Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Of course in my native Minnesotan, it is:
Christ is up and at ‘em!
Sure! You Betcha!
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Of course in my native Minnesotan, it is:
Christ is up and at ‘em!
Sure! You Betcha!
“Do the right thing.” Four simple words, but not so simple in the execution. Fundamentalists will tell you that there is always a clear choice between right and wrong, good and evil; like black and white. Haven’t we seen where fundamentalists have led us too many times before? There were the persecutions of scientists like Galileo. There was the Inquisition. There were the Crusades. Pogroms against the Jews. There were the witch burnings in Salem. (My great, great … aunt Lydia was killed as a ‘witch’ there. She probably cured someone with native herbs, who was supposed to die according to “God’s will”.) There were the racially pure lynch mobs. There are the “missionaries” training African countries to kill gays. There are the fundamentalist Muslim jihadists who are killing Christians and Jews. Stalin’s various purges. (He was a fundamentalist communist.) The list goes on.
We can start out firmly (perhaps too firmly) convinced that our cause is right. We take action and things can go terribly sideways and we can become the thing that we set out opposing. This video illustrates this, when a bunch of little kids form a gang to go after a gang of older bullies to recover one of their friend’s bicycle.
We had a situation with some parallels to this at what we affectionately call Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys a few weeks ago. I wrote about how a local pastor basically dumped a family there in True Story. It turns out they were actively using addicts. The priest never called to check in on them, never accepted or returned their phone calls; has never offered support to John for keeping them there; did not call John to check in to thank him and check in to see how they were doing, etc.
I was working with them on a plan to aid them through withdrawal off the opioids. John was willing to work with them. He had given up his bedroom with his memory foam, queen size bed for the parents, while he slept, with broken ribs, on the lumpy couch. At my advice, he locked his shop for the first time ever. I provided them with counselling and herbs that would help detoxify their bodies more quickly to shorten the withdrawal process. they were not ready or willing to start it. They were still actively grifting and getting high and lying to everyone in the house and sowing discord.
Another resident of the house, nickname Charlie, is manic. Charlie returned from a long weekend away and caught wind of the fact that John had lent these people money. (I had told them if they asked John for one more dime, they were out of the house, because we were all helping out of a position of weakness, not of strength.) Charlie went ballistic and wanted to throw them out that night. I had to simmer him down. John was at work. It was 11pm. We agreed that Charlie could kick them out in the morning. The community did not take this decision lightly. We felt on some level that we had failed them. I did point out that they were no worse off than when they came. We had saved them from freezing to death in their car. The danger of that had passed now. They had abused the hospitality offered by lying, grifting, and continuing to do drugs. This put everyone in the house at risk. Everyone still felt bad. It was a good thing to see. Everyone still agreed that it needed to be done. The addicts had simply not bottomed out.
Charlie takes things to extremes. He called the priest and conflated the Orthodox Church and every scandal and every rumor of a scandal ever charged against the Roman Catholic church and hurled it at this priest, much like these boys in the video with their piss filled super soakers. He demanded that Fr. reimburse John for the money he had given to these people, etc. His plan was to continue the tirade by delivering the family onto the church lawn saying that Father will take care of you now. The family beat him to the punch and left before he could lead them anywhere and were already over there arguing with the priest on the lawn of the church when Charlie got there and he just observed from afar. Charlie also called the Bishop to talk to Father’s boss and left many rude and slanderous messages there.
Charlie is manic. He is brilliant. He is a hard worker. He is nearly impossible to live with. John Haggerty welcomes him into his home and gives him space to complete his work that has potential to save and help heal thousands of lives. Charlie’s full nickname is “Colonel Charlie Manson” for just these kinds of antics, but we love him.
Father did reimburse John for the $300 he had loaned the addicts and added another $100 for his troubles. God bless him.
John & I have rescued each other numerous times in the last eight years that we have been neighbors. John is a solid worker in The King’s Jubilee. Our freezers are in his shop. He makes most of our furniture deliveries. He was by my side for the whole of the court hearing when we had to sue the city. Before that, he accompanied me to all the meetings with various coalitions and groups that were strategizing to fight the mayor on his decrees against the homeless. He was very droll about meeting with more anarchists and communists and hippies, but always a good sport. He tries to keep me grounded.
John chides me for the fact that he has a houseful of homeless men. I’m not sure I can take much credit for that. Perhaps I made him more aware of the world outside of his windowless shop, but I can’t take credit for his heart of compassion or his patience.
This economy has hit him hard. He has had a hard time of it. Once one gets behind, it is next to impossible to catch up. He is in bankruptcy and that is in jeopardy. I started a GoFundMe for him this week to try to save his home and save the bankruptcy plan, so he would not lose all his tools and everything. You may also send funds directly to John without incurring any fees by designating it as a “gift” and using your Paypal to his Paypal account:
Or you may mail checks to John Haggerty, 107 E. Chestnut St., Souderton, PA 18964.
So I guess it’s time for all of us to step up and “do the right thing” and rescue John’s house from foreclosure. I would also like you to consider making a monthly pledge to The King’s Jubilee, so we can provide ongoing support and a safety net for John and the men at Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys.
Last night was “men’s night in” at our house for the guys from “Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys”. It was a cooking demonstration for making a manly, low-carb meal. Ed and I gathered ingredients from from Assi Chinese market, Produce Junction, and Giant. Steve is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats eggs and fish) so I made two slightly different dishes, one with flounder, one with pork chops. The men were very impressed. After the meal there was some speculation about kidnapping me and shackling me in the kitchen of their commune, once they strike it big, so I could prepare all of their meals. Here goes:
Cut up the radishes and fennel and mix them in one bowl. Cut up the peppers and put them in another bowl. Do the same for the mushrooms. Cut & peel the avocados & chunk. Peel & dice the mangoes. Mix them in a small bowl with the avocados. Get all your skillets out and start them heating on high heat if you are making pork chops, medium heat if you are making flounder. Put about a tablespoon of reserved bacon drippings or lard into each skillet (preferably cast iron with sides) in which you are cooking pork chops and a generous amount of olive oil in each skillet in which you are preparing flounder. Throw the pork chops into the hot fat and keep rearranging until at least one side of every chop is browned. Throw radishes and fennel, then fennel into the fish pan(s), then the Shitakes, then the flounder. Add the radishes, fennel, shitakes to the pork chops. Grate the ginger over everything. Add the cilantro. Keep stirring and flipping. Cover skillets. Reduce heat to medium. Add avocados & mangoes as radishes soften. The flounder will get done quickly. Be vigilant. Do not overcook the pork. If the radishes are soft and the fennel is just slightly crunchy, and there is juice in the pan, it’s perfect.
This is enough to feed six manly men. I served it on proper, manly enamelware from Amish country, with matching enamelware tumblers. Of course, we spoke of manly things, like cooking and how to count carbs, and realistic ways to deal with heroin addicts.
We had a great time.
February marks the 25th anniversary of The King’s Jubilee. I dug out a bunch of the old newsletters and other literature today. The hand traced logo is from a newsletter I did in marker in 1996 after people complained about the print quality of my printer. In 1994, our entire annual budget was less that $4,000. With that we served over 9,000 meals in Philadelphia, Pottstown and Stowe, and led a Monday Evening Bible Institute, two prison Bible studies, established a Spanish ministry in Graterford Prison; printed an inmate newsletter; established a new homeless ministry in Upper Darby; provided personal care kits via our Project: Lydia program in the Northampton Co. Women’s Prison. I have never received a salary for this ministry. I have basically worked at it pretty much as a full time volunteer. I started to write another paragraph about the various ministries we have done or attempted through the years, but decided to do it as a bullet list, instead. I’m not sure of all the dates.
I’m sure I forgot some things. That’s OK. Through the years, we have also helped several homeless students buy books and computers to complete their studies. One man presented me with his graduation program and a thank you note when he graduated cum laude as a nurse. We have helped other front lines ministries with materials, computers and funds. Once we even delivered a used, electric golfcart to Ora Love so she could get around the project with all of her books and equipment to teach her students.
During Mayor Rendell’s years, we were investigated by undercover police at least three times that I was aware of. I told them that we were willing to go to jail before we would quit, because we had to obey God rather than men. Fast Eddy Rendell thought that the homeless were like dogs and that if we would only stop feeding them, they would go to someone else’s city. I assured him on the three occasions when I met him that no one was on the street because the food was that good! Since then, I have been told that my soup is better than what they serve at The Four Seasons. I still stand by my statement. We have been chased from one park to another. Policemen have harrassed us. Once I was told that Fairmount Park was private property . I took that officer’s name and badge number. He got a civics lesson from his commanding officer the next day. We have witnessed knife fights and fist fights and one shooting. Brownie shot Peaches in the butt with a 22. Most thought she had it coming. The two of them have been more or less happily married for over 15 years now. Ain’t love grand!
Once, the Fruit of Islam at Graterford put a hit out on me, and some other inmates put out a counter hit to protect me, stating that if anything happened to me, Nation of Islam inmates were going to die. They apparently circulated my photo around Phila. Les Bucher & I were coming home from serving one night and we were being ambushed, with a car in front and a car behind and a man in a long coat in the summertime with a big gun in his pocket came running up to Les’s side of the van. He started to raise the gun. He spots me in the “shotgun” position, and says, “O, it’s you, Cranford. Have a nice night!” A signal was given and the car in front moved and we were allowed to leave. Another time, I was taken at gun point from my workplace by an ex-offender so I could get him admitted to a drug rehab while he was high as a kite. Interesting times.
Working in prison and on the street changed me and changed my theology. This has alarmed my old fundamentalist friends. However, a theology that bears bad fruit in the real world is invalid. If it leads me to see my brothers and sisters as “other” or inferior or “market” and not simply as somebody’s children, who are trying to muddle through as best they can figuring it out as they go like I am, then I don’t need it. “Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” (Kahlil Gibran)
Through the years, I worked at various jobs to support myself and my family. I always needed something with a flexible schedule so that I could do this work. Finally, I started “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art in January 2001 thinking it would be flexible and could grow and support the ministry. I was doing this out of our half twin in East Greenville, making the icons in a tiny space in the basement and finishing them in a tiny spare bedroom, which was also the office and mailing center. We finally decided to take the leap and move closer to church, to a place with an outbuilding that we hoped to house the business in in May 2006. It required major rebuilding. I set to work to do that. It took money. Some money came in, but then was delayed for a year. By the time we received it I had serious health issues, so I could not do as much. The business also got interrupted repeatedly by my health issues, an infection on my spine, then reaction to the antibiotic that nearly killed me; six months later migrainous strokes. Then debilitating strokes for three months, etc. Finally, the business went under in July of 2013, after never really showing a profit. A major flaw in my business plan was that my main competition was monks.
In 2012, we had to sue Mayor Nutter and the City of Philadelphia, after he decreed that serving free food in the parks to needy people was illegal. We won an injunction and that decision has become a landmark for other groups to fight and win against similar oppressive regulations across the country.
Dr. Jerry Burke & Dr. Peter Psomiadis organized the Hummus Open Golf Tounament. We had the 2nd Annual in 2012 where we debuted the most unusual trophy in sport, The Garbanzo. In 2013, we took it up another notch and introduced commemorative tournament hats.
We have been featured a lot in the press lately, since Charli Riggle encouraged me to do a Gofundme to save our home from foreclosure in conjunction with the almsgiving Facebook group drive she coordinated. She started the press connections as well. It eventually made it onto both the very local and the national scene. We raised over $45,000 and were able to save our home from foreclosure as well as a neighbor’s, for now. We raised the profile of the ministry and gained a few more monthly donors. We need many more to make this truly sustaining. I have been essentially working two full time jobs for nearly 25 years. No wonder I had a dozen or more strokes! We can end homelessness in Philadelphia. We need your support to be able to work at it to do that, without having to worry about not having insurance for Bethann and losing the house again in another year. Please make a monthly pledge. It’s easy and automatic on Paypal. If everyone who liked us on Facebook would give $10/month, we would have more than we have ever had to work with, ever. That is a McDonald’s meal (blecch!) skipped for you, which would allow us to move forward, full time to develop the ministry in some marvelous ways! We cannot do this ministry without you. We just give your alms away.
God bless you!
for The King’s Jubilee
It started on Christmas day, Charli Riggle and I spoke on the phone and she told me I had to set up a Gofundme campaign in conjunction with the Facebook Lenten Almsgiving group. She was going to announce the next day that during the 12 Days of Christmas there was going to be a drive to save our house from foreclosure. This was crazy talk. Our little group had never generated anywhere near that amount of money. She was the third woman to tell me this. I have a wife and four daughters and that is about how many women it usually takes before something sinks in; so I did it. I set the goal at $15,000 which is what I estimated to be what would be needed to bring the account current by the time we raised the funds, along with the late fees. It did not allow for any funds going forward or any strange fees the mortgage company might choose to tack on. In other words, I was being my usual optimistic self. Even so, it was an outrageous amount for our little group of poor almsgivers.
In the first week, we raised over $6,000 as far as the public was aware of. There was a totally anonymous donation of $9,000 that had actually put us over the top. The donor told me to wait to add that to the public total until after we had reached the total otherwise. I did add $400 and then $600 of it in when donations were slowing down, just to liven things up a bit and improve our rank on the Gofundme site. The first Inquirer article hit on Jan. 6. By the end of the day, our online total had surpassed our goal of $15,000! Then I added in the remaining $8,000. For the next several days donations kept coming in from all over the world. Bethann & I were almost full-time writing thank you notes. Jan. 8, the second Inquirer article came out. Gofundme also featured our story in an email to their supporters. We received over $5,000 during the day from complete strangers, then got up the next morning to discover that we had received more than $1,000 from Australia! By the 16th, we had raised over $40,000 and had arranged to pay to reinstate the mortgage, as well as eliminate other outstanding debts. We also were able to help a neighbor from losing his home and help a few other folks along the way, leaving enough in The King’s Jubilee’s account to fund the ministry, including a secure base at our house, for the next year.
On the 17th, the Intelligencer did a feature article about us. On the 28th, the Huffington Post chose me as one of eighteen people who the President should have invited to attend the State of the Union Address, referencing the first Inquirer article and the Gofundme site. Today, the local paper, the Souderton Independent used the whole front page of its Living section with an article about us, with huge color pictures.
We have had more positive press in one month than in the rest of the 25 years prior. It is an interesting dynamic with the people on the street. They read the papers. Several of them congratulated or blessed me on Thursday night for the success of the fundraising campaign. One fellow, who seemed intensely shy, took time to speak with me, to tell me how pleased he was that we had been blessed in this way. Some of the guys wanted me to tell all of you “Thank You” for your support of The King’s Jubilee, because we serve the best meal of the week. I’m just passing it on. This is your ministry. We could not do it without all of you supporting it. I just get to give away other people’s stuff. God bless you!
It is our 25th year as a ministry, and this is the first year I did not put out a Christmas newsletter for The King’s Jubilee. On Dec. 20, I actually started a draft of a blog entry entitled: The Economic Rationale for Dying Now. It just seemed according to all of the economic indicators, what I do was not valued, and the fact that I had worked was no longer valued according to the GOP Congress and the GOP state legislature and governor. I am not employable in a normal job, due to the pain in my spine. I have bad days and worse days. Social Security turned me down. Their callous policy is to routinely do that to everyone the first time and make them wait a year and a half. (just long enough for them to lose their homes) I still have a valid life insurance policy that would pay off the house, so according to pure economics, society was telling me my family was better off with me dead. On top of that, I have felt so much condemnation, rage and hate coming from priests. On one side, there are public service announcements to stand up to bullies; on the other, I am supposed to be quiet about a bully priest. Sorry, too many good priests have told me that Christianity accepts good psychology. I will not be silent.
On Christmas, the third woman to chide me, Charli Riggle, finally ordered me to start a GoFundMe campaign to save our house from foreclosure, starting the next day. I complied, not expecting much. I set the bar low. $15,000 was the bare minimum to meet back payments and maybe pay all the fines and fees. It wouldn’t really help us on a way forward. Our little almsgiving group had no way of raising that much among ourselves. Charli said, “Just do it, it’ll take less than an hour.”
I wrote it up and it took much less than an hour. She posted it in the Almsgiving Facebook group. Immediately donations started to come in. We were up to 1% in no time. It began to snowball. Then Charli asked me If she could get the press involved. I told her only if they were friendly. I have had bad experiences with the press. The Inquirer printed a great article in last Sunday’s paper with a follow up in Wednesday’s, with pictures. Gofundme, in turn, featured our story and emailed it out to supporters. We not only received donations. A very strange thing happened. We have been receiving Thank You notes with checks enclosed. I am going to say that again with emphasis.
We have been receiving Thank You notes with checks enclosed.
A complete stranger from Australia sent us $500 and a thank you. Complete strangers from Philadelphia have sent us $500 in Thank You notes! Some people have sent $10 in a Thank You note promising to pray for us. Project: HOME sent a beautiful card hand signed by Sr. Mary Scullion and the staff to accompany a donation. We have received encouragement, blessings and donations from all over the world, it seems.
So this is what it feels like to be appreciated. I am not used to this strange feeling. But I like it. I would like a chance to get used to this. Thank you all! GOD BLESS YOU!
I have always been leery of the press. I usually try to avoid them. Charli Riggle, who really got the ball rolling to do the 12 Days of Almsgiving for me to start the GoFundMe campaign on the day after Christmas, also got the ball rolling to get an article in the Phila. Inquirer. The reporter, Claudia Vargas, came and watched me prepare soup for two and a half hours, then waited for us in the blowing snow and cold in center city. I wasn’t sure what would impress her out of all that. In the end, it is positive. It is available online at www.philly.com.
Here are jpegs of the article:
After three friends urged me to use GoFundMe to raise funds to save our house from foreclosure, I set it up yesterday afternoon. And the Share the Love Almsgivng Facebook group has selected us for their 12 Days of Christmas Cash Flash Mob. People can give here on the website using Paypal, or give cash or use the GoFundMe site. We estimate that we need $15,000 to save our house. During the first 34 hours, $1.710 came in.
After a series of unfortunate events, they have set the sheriff’s sale for our house for February 26, 2014. February also marks the 25th anniversary of our founding of The King’s Jubilee. Through the years our home has served as the only base for this ministry. Our kitchen has prepared over 1/4 million meals through the years that were then served to the poor and homeless. Our home has also taken in homeless ex-offenders and one homeless family through the years. It has hosted mission workers and guests from Indonesia, Africa, India, France, Germany, and Canada who needed a place to stay.
I had an infection on my neck that I most likely picked up from the street, that later showed up on my spine. The treatment of it nearly killed me. I was allergic to the IV antibiotics. It ate into my spine. This led to chronic migraines. They caused 30 to 50 little strokes. I also suffer PTSD as a result of the strokes, and the court case with the city, and other incidents of being bullied. Altogether, this caused my business to fail due to too may interruptions and left me unemployable. I still can do the ministry, but that does not pay anything. My wife, Bethann, lost her job with its insurance, July 2012. We kept paying COBRA $1100, which was more than her unemployment income, so as the business failed, we fell behind on the mortgage. Now we can’t afford the insurance. I have Medical Assistance. We have to pay out of pocket for Bethann. We are in negotiation with the bank, but they are fast tracking the foreclosure at the same time. SSDI should come through, but not in time. Bethann is going to school to become a medical administrator.
Anything we receive will be paid forward once we get our feet under us again. Thank you. God bless you!
Most of you are probably unaware, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW) just released a new health care proposal with its version of Medicaid Expansion, which also drastically diminishes the current Medicaid benefits. The state’s proposal delays healthcare access for a year to 500,000 newly eligible people and reduces coverage for more than a million people already on Medicaid — seniors, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable individuals and families.
Right now is the public comment period. We are encouraging allies to weigh in online and at hearings across the state (see list below). Information and talking points are available through the Project HOME website.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Upcoming Hearings: (Note: A Cover the Commonwealth Coalition Press Conference will be at 9:30 before each hearing.)
Friday, January 3, 2014, in Philadelphia, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Registration Deadline: Monday, December 30, 2013
Monday, January 6, 2014, in Scranton, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hilton Scranton & Conference Center
100 Adams Avenue
Scranton, PA, 18503
Registration Deadline: Thursday, January 2, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014, in Altoona, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Blair County Convention Center
1 Convention Center Drive
Altoona, PA 16602
Registration Deadline: Thursday, January 2, 2014
Thursday, January 9, 2014, in Harrisburg, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
300 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Registration Deadline: Monday, January 6, 2014
Please remember to bake a plate of cookies for the homeless while you are making your Christmas preparations. We will be serving homemade Christmas cookies and hot chocolate with the meal on the day after Christmas.
It is not that big a deal to make an extra plate of cookies, but it makes a big impact to have a touch of home and the tender loving care it represents to the people we serve.
They need to be delivered to our house before 6:45pm on Dec. 26.
Thank you. May God bless you.