The Very Left* Reverend Brian Baker was one of the seven spiritual leaders that the Sac News & Review interviewed as part of publisher Jeff VonKaenel’s October 1, 2015, cover article “What would Jesus say about Poverty?” regarding homelessness, mental illness, folks living on the street, yadda, yadda.
|SNR 10/1/2015 cover|
Baker is well known in the homeless community, as a prominent figure advocating for justice and because of the contributions of his church, Trinity Cathedral; church members’ activities; and Trinity’s association with Safe Ground in providing sleep space for solo homeless adults two or three nights per month.
In the SN&R piece, a central thing that Baker says is this: “I don’t see my job as feeding the hungry. My job is to help convert people so that they feed the hungry. ‘Convert people’ [means] 'open their hearts.' The more-foundational thing is the preaching, the liturgy and the environment we create that opens people’s hearts to live more compassionately.”
My personal experience of being homeless for about four years had nothing to do with wanting others’ compassion. Now, obviously, I am only speaking for myself, here, but if the process at Trinity is to get congregants to be compassionate, maybe Baker should avert a lot of bother and buy each of them a cute kitten.
Now, of course, there are some homeless people who are distraught regarding their circumstance. And a subset of those who are distraught are eager to receive sympathy, often from whatever sources they can.
But, generally speaking, I think what homeless folk seek when there’s an “overnight” at Trinity Cathedral or another church is something starkly practical: food and space to sleep. For most, the last thing homeless folk need is for people who see them as the lowest of the low to be looking at them compassionately (i.e., sanctimoniously).
Since Baker is on the left side of the political spectrum – amongst us liberals – I think he should drop “Right” in his title and insert “Left.”