Sunday, May 17, 2015

Do churches really serve the poor?

“Do churches fail the poor?”  That’s a Sunday morning op-ed by Ross Douthat in the New York Times Sunday Review, p. A 11, link here. There’s a related op-ed by Peter Manseau, that lack of formal religious affiliation doesn’t mean lack of faith (p. 4).
Yesterday, I did volunteer at the monthly Community Assistance at a local church (similar to March 21).  I didn’t do a lot; I sat at a clothing room entryway and handed out the plastic bags (hope they don’t wind up on the Anacostia).  The number of people making the trip was lower this time, because the allowance was lower, given some budget issues. 

As the pastor admits, this monthly "organized chaos" is controversial in the neighborhood with some people.
It actually takes a lot to “be in the loop” as a regular volunteer anyway.  Hit-or-miss isn’t all that effective, and I have my own projects.  There’s setup, there’s paperwork, there’s administration, there’s manual labor and lifting, and there’s an interpersonal aspect.

Really, how should one interact, if at all, with a street panhandler with his or her repeated chant? We do have a culture that drops a lot of people on the floor.

The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance now supports the Arlington Food Assistance Center with volunteers. There is a tendency for many needing food to be obese, so it seems as though the quality of food matters (like community gardens would help). 
The book “The Great Divide”, by Canadian William R. Gairdner, reviewed on my books blog Friday, seems relevant. 

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