Having Faith

by lizard

After God created the mountains and rivers and stars above and fossil fuels below, He created little girls like Dasani, an 11 year old homeless girl living in New York. Asked about this girl, who was featured in a compelling New York Times series, Mike Bloomberg offered this profound comment: “That’s just the way God works.

Lucky for Bloomberg, there is a Good Book that actually outlines how God works, and it says stuff like this:

1 John 3:17-18

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

I think this one may also be appropriate for Bloomberg:

Luke 11:39-42

Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God

Greed and wickedness brings to mind Harris Himes, the Hamilton Pastor who should be asking his Lord for forgiveness after his sentencing this week.

But that’s not how Harris Himes rolls. No, instead this despicable person is trying to use homeless people and Christmas as a shield:

On Friday, Himes continued his plea of innocence and claimed the jury had been forced to convict him based on faulty jury instructions.

Tucker accepted none of that.

“There wasn’t a conspiracy,” Tucker told Himes. “The jury made their determination. These folks did not even know you before the trial. This was not a vendetta to blacken your good name.”

Himes spoke at length during the four-hour sentencing hearing in an attempt to persuade the judge that he had been wrongly convicted and argue for a lenient sentence.

A number of character witnesses at the hearing, including several who had either spent time or were still living at his Big Sky Christian Shelter for the homeless spoke on Himes’ behalf.

Himes said that without his income, the shelter would close.

“Real people will be out on the street,” Himes said. “They won’t have a place to go, and it is cold and it’s Christmas.”

This is second hand information, but I’ve heard the Big Sky Christian Shelter takes money from those using their shelter services. That would not be altogether unusual, but taking that step has proven controversial. Bloomberg discovered that three year ago:

The Bloomberg administration has abandoned a controversial decision to charge rent to working homeless families living at city shelters, officials announced on Friday.

Instead, under a new agreement that could start in September, such families would be required to set aside a part of their monthly earnings in a savings account that they can have access to once they leave the shelter system.

Of course, two years later, Bloomberg was all like, Dude, maybe we should have analyzed what this class war was going to cost us:

The NYC Independent Budget Office estimates that Mayor Bloomberg has under-budgeted $76 million for shelters next year in the face of rising homelessness and the Mayor’s refusal to provide housing assistance for homeless families – on the same day that administration officials admitted at an oversight hearing that they never did their own analysis.

Now for the good news. Screw New York. The future is Utah:

Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015. How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000.

Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment. Other states are eager to emulate Utah’s results. Wyoming has seen its homeless population more than double in the past three years, and it only provides shelter for 26 percent of them, the lowest rate in the country. City officials in Casper, Wyoming, now plan to launch a pilot program using the methods of Utah’s Housing First program. There’s no telling how far the idea might go.

Yes, Utah, a state that is both solving homelessness and being forced to allow men to marry men and women to marry women if they so choose.

Apparently the consensus reaction is this: Utah?!?

Despite my sometimes overly bitter sarcasm, I am actually quite hopeful. This year I’ve met some amazing people from different faith communities, people who have helped me redefine my own concept of faith. I don’t say that lightly.

Who knows what the hell any of us can expect from 2014. Maybe we’ll keep boiling the frog, or maybe we’ll leave the spoon in the microwave.

  1. The STATE of Utah is not “allowing” gay men and women to marry whom they choose.

    A federal judge just threw out the prohibition against the state law, preventing such discrimination. His decision (like the one throwing out the prohibition against plural marriage – wow! All THREE Kardashians?) is subject to appeal.

    In Salt Lake City, the mayor performed the ceremony for a gay couple. In Provo (Utah County) on the other hand, the county clerk refused to issue a marriage license.

    So, don’t break out the rice and tin cans just yet. The LDC church, after all, has paid entirely for “one-man and one-woman” ballot initiatives in states as far away as Alaska.

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