Calvin’s Corner

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13 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    That was a good podcast, Michael and Phil.

    I especially appreciated the observation when you talked about “the church” here in America, it really has no practical meaning because of the extreme fragmentation. In fact, the use of the phrase “the church” on this blog in the past has been worrisome for this very reason. Statements that have often been made here to the effect “the church needs to do better in the area of X, Y and Z” seemed to ring hollow.

    I told the story here before about the ride I took up to San Francisco a few years back with some very right-leaning evangelical ladies. It was during the 2nd Obama election and all the way up, they hissed and booed at every Obama poster they saw. The theme of their outrage was Obamacare and other social services. These pious women claimed that “the church” should meet all these needs. When we reached our destination there was a very disabled (missing a limb, I think) person standing right there on the sidewalk and all these pious Christian women marched right past him, paying no more attention to him than if he was a day-old pile of dog poo. Oh yeah, I really want my health care in the hands of these Christian ladies.

    I am sure they all bake the occasional casserole for new moms and send get-well cards to sick people in their home churches.

    Meals on Wheels is what brought this topic up. Yes, I know each MoW is a separate entity and they all get their funding from various places and most of them don’t get their entire budget from the federal government. Funding for programs like MoW is complicated and most programs are scrapping by. Our local group provides breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday for all kinds of people. The meals are extremely rudimentary as the sandwiches are made from day old donated bread and the hot meals are probably not anything most of you would choose to eat regularly. (As drivers, we are offered free meals and we turn them down.) It’s broccoli stems, not florets. That kind of thing. Breakfast is one of those little boxes of cornflakes, a small carton of milk and a 4oz container of OJ. And ours is one of the most lavish MoWs because we do provide 3 meals a day. Some are only able to provide one meal. So you can see that even a slight disruption in the budget could have a significant effect on the quality of the meals.

    Our route includes the housing projects in town. If we didn’t bring meals, most of our clients would be sent to subsidized nursing homes and if saving money is your goal, that is a disastrous move.

    So two things bother me here:

    1. The fact that an agent of the new administration would even go on record questioning the value of these programs. He could have said “MoW is great and we are going to do all we can to bolster this program so the centers are better funded.” Maybe that’s what he meant. It’s not what he said.

    2. The idea that any church is willing or able to take on the task of providing meals to all the shut-ins in their area. Food pantries are great but most of the people on my route can’t get to the local food pantry and can’t cook or eat the food they find there. (I’ve seen the kind of donations you see at food pantries. Often it’s left-over boxes of chocolate from Christmas and bags of dry beans.)

    Here’s another problem. Many local churches function at the whim of the senior pastor. One year he might do some “vision casting” and decide to feed the poor; the next year he might change his mind. Too bad for anyone relying on his help for their very lives.

    Some churches might care for members of their own congregations (which is biblical), but what about the unbelievers in the neighborhood? What about the people *like many of you here* who don’t go to church at all due to past problems?

    As depressing as it is to admit it, “the church” will not take care of all the social needs of the people of this country, even if they wanted to, and I doubt that most of them would even want to, based on what I’ve seen. As Michael noted in the podcast, the only outfit in America that has the ability to take on this massive job is the government.

    (Kudos to Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.)

  2. Michael says:

    Thank you, Xenia… that was so well done I wish we’d had you on the podcast!

  3. London says:

    Xenia, well said.
    Churches may want to help with tasks such as MoW, but the sheeer logistics of a thing like that will no doubt cause many of them to give up. Coordination of volunteers, fundraising, food storage, sorting, planning and delivery are huge tasks if the goal is to reach those outside the congregation.
    Vision is one thing, execution is another thing all together.

  4. em ... again says:

    not saying that i know something here, but one thing to keep in mind when the subject of budget cuts is raised… those politicians against the cuts always look for the most egregious impact possibility and start waving and pointing… we had a funny one up here a while back, the then governor wasn’t happy about a budget cut and closed the highway rest stops…

  5. JoelG says:

    Helpful comments Xenia thank you. Good conversation Michael thank you. Maybe Frank Graham was right. Trump is Gods man, but maybe not in the way he thinks. Perhaps God is telling His Church to get out of our bubbles and do whatever we can for our neighbors (everyone, anyone) regardless of “success”.

  6. JoelG says:

    You and Phil are right. We will never have the resources the government has. But we can do things the government can, like being with and listening to people. Being there for people through thick and thin, unconditionally. I think the simple act of being present with people is largely discounted these days within the Church. This is something we can do that the government can’t.

  7. JoelG says:

    “we can do things the government CAN’T”

  8. Xenia says:

    I just got home from my route. Just to give you folks a taste of the wonderful people you might meet if you (hint, hint) decide to volunteer w/ your local MoW:

    1. Tiny Asian lady with dementia. She always has loud military music playing on her record player, same tune every time. It’s like listening to a Chinese military parade.
    2.. Man who just became a Christian recently. He always has black Gospel music playing at his house. He asked me today if Trump was really going to kill MoW. I told him not to worry; our program is funded by donations. He’s studying to be a pastor.
    3. Tiny black Pentecostal lady w/ eye problems. Always says “God bless you.” And I do feel blessed.
    4. This apartment has no furniture. The disabled woman sleeps on a mattress on the floor. She’s not talkative.
    5. A Pomo Indian lady who asks me to feel around in her armpit to see if her lump is growing. (Not as bad as it sounds.) Today she gave me a huge hug.
    6. A woman my age with a terminal illness. We have become friends and chatted a while about this and that. She also worried about Trump.
    7. A delightful lady who is always doing her Bible study when I get there. Extremely loving, extremely Christlike.
    8. A very sick woman, also a good friend, who probably won’t be able to live alone much longer. Her physical heart is giving out but not her “real” heart.
    9. A frail but cheerful woman who was looking around for an extension cord when I got there so she could power up her boombox.
    10. A very frail man who is always lying on the couch. He never says much.
    11. An elderly El Salvadorean lady, sweeter than pie. I always try my Spanish out on her. She is very tolerant of this. 🙂

    My life is hugely enriched by knowing these people. Some of them won’t be alive this time next year. God bless them all.

    I have to add that the clients who have a strong connection with their church are by far the happiest. They may not be able to attend anymore but their years of faithful service have not been forgotten by the people of their churches.

    It’s only one morning a week. Most of the volunteers are retired people.

  9. JoelG says:

    That’s what I’m talking about Xenia!

    High Five!

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    In the midst of a dark day, your two posts brought me a bit of light…

  11. Michael says:


    That brought me to tears…may we all follow your lead in our own circles of influence.

  12. JoelG says:

    Btw Michael it sounded like Miss Kitty or Chester chimed in with their thoughts in the background of this broadcast. Can you translate? 😉

  13. Xenia says:

    Thanks! Opportunities like this are available everywhere.

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