Michael Row The Boat Ashore

Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah…

Jordan’s river is chilly and cold, hallelujah
Chills the body but not the soul, hallelujah…

The river is deep and the river is wide, hallelujah
Milk and honey on the other side, hallelujah…

–lyrics from Michael Row the Boat Ashore

Originally a negro spiritual, the uplifting song was popularized in the early 60’s by groups such as The Highwaymen, Peter Paul & Mary, and Johnny Rivers. Former slaves sung this song on their way to freedom. Over the years, the lyrics changed and were used in different venues, such as the civil rights movement. The River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, is a metaphor for deliverance and salvation, a trip to the promised land, and the journey to heaven, like John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the allegory of the soul.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Row_the_Boat_Ashore

Life is not a dream (sha-boom sha-boom). It’s not always sunshine lollipops and…rainbows every time you are near the one you love. But life has value, and if you are on the right path, you will find meaning and true peace.

Hardships and trials happen for a reason. For the Christian, the journey across the Jordan leads to hope, to a land of milk and honey.

In the book of Peter, the apostle writes to encourage God’s people during a time when Christians are being fed to lions for sport, made human torches, and generally treated horribly. It was about the time when Rome burned while Nero fiddled. Peter passed on God’s message to look at the big picture, the Kingdom of God, and not get caught up in the things of this world.

About two years ago, after having lived in a house for about 20 years, I lost my job and then my house. I barely had one penny to rub against the other. I got in with some homeless people I met at the public library in Levittown, PA. They told me about community meals and a free bus to get there. I didn’t have my car.  I was running low on food, and didn’t have enough food from a local food bank to sustain me. The Lord provided.

In time, I lost my house. The day after I had to be out of the house, I got temporary housing with a family. But soon I was living in my car with a friend.

I now have a roof over my head.

Through this experience, I learned what was really important in life. After awhile, things I took for granted were gone. Having lost my job, my house, my dog and having suffered other problems, I was a wreck!

People and circumstances came that helped me to get better mentally and spiritually. I grew closer to God and continue to grow, although like characters in The Pilgrim’s Progress, I sometimes lose my way.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilgrim%27s_Progress

The Bucks County establishment, which is hung up on personal peace (an artificial peace) and prosperity can learn from such an experience. It’s been said that hobophobia, the irrational fear and disdain of the homeless, can be cured by taking a dose of homelessness, experiencing what homeless people go through. Maybe this way people will learn to do unto others as they would have them do unto them.

The homeless themselves should realize that their brothers and sisters are going through the same thing they are, like the characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and should help and encourage one another.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grapes_of_Wrath

Instead, some of the homeless and needy in lower Bucks County act like the rabid, jealous, greedy characters in Frank Norris’ McTeague. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McTeague

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” -James 4: 1-3

A Ball of Confusion

“Fear in the air, tension ev’rywhere
Unemployment rising fast, the Beatle’s new record’s a gas,
and the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation,
and the band played on…

Round and round and around we go, where the world’s headed nobody knows.
Great googa mooga, can’t you hear me talkin’ to you, just a
Ball of Confusion that’s what the world is today
Let me hear you, let me hear you, let me hear you
Ball Of Confusion that’s what the world is today”

-lyrics from The Temptations’ Ball of Confusion (That’s what the world is today)

Indeed, the world today is a ball of confusion. The community meals for the homeless and needy in lower Bucks County PA are a microcosm of today’s dysfunctional world. I was confused at a recent community meal when, as I was sitting at a table eating, a crazed woman in a wheelchair, who was sitting at the next table over, a little distance away from me, with my back to her, started screaming obscenities and rolled down towards me and accused me of talking about her, screaming, again, “Mother F****er… if you have something to say to me say it to my face.” As I started turning my head away from this maniac, she suddenly kicked out, almost falling out of the wheelchair, and kicked me, just barely connecting.

Not very long before Ma Barker disrupted a meal, T Rex, who has appeared in Jurassic Park movies, had found his way into a community meal, again, terrorizing people trying to eat their meal in peace.

There have been other examples of uncivilized, savage behavior by dysfunctional people at these events.

For awhile, there was a Pax Romana at the meals, no drama.

The community meals is an institution that many homeless and needy treasure. It’s a place where friends get together to edify one another, talk about their faith and other things, just about anything except of sealing wax, cabbages and kings or why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.

At many of the meals, the hosts interact with the guests and build relationships with them. They accept them unconditionally and are available to address their concerns. This is something that is really needed today, especially in Bucks County.

When there is drama, it reflects badly on the homeless and needy community. A woman who started coming to the meals a few months ago said she was warned about the homeless people – to not even look at them for fear you may be attacked. After I talked with her and she went regularly to the meals, her fears were allayed. When guests at the meal act up, it reflects on everybody who goes to the meal, contributing to stereotypes, which by the way, are not tax deductible.

The consensus of the Bucks County establishment is that homeless people are mentally disturbed. Just as the greater lower Bucks Community wouldn’t see the outlandish act as being done by particular individuals but by the homeless, it wouldn’t tell the difference between the homeless and those with a dwelling but needy. There are individuals from both groups who cause problems at the community meals.

Again, it is a few dysfunctional people who reflect poorly on the whole group.

“As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”

-Ecclesiastes 10:1

Although there is no evidence that all homeless people have severe mental problems, the Bucks County Mental Health Hustlers see the homeless community as guaranteed customers, and will get them in a taxpayer funded program by hook or by crook.

Now that Pennsylvania Governor “Big Bad” Wolf is getting funds to distribute through his “Center of Excellence”, I’m sure before long the mental health hustlers will be out in full force.

Here are a two hits by the They’re Coming to Take Me Away! Band:

Upcoming Funding Time (parody of Fats Domino’s Finger Popping Time)

It’s upcoming

Funding Time

It’s upcoming

Funding Ty-ime

I feel so good

I’m on the public dime

Hey now Hey now Hey now Hey now

They lost Alan but here come Keith

Here comes Chris and he’s talking sweet

But Alan’s still with the county

And helps get the bounty

It’s upcoming

Funding Time

It’s upcoming

Funding Ty-ime

I feel so good

I’m on the public dime

Hey now Hey now Hey now Hey now…

 

Don’t Think Freely (parody of Buck Owen’s Act Naturally)

Well, they’re going to put me in the nuthouse

They want to make a monkey out of me

Well, they’re going to put me in the nuthouse

And all they have to do

Is round up me

 

Well, they are going have to chase me real far

They’re going to hunt me and they can’t really tell

If I really need to be in the nuthouse

They expect me to play the part for them real well

 

I hope you’ll come and see me in the nuthouse

Maybe you can slip me a file in some cake

I hope you’ll come and see me in the nuthouse

Where I’m all doped up and can’t think freely

 

They want to put me in the nuthouse

That’s because they don’t think I am OK

Well the only reason that I’m in the nuthouse

Is that I’m homeless in Bucks County PA

 

Well, they are going have to chase me real far

They’re going to hunt me and they can’t really tell

If I really need to be in the nuthouse

They expect me to play the part for them real well

 

I’ll be a homeless collection in the nuthouse

From the state they want to collect their precious bounty

I’ll be a monkey caged there in the nuthouse

Where I’m all doped up and can’t think freely

 

Well the only reason that I’m in the nuthouse

Is that  I’m homeless in Bucks County PA

The only reason that I’m in the nuthouse

Is  that I’m homeless in Bucks County PA

 

Dupe-dupe a looney Dupe-dup a looney Dupe-dupe a looney…

They’re coming to take me away ah-hah he-he ah-hah ah-hah he-he ah-hah he-he…

The Center of Excellence?

The battle against the drug abuse epidemic in Pennsylvania may be over now that “Big Bad” PA Governor Wolf  has brought out his Center of Excellence, his Knights of the Round Table, known as the Family Service Association of Bucks County. Parents can now relax, knowing that Big Brother Bucks will have the bucks so the Wolf will blow the drug lords’ houses down. Big Daddy (drug) War Bucks is on the job!

http://levittownnow.com/2016/10/01/gov-tom-wolf-visits-levittown-area-center-in-trenches-of-opioid-epidemic/

I ridicule the way problems such as drug abuse are handled, but, like the authorities, I realize the seriousness of the problem.

The Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter, in Levittown, is not exactly an “emergency” shelter. It’s more!  Thanks to the inordinate number of recovery houses in lower Bucks County, people needing shelter have more than a month to wait to get in. The shelter gets many return customers. In fact, it has become a revolving door for drunks and druggies. It’s run by the Family Service Association, so they have experience in the drug rehab business.

Dumping money on a problem, a favorite of liberals such as Big Bad Wolf, does not necessarily solve the problem. Take education. Teachers unions whine for more and more money for public schools. Tons of money has been dumped, but overall, public schools are not offering kids the best opportunities. School choice gives parents the choice to give their kids the best bang for their bucks.

Likewise, broken people who have drug or other problems should have a choice to find what works best. In an earlier blog, I related that I ran away from an opportunity to become a drug abuse counselor at a methadone clinic where I worked part time. By the way, a counselor at a clinic where I visited a friend said that methadone detox doesn’t work well to solve a drug problem. “You are treating opiates with opiates,” she said.

Not all treatment centers agree on treatment. But in places such as Bucks County, PA, we have monopolies, state sponsored institutions that prey upon the disenfranchised, particularly the homeless. August institutions, endorsed by Big Bad Wolf, such as the Family Service Association of Bucks County become the Talisman to solve problems. Are they doing such a good job that we should invest more taxpayer money in them?

The counseling job was not for me. One reason was that the material the counselor went over with me not only didn’t subscribe to a cardinal principle in the 12 Steps Program, it mocked it – the idea of human failing:  “Step One- We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our separation from GOD-that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Rom. 7:18)”

When I attended my 40th high school reunion, I learned that many of my former classmates and neighbors had died from drug overdoses. Many of them went to the clinic where I had worked.

Likewise, in the nearly 2 ½ years I’ve hung around the homeless and needy in lower Bucks County, PA, I’ve found that the vast majority, if not all, of homeless people with problems as well as alleged problems who were treated at Penndel Mental Health Center not only didn’t get better; they got worse! I went there for anxiety, and thanks in large part to all the Paxil I was prescribed, I got worse.

Treating problems with people’s thinking at a treatment center with a psychotropic drug, defined on medicinenet.com as “any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior” is no different than doing this on the street. In this instance, I see no difference between the lab coat and the trench coat. Maybe this is why the headline reads that Wolf is in the trenches of the opioid epidemic.

By contrast, the 12 Steps program has worked, historically. Faith based programs have historically worked better than secular psychology. One example is a business executive who underwent treatment for alcohol abuse with Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and went back to the bottle shortly after a year long treatment. Dr. Jung told the drunk he was hopeless and that his only hope “might be a spiritual conversion with a religious group.” He took the doctor’s advice and through this conversion, the Lord helped him overcome his problem.

In 1949, 93 percent of alcohol treatment centers us Alcoholics Anonymous (where the 12 Steps originated) principles and AA received 31 percent of its members from AA referrals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous

I would recommend getting treatment for drug abuse or other problems that uses the principles found in the 12 Steps program. Churches have been stepping up to the plate to help people with problems, which is part of their mission. This past Saturday, I again noticed a display on the wall that illustrated the 12 Steps program as I was heading towards the chow line at a community meal at a church in Bristol, PA. These community meals not only offer food for the body but food for the soul for the homeless and needy.

Some programs combine healing for different problems people  have, whether it be drug, alcohol, anxiety, depression, anger, etc. Celebrate Recovery does this: http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2

Run Away! Run Away!

Run away! Run  away! This is what the Knights of The Round Table said in the movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail when the guardians of a French castle in England hurled cows, chickens, geese and even the Trojan Rabbit the knights forgot to get into over the wall at them. This was after the French insulted the knights after they demanded the French help them with their quest to find the Holy Grail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS_JBDRk8o0

Likewise, after the Salvation Army Levittown PA Community Center hurled its slings and arrows at me, I ran away. It was not only an insult to me, but to the church at large (although it is a quasi-church).  The Salvation Army scoffed at noble attempts to minister to the homeless, spewing insults at them, demeaning and disrespecting them.

At the community meals for the homeless, the host, Queen Latifah, talked to them like they were criminals or children. They are not allowed in until the dot of 6 p.m. and the Salvation Army can’t wait to get rid of them. Queen Latifah told me not to hang around the homeless because they are a bunch of cutthroats who would take advantage of me.

On one occasion, a guy who had been homeless for a few days came to the Salvation Army food pantry. He was disoriented and flushed. He didn’t know where to go. It was very hot outside. After we helped him, I offered him a ride to the Levittown public library after I went off duty. As he sat waiting for me in the air conditioned lobby, cooling off, a staff member snapped that he is not allowed to hang around in the lobby. I explained that I was going to take him to the library, where he can get the homeless bus to a community meal and talk to someone about getting help. The staffer reluctantly agreed to let him wait for me.

The Levittown public library is also a place where a homeless person is considered a persona non grata. The Countess of Carlisle of the Levittown Salvation Army Community Center told me that people who visit the library don’t like the homeless, so the librarian has a right to keep them out by making them feel uncomfortable there. Because I disagreed with the Countess on this matter, she used her position to thwart an offer I had to write for the Salvation Army.

There have always been churches that forget that they are representing God and need to follow his ways. As it says in 2nd Corinthians 5:20: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

On his tour of the early churches, the apostle Paul and company found the church at Corinth to be a rogue church. They started becoming like the pagan world around them. Teachers in this church were not teaching scripture, but their own distorted versions of Christ’s teachings. Before long, sinful behavior cropped up.

Just as Captain Casper Milquetoast, the Levittown Salvation Army boss didn’t lay down the law to the rogue members at the community center, the church at Corinth didn’t do anything about the ungodly behavior of some of its members.

Not only did people in the church know about the sins of professing Christians in the Corinthian church who refused to mend their ways, but those outside the church knew about the hypocrisy. As a result, God told the rest of the church to separate themselves from these hypocrites. .

This is why I disassociated myself with the Salvation Army. It was “hit the road Jack, and don’t you come back no more no more no more no more…”

The church today is divided between loyalty to scripture and contamination by the world.

About 1929, the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey, once a scripturally sound institution, polluted it’s teachings with worldly modernists influences.

Shortly thereafter, four facility members ran away from Princeton and formed Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. http://www.wts.edu/about/history.html

On definition of Modernism Merriam-Webster gives: often capitalized: a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements.”

In literature, modernism breaks with tradition and ushers in a Brave New World.

Modernists are nut cases, as exemplified by novelist Virginia Woolf. She was anti-Christian and stereotyped Jews, although she married one. She was an elitist, a femi-Nazi.

“Though happily married to a Jewish man, Woolf often wrote of Jewish characters in stereotypical archetypes and generalizations, including describing some of her Jewish characters as physically repulsive and dirty.  For example, while traveling on a cruise to Portugal she protests at finding ‘a great many Portuguese Jews on board, and other repulsive objects, but we keep clear of them’.  Furthermore, she wrote in her diary: ‘I do not like the Jewish voice; I do not like the Jewish laugh.’ In a 1930 letter to the composer Ethel Smyth, quoted in Nigel Nicolson’s biography Virginia Woolf, she recollects her boasts of Leonard’s Jewishness confirming her snobbish tendencies, ‘How I hated marrying a Jew—What a snob I was, for they have immense vitality.’

In another letter to Smyth, Woolf gives a scathing denunciation of Christianity, seeing it as self-righteous ‘egotism’ and stating ‘my Jew has more religion in one toenail—more human love, in one hair.’

Woolf and her husband Leonard hated and feared 1930s fascism with its anti-semitism. Her 1938 book Three Guineas was an indictment of fascism.” -wikipedia

In college, Woolf’s To The Lighthouse was required reading. It was an incoherent, nihilistic rant, something one would hear while visiting folks in a nuthouse.

Modernism, or any non-Christian, worldly view has no place in the church. This is why you should find a church that teaches the true Word, and hold people accountable by reading the Bible yourself.

And, as found in the book of James, God requires us not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds. Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” -James 2: 14-17

Two Dead Batteries

How should you react when someone tries to take advantage of you or wrongs you in other ways? This is a problem I’ve found in the homeless community. It’s not restricted to the homeless, but it is also the case with people who live in homes whom I’ve interacted with for about the last 2 ½ years.

It’s right to seek justice and stand up for what’s right when someone wrongs you or others, but it’s wrong to deal with wrong  doing in a sinful way. This doesn’t always manifest itself in explosive anger, yelling at someone or threatening violence, but sometimes by harboring resentment against the offender. You may not say something to the person who angers you, but you may internally  deride that person and dismiss him/her as a persona non grata.

This is wrong! The book of James tells Christians to wait patiently on the Lord, who will  judge wrongdoers. The idea is to see the big picture. Don’t, as Curly of The Three Stooges often says, become “a victim of soy cum stances”, and return wrong for wrong. God doesn’t like some things Christians do, but he still loves us. We need to do the same for others. When we do, we reflect Jesus.

This, of course, is easier said than done.

Being a Christian is work and requires effort and dedication to God’s Word, prayer, worship with the saints – to focus on God. We are not to conform to the ways of the world. In ancient Greece, it was considered a virtue not to take an insult or injury without taking vengeance. Writers back then addressed this flaw. Christians are commanded to show patience with those who wrong us.

I struggle with forgiveness and completely releasing resentment I’ve harbored against a handicapped couple with whom I forged an agreement to take care of them in exchange for rent at the family house. They exploited me, and in the words of someone who used to deal with them, became “a slave.” Besides the normal agreed to trips to the doctor’s offices, medicine pickup and household chores, one of them constantly asked me to make a special trip and run out to get monster drinks. I was also conned into paying some bills for them as they gave me a poor mouth story. I was always running to the store to satiate their voracious appetites.

The patriarch, the homeowner, kicked me out after I finally put my foot down and refused to take the couple out food shopping two days after we did the weekly shopping. On top of that, one of the gluttons lied to a mutual friend  about why she asked me to shop two days later.

Recently, these folks showed up at a community meal. I ignored them. I walked in with some friends I met at the parking lot and found a table away from the couple. There were just enough chairs at that table for my friends and I. “Good”, I told my friends, “I don’t have to worry about sitting with a persona non grata.” Someone who had hogged the take home meals at another meal sat down with them. I thought this was like an outlaws’ hideout, only this was a den of gluttons.

Although I was right to not allow myself to be the couple’s unlimited gofer and not agree to share rent with them and my friend, my attitude was wrong.

“Two dead batteries won’t start a car.” This is a saying used at a recovery house to explain why two people being treated for substance abuse should not date. Before developing a romantic relationship, they need to get their own act together. Likewise, I need to get myself right with God in order to minister to the homeless, et al.

People coming together and loving one another right now depends on our relationship to God. There’s a pyramid to illustrate this. As people go towards God at the tip of the pyramid, they get closer to each other.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” -Ephesians 4:26

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-20-responding-rightly-when-you%E2%80%99re-wronged-james-57-9