Thursday, January 24, 2008

Free Sandwiches


AS I was walking to a part-time job Sunday in near-zero(F) temperature, through the Cass Corridor, Salvation Army "Harbor Light" vehicles scouted the area for homeless people. Not finding any on the streets-- or anybody at all, except myself-- a small truck pulled up near me. A window rolled down and a middle-aged white woman handed me two sandwiches wrapped in a sheet of paper. She might've had stacks of them in the back. "God bless you," she said, and drove off.

When I arrived where I was going I ate one of the sandwiches, gave another to a co-worker, and read the letter they'd been wrapped in.

Of course, part of the deal of accepting aid is receiving a sermon. The letter contained a sermon, centered around the fact baseball player Ty Cobb, with the highest lifetime batting average, got a hit one out of every three times at bat. The story encouraged the reader to change his definition of success. "This story touches your heart because you'd like to make good all-the-time too." "--you're not a failure! Don't lose hope in yourself-- call on the Name of Jesus. . . ."

The sermon was centered on the ideas of failure and success, and, concerning Jesus, seemed to be missing the point. An itinerant preacher subsisting largely on handouts; crucified between two criminals, his movement at that moment shattered, Jesus was hardly a worldly success in his own lifetime. He strove not for "success," but for Truth.

I examined the flyer. It wasn't from the Salvation Army after all, but a place called "Ja' Noah House" in Livonia. Maybe they were affiliated. Maybe the woman was a Samaritan free-lancer.

Why did Harbor Light Mission shut down in the Cass Corridor anyway? Complaints from the gentry? Homeless are still in the neighborhood. They didn't go anywhere. Harbor Light is gone, but contrary to what you hear, the boozhies are still not moving into the area in droves. "Name it 'Midtown' and they will come," someone proclaimed. They're not coming.

So ends my own sermon.

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