22 December 2006

Four Star Soup Kitchen

I saw this really fun article in the New York Times:


It made me think about a few things. I don't know if any of you have read some of Mother Theresa's thoughts on caring for the poor, but this really made me think about it. She stresses that giving people your left overs isn't what we (as Christians) are called to do.

We are called to give them what we would have. If we have two coats, we are to give one away. We are not called to give them the one we don't want any more. Just like the way so many soup kitchens serve peanut butter and jelly. Don't get me wrong, I love PB&J, but most of the people running the soup kitchen aren't going to eat that for dinner. This creates a little problem - how far do we go with this? Mother Theresa never gave up her bed - she had a _very_ modest room with a bed and a desk - but for the most part, she lived the same as those she served.

What does it tell some one when we give them our left overs and rejects? This soup kitchen may use left overs - but there is nothing wrong with being frugal. It seems like there is something wrong when we are expecting others to live in a way that we would never.

I know I am saying something very radical, but I am only saying it because Jesus did... so don't get mad at me.

One last thought, that I got when I was listening to a program on poverty on my favorite radio program: Speaking of Faith. A man on the program who lives with and serves AIDs patients in D.C. talked about the difference between charity and justice. Charity is giving people thing on our terms - you can sleep here if you show up by 8pm and don't do drugs. Justice is the quest to change the social structures that keep some people up and others down - it would require us giving up our priveledge. There is nothing wrong with charity, but as it says in Isaiah 42: "I have called you for justice."

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