Saturday, May 26, 2007

the fair mother city: part IV

Basically, I wanted part IV to wrap up parts I-III by enclosing my reasons for being in the fair mother city. My calling or so.

But I discovered I bit off more than I can chew: I don't have the words or scientific research to wrap up this series very well.

Truthfully, I have no freaking clue why I am still here. But I feel it has been the CEO's desire for me to hang around.

I love the poor. They are real. And I am attracted to real-ness, however you define that.

The fair mother city has many poor people, homeless, disability-income culture, and working-class poor.

The FMC is supposedly ranked fifth in Texas for cities with the lowest pay rate. Fifth place doesn't sound too shocking, but when the first four cities are border towns (thus their injustice is obvious - taking advantage of Mexicans who will gladly receive $6/hour bringing the overall pay scale down), it makes the fair mother city's pay scale suspicious.

Many of the local businesses are owned by locals. And many locals are Christians and/or religious social club members. So...with absolutely no scientific data to present, and going on sheer conspiracy theory, I partially blame them.

Why do the religious powers-that-be keep the average pay rate in the fair mother city around $8 an hour with no medical benefits? There's probably some mindless info that could be spouted off about small business and high taxes and all. But most every one of these christian small business owners find ways to pay themselves nicely and maintain their own status quo. They live well above the average citizen, and well above their employees. But so does every business owner.

Then they pay their club dues (tithe) to their social club church, which in turn pitches a tithe of that tithe to the poor, making everyone feel good about themselves.

Somehow, I just don't think Jesus meant it that way when he said "whatever you do for the least of these..." and "sell your possessions and give...".

If I'm expected to stick around here much longer than I hope to see my dream of The Table come true in the fair mother city. The closest thing I've seen to this is The Gathering in Salem, MA pastored by The Why Man. The Gathering and my idea for The Table are not identical in operation, but they share similar models: to love and serve the local community with no strings attached. What The Gathering does for the neo-pagan culture, I hope The Table could do the same for the poverty culture: befriend, walk with, love, serve, and be "a blessing". That serving and befriending others IS the evangelism.

In this city of 116,000 citizens, and (as of 1997 stats) 147 churches, I know of ONE church that sort of models this. Sort of. And by church, I mean the whole church and not some appendage add-on ministry that "helps" the poor.

If The Table is to happen in some sort of "store front" method, then I see the fair mother city as the perfect place. There are tons of poor people pushed aside from the numerous religious social clubs that inadvertently (or purposely) keep their foot on the necks of the poor. Locally, there are tons of social clubs that toss a few scraps out the back door, then get a newspaper write-up or 20-second TV news blurb on themselves for doing "good things for the community".

So basically, the FMC, founded on greed and deceit, harbors the oppressive religious crowd which tosses the poor their crumbs to appease their minds.

And so far, I feel that it is the CEO's will for my family and I to ride it out with them.

We are continuing to live day by day only. That is currently our only choice. And the more I live this way, the more I think it's not a bad choice. For the most part, it's OK for us to live this way: We have no debt. We don't buy ourselves much other than what we need to live (food, etc). And I'm sure the CEO will guide us through any of life's unscheduled mishaps, as he always has.

Otherwise, if the CEO opens the door to move...we're outta here faster than Oprah quitting a fad diet. I am so ready to leave the oppressiveness of the bible belt.

No comments: