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Pastor Cole leaves Homeless World; returns to his church, wife and home

Pastor Rick Cole – the megachurch fellow who went out into Sacramento downtown Homeless World as a stunt to raise money and gain attention for himself and his church – has returned to his pastoral life as a fairly rich guy who sleeps in a bed with a roof over his head and, there, faces no danger of going hungry or needing ever again to sleep in an alleyway.

Local TV station KCRA reported on the Return of the Adventurer. Their report included some curious things.

Early Sunday morning, Pastor Cole hopped a light-rail train in downtown Sacramento and returned to his megachurch in Rosemont, just in time to give an extemporaneous talk about his experience in Homeless World to church members. To see and read the KCRA report, go here:
In the video at the KCRA website, we are told by reporter Tom DuHain, that Cole “now feels compassion for people he used to ignore.” To me, it seems mightily weird that Cole was unfamiliar with the last section of Matthew 25, in particular this stretch: “They also will answer,‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

But, to give Cole credit, there is A LOT of stuff in the Bible that deserves being ignored – from justifying slavery, beating children with rods and stoning women to death. I mean, heck, if he’s been ignoring a lot of stuff it’s mostly to the good. After all, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Exodus, for starters, should be ripped out of everybody’s Bibles (and, possibly be replaced with the Gospel of Thomas, my personal neglected favorite for some reason, and Sam Harris’s latest book, that spiritual lollapalooza: Waking Up). But, hey, I’m no Christer; what do I know? So far as I can tell, the Bible and Koran are nearly identical and each has caused and is causing a lot of mayhem in our mostly fragile world. I say Cole should fully dispense with his angels and all that Bible hoo-ha and get a real job, say as an auto mechanic.

We also learn from the KCRA report that “Cole went to the Union Gospel Mission, where he appreciated the meal but had to endure the ‘worst’ sermon he’d ever heard.”

I feel you, Pastor Cole. Too many of the sermons from the mission stink to high heaven. Among the very worst I’ve heard is one from Buddy Wallace of Epic College identifying Obama as the anti-Christ; one where the preacher’s whole sermon was to show that the sun orbits the earth rather than the other way ‘round; others come from the fiery Hector Marquez predicting End Times, or telling us seismologists are alarmed and had evidence that the earth was being rocked off its axis – a sure sign of End Times, or when he uses his sermon to speak up for Egypt dictator Hosni Mubarack. And, too, there was a very scientific-seeming sermon, meant to demonstrate that the Grand Canyon proves the Great Flood. And many others where the preacher regales against Darwin for his terrible personal qualities. [Actually, if anybody dips into a bit of history, we learn that Charles Darwin was an excellent fellow, whatever one might think of evolution.]

There is DEFINITELY weird preaching that happens at Union Gospel Mission, but I have to say that none of it comes from the mission’s in-house preachers.  And Bell Road (a group that comes to the mission that includes UGM staffers, a Board member and friends), you do a good job – except for when you’ve voiced skepticism of science. I mean, you drive over in your expensive, quiet, dependable Lexis cars from (in one case) a house bigger than a palace and you belittle science? Sheesh; learn how to be grateful. Science made those things.

Also, while we’re on the topic of other preachers, Brain Baker, dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, took a plunge, spending the night at Union Gospel Mission in 2011, thereabouts. I had asked Brian to do that; he is the only man, among many I've asked, who I have gotten to “see what it's like.” Nick Miller, SNR co-Editor-in-Chief refuses to go to the mission, much less spend a night; likewise, his publisher who has bragged of many one-time church visits in his SNR column, Greenlight, ignored my suggestion he come to hear a (random) UGM sermon, sometime.

As for Brian, he seemed to be much more shy 'outside Trinity' than I would have believed. He came to UGM, registered to get a bed and then sat out on one of the volcanic rocks out front of the chapel. A group came to feed people out on the street and I had Brian come with me to get some of what was being offered. Then, he met some of my friends: Alex and Matthew were a couple of them; but Brian didn’t sit with us in chapel, preferring to sit in a seat in the middle of the floor. The sermon that night was from Pastor Ed, a guy who was, perhaps, 85 years old and whose voice had become so very quiet he was barely audible. Ironically, Pastor Ed’s sermon was in opposition to homosexuality, a group that Trinity Cathedral was then intent on recruiting for membership to the church. At the time, Episcopalians were in the news for their great loss of church members, nationwide.

After "lights out" in the dorm, I didn't see Brian again. UPDATE: Brian wrote me and corrected some of what I first posted in this paragraph. He DID stay for breakfast; and talk with several of the homeless guys before returning to his normal life. He also wrote that he didn't want to "have a guide" while he was at the mission; thus, he intentionally was on his own.

128 days times $11 per day times 125 people
equals $176,000. Where does the remaining
$124,000 go from this dedicated fund drive?
Other curious things about Rick Cole's sojourn is that he spent a day without food; had a hard time getting sleep everywhere and that he managed not to get showers. There are showers for men at Loaves & Fishes every weekday morning. Weekday mornings and afternoons and evenings a man can get a shower at UGM. Food is widely available at the mission and Loaves, as well at many other places if you check the "street sheet" or Homeward Journal or ask a real-live homeless guy or call 211 -- I think the phone number is. Cole had sixty bucks in his pocket. There are places called coffee shops and convenience stores that will give you food in exchange for money. If Cole actually walked around instead of taking, say, taxi rides, he would have gotten drowsy; being wide-eyed would not have been an obstacle. Possibly, he drank too many lattes, thus caffeine kept him awake. A real-live homeless guy would have known not to do too much of that. Or, wouldn't have had the scratch for coffee, much less a fancy-schmancy sugar-and-cream-laced barely-perceptably-coffee-tasting fourth-cousin-of-coffee drink at overpriced 'Bucky's.

In his words when he got back to his church, Cole tells us he recognizes that his was just a short episode of seeing what homelessness is like; he wasn't stuck in that environment. But he certainly seems to have artificially made things more difficult for himself. I would contend he was playing a role; not having an experience. He limited how much he might have learned by having too much awareness of the stunt he was conducting. Also, of pictures I've seen of Cole, he's with celebrities [KJ! Kraintz!] and his compadres, not homeless folk. I mean, c'mon. Adam Sandler has given better performances.

On another matter, Rick Cole who is the Chairman of the Board of Sacramento Steps Forward, in addition to being King Cole at Capital Christian, is intent on raising a ton of money for Winter Sanctuary, so we're told. But there is some question as to what they need all of $300,000 for. They tell us it will cost $11 per person per night; Winter Sanctuary will last 128 days; and, I believe it is the case that they shelter 125 people per night.  You do the math. That is far short of $300,000.


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