Archive for the ‘books’ Category

If you couldn’t make it to “A photographer’s view of the homeless,” here are his photographs and below are some of the words on the walls.  He’s also trying to make a film, like this one I guess.

  • The Understanding Poverty Project.  People are living on the streets–oftentimes the sickest among us.  People are languishing in the prisons–oftentimes those with the cruelest pasts.  We are getting used to this.  This is not something any of us want to get used to.  This is not a tolerable situation. For 22 years photographer Ben Tecumseh DeSoto has been documenting homelessness and poverty in Houston. “I have been living on the streets of Houston with my camera,” says DeSoto, “and I want others to see what I’ve seen, and understand what I’ve come to understand.  More and more I see poverty in terms of trauma, and interpret the behaviors of those I meet on the streets as those suffering from PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder].  Shock.  Inability to plan.  Persistent frightening thoughts.  Emotional numbness.” Drawn to document and understand the lives of the “broke and the broken,” DeSoto drew attention to these issues through his work for the Houston Chronicle, where he served as a staff photographer from 1981 to 2006.  Oftentimes DeSoto would find a subject, publish a story in the Chronicle, then continue following his source for months and years.  Judy Pruitt and Ben White are two such subjects; DeSoto has been documenting their lives since 1988, and cultivated a partnership and relationship far deeper than the typical report-subject construct.  In 1992, DeSoto exhibited his work in a one-man FotoFest show at DiverseWorks, “Urban Poverty.”  In 2006, DeSoto left the Chronicle and decided to focus his efforts on his homeless project fulltime, joining forces with writer/journalist Ann Walton Sieber.  He created the Understanding Poverty Project, an ambitious undertaking that includes this exhibition, a future film and book, and a far-reaching collective network. “The Understanding Poverty Project is working as a collaborative in Houston, Texas, to build bridges across the vast gulf between the haves and have-nots.  Our vehicle is communication and understanding, through photographs, words, and film.  Some of us are storytellers, others of us have a story that needs to be told: We are working as a team of journalists, surviving witnesses, direct aid workers, artists, and fellow travelers.  We are in this together.  We are all agents of change” [Understanding Poverty Project vision statement].
  • Join the Understanding Poverty Collective.  What does joining the Collective mean?  You tell us. It means that you will think about these issues of poverty, disparity, despair, and illness. It means that you will notice these things, do what it takes to feel what you need to feel, look for places to take actions that are right for you. It means you will do your best not to let despaire or discouragement stand in the way of acting, whether it is your time to offer help, or your time to need help. It means you won’t let the guilt and frustration about the enormity of the distress keep you from doing the smallest things.  Or dreaming about and undertaking the hugest things. It means you won’t leave it to other people to solve, although you can look to them for help, leadership, support.  It means you won’t let other people leave it to you to solve. You are probably already doing a little.  You may already be doing a lot.  You’ll let this be a part of your life.  You’ll share the road, those who have so little and those who are rich and blessed–and in your mind at least think about ways that you both might someday sit in a room together and have a cup of tea or a glass of beer and relax in a profound way and start to tell each other everything you might ever want to know.  In dreams begin reality….  You’ll be open to being changed.  You’ll be open to becoming an instrument of change. You’ll be part of the solution, and you’ll help us al in your individual way to understand poverty and wealth and thereby come that closer to that dream of fairness, of succor for those suffering, of relief for the aggrieved, of the possibility of joy for everyone.
  • If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. …For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’   [Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NASB]
  • Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. [Hosea 8:7]
  • To love is not to give of your riches but to reveal to others their riches; their gifts; their value; and to trust them and their capacity to grow.  So it is important to approach people in their brokenness and littleness gently, so gently, not forcing yourself on them, but accepting them as they are, with humility and respect.  [Jean Vanier – posted at Healthcare for the Homeless, Houston]
  • Of those that are drawn away, each is drawn elsewhere toward another: once more a man and a woman, in a loneliness they are not liable at that time to notice, are tightened together upon a bed: and another family has begun: Moreover, these flexions are taking place every where, like a simultaneous motion of all the waves of the water of the world: and these are the classic patterns, and this is the weaving, of human living: of those fabric each individual is a part: and of all parts of this fabric let this be borne in mind: Each is intimately connected with the bottom and the extremest reach of time: Each is composed of substances identical with the substance of all that surrounds him, both the common objects of his disregard, and the hot centers of stars: All that each person is, and experiences, and shall never experience, in body and in mind, all these things are differing expressions of himself and of one root, and are identical: and not one of these things nor one of these persons is ever quite to be duplicated, nor replaced, nor has it ever quite had precedent: but each is a new and incommunicably tender life, wounded in every breath, and almost as hardly killed as easily wounded: sustaining, for a while, without defense, the enormous assaults of the universe:  [James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1941]
  • He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.  [Proverbs 28:27 NASB]
  • We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless.  The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.  [Mother Teresa]
  • Urban Poverty Causes PTSD:  PTSD Increases Hospitalization Rates in Urban Poor by John Gever, MedPage Today, March 28, 2008.  BOSTON, March 28 — Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among poor, urban residents and those who suffer it have more and longer hospital stays, researchers here said.  Of 592 patients at an urban primary care clinic, 22% were found to have PTSD, and they were more than twice as likely to have been hospitalized in the previous year as clinic patients without the disorder, reported Jane Liebschutz, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston University, and colleagues in the April issue of Medical Care.  …Dr. Liebschutz said in an interview that the findings are important because PTSD is “under-recognized and under-treated” in patients whose condition does not stem from military combat or sexual assault. …Better recognition of PTSD in urban populations and its negative consequences could improve their long-term health, since effective treatment for PTSD is available, the researchers said.
  • Eventually I became homeless enough to suit anyone’s definition.  In spite of the challenges that homelessness presented, the chief characteristic of my experience of homelessness was tedium…. One of those days was so much like each of the others that to call any of them typical would be an understatement.  Our immediate needs I met with more or less trouble, but once that was done I could do no more.  Day after day I could aspire, within reson, to nothing more than survival.  Although the plants wandered among the stars and the moon waxed and waned, the identical naked barrenness of existence was exposed to me, day in and day out.  I do not think I could write a narrative that would quite capture the unrelenting ennui of homelessness, but if I were to write it, no one could bear to read it.  Every life has trivial occurrences, pointless episodes, and unresolved mysteries, but a homeless life has these and virtually nothing else.  [Lars Eighner, Travels with Lizbeth, 1993]
  • I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
    …who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
    …who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
    …who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
    ..who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,
    …who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup,
    …who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
    …who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,
    …with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.  [Allen Ginsburg, “Howl”]
  • It is altogether curious, your first contact with poverty.  You have thought so much about poverty–it is the thing you have feared all your life, the thing you knew would happen to you sooner or later; and it, is all so utterly and prosaically different.  You thought it would be quite simple; it is extraordinarily complicated. You thought it would be terrible; it is merely squalid and boring. It is the peculiar lowness of poverty that you discover first; the shifts that it puts you to, the complicated meanness, the crust wiping.  [George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933]
  • But that something to eat was a hard proposition.  I was “turned down” at a dozen houses. …At other houses the doors were slammed in my face, cutting short my politely and humbly couched request for something to eat.  …It began to look as if I should be compelled to go to the very poor for my food.  …They never turn away the hungry.  Time and again, all over the United States, have I been refused food by the big house on the ill; and always have I received food from the little shack down by the creek or marsh, with its broken windows stuffed with rags and its tired-faced mother broken with labor.  Oh, you charity-mongers!  Go to the poor and learn, for the poor alone are the charitable.  They neither give nor withhold form their excess.  They have no excess.  They give, and they withhold never, from what they need for themselves, and very often from what they cruelly need for themselves.  A bone to the dog is not charity.  Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog.  [Jack London, The Road, 1907]
  • When I give food to the poor they call me a saint.  When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.  [Dom Helder Camera, Bishop of São Paulo, Brazil]
  • To be honest, the whole idea of working with the homeless is totally new to me.  I worked in retail in Houston and Dallas.  I sold my business and started working at Harmony House as an RA.  I wanted to get back into the community.  [Preston Witt, Director of Harmony House, interview January 10, 2008]
  • Ah, my own, my darling, it is often that I think of you and feel my heart sink.  How is it that you are so unfortunate, Barbara?  In my eyes you are kind-hearted, beautiful, and clever–why, then, has such an evil fate fallen to your lot?  How comes it that you are left desolate–you, so good a human being!  While to others happiness comes without an invitation at all?  Why should that raven, Fate, croak out upon the fortunes of one person while she is yet in her mother’s womb, while another person it permits to go forth in happiness from the home which has reared her?  “You, you fool Ivanushka,” says Fate, “shall succeed to your grandfather’s money-bags, and eat, drink, and be merry; whereas you shall do no more than lick the dish, since that is all that you are good for.”  [Fyodor Dostoevsky, Poor Folk, 1846]
  • I look at people in general society–they want to create a safe world for themselves, especially when they have children.  But the world has shrunk.  They think if you want to be safe, you have to hang out with people like you.  That is so sad to me.  [Eva Thibaudeau-Graczy, Director of Community Initiatives, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, interview January 11, 2008]
  • I just spent 60 days in the jail house for the crime of havin’ no dough.  Now here I am back out the street for the crime of havin’ nowhere to go.  [Robbie Robertson of The Band, “The Shape I’m In”]
  • “He came back different” is the shared refrain of the [returning veterans’] family members, who mention irritability, detachment, volatility, sleeplessness, excessive drinking or drug use, and keeping a gun at hand.  …In earlier eras, various labels attached to the psychological injuries of war: soldier’s heart, shell shock, Vietnam disorder.  Today the focus is on PTSD, but military health care officials are seeing a spectrum of pscyhological issues, with an estimated half of the returning National Guard members, 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of marines reporting mental health problems, according to a Pentagon task force.  [Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez, “Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles” in the New York Times, January 13, 2008]
  • Antinoos, you did badly to hit the unhappy vagabond; a curse on you, if he turns out to be some god from heaven. For the gods do take on all sorts of transformations, appearing as strangers from elsewhere, and thus they range at large through the cities, watching to see which men keep the laws, and which are violent.  [Homer, “The Odyssey”]

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He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

As some of you know, Elliot is really into the Native Americans (support Prose for Cons!).  I think one time he mentioned that he wanted to name his children like how they name their children.  At each stage of their life, they encompass a new name to describe that time of their life.  That is why some of their names are so long and descriptive.  Of course, being me, I asked the practical questions, like would he go to the registry and change the name constantly, and what about his wife’s opinion, etc.  Well, later as I pondered his comment, I thought about how Jesus renamed his disciples, like Simon became Peter, or even how God renamed his followers, like Abram became Abraham and Jacob became Israel.  I told him at Hannah and Phoebe’s dinner that the idea isn’t such a bad idea :)  This is also a good quote that someone else posted on her blog (from Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Prayer, p. 60):

In obeying his calling a person fulfils his essence, although he would never have been able to discover this, his own archetype and ideal within himself, in his nature, by descending into the center of his natural being, his superego, his subconscious or superconcisous, by studying his predisposition, yearnings, talents, his potential.  Simon the fisherman could have explored every region of his ego prior to his encounter with Christ, but he would not have found “Peter” there; for the present, the “form” summed up in the name “Peter”, the particular mission reserved for him alone, is hidden in the mystery of Christ’s soul.  Then Christ confronts him with it, unyielding, demanding obedience, and it will be the fulfillment of everything that, in Simon, vainly sought a “form” that would be ultimately valid before God and eternity.  In the form of Peter, Simon will be able to understand Christ’s word and incorporates its addressee into the Word. 

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. –Colossians 3:1-4

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Today’s worship quote of the week for 12/26/2000 is one of my favorite poems about Christ’s first advent:

by Frank Houghton (1894-1972)
in Praying with the English Hymn Writers
compiled by Timothy Dudley-Smith, Triangle Books, 1994
also found in Hymns II, InterVarsity Press, 1976

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest Man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenward by Thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest Man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what Thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship Thee.

Serving as Editorial Secretary for the China Inland Mission, Frank Houghton made a trip to China in 1934 to see first-hand the progress of the work. This hymn was written at a particularly difficult time in the history of the missions to China. Missionaries had been captured by the communist Red Army and released in poor health after over a year of suffering. Others had been captured never to be heard from again. In 1934 the young missionaries John and Betty Stam (my great aunt and uncle) were captured in Anhwei and beheaded. The news of these sorrows had reached the mission’s headquarters in Shanghai. Though this was a very dangerous time for both the Chinese Christians and the foreign missionaries, Frank Houghton decided he needed to begin a tour through the country to visit various missionary outposts. While traveling over the mountains of Szechwan, the powerful and comforting words of 2 Corinthians 8:9 were transformed into this beautiful Christmas hymn. It can be sung to the tune of the French Carol melody “Fragrance”. We try to find a place for it in our Christmas worship each year. Give it a try.

Frank Houghton was consecrated as Bishop of East Szechwan in 1937. For the difficult years of 1940 to 1951 he served as General Director of the China Inland Mission, a time when most missionaries were either interred or evacuated. Although some would return after War II, by 1953 there were no more foreign missionaries in China. What Hudson Taylor had begun almost 100 years earlier would be left to the Chinese Christians to continue. I guess this turned into a little lesson in the history of missions to China. Merry Christmas!

Have a great week,
Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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Memorizing verses

Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart
Published as part of the Peacemaker Memory System
, 1997.
by Ken Sande, attorney and President of Peacemaker Ministries
Scripture quotations are from the NIV, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 IBS

I knew I should recommit myself to Scripture memory, but I was reluctant because of my previous failures. Seeing my struggles, God gave me a tremendous gift. A friend sent me a copy of an article on Scripture memory:
Step 1: Set time goals rather than number goals.  One of the best ways to set yourself up for failure is to resolve to memorize a large number of verses in a certain period of time. Number goals may be easy to reach at first, but eventually they become burdensome or unattainable.  In the long run, it is easier to meet time goals than number goals. I initially set a goal of spending just five minutes a day on Scripture memory. That may not sound like much, but by consistently pursuing it, I accumulated over thirty hours of Scripture memory in one year.  I later expanded my time commitment to about twelve minutes per day. Since I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from making measurable progress on new verses, this twelve minutes is one of the most enjoyable parts of my daily devotions.
Step 2: Read, don’t cram.  Another way to defeat yourself is to try to force verses into your memory all at once by saying them twenty or more times in one sitting. I found that it is much easier to read a new verse carefully and thoughtfully three times and then put it aside until the next day. I do not have the verse memorized the first day or the second, but by the end of a week I can usually say it word-perfect. As Dr. Friesen says, this approach is “like cars on an assembly line—steadily being built rather than thrown together in a hurry.”
Step 3: Use a dependable review system.  Using this system I have been able to memorize and retain over 350 verses in the past 15 years:

  1. I bought a small filing box for 3×5 cards along with a set of index cards with tabs numbered 1 to 31 (available through most office supply stores).
  2. I set aside the cards numbered 1 to 21. Turning the other ten cards over, I wrote a word on the back of each tab. On the first tab I wrote “Daily,” on the second “Odd,” and on the third “Even.” Then, on each of the other seven card tabs I wrote one day of the week, “Sunday” through “Saturday.” I then placed all thirty-one cards in the box in this order: “Daily,” “Odd” and “Even,” “Sunday” through “Saturday,” and “1” through “21.”  Each Bible verse I memorize makes its way through these four sections: daily, every other day (“Odd” and “Even”), weekly (“Sunday,” etc.), and tri-weekly (“1” through “21”).
  3. Each week I put two to four new cards behind the “Daily” tab (or in my plastic pocket holder). Every day I read each card three times carefully and thoughtfully, and then I put them away.
  4. In about a week I am able to recall each verse word-perfect. At that point, I divide the cards and insert them behind the “Odd” and “Even” tabs. I then read each of the cards every other day, depending on whether it’s an odd or even day of the month. (Meanwhile I have added a couple of new verses to the “Daily” section.)
  5. After reading the review verses every other day for a week or two, I move those cards into the weekly section, distributing them among the days of the week. Now I review each card once a week.
  6. Finally, after two to four weeks, I move them into the tri-weekly section, again distributing them. I review the cards in this section every three weeks, marking my place with a colored index card. (If you prefer, you could go through the tri-weekly section during the first three weeks of the month, then skip this level of review for a week and start over on the first of the month.)
  7. I usually add two to four new cards per week.

As I progressively memorize more cards and move them through the four sections, my daily Scripture memory might go like this. On Sunday the 15th, I review the cards behind the tabs marked Daily, Odd, Sunday, and 15. The next day I review the cards behind the tabs marked Daily, Even, Monday, and 16.  And all you need to do is review ten cards a day! It will take some perseverance as you initially develop this habit, but if you are like me, you will soon find that it is both rewarding and fun.  To easily find relevant sections of Scripture, you will need to memorize verse citations along with the text. Because the citation is usually the hardest part to memorize, saying it twice for each text is helpful. The best way to do this is to say the citation (e.g., “Matthew 5:16”) both before and after the verse each time you read it.  A way to expand your system is to buy The Navigators’ Topical Memory System (60 cards). This system includes an excellent 70-page booklet on Scripture memory and verses foundational for Christian life and witness.

I am glad to pass his encouragement on to you through the Peacemaker Memory System. May the Lord bless and empower you as you commit these Scriptures to memory and use them to help others discover the love and peace of Christ.

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It’s the first day that HCC BASIC moved to Willow Park at 10400 Cliffwood Drive to play team sports since Hermann Park is planting trees and Rice University is kicking us off the fields.  I knew I wouldn’t get much done at home so I tried to leave as soon after I ate and then I typed up an evaluation checklist in the parking lot in my car until the battery in my laptop died at 3 p.m.  It turns out this park is quite popular and promotes a lot of familial and community intimacy.  Many Hispanics were playing soccer.  They were finished by the time BASIC showed up.  Actually, Rachel and Howie (a young couple I met..when Lilly and Edwin visited?..who used to go to FBCC but now attends Mosaic) were two of the first to arrive.  Greg from Access came, too.  Elliot, Charles, and Henry came as well.  Inch, Jeff, and Andrew said hi.

Tiffany Lin struck up a conversation with me.  She asked me where I was working, and she said that actually she thinks that’s where she thinks she’s going to go for her psychiatric rotation (near April).  She said right before she started she had gone on a mission trip where she incorporated her medical skills and at the same time was able to ascertain the patient’s spiritual well-being as well.  However, now she’s so busy and on-the-go that she finds that she doesn’t have the time to do that, and isn’t even sure if it’s appropriate.  She reminded me of myself, when I went to Mexico with Nathan Kim, Lois Lim, Melvin Feng (”!esta bien!”), and Jane Park the week right before I moved to El Paso.  I didn’t even go home–-my parents picked me up from Laredo and then we drove up to the Mountain Time Zone.  I was so hyped, and I really did feel like I was still in Mexico.  *Psi*  I find it also interesting that she asked if I found a church community.  It was like she got the core of my current issues.  How did she know?  I explained to her that the past year I had actually attended as many FBCC, WHCC, and HCC events I was invited to.  Somehow FBCC doesn’t plan as many or something, but the group I’ve ended up feeling the closest to has been HCC, probably due to their weekly sports outings.

I also asked Jesslyn to walk with me.  At the end, it almost felt out of the blue, she asked me if I was interested in missions.  I found that interesting; was she thinking about it?  She said somewhat, like either supporting here in the United States or teaching overseas or something of that nature.  I said that I hadn’t seriously thought of it, but I was always enamored of it even before I believed in God.  I told her how just this past Friday I had heard the descendent of James Hudson Taylor speak, and how I grew up being awed not only by him but by George Mueller, Gladys Aylward, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot….

I left early for dinner.  Vickie initiated a conversation about flirting for attention from guys (doing good for the other versus leading the other on), emotional attachment (is okay), codependency (if the other’s well-being is wholly dependent on another), and other similar topics.

A weekend of many thoughts…below’s some more links about missionaries: 

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