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Weirdness on "Robert and Gerald" night

While the great majority of homeless people are fully able to formulate their own conclusions about how the world works, what they want in life and what to believe, some of the guys out here are less in command of “how the world works” and can be vulnerable to being manipulated or being taken advantage of in various ways. And, they can fall under sway of political-indoctrination efforts at Loaves & Fishes or be influenced by preachers too easily.

I worry more than a little about the easily-influenced guys, left to slosh around in hardscrabble Homeless World, with all the nuttiness they have to evaluate. Most worrisome, of course, is the communist-indoctrination effort by Loaves & Fishes and its associated “politically to the Left of Neptune” charities. But, also, there is single-instance weirdness by an occasional mission preacher.

By no means, by “mission weirdness” am I referring to issues like creationism/evolution, genesis/The Big Bang, or did/did not humans at any time share the planet with dinosaurs. These spaces where Big Science and belief may bump heads are, I think, of no great importance. One day, we’ll all get to heaven (or not) and likely the red line where truth ends and falsehood begins will be shown to us … with no penalty assessments if we are wrongheaded in our thinking on borderline-doctrinaire matters while on this earthy earth. [Of course, I’m expecting that Big Science triumphs here and that it is explained by our celestial betters, after our death, that everything in the Bible, while God-inspired (or the product of archetypal myth) is true, but is written from the perspective, or knowledge base, of men several millennia ago who had no science knowledge.]

Worrisome preaching in the past has included nuttiness coming from a college professor who insisted that President Obama is the anti-Christ, and that China is taking over America [See “Preacher tells us Obama is a forebearer of End Times” and “Obama is the Antichrist, Part II”] and from a preacher a year earlier who insisted that it was the sun that circled the earth, and not vise versa. {See “The Earth Does Not Orbit the Sun [Oh, yeah!?]”}

New worrisome preaching came Monday when the mission congregation was told that ill people should forgo aid from physicians and instead appeal to Jesus for help with their ailments. Make no mistake, I am not suggesting that people should not appeal to God or Jesus in light of physical ailments. Indeed, Christians should seek God/Jesus’ intervention in such a circumstance. What I find mightily worrisome is a chapel message that tells a homeless congregation that they should appeal to God/Jesus instead of visiting a doctor if they are ailing -- which was the message Monday night.

The success of healthy lifestyles in the modern age is well established. Buttressed by visits to physicians in intervals and to hospitals during emergencies, a person, today, can expect to live well into old age. In the Middle Ages, people could expect a life span of 35 years, on average.*  The great difference between then and now is due to knowledge that has amassed on how to prepare food, avoid injuries and intercede in case of illness. Modern medicine works; the data proves it to be so. Everyone should go, or be taken to, a doctor when it is necessary. Avoidance in seeking the aid of doctors when it is necessary is stupid. Telling people not to seek the aid of doctors is criminally stupid.

It may be that doctors act as agents of God in bettering our lives, I don’t know. But a message that Jesus can do it all via prayer has been shown not to work.  Our actions to get up and help ourself is mandatory.  Prayer is no more guaranteed to cure an infection than grow American currency on a fruit tree, unless we take actions which could indeed serve a function in being a part of the prayer cure..

At the end of the his message Monday night, Preacher Robert alluded to Luke 8, 41-56: where Jairus appealed to Christ to save his dying 12-year-old daughter and where a woman touched Jesus’ hem who had “an issue of blood” for twelve years without there being any success from treatment by physicians.

Robert used this text from Luke 8 to buttress an argument he then made that Jesus can save us, while physicians cannot.

My retort: Physicians of today know what they are doing. “Physicians” two thousand years ago were, basically, witch doctors who didn’t have a clue.

In the year 30, in light of ailments as serious as those of the 12-year-old and the bleeding woman, ONLY appeals to God can have helped. Today, it would be negligent to the extreme not to seek physicians’ aid.

What the congregants can come to believe.

In my post about the preacher who misinformed the congregation about the orbits of the sun and earth, I wrote this:
Troubling to me [and my friend James] was that conversation at dinner after the sermon informed us that many of our dorm brothers bought the crappola nonsense the preacher spewed that evening. One man said the preacher must surely be a college professor who made "fifteen or twenty dollars an hour." Others were impressed by the preacher's verbosity and command of 'facts.'

The men at dinner did not agree with my assessment that the preacher was an idiot. "He has a job and a family; that's more than you can say," said a man seated across from me. Yep, but he's still an idiot.
Troubling to me, today, is the likelihood that many of my brethren in the seats Monday night buy the crappola nonsense that Robert preached. Unhappily, Robert’s pure crap is dangerous pure crap that can result in extended suffering and even death for homeless people and their children.

Homeless people DON’T HAVE MONEY and can be very reluctant already to seek the aid of doctors when they or their children are sick. Everything should be done TO ENCOURAGE homeless people to seek doctors’ aid, NOT discourage it, or – as Robert preached – avoid doctors’ aid in all instances.

----

Footnote
* A simple comparison of life spans, juxtaposing the present time to past eras, is difficult to achieve.  While there are records and valid research, cultures were wildly different in the distant past as compared to today.  As many as half of infants and toddlers would die before the age of four in the period before the Nineteenth Century  -- due to diseases we, nowadays, consider minor; starvation; and a right parents had to kill their children in many cultures.  In Ages past, violence in the community was much more frequent.  Anything resembling a police force or an effort to capture murderers was rare. General problems with availability of food -- or healthy, clean food -- also foreshortened lifespans.  All this is in addition to the unavailability of anything approaching the sophisticated medical care we have today.

Comments

Wow! Well your blog and this latest article is an eye opener for me! I am new on the streets... a representative of two business adding outreach to my job duties. I am beginning to learn the ropes and get to know the people. Right now, our outreach is concerned first with meeting needs in the moment and then next we want to move on to provide "something" more meaningful in terms of help. I am looking for information. Can you help? Contact me at zelmar 1027 at gmail.com. Thanks for the thoughtful blog!
Steve said…
It is alarming to read about people who wield more than their fair share of influence over the vulnerable spreading such potentially harmful nonsense. I hope this so-called "man of the cloth" will not be invited back.

I do have one question though. You have posted many comments decrying the communist leanings of a number of organizations ostensibly aimed at helping the homeless. But even though you and I may both believe that communism, at least as it's been practiced or is ever likely to be practiced on a widespread scale, is not nearly all it's cracked up to be, I wonder what harm you see these organizations causing by their communist proselytizing.

I can certainly see the harm in telling people to pray to Jesus in lieu of seeing a doctor when they're seriously ill, but I don't see comparable danger in advocating communism to homeless people who may not be as critical as they should be in receiving the message. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this matter.
A good number of homeless people are very suggestible.

Before SafeGround began to get off the ground, and I attended my first political-indoctrination meeting, a friend (who's back in jail, currently) told me of his belief in guaranteed jobs for all, a cessation of advancements in technology, and public ownership of means of production.

A problem with this is that homeless people are given this spiel without knowing it's communism and as if it is the popular position on how they can be helped. The meetings are/were in a room with the seats in a circle to dissuade people from leaving, and -- at the meetings I attended, the people there were persuaded that they were 'leaders.'

The biggest area of problem is that homeless people are persuaded that they are VICTIMS being denied universal rights and that they are to see others as their enemy. Indeed, this is the heart of SafeGround politics: vilify dissenters; "don't give an inch because you are on the side of 'right'"; and undergirding it all is "revolution." There is always the secret Bigger Theme -- the SafeGround Movement -- articulated by the Revolutionaries for a New America.

This is in contrast to seeing possibility of error in oneself or taking responsibility for mistakes a person has made in his life. This is in contrast to making an effort to understand the thinking and reality of "the other side."

And, of course, this is in conflict with the lessons of history: Communism doesn't function. It's been tried a couple dozen times and the results are the same. The incentives of society are backward. Freedom is lost. Confusion and paranoia set in. The government quickly becomes totalitarian and Orwellian. And misery prevails.

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