most egregious details, and the Mayor falsely and unilaterally declared that a compromise had been struck.

Some of the most important voices against the law were those of the homeless themselves who arrived to speak to City Council on April 3, the day before the vote.  The Mayor and the majority of City Council instead favored a small group of downtown business representatives, bumping them to the front of the queue to speak.  A few Council Members lobbed soft-ball questions to their powerful friends, filibustering until the news cameras and many City Council members had left the room.  One homeless man waiting for his turn to speak was so frustrated that he yelled out and was escorted from the chambers.

When it was finally their turn to speak, the homeless opened up their hearts to a City Council that had probably already made up their minds.

“If it weren’t for these truly gracious people, I would not eat,” 58 year old James Lira told City Council.

“I’ve been homeless 15 years due to my mental illness… If they make it more difficult for me to get food, then I would be starving,” were the words sent to City Council via the Voice of the Homeless Awareness Project from Alfred White, 51.

“I would like to see you in our shoes for one week and not have anything,” said Michael Horn.

“When has America stopped being the land of the free and the home of the brave, and become the land of the oppressed, and the home of the economic slave?” asked Maurice Samuel O’Neal, who identified as being on and off the streets for the last 40 years.  Many in the audience were affected, hearing the comparison to slavery by an older Southern African American man.

The most devastating critiques of the Mayor’s proposed law came from the kids.

“If I see one, or five, or twenty people in need, I should be able to help them without fearing punishment,” said an 11 year old girl, Makota Ashé.

Next, the Mayor’s entire argument was deflated in two short questions by 13 year old Dylan Cash.

“Mayor Parker, did you eat breakfast this morning?” he asked.  “Did you have to get permission from the City?”

    Why Don’t you Just Shut Up and Get a Permit, It’s Easy!

    Requiring permission for groups to serve has precedent. In San Francisco in 1988, the permit requirement was used to criminalize and arrest hundreds of food sharing volunteers. The Mayor then, like Annise Parker now, described the process as easy, but that was not the experience of volunteers in San Francisco.

“It was clear that the purpose of the permit process was to make it impossible for Food Not Bombs to share food and information in public,” said Keith McHenry, the co-founder of the Food Not Bombs movement.

In November of 2011, a U.S. District Judge denied the city of Dallas’ motion for summary judgment and ruled that a lawsuit can proceed against a similar law there.  On the basis that spontaneous and unregulated feeding is part of their religious freedom, a church has a good chance to demonstrate that these permitting laws violate the Texas Religious Freedom Act.

“There are also Constitutional concerns about not requiring property owners to give notice by posting “no-trespassing” signs,” said Daphne Silverman with National Lawyers Guild.   “It’s my position that this law also violates other first amendment rights of expression, religion, and assembly.”

   Cashing In

    On April 4, the amendment passed 11 – 6.  Council Member Bradford joined the five Republican-leaning Council Members (Brown, Pennington, Sullivan, Christie, and Hoang) to oppose the hastily written, vague, punitive, and repressive law.  Not only did the ‘progressive’ Council Members vote with the Mayor, but even Wanda Adams joined in.  Though Adams repeats often that homelessness is an extremely personal issue for her, she is in need of support for her candidacy in the race for Texas House District 131.

“Mayor Parker is very well connected and supported in the local Democratic party scene,” explains local political activist and Democratic state delegate Benjamin Franklin.  “Wanda Adams’ chances of advancing to the State House require many of the same institutional supporters, and thus she needs to demonstrate that she’s a team player.  She can work to mitigate or soften the impact of a policy she disagrees with, but can’t openly defy and vote ‘no’ to what’s apparently a core priority for the Mayor.”

Adams was taken aside for several arm-twisting sessions to vote for the anti-homeless law.  Though unable to stop the law from passing, and apparently incapable of standing up to even vote against it herself, she was able to pass an amendment to give volunteers a three month reprieve before the law went into effect.

Council Members need money to be re-elected, and non-profits need grants.  Star of Hope wasn’t the only agency to benefit from new funding, and wasn’t the only organization whose leader signed onto the Houston Chronicle commentary to support the original extremely draconian version of the law.  The Coalition for the Homeless is at the center of an influx of cash to Houston that is so big that it makes the millions involved in the Sobering Center look like chump change.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) channels 1.5 billion dollars a year into programs and non-profits.  This month, Houston and eight other cities with large homeless populations begin getting big Obama dollars for the express purpose of “ending homelessness” in a few years through “Rapid Rehousing.”

Sam Tsemberis, CEO and Founder to Pathways to Housing, who helped to create the Housing First model, which is similar to Rapid Rehousing, points out that “Housing First is not really about housing.  It’s about listening to the person who is homeless.  The way we invented HF was by listening to people in the street.  When you ask what do you want most urgently, people say ‘housing first.’  It’s not about buildings or structures, it’s about listening to people.”

Nick Flynn, U of H professor, and author of the book which inspired the film “Being Flynn” starring Robert De Niro, has been a long time supporter of the Housing First model, but questions the nature of the program coming to Houston, asking, “is it driven by listening to the homeless, or listening to the powerful interests downtown?”

To kick off this program, the Coalition for the Homeless, launched a series of breakfasts for Houston’s homeless providers.  Titled “Take Your Seat at the Table,” the participants were welcomed to carve their pieces of the pie of all this funding coming to Houston.  Participants in the breakfasts were told that along with the money comes an entirely new system.  Houston’s homeless services are being rapidly transformed into a system with centralized intake for all homeless, a new authority that links funding with performance evaluations, and a constantly expanding database called the Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).

    Just Follow the Bacon and Eggs

    “The Coalition for the Homeless has friendly political ties to the agencies who will end up with the HUD money,” said Jeff Lyons from Houston Solutions for Housing.  “It’s all political. The City founded Coalition for the Homeless, and appoints the people to the Board.  As the designated agent for the national programs like HMIS, they decide where HUD money goes when it comes to Houston.”

Shockingly, the underwriter for the first of the two Coalition for the Homeless breakfasts was Brookfield Office Properties, which, owns twelve skyscrapers downtown.  Paul Layne, the regional head for Brookfield Properties’ Houston operations also sits on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for the Homeless.  As the largest commercial real estate owner in Houston’s downtown, Brookfield is notorious for its central role in perpetuating the below poverty wages among downtown custodial workers, who make an average of $8,600 a year.

“It’s ironic,” said Laura Perez-Boston, director of the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center.  “Instead of investing their money in promoting a breakfast, they should be investing in ensuring that human rights are upheld for the janitors in their buildings…”

Brookfield also happens to own Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street activists were encamped for months (the park is named for Brookfield co-chairman John E. Zuccotti).  In October, Brookfield wrote to New York Police Commissioner Kelly demanding the eviction of the activists.  This connection seemed to confirm the suspicions of many involved with Occupy Houston that the law was intended to target them.

“This whole issue may have never been about ‘feeding the homeless’,” said longtime community activist and Democratic State Rep. candidate Ray Hill.  “It may have been about shutting down the Occupy movement that has done more than anything else to put a light on the injustice and excesses of big business greed.”

Many Houston activists who assume that Brookfield doesn’t value the needs of the homeless any more than the custodians working in their own buildings, are outraged to discover their participation in Coalition for the Homeless programs.

“Now it comes to light that there are big bucks in the pipeline from the federal government around homelessness,” Hill continued.  “The poor and the powerless are not players in the passing out of public funds into the private hands of the real players.”

    And Meanwhile… What About the Volunteers About to Be Criminalized?

    Food sharing volunteers like myself sit in these meetings a bit baffled.  On July 1, the volunteer work of dozens of organizations in the streets of Houston will become a crime.  We don’t have salaries, budgets, or pieces of the pie.  We don’t need money, bureaucracy, and we certainly don’t need to be permitted.  We do want to see homelessness eliminated, but not by punitive measures.

We found ourselves sitting at the Coalition for the Homeless breakfast table with others who were urging us to get iPads so that we could log all of the homeless, every time we serve, into the HMIS database in order to increase funding for the groups that need it.  Long time friends and allies within the homeless services sector seem to have been convinced by the power structure of absurd scenarios — people we had trusted explained to us their sincere belief that the homeless downtown are practically drowning in healthy food and need less not more.

My group, Food Not Bombs was the first group sharing food with the homeless after Ike, Rita, and Katrina.  FEMA referred people to us.  If this law is enacted in July, and by late August a hurricane comes through, even under emergency conditions, it will still be a crime for us to go out and share food.  Even if police were willing to look the other way during a hurricane aftermath, we might no longer have the intact relationships, food supply, and internal structure to resume our operations after months of being criminalized.  We rely on an influx of new high school volunteers, and parents might think twice about having their children participate in a group that might be illegal.  Making volunteerism a crime will damage Houston’s infrastructure.  Volunteers are a vital part of a system that helps nourish a vulnerable population, that without our efforts, would turn to increasingly to shoplifting, dumpster diving, and panhandling.

There are over sixty local groups speaking out against these laws. From the conservative Houston Area Pastors Council to the Catholic Worker Movement, from Occupy Houston to the Tea Party, from the Harris County Republican Party to the Green Party, from the Nation of Islam to the Hare Krishnas, the diversity of this loose coalition may well be unprecedented.

… politics disguised as prayer..

.. this morning, another ‘good christian friend’ on Facebook ‘copied and pasted” a post about a ‘prayer’ given in the Kansas State Senate,on January 23rd, 1996.  this ‘prayer’ has been shared over and over again by many, many people who are terribly deceived.  this was political posturing disguised as prayer and is biblically inaccurate.

… we only need to read what has been recorded that the Christ said to see that the original intent was not prayer at all, but a demonstration of pure hypocrisy.

“And when you pray, YOU MUST NOT be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Jesus (Matthew 6:5–8, ESV)

… if we do something that Jesus specifically said “you must not” do, then we ARE what He said we are “hypocrites.”

… and then Jesus spoke about judging when it is recorded that He said,

How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:42, ESV)

… even if we ignore what the Bible specifically says that Jesus said, what about the content itself?

… of course, the political rhetoric is disguised as a plea for God to forgive us.  pastor Joe wasn’t actually seeking forgiveness but was going through a list of items with the intent of shaming anyone who voted for the things he is against.   when he says “We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.” he does not mean we but they, unless he is blaming himself for ridiculing the Bible, which i am pretty sure he is not doing.

“We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.”

… Pastor Joe thinks things like food stamps and medicaid are ‘rewarding’ people for being lazy, regardless of the fact that 70% of SNAP households have children, and MOST people on any type of ‘welfare’ already have jobs.

… and then there is what Jesus said again,

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. – Jesus (Luke 6:30–31, ESV)

… i am writing this on a Sunday morning when thousand upon thousands of ‘good christians’ will put on their diamonds and gold decorations, adorn their designer suits and dresses and jump in their luxury automobiles to go listen to pastors, many who are on their second or third marriages, who live in mansions tell them what the Bible says.

… what does the Apostle Paul say?

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”” (1 Corinthians 5:9–13, NLT)

.. this wasn’t a prayer it was an attempt to publicly shame people into doing what the pastor wanted.  it wasn’t a cry for forgiveness, but an attempt to intimidate people into supporting a political agenda and is shameful, at the least…

… ‘Screw You! I’m with god’ …

… i don’t know where you are at, but here in Richmond, VA, our temperatures went from a record high of 81°F (27ºC) on March 1st, to a low of 27°F (-3°C) last night, March 11th, and a forecast of snow on Tuesday.  to put this in perspective, all of our peach trees have already put out their flowers and are covered in green leaves.  the plum trees have bloomed as have the pear and apple trees.

… also, during the last week, wildfires consumed over 1,000,000 acres of land, killing 7 people and thousands of head of livestock.  this is on the heels of almost 60 confirmed tornadoes on February 28th.

“In addition to the tornadoes, there were roughly 686 reports of thunderstorm wind damage or high thunderstorm winds, and another 257 reports of large hail.”  Weather Channel

… this is neither normal nor good.

“What’s happening?”

… i do believe in the God of the Bible.  i believe that the promises of the Bible are true, and i know that the Bible says that the LORD is the One Who is responsible for the weather and that if His people, the people who claim His name, if they are doing right, then He will provide good weather and plentiful crops as well as other ‘good’ things, like peace and safety.

I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.” (Leviticus 26:4–6, NLT)

… so that tells me that the LORD says that the people who call themselves His followers are ‘not doing right’ and so i look to see what the pastors are saying.  i ran across this from a sermon delivered last week.

“The second angel is announcing to the world that Babylon has fallen.  Now, there’s a controversy as to whether Babylon is Rome, or whether Babylon is going to be revealed, I really don’t care, we’re going to be in heaven, those of you that are there can watch it from the balcony, those of you that are here can watch it on television at night, if you still are alive.  Happy trails.” John Hagee

.. or in other words, “Screw you!  I’m with god.”

.. this man boasts of a congregation of over 20,000 people in San Antonio, TX, the same state that many of these disasters have been happening in.  it is reported that he has a $2.1 million dollar 7,969 acre ranch with not one, but FIVE lodges, a managers house, a gun locker, a smoke house, a skeet range and three barns and in 2001, he received $842,000 in salary and $414,485 in benefits making him one of the best paid men on earth in ANY field.

.. in 1975 he had an affair with a younger woman in the congregation that he pastored then, and divorced the mother of his two children to marry the younger woman.  he promptly left that church to become the pastor of the church he is currently at.

.. this man says the world is going to hell, and he is going to watch it ‘from the balcony’ of heaven. “Happy trails.”

.. without touching his theology, it should be obvious that he doesn’t know the homeless Man Jesus of the Bible who taught love and compassion.  it was Jesus Who said,

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19–21, NLT)

.. earlier in the same ‘sermon’, this man talked about the ‘Islamic hoards’ that will take over the nation that took the name of Israel.  he has advocated for a preemptive strike against Iran for this reason.  and again, Jesus said,

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27–28, NLT)

.. anyways, i believe that the Bible tells me that the reason the weather is as crazy as it is, is because of men like this who twist the words of hope and love into something completely different, where his god makes ‘the good people’ rich and will transport them to heaven while they flip the world off and watch it go through tremendous tribulation.  according to Amos, the LORD causes these things so that people who claim to know Him, will change their minds and do what He asked them to do.

… Jesus taught that the entire world, including His true followers, will all go through a ‘great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now.’ (Matt 24:21) and that AFTER that tribulation, He would come to take all those who changed their mind and decided to truly give up their lives and follow Him (Matt 24:29) to safety while the earth gets burned up.

.. as a follower of Christ, my ‘job’ is to “let my light shine before others, so that they may see my good works and give glory to my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)  even if what this man said was true (and it is way, way off base) then shouldn’t the response be to mourn for those who will be lost?  to pray for them?  to do whatever it takes to show them the love of God so that they will be saved too?

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3–4, ESV)

… every day more than 12,000 children die of starvation on this planet.  and every day hundreds of thousands of children wake up to their slavery.  in this country alone, there are over 1,000,000 school children who wake up homeless.

… and every day, there are thousands of false teachers who are only concerned with themselves – who bring shame on the name of Christ for their greedy selfish ways.  it shouldn’t be a huge surprise.  we were told it would be like this… and they must be silenced…

For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money. Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith. They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth. Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.” (Titus 1:10–16, NLT)

 

False prophets appeared in the past among the people, and in the same way false teachers will appear among you. They will bring in destructive, untrue doctrines, and will deny the Master who redeemed them, and so they will bring upon themselves sudden destruction. Even so, many will follow their immoral ways; and because of what they do, others will speak evil of the Way of truth. In their greed these false teachers will make a profit out of telling you made-up stories. For a long time now their Judge has been ready, and their Destroyer has been wide awake!” (2 Peter 2:1–3, GNB)

So what are we supposed to do?

… one-thousand eight-hundred ten …

1,810

.. in March of 2016, Forbes published ‘The World’s Billionaires, a list of the wealthiest people on the planet, with an article entitled, ‘Forbes 2016 World’s Billionaires: Meet The Richest People On The Planet.

“For our 30th annual guide to the world’s richest people we found a total of 1,810 billionaires, down from a record 1,826 a year ago. Their aggregate net worth: $6.5 trillion, $570 million less than last year.” – Forbes

… the article says that these are ‘the world’s richest people’, and indeed they are certainly most of the world’s richest people, but the list does not include the majority of the Rothschild Family (estimated net worth: $350 billion – $2 trillion), the House of Saud (estimated net worth: $1.4 trillion), Vladimir Putin (estimated net worth: $70 billion), Paul Kagame (estimated net worth: $1 billion), and a number of others that are known or not known.

… on the Forbes website, you can click on a tab that changes the list from it’s publication date to a ‘Real Time’ look at today’s list.  for instance, with a click of the mouse, i can see that Mr Bill Gates, Mr #1 on the list, i can see that from March of 2016 till January of 2017, ten months, Mr Gates has increased his personal wealth from $75 billion to $84.1 billion.  for those of you without a calculator, that would be an estimated increase of  $9,100,000,000 or $910,000,000 per month, $30,333,333 per day, a mere $1,263,888 per hour- 24hrs per day.

767,000,000

… also in 2016, the World Bank came out with it’s report titled ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016‘, which tells us that on this planet that we live on, there are 767,000,000 people who live on less than $1.90 a day.  again, for those of you without a calculator, that is <$693.50 per year, <$57.79 per month, a whopping <$0.08 per hour – 24hrs per day.

… the purpose of this report is to show the world how successful the World Bank programs are at bringing people out of extreme poverty.  the ‘magical’ PPP or purchasing power parity of USD$1.90 a day, is the mark to rise above.  in 1990 there were 1,850,000,000 people or 35% of the world population in extreme poverty, but thanks to the World Bank, now only 10.7% of the world lives on less than $1.90 per day.

… except for the percentage of people who have died, the vast majority of the people who have ‘been raised’ out of extreme poverty are now part of the 3,000,000,000 people who live on less than $2.50 per day, <$912.50 per year, <$76.04 per month, an incredible <$0.11 per hour.

5

… this week the leadership of the country with the worlds most powerful military, with it’s own annual GDP of $16 trillion (>twice the size of China’s entire GDP), are meeting for confirmation hearings for President-elect Trump’s picks for his cabinet.  of the positions that he has chosen people, 4 of those picks are billionaires like the President-elect, bringing the total to 5 billionaires who are planned to run this country, with a total annual budget >$3,800,000,000,000, about $12,000 per US citizen.

… President-elect Trump has a net worth somewhere between $3.7 billion (Forbes) and >$10 billion (Trump).  the President-elect has filed bankruptcy on six different occasions;

1) Trump Taj Mahal (1991) $3 billion where the President-elect had to give up 50% share and the courts agreed on a bank-set personal spending limit for the President-elect.

2)&3) Trump’s Castle and Trump Plaza Casinos (1992) $550 million & $338 million respectively where the President-elect had to give up 50% share.

4) Trump Plaza Hotel (1992) >$550 million where the President-elect had to give up 49% share.

5) Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts (2004) $1.8 billion where the courts reduced his share from 47% to 27% and

6) Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009) $1.2 billion where the President-elect reduced his share to 10% and resignation as chairman of the board.

… Mr. Todd Ricketts, the pick for deputy commerce secretary, has an estimated net worth of $5.3 billion primarily from the brokerage service, Ameritrade, founded by Todd’s father.  Todd is the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and is CEO of Ending Spending, an organization “dedicated to educating and engaging American taxpayers about wasteful and excessive government spending,” according to its site.

… Mrs. Betsy DeVos, the pick for education secretary, is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the security firm Blackwater with >$1 billion in government contracts as of 2006, has an estimated net worth of $5.1 billion primarily from an organization many call a ‘pyramid-scheme’ the Amway Corporation with $9.5 billion in 2015 revenues, is an advocate for charter schools, an independently operated public school started by citizens and for-profit companies financed by tax dollars and private tax deductible donations.

… Mr. Wilbur Ross, the pick for commerce secretary, is chairman and chief strategist of WL Ross & Co. LLC, a company “founded in 1997 by professionals then at Rothschild, Inc., who were among the leaders in advising various constituencies in bankruptcies and workouts around the world, assisting in restructuring more than $200 billion of liabilities,” a wholly owned subsidiary of Invesco Ltd.  Wilbur has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion and is best known as the owner of the WV Sago coal Mine, where a dozen miners lost their lives in a 2006 explosion.

… and finally, Mrs. Linda McMahon, the pick for Small Business Administration, who is the former CEO of WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., and is the wife of promoter Vince McMahon.  Linda has an estimated $1.16 billion and donated $7 million earlier this year to a pro-Trump super PAC.

43,215,557

… on January 6th of this year, the USDA released it’s latest SNAP numbers which showed that 43,215,557 people received some form of government assistance to purchase food.  in order to qualify for food assistance, you must have an gross income of less than $26,000 a year for a family of 3.  so before they will even consider whether or not you can receive any assistance, a two-parent, one-child family can not make more than $2,166.67 per month, $500 per week, $12.50 per hour for a 40 hour work week for both adults combined.

… as we are talking about Gross income, so to figure out what Net income is you have to take out taxes.  for our purposes, let’s use this online calculator.  i currently reside in Virginia, so to qualify in my state, as a married father of 1 child making $26,000 per year, my take-home Net pay per week can be no more than $431.27 if i wish to even be considered for government food assistance.

  27

… in March of 2016, USA Today published an article called 27 giant profitable companies paid no taxesthis report shows that GM received a tax credit of $1,897,000,000 in 2015 even though they made >$7,718,000,000 in earnings over the same period.

… this list includes household names such as; United Continental $4.2 billion earnings, American Airlines $4.6 billion earnings, Hewlett-Packard $1.5 billion earnings, E*Trade $91 million earnings, Xerox $547 millions earnings, to name a few.

1,360,747

… in September of 2015 (the most current i could find), the government released a report that shows a reported 1,360,747 children in the public school system that are were “legally” homeless in this country in the 2013-2014 school year.

4

… according to Christianity Today, there will be 6 people of faith providing prayers for President-elect Trump’s inauguration.  in no particular order, they are;

Rabbi Marvin Hier is the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center which has net assets of $58,678,280 according to Charity Navigator.

… the owner and operator of the Impact Network is Bishop Wayne Jackson who reportedly lives in a 9.68-acre estate with 6-bedrooms, 10.5 bathrooms, 1 par-3 golf hole, 1 bowling alley, and 1 wine tasting room.  the not-for-profit Impact Network reported $1,590,000 in revenues but $2,600,000 in expenditures during 2014 after reporting $1,600,000 in revenues but $2,030,000 in expenditures during 2013 – for a net loss of $1,400,000 for just those two years alone.

… Televangelist Paula White who is on her 3rd marriage to Jonathan Cain, the keyboard player for the rock band Journey, who is on his 4th marriage, has an estimated net worth of $5,000,000.

… son of famed evangelist, Billy Graham who has an estimated net worth in excess of $25,000,000, the Reverend Franklin Graham was reported to have received annual compensation of $880,000 in August of 2015, is the President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, a not-for-profit corporation with $304,563,557 in net assets.

… New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan with an estimated net worth of $5,000,000, lives in a 15,000 square foot mansion on Madison Avenue in Manhattan valued at $30,000,000.

… and the Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez is the executive director of the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)  which the NHCLC website brags it is “”America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical organization.” CNN and Fox News named Rodriguez, “The leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and  NBC/Telemundo called him “America’s most influential Latino Evangelical leader

243,301,460

… according to a Gallup poll released in December of 2015, 75% of all 324,401,947 Americans identify themselves as “Christian.”

1

… the number of children who die every 4 seconds, 14 per minute, 21,000 per day, 7,600,000 every year …

… what are we doing?