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Category: Welcome
Topic: Too Critical?

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Mike and Sam,

I recently finished reading UTO and am in need of clarification on a few points. I hope you will take the time to read and comment on them.

1. On page 114 you mention walking past a church on a Friday evening. The church is closed, locked, chained, and padlocked. The two of you took offense to this and then go on to compare it to a convenience store which is open and selling cigarettes, beer, and porn. The unspoken conclusion is that the worldly convenience is more welcoming than the spiritual church. Did you not consider the following:

a. If a church is going to open its doors, someone needs to be there to help protect it from those who would do it harm?

b. That in order to have someone in the church, someone needs to volunteer or be paid?

c. The convenience store probably had a security system including cameras and an alarm, both of which would deter theft and vandalism. These systems cost money; money that not every church can afford.

d. Does the church you attend now leave its doors open 24/7 and allow any and all to come and do what they want, when they want? If not, why?

2. On page 148 you mention a church service you attended during which the pastor delivered a sermon on how women will be saved through childbearing. You then remark on how it was Berkeley and 2003. What do the two have to do with each other? Is not all Scripture God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness? Why then should a pastor in Berkeley in 2003, let alone 2010, not teach on it?

3. In the "Cowbell Door Chime" section beginning on page 76, you tell the story of walking into a sandwich shop and beginning a friendly game of one-upping each other on how bad you smell. Five other people come in, notice you, and then sit far away from you. It turns out that they are Christians. It is obvious that they can smell you as much as you smell each other and they wind up avoiding you. There is an implied criticism of them for doing so in your writing. Is this fair? I may see two ratty-looking, smelly young men with guitars in a sandwich shop, but my first thought is not necessarily going to be that they are homeless and in need of help.

4. On page 141, you are engaged in a conversation with George, the Christian pizza guy. During that conversation he states " But you know what? I've never once come down here and preached. At least not in the typical fashion - you know; with yelling and Bible thumping." I have been going to church since I was born, attending services in Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, and even Roman Catholic services, depending on the circumstances in which I found myself. In over 40 years and dozens of churches I have, apparently, never seen one of George's "typical" sermons with "yelling and Bible thumping". Is his critique valid? If not, why do you give it your tacit support?

5. Throughout the book there was something that bothered me about your project, and it only became clear near the end. Yours was an intentional and almost belligerent homeless. You flaunt your intentional homelessness in the face of the Church, asking the Christians you meet for a handout, with no intention of giving up your homeless lifestyle, and then criticize them when they choose not to help you live the life you chose. You put them to the test, setting them up to fail, but the test itself is unfair as the preconditions are disingenuous. Does a Christian have an obligation to aid and abet someone in their self-destruction? You, yourselves, give the answer to that question in the book, and the answer is no.

I am glad for the lessons in faith that you say you learned. To God be the glory. Do not presume, though, that all need to learn the same lessons.

Posted: 2010-08-28 09:22:34

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