* Prayer is work, too.

(Reblogged 12/02/13.)

Saint Benedict ran a monastery.  He ran into the problem that many monks wanted to spend all their time praying and studying, and not do any of the dirty manual labor — housekeeping, tending livestock, working in the fields — needed to keep the place going. So he adopted and enforced the motto, Laborare est orare — “Work is prayer.”

In excess, religious study can become a drain on society’s resources.  Many Haredi, or “ultra-orthodox,” men in Israel want to spend all their time in religious study instead of earning any money.  (Article.)  Meanwhile, a majority of them live on welfare, with eight to fifteen children.  This places a burden on the remainder of society that that economy can no longer bear.

What about me?
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News 08/17/13: Religiosity and intelligence; NDEs

Links to the headlines within this post:
Tenn. judge changes infant’s name from ‘Messiah’
Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, study finds
Near-death experiences may be explained by brain activity


Tenn. judge changes infant’s name from ‘Messiah’

No comment.

Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, study finds

I know many people who must be exceptions to the rule.

In practical terms: who provide me food, shelter and clothing?

Near-death experiences may be explained by brain activity

Nothing here surprises me.  The NDE is a special case of astral projection, and not to be dismissed completely unless we account for features of clairvoyance and precognition, as for example in the case of George Ritchie.

* Jacob’s ladder 08/14/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

 1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
 2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  Details here.
 3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  Details here.
 4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  Details here.
 5. Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Details here.
 6. Cut loose the losers. Continue reading

* Treasures in heaven

One of my buds came into McDonald’s this morning looking for me. I’d not seen him in about a week.  He’s in really good shape today, but it turns out that, as I’d supposed, he’d been on a bender.

We went out front to smoke and talk, and the time came for him to get on his way. I expected him to turn to go back upstairs to get his stuff. He did not. “Where’s your stuff?” I asked.

He’d lost it. Again. Everything. Kept only his I.D. and Independence card. Somewhere, sometime, while blacked out, he’d got up and left wherever he’d been, leaving behind all his belongings in a forgotten place.

In my immediately last prior post, “Me, me, me,” I said:

It’s not that I despised material possessions; I did not value them nearly as much as I (overwhelmingly) valued relationships.  What I did despise was the desire for material possessions.  As a result, now I have none.

Relationships are what I do have.  They are my treasures in heaven.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

* Me, me, me.

This has been a very heavy day, and there’s a lot here.  For the moment, at least, I will not try to organize this.

Darkness at times appears to serve Light; destruction, to serve creation.

It is a rude awakening for me to have to revisit the world of infantile self-centeredness, apparently to have to re-learn correctly this time (at age 57!) some things I didn’t learn correctly on the first go-round.

A world where it is correct for me to want things only for “Me, me, me!”
Continue reading

* Jacob’s ladder 06/26/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

 1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
 2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  Details here.
 3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  Details here.
 4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  Details here.

 5.

Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Wednesday 06/26/13 I met my principal patron, hoping to pick up the second half of my allowance for the week. He could only give me 2/3 of the amount. With two minutes left on my phone, and no more cash expected till next week, I e-mailed a supporter in Texas and invited an early birthday present in the form of his putting minutes on my phone. I had to buy a soda at a corner store to get change for bus fare “home.” At the shelter, having my last smokes before going in, I began to figure.

Certainly I could not buy more than one more pack of smokes — to last four days. For certain, I will wind up using the nicotine gum Pastor worked so hard to help me get last fall. I would have to give up sodas. I might have to give up coffee in the afternoons. I might have to give up coffee in the mornings — and sit outside from 6 am to 10 am with nothing to drink and no access to a bathroom. I might have to stay one night at a different shelter. I might have to walk rather than take the bus to church Sunday.

Enigmatically, when I got inside and sat down on my bunk, I felt cheerful.  The last thing in the world I want is to be on the bus stop Sunday and find myself without bus fare to church.  This minimal amount of self-management, of stewardship, of planning what sacrifices I must make, gave me a degree of power and control over my lot.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

* Jacob’s ladder 06/19/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

  1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
  2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  In particular, at the shelter in recent months have been several guys who just “came home” from doing “hard time,” and within days had found jobs.
  3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  The question isn’t whether I fall down, but whether I’ll get back up.  A moment of despair doesn’t rule out faith long-term.  It can be OK for me to lie there and have a little pity party, as long as it’s reasonably brief.
  4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  (I may rename this if I think of a better name.)  Several weeks ago after church, I became impatient waiting for the person who had promised me a ride downtown, and waiting also for my principal patron, who was tied up in conversation with others.  I became disgusted with myself over feeling that way; and disgusted that I was hanging out there long after I would otherwise have left, having feelings all about obtaining favors for me, me, me.

That’s not a pretty way to end this just now, but in the long run I do think I need to be candid in admitting what it takes to climb one’s way out of poverty.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

Hiring discrimination and “backgrounds”

EEOC sues over criminal background checks

This affects me.

In August ’10 I became the first member of my family in three generations ever to be arrested, let alone jailed.  It was the only time I have ever been arrested.  I was locked up for 40 days before being sentenced to “time served” on one misdemeanor charge.  I have no other convictions.

In the months following, I applied to all kinds of jobs, including at each of the half dozen major hospitals located in downtown Baltimore.  I was applying for secretarial jobs, janitorial jobs, groundskeeping — anything I could possibly do, as remains so today.

Each of those hospitals has its own online application system, and they’re all very similar, so I don’t recall which specific hospital this story involves.  You enter a “profile” into their database, that includes all your employment information, history, references, etc.; this takes 90 minutes to two hours.  That information is kept in their database, and thereafter you can apply to any job listing with just a handful of clicks.  You can also access a listing of the jobs you’ve applied to, and each application’s status.

One Saturday I was at the public library submitting applications online.  Click, click, click, submit.  Check out the next listing; decide “go” or “no go;” click, click, submit.  I did a bunch of those, and then went to check the list of applications’ status.

A number of the applications I’d submitted in the previous half hour had already been turned down.

I really don’t think anyone was working in the HR office on a Saturday screening applications.  Clearly, they had some automatic software set up to pre-screen applications and reject anyone who admitted a criminal record.

The question is whether reformed criminals can find honest work.

Subsequent post: My record cannot be expunged
 

* Paying My Dues, Singing the Blues?

My first piece published on Yahoo! Voices:

Paying My Dues, Singing the Blues?

Please disseminate as widely as possible!