From Lemons Make Lemonade

Today in Bucks County, PA, the homeless have been suffering the slings and arrows from intolerant, judgmental people. Because there are some individuals in the homeless community who cause problems, the homeless have been stereotyped.

As a result of hobophobia, shelter for the homeless is scarce, despite there being more vacant property than homeless people in Bucks County. Recently, a former homeless guy told me that a businessman tried to acquire property for the homeless, but as soon as the establishment learned it was for the homeless, they stonewalled the project.

What are we to do?

Under these circumstances, one could develop PMS (poor me syndrome). Or we could refuse to be, in the words of Curly of The Three Stooges, a “victim of soy cum stances.”

In the 19th century, Biddy Mason, who was born a slave, rose up and became and nurse and a successful business woman, earning a small fortune. She used her fame and fortune to help the needy. 16 years after having been freed from slavery, Ms. Mason financed the first African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Los Angeles. We could all learn a lesson from Biddy Mason.

The AME church is one of the places where the homeless in Bucks County  are graciously fed. When I first went to a meal at an AME church, I thought it may be afro-centric. But then I learned why the AME was formed. Back then, blacks were rarely allowed to preach, worshippers were segregated by race, and blacks were marginalized. So they started their own church.

Recently, a guest preacher remarked in his sermon, tongue in cheek, that he was mistaken in thinking that AME meant “African Methodist Episcopal”. He said it really means “All May Enter”.  And they do.

This is the attitude we need to take. We are all creatures made in the image of God, including the homeless. “All may enter” public places such as the Levittown library should be our motto.

God put Christians on earth to do Christ’s work, sacrificing our own selfish desires and serving others, as Jesus did.

At a recent community meal at the St Mark AME Zion Church in Newtown, people at my table remarked how they appreciate the trouble the church goes to give them a good meal and the hospitality, as the hosts intermingle with their guests and show genuine Christian concern. Unlike the Salvation Army, which doesn’t let the homeless into the meals until the dot of 6 p.m., when the meals start, and can’t wait to get rid of them after doing their duty, guests of St Mark drift in an hour before the meal starts, and chat with the hosts as they are setting up.

We all have trials and tribulations in life. They happen for a reason. Instead of being bitter, we should learn from the experience and be gracious to others. In their circumstances, the homeless should not be bitter and be at enmity towards one another but should encourage and edify one another.

I recently had a trial. A friend with lung cancer and I got booted from two motels in two weeks. The Neshaminy Sin, aka the Neshaminy Inn and The Red Roof Inn reflected not only the judgmentalism and intolerance prevalent in Bucks County, but disingenuousness.

The general manager of the Red Roof Inn told me that when I was out, my friend was wandering around, disoriented and unable to find the room. He said he helped her find her way back, and emphasized that he didn’t mind doing that. But when it came time to renew the rent, he had left a message that we could no longer stay there.

When I questioned the manager, he said that my friend belongs in a nursing home, just as I was told at the Neshaminy Sin. After we left, he emailed me and said that he had told me during our conversation that if my friend wanders alone again we can’t stay there. He never said that!

After I experienced the turmoil of moving in the high heat and humidity, we found a much better place, which costs less than the Neshaminy Sin, without the drama of drunks, druggies, prostitutes and other miscreants.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” -2nd Corinthians 4:8-12

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  -Jeremiah 29:11

You Reap What You Sow

Years ago I saw a brochure “Invite Birds to Your Home.” It gave tips on what flowers to plant to attract the kinds of birds you want in your yard. In essence, if you build it, they will come.

We create situations in life by the way we think and  by what we do. We reap what we sow. Take the Neshaminy Sin, aka the Neshaminy Inn in Trevose, PA, where over time nomadic homeless people have spent a night or more. Needing a place to stay, I went there. At the office, the Inn conspicuously touts that they offer free Hustler, a no holds barred porn channel in all rooms.

The kind of birds the Neshaminy Inn attracts are sh**birds, to use Navy terminology.

Inconsiderate people who are loud all hours of the night, sometimes quarreling, playing loud jungle music, whistling and shouting back and forth from the far reaches of the hall to a distant room after midnight, flotsam and jetsam roaming the halls and talking loud all hours of the night, young children, unsupervised, running the halls late at night, flock to the Neshaminy Sin. On one occasion, a woman jumped out of a car when the maintenance guy approached and ran off, with more than a half moon showing. On another occasion, a woman ran down the hallway and out of the building, naked, frantically flailing her arms and crying out in panic.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a newspaper account. In the article, the Sinn’s, I mean Inn’s owner says that only two percent of the people who go to the Inn are bad. If you believe that, you must also believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and The Easter Bunny. What’s officially reported is just the tip of the iceberg.

Today in America, we are reaping what we have sown. As a nation, we have turned away from God and have become an Obama Nation.

What’s the root of the problem?

People have stopped going to church, and some who do go to churches that don’t teach the true word of God. On their own, some churches have done ungodly things as egregious as same sex marriages.

Instead of the true church influencing society, being a light to the world, the world has influenced the church. Individuals, especially those in high places, have failed to bring about good.  People, including churches, have relegated their responsibility to the government, where progressivism has produced nothing but woe where ever it gets the upper hand.

One example of this is President LBJ’s alleged Great Society/War on Poverty.

Rod Serling showed what happens when you relinquish your life to beings who present themselves as a benevolent dictator in To Serve Man.

As you see in the Twilight Zone episode, the Kanamits do not have our bests interests at heart and use us, just as today’s progressive politicians use us.

Unlike the Kanamits and today’s politicians, God has our best interests at heart. If we follow him, we can restore ourselves and our nation to the way God planned.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

-2nd Corinthians 10:5





Das Boot

In the movie, Das Boot, to avoid an encounter with a destroyer, a German U-boat had to dive dive dive, so far they were beyond the submarine’s rated limit. Like the homeless in Bucks County, PA, they were under great pressure, so much so that the sub’s chief engineer freaked out and had to be restrained.

Wherever the homeless in Bucks County go, they are under pressure. The biggest pressure is a place to lay their head at night.  Evictions are a way of life for the homeless. Even in my case, where I found a motel that gives weekly discounts that will allow my cancer stricken friend and I a place to survive for a time, we got evicted!

My friend fell when walking past the office at the Neshaminy Inn in Trevose one Monday. About 1 ½ hours before our paid week ended, we were told we had to move. Immediately! I told the Inn I couldn’t do that, with nowhere to go and high heat and humidity, and said the police would have to pull us out, and they wouldn’t like that kind of publicity. We were given a week, reluctantly.

A pastor and a social worker called the Neshaminy Inn to ask them to at least give us time until we find a place to stay, but like a prevailing mentality in Bucks, they didn’t care. What’s more, they acted like they were concerned for our welfare. To quote Pat Paulsen “Bull feathers!”

To quote from the official eviction letter from the Neshaminy Inn’s owner, Matthew Etzrodt:

“We are concerned for *** safety and believe she would be better relocating to a different location. We are not a healthcare facility and are unable to provide a safe environment for her. We feel the alcohol consumption combined with the drugs she is taking pose an immediate risk.”  

This is a lie and a gross distortion. She doesn’t take drugs, even prescription. Just seizure medicine. My friend even stopped taking sleeping pills weeks before this incident. And when she did, this, as is the case with the seizure medicine, it was never taken anywhere near the time she consumed alcohol. And she only drank in the room and quietly slept. She fell because it was hot and humid and she didn’t use her head.

Two officials on different occasions said that the living conditions and my help were suitable for my friend’s welfare. The only time the Neshaminy Inn was put out at all was when they called me when she fell.

Das Boot has become a trend in Bucks County, PA. For some people, the only solution to solve problems that occur where people stay is to boot them out! It’s like The Gong Show, where if the host doesn’t like the way people are performing, they get gonged off the stage. Booting people in Bucks is often just a matter of personal preference, as is the campaign to boot all homeless people from the public library in Levittown just because people don’t like them.

It’s sometimes arbitrary and even vindictive, as was the case with the queen in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Off with their head!

Lewis Carroll’s story could easily be set in Bucks County, with all the mad hatters and queens.

At a meeting the press covered at the Veteran’s Memorial in Levittown, where homeless advocates, the homeless, veterans and a Bucks County official met the day when the homeless were evicted from the government complex in Levittown, one advocate said “I understand what their (the county) concerns are, but I really don’t think their dealing with it the right way.,” and added “I called the phone number on the signs and there is no more room in the shelters.”

Instead of booting people from their “homes” when there’s a problem, people need to reason together and work out a solution to the problem other than das boot.

This applies to other problems as well. Shooting cops because you don’t think what a cop did was right is the wrong way to go about it. Dr. Martin Luther King preached and did the right thing through peaceful protest and well thought out persuasive arguments. The homeless problem in Bucks County PA is much like racial problems MLK resolved.

I feel like the chief engineer in Das Boot who freaked out under pressure and had to be restrained. The only thing that’s calming me down (a bit) is my faith in God and counsel and help from my Christian brothers and sisters.

The homeless are under pressure. It’s good that Christians have been reaching out to help. Besides helping with physical needs, the friends without walls, as one church that hosts community meals refers to the homeless, are loved by them unconditionally. For those of you in Doylestown, this means to care for people without expecting anything in return.

“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.” -2nd Corinthians 5:20.

The answer, my friend, isn’t blowing in the wind, the bottle, or the pill you took today. It’s faith in God. Mine is really being tested right now.