Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Face of Poverty

Picture yourself a single or divorced mother. You are more likely to be white than black. You and your children live in rural poverty, on an army base, or in what is now politely known as the “inner city”.

You work outside the home, in a full or part-time job (sometimes two). Since you have no more than a high school diploma, you are limited to minimum wage, blue and pink collar jobs. Never mind that you grew up in poverty, yourself.

Childcare is an ongoing challenge, sometimes costing you jobs. When a child is sick, you miss work. Child support is little more than a fantasy.

Poverty and all it entails is a recognized cause of chronic health problems. You may already be suffering from depression or heart disease. Your children still have their dreams. They, also, have asthma.

There are government programs that should be of help to you. Welfare, Food Stamps, and others. These require that you set any remaining pride aside, and wait hours on a phone, a website, or a line. You do that gladly (and repeatedly), to no avail.

One agency takes the position you are another’s responsibility. A third unaccountably closes its file, sending you back to the beginning.

So on and so on. Bureaucratic errors and delays bring you to tears. You fear you may snap.

Your children have had little stability in their lives, apart from you. Unfortunately, you (and they) have more than once been evicted.

This is not the result of a cavalier attitude on your part toward finance.

To the contrary, you stretch your meager income as far as possible to meet expenses. Since there are never enough funds to go around, you pay bills in part, in alternate months, or allow them to go into collection. This applies to rent, as well.

Evicted and without savings, you sleep on a friend’s couch, effectively homeless. Your children may have to change schools again; may have lost their meager belongings to a lockout by the landlord.

Public housing is not an available alternative. The waiting list for subsidized housing in your state may be years long. Such housing is often dilapidated; the crime rate there, astronomical. Ceilings leak, toilets function only occasionally. Gunshots can be heard in the halls.

Younger children eat before older ones. You eat last, if there is any food remaining. More often than not, the refrigerator stands empty.

This is the face of poverty.  It is not the image any of us would choose for Thanksgiving. But it is the face of America as surely as that of Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam.  As we sit around our holiday tables, the rest of us would do well to remember that.

Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty…and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 44-45).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Christianity, Community, Justice, Poverty, Religion

A Bed in Hell

Rather than providing consolation, Scripture can feel like torture to abuse victims.  We hear promises of hope and protection as lies…or “proof” of our unworthiness.  After all, God’s promises were not kept in our case, were they? So it can seem to us.

Worse still, we may fear deep down that the fate “assigned” us was deliberately cruel because of our lack of worth.  This is torment, placing the blame for our pain squarely at God’s door.

But listen to verses 7-11 of Psalm 139:

“…Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me…”

This is what it means to be a child of God.  We are not spared suffering, but remain the focus of His care and attention at all times.

Our wounds grieve God. More than that, His hands and feet were pierced for our sakes.  We forget this when lost in our own sorrow.

Abuse victims have known the bed in hell.  For us, depression may be the form darkness takes. Yet in the throes of that illness, we are not forsaken.  God seeks us out despite our anger, despite our despair, despite even our atheism.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Acid Rain

The emotional scars from childhood sexual abuse can badly damage a woman’s view of herself.  But any woman’s self-esteem may be skewed by the world’s sometimes superficial values.

Poor self-esteem can be crippling. The negative feelings associated with childhood abuse often hold abuse victims back from becoming all they might.

Sadly, many of us castigate ourselves for problems and perceived “failings” that are actually scars of the molestation, or coping mechanisms we adopted as children to deal with the pain.  The constant self-criticism is like acid rain for the soul, corrosive and debilitating.

God does not evaluate human beings as we do. He looks at the heart, while the world tends to look only at the outer shell (1 Sam. 16: 7).

Scripture emphasizes Christ’s great love for us, and encourages us to combat these negative feelings whenever they arise.

“…[N]either death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Rom. 8: 38-39).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Help for Rahab

New York is the first state to establish a court system designed to assist sex workers in escaping prostitution.  Pilot courts have been in operation in Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau Counties for several years.

Eighteen states now provide services to children caught in the sex trade, rather than imposing prison sentences on them.  Reuters quotes Georgia State University law professor, Jonathan Todres, on this topic saying, “There’s a real urgency here. We need to recognize as a nation that these children are victims and survivors of violent crimes and abuse, and they should not be treated as criminals [1].”

New York’s specialized court system will link defendants with resources such as shelters, drug rehabilitation, medical treatment, education, and job training. Sex trafficking is already a crime in New York.

And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6: 25).

Some of you may remember the story of how Joshua conquered Jericho.  But before Joshua had the trumpets sound, he sent spies into the city.  Because they were shielded from discovery by the prostitute Rahab, she and her family were allowed to live when the city was taken.

That was not all.  As Matthew reports at chapter 1, verse 5, Rahab married into the line of David and what would become the lineage of the Messiah.

[1] “New York creates state-wide court system to help prostitutes,” Reuters 9/25/13, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/25/us-usa-newyork-prostitution-idUSBRE98O14520130925.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Justice, Law, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Slavery