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The latest news and perspective from the Director of Urban Homeworks
I'm writing this the day after the first Sunday of Lent. The 'reading' for the first Sunday of Lent in the liturgical calendar is the temptation narrative—where we see "the confuser" engaging Jesus in the wilderness on his 40 day vision-quest. There's a gritty, feral, radical (meaning "to the root") phenomena that must kinda naturally take place when out in the bush for that long with nothing to eat... I bet it does get one 'to the root.'
This narrative encourages a time of reflection and deep self-examination for me. As I reflect on some of the quotes from Adam Smith, the 'father of modern economics' or 'father of capitalism,' and consider the 'root' of some of our current philosophical and economic underpinnings, I’m surprised by how seemingly far we've come from his ideology (and I confess I need to READ Smith, I'm only 53 pages in and scratched around the edges on this... hmmm... maybe a good goal over this season: read Smith and Jesus, you in?).
As I read the words of Smith next to the words of Jesus, their philosophies seem to deeply rhyme. I can’t help but think about the 'root' of our socio-economic and spiritual issues and wonder what would happen if we spent as much time talking about where our wealth is as we do talking about poverty. In fact, what if we started talking about the social-location of our wealth a whole lot more, just to catch up? Would it not inspire us to engage across the spectrum and build upon, ideate, innovate, and create some economic 'holy mischief' with wealth that results in the realization of "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth... as it is in heaven?"
At Urban Homeworks, we’ve had the honor of seeing this "Holy mischief" manifest in private, conscientiously funded loan pools, communities of faith investing excess cash/capital, and businesses tying a giving program to their performance/transactions/metrics; we’re exploring a "Holy mischief" that adds dimensions to "Wall Street" definitions of 'risk' and 'return' that our faith demands and requires us to add and practice; and we work to live out a "Holy mischief" that accentuates, punctuates, and illuminates the gritty, feral, radical alternative that this 'Way' of Jesus the Nazarene leads us into living.
We are inspired by the Holy mischief being stirred by co-conspirators that think deeply about poverty AND wealth (you can read more about how they’re doing it by clicking here).
Reading Smith & Jesus: Lent 2014. Whaddya say? (I’d better get crack'n, that's one ginormous book!)
*I’m borrowing the term “Holy Mischief” from Geez Magazine: Holy Mischief in an Age of Fast Faith.
It’s all upside down… The first shall be last, the last first. The greatest the least, the least the greatest. The mighty brought low, the lowly raised up. In solidarity with pain, salvation is palpable. Proximity paints the promise. These are the seeds of a “theology of hope” germinating and emerging out of the soils and souls of the streets that both points toward the promise while reaching to appease our pain.
There’s despair in every disparity. Disparity is the fruit of distance. Distance smudges sight, allows for otherness. Here is a perspective on a disparity from proximity: 294 families are on our waiting list, 9,193 on Section 8’s. Distance allows these to be dismissible digits. Proximity potently personalizes every face of every friend on those lists.
In the face of a disparate demand is an insidious supply. Herein lies hope. At least 1,348 reasons for hope…the number of MORE vacant homes in our neighborhoods than in the rest of our two cities. That’s 1,348 MORE chances for us to bridge the disparity, benefit our businesses, bring our children home, and be turned upside down.
This is the evidence of the hope of Jesus that we are perpetrators of. Thank you for being co-conspirators of this potent, penetrating, and compelling hope.
On Thursday morning we lost five of our children. Five beautiful, energetic, magnetic, brilliant young pieces of us perished. Please pray… and pray by clicking here and engaging yourself and your resources in solidarity with our neighbor and yours. May God console and comfort the Lewis family and may the hands and feet of every reader be the tools in God’s hands to do it.
Cold. Bitter cold. The little thermometer on my phone says it's -14. Not good weather to be driving a diesel... but I digress.
As the temperature drops, there is a compounding, spiritually chilling dimension to the cold for me. I can't shake how desperate and hopeless and confused I'd be sleeping outside or ill-housed while warm cars are zooming by and the glow of warmth radiates from the windows of people's homes... yet the chill of death is shivering my bones.
- As Pope Francis passed a woman and her screaming infant, he pleaded, “’Please give it something to eat!’ She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, so he validated her tension and declared the new public priority. I wish to echo him by saying the same to humanity: give people something to eat!”
- John the Baptist “If you have two coats, give one to him/her who has none.
- Isaiah “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.”
- State of Utah Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker.
From the roots of our faith to the best practices around us… we know what to do to warm the chill. WE need you to walk shoulder to shoulder with us as we get it done. Till the last child is fed and every soul sheltered.
Learn more about what you can do (link to donate page).
I put Sam on the bus for his first day of school;
I peeked in the door and felt like a fool;
As I entrusted the driver whom I never knew;
And realized deeply… Mr. Driver, I need you…
Sam arrived at school that day ready to go;
The teacher at the door was managing the flow;
Each one welcomed, and then right through;
I realized deeply, Ms. Door Person, I need you…
He strutted to his locker at the 1st grade;
A new friend in the hall before class he made;
Where did this kid come from… his parents are who?
And I realized deeply, Kid’s parents… I need you…
With a book from a shelf near the window ledge,
Sammy sat at his desk and his attention did pledge;
All day long, with a man I barely even knew;
And I became keenly aware… Mr. F… I need you…
When the parents gathered later at the school;
As adults to connect and our knowledge to pool;
The school understood the need to teach and encourage parents too;
Together I realized, fellow parents, I need you…
All our kids ready for college is the Promise we make;
No child will we allow those damn prisons to take;
Whatever it Takes, is what we must do;
And then it dawned on me, which may stink for you… but, you need me too.
We need each other. Thank you for walking alongside UHW.
Want to hear more? Follow this link to watch Chad speak more about using the power of relationships to create opportunities for our kids to thrive (Perpetuate the Hope Luncheon, 2013).
This morning I asked our corner coffee shop owner, “What’s the word, Sammy?” He paused, then responded, “I don’t think I have one…do you?”
Having just come from a meeting where I’d had the opportunity to share how our mission strives to perpetuate the hope of Jesus Christ, the idea that this “hope of Jesus” we aspire to “perpetuate” is measured by how it disproportionately benefits the children around us had just been reinforced in my mind.
“What’s good for our kids is good for everyone”, summarizes my favorite community development and mission theories. Jesus agrees; his mission was fundamentally grounded in our ability to ‘hear’ the quiet voices, ‘see’ our own blind spots, and to begin the all-encompassing, self-redefining work to bridge gulfs and tear down the walls.
Research shows that 24.6% of my north Minneapolis neighbors (584 households) have been in the neighborhood for less than 1 year, 5% higher than our neighbors in Northeast Minneapolis (for example). 14.1% of our housing is vacant (compared to 8.3% citywide, 676 homes) in the face of a growing, insidious waiting list for attainable homes to rent or buy. Disparities existing in household income, employment, academic attainment, and more, are disproportionally impacting those among us who have the quietest voice: children and the elderly.
2012 was a year of forging nimble solutions on behalf of our children to reweave our relationships by using the redemption of the real estate in our community as platforms to enhance social and economic capital thereby increasing longevity and livability.
I think the “word” is volume. We need your help to adjust attention, listen more acutely, manage the deafening noise, coalesce the messages, create powerful solutions, and courageously turn up the “volume” of the whispers in our ear.
Thank you. Thank you for responding in 2012 and for what might emerge on the horizon in 2013 and beyond!