Operation Saris for Grannies

So one day I will write what passes for a normal blog post around here again. But I am happy and I am content and I’m not entirely sure how to write when I am happy and content. But I’ll work it out eventually.

In the mean time, I wanted to ask your help with something. For a while now, I have had the good fortune to message via facebook with a Christian minister working in a section of southern India somewhere in the vicinity of Bangalore. He’s told me a bit about his ministry which involves outreach to the poorest of the poor. Which in India, is really poor. (That’s him above sharing a meal with some he caught lurking around one of his outdoor services.) But mostly we discussed spiritual and theological matters. He and I differ on some trifles here and there, but the good news he preaches as gospel is actually good news. Which is no small thing. Anyhow, yesterday, for the first time since I’ve known him, my friend asked me for some help.

You see, the picture below is from one of his services in a very remote village where most people basically live off the land and in make-shift shelters, if even that. He says that they don’t even have the standing required to qualify for help from the government or to engage in normal trade and work activities with other communities. These are the poorest of the poor in this world.

11080320_639158589548435_2610841887315575710_oIf you look closely at the picture (or others from this day), you will notice that there are no old women present. This is because many of the old women living in this area have no clothing. While my friend went out into the brush to talk with them, they will not attend his services and cannot participate in normal community life because they live naked. My friend asked if I might be able to send clothing for him to give them. I suggested that it might be better to just send him money to buy clothing locally. He said that $65 US dollars would allow him to buy clothing for 30 women. And I said that while I happen to have exactly $19 to my name just now, I was pretty sure that I could arrange to get him $65.

So, I am now asking you, my intrepid reader, if you would help me gather $65 to clothe some naked grannies. There are a fair number of us, so I’m thinking there’s someone who is able to help with this. (If you can’t – that’s fine. Perhaps God decided to trust someone else with the resources to help this time. Nothing wrong with that. πŸ˜‰ )

The link below will take you to a donation page for Operation Saris for Grannies. I will send on whatever donations I have collected by Thursday July 30th at 5 pm. If you’d like your donation returned if the $65 has already been raised, just put that in the note section and I will make sure that happens. Otherwise, if more is raised than my friend has asked for, I will send it on to my friend. He’s a good man doing good work. He’s never asked me for anything before. So . . . did God entrust you with the resources (or a portion of the resources) needed to provide these women with clothing?

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What Liberals Don’t Get

Tonight I was listening to This American Life on NPR. The story I was listening to was about 2 middle class guys who became homeless in New York City and lived in the streets for a couple of years while becoming writers. While being asked about what it was like to be homeless, the men noted that there is no such thing as a hungry homeless person. This is because there are soup kitchens all over the city. Then they said something which I’ll just paraphrase:

“There are all these churches that run soup kitchens and they work hard to make good meals for people. Good meals. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Salmon, fresh whitefish, good meat. The federal food programs suck. The food is terrible, not fresh, poorly made and you get such small portions. But you go to the church soup kitchens and they’ve put a lot of effort into giving people a nice meal. And the way they treat you, the way they talk to you is totally different. They treat you like a real person. Not like the federal places. If it weren’t for the churches, homeless people would be starving to death all over the city.”

Now mind you, these are not fancy pants religious guys. The one guy had just finished complaining that being homeless had forced him to be celibate and he wasn’t cool with that. But the reality is that we fund federal programs meant to help the poor and more often than not they are wasteful, ineffective, inadequate and dehumanizing. It is Christians, churches and religious organizations who fill in the gaps. And they usually do it in a way that works.

If federal soup kitchens went away, the practical effect would probably be minimal. However, I guarantee that if Republicans tried to do away with funding for federally run soup kitchens, liberals would be in high dungeon about their heartlessness. They would insist that we would see people starving on the streets. Insist that the work of churches was inadequate and complain of supposed proselytizing. Blah, blah, blah.

While there are certainly heartless conservatives out there, as a general rule, conservatives and religious folk don’t oppose government spending on social programs because they don’t care about the needy. They oppose them because they know they are wasteful, inefficient and dehumanizing. They know that calling for the government to fund social programs isn’t the same as actually working to make sure people’s needs are met. They know that small, local organizations will be able to run rings around any federal program everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

In Christian parlance, we’ve given to Caesar what belongs to God when we expect the government to show love, compassion and charity to the most needy. And that’s what liberals too often don’t get.