Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's all their fault.

The poor are responsible for their own plight.
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In biblical times, the plight of the poor, the homeless, the beggars of the day, was considered to be a punishment for sin - hence the popular mindset held that "it was their own fault". The righteous could easily dismiss them, and walk on by because they were unclean, like Samaritans and lepers, they were sinners. "They brought it upon themselves."
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We do the same thing today, only we dismiss the poor as drug addicts, alcoholics, hookers, mentallly ill, and so on - and we are certain we "know" most of them are there on the street through their own fault - or even because "they want to be". Maybe - maybe not. Whatever the case, does that justify the fact that we so easily ignore them and their plight?
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I know people who treat sick pets with more concern than Christians do a homeless stranger on a street corner. Indeed, how often I've heard of Catholic people who have solicited funds from others to care for their pets, or make house payments, or to help pay for personal tuition expenses, or even to ask people for money to go on a pilgrimage to Rome or to pay off student loans to enter a monastery. I expect we imagine ourselves to be good - and therefore deserving, even worthy - hence we permit ourselves to ask people we do not even know for money to support our "good" causes. Yet it is such a different story when it comes to helping the homeless, the down and out.
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The mayor's assistant wrote me the following in an email:
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"Those who are served by Sharing and Caring Hands are unique in that many users may be homeless and vulnerable because of these criminal behaviors such as drug abuse. The City can not look the other away, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone at Sharing and Caring Hands is considered, from the chronic crack cocaine user to the young single mother and her new born child." -Jeremy Hanson, Office of Mayor R.T. Rybak
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Can't you just feel the love? The concern to protect the poor, young single mother and her newborn child? Protecting her from those awful criminals? If the poor mother lives anyplace - she probably lives on the north or south side, in a neighborhood bordering downtown Minneapolis. These neighborhoods are hot beds of crime, drug trafficking and murder. That poor mother is much safer at Caring and Sharing Hands. Just last night, I watched a news story about a south Minneapolis family who narrowly escaped gun shots that came in through their bedroom window, piercing the opposite wall. The family wants to move to a better neighborhood but cannot afford it.
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I think the city of Minneapolis has a responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone in the city - leave Caring and Sharing Hands alone - the center was doing just fine until construction on the stadium began last year.
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PLEASE! If you haven't done so - come to the aid of Caring and Sharing hands and make your objections known to the City of Minneapolis. Please call today or before April 25 Mayor R.T. Rybak's policy aide: Erica Prosser 612-673-2133 or erica.prosser@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Caring and Sharing Hands and the City of Minneapolis




A Case of Harassment By the City of Minneapolis...
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I just got off the phone with Dick Copeland, after receiving an email response from the Mayor's office explaining the City's position regarding the security issues associated with Caring and Sharing Hands. I wanted to hear the other side of the story directly from the Copelands. The City claims the help center is not cooperating - which I know to be untrue - but I needed to have that confirmed for me by either Mary Jo or her husband Dick.
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It is rather obvious the City's motivation to shut down Mary Jo Copeland's emergency center for the homeless poor is because the property would be more valuable for commercial development servicing the new Twins ballpark - being constructed across the street. Although the city denies it and insists it is instead trying to work with the Copeland's to develop a security plan which would eradicate drug trafficking in the area.
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I asked Dick if they (Caring and Sharing) are refusing to work with the City - he said absolutely not - that in fact they do have security people on hand. Dick explained that Mary Jo has been doing this work for 20 years and only last year the police started coming around.
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I remember one of the first incidents. The police showed up at noon. It was during the dinner hour when they made the well publicized sting - and if I remember correctly, media just happened to come along. Supposedly a drug deal was going down right on camera - next to a security guard while Mary Jo was serving food. This pretty much coincided with the final go ahead for construction of the new ball park to take place - but I never connected the dots at that time.
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Mr. Copeland explained to me that for years they asked help from the city and police to help them move along the trouble makers amongst the street people who slept on the grassy street intersections and areas surrounding the center, but the police told the Copeland's it wasn't their problem. Then last summer the arrests happened, although there have been no arrests recently, at least in the past 4 months.
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I asked what kind of security system the City is asking of them - Dick said they want the center to check ID's of everyone who enters the facility. Wait a minute. Isn't that a violation of civil rights? Isn't this the USA? And furthermore - maybe the poor do not always have identification - and yes, they should - but maybe they don't. Can you see where this is going? The next step for the City is probably going to be calling in immigration officials to help in shutting down the facility. Do you see how government operates when revenue is involved?
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Anyway - the City "miss-speaks" - they want Mary Jo out. From what I understand they have already negotiated with the Salvation Army to limit their outreach to the poor - no more over night accommodations from what I've been told. (The Salvation Army is on the opposite side of the new stadium.)

Mayor's Office response to my earlier post:
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Jeremy Hanson, Office of Mayor R.T. Rybak Says: after publication. e-->April 17th, 2008 at 2:43 pm e
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Mayor Rybak very much values and appreciates the important work of Sharing and Caring Hands – the services they provide to Minneapolis and those in need are admirable and the last thing we want is to stand in the way of that service. That being said, when you operate a business in the City of Minneapolis, no matter what type of business, you must comply with City ordinances that relate to the management of that business, including a plan to ensure adequate security to prevent criminal activity. And the City has an obligation to ensure that licensed businesses are in compliance with these ordinances. There are a number of other facilities that serve the homeless and those with great housing needs in this area of Minneapolis. None of them have these safety issues because we are in partnership with them, and we simply want the same with Sharing and Caring Hands. We don’t want to relocate them. We want to work with them to address these issues so that the people who go there for care and support can be safe. We have been trying to work with them to protect the very needy people who come there, but we need Mary Jo’s partnership to do that. We have clear standards for public safety in Minneapolis that we expect everyone – even Sharing and Caring Hands – to meet.
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Those who are served by Sharing and Caring Hands are unique in that many users may be homeless and vulnerable because of these criminal behaviors such as drug abuse. The City can not look the other away, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone at Sharing and Caring Hands is considered, from the chronic crack cocaine user to the young single mother and her new born child.
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The security issues surrounding Mary’s place have a long history as do the City’s attempts to work in partnership with Mary Jo to address these issues. Sharing and Caring Hands has had little progress in addressing these concerns and so, once again, we have asked Mary Jo to come to the table so we can help her put together a comprehensive and achievable security plan. We are extremely hopeful that Mary Jo, with the needs of those she serves in mind, will work cooperatively with us so that we have a result that will make us all happy, the license renewal of Sharing and Caring Hands and safe place of refuge for those in need.
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Minneapolis has underway one of the most comprehensive and aggressive efforts to end homelessness in the nation, and ending homelessness will continue to be a priority for the Mayor and the city. This is why we have helped place affordable housing in downtown as well as throughout the city and will continue our efforts to end homelessness by helping people get into safe, affordable and stable housing. This year we are spending $10 million on an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. We are funding street outreach workers to help connect homeless residents to permanent services and move them into a more stable life. We are about to have our next Project Homeless Connect, in which we invite the homeless people in the community to the Convention Center to connect them to services. This is part of Heading Home Hennepin, a city and county partnership to solve long term homelessness. The city has worked very hard to address the needs of the homeless, and those who have housing challenges, and we will continue to do so – hopefully with the partnership of Sharing and Caring Hands. - End of Mayor's Office statement.
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There is a City Council meeting on April 25th and we need thousands of people to call the Mayor’s office and tell him you support Mary Jo’s work and you oppose any move to remove Mary Jo’s restaurant license. Please call today or before April 25th. The license thing is only the first step in closing down the entire facility.
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PLEASE! If you haven't done so - come to the aid of Caring and Sharing hands and make your objections known to the City of Minneapolis. Please call today or before April 25 Mayor R.T. Rybak's policy aide: Erica Prosser 612-673-2133 or erica.prosser@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Links:
Corruption and the City of Minneapolis

Sharing and Caring Hands Under Attack In Minneapolis



Urgent!

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Sharing & Caring Hands needs your support. The City of Minneapolis has threatened to remove Mary Jo Copeland's restaurant license and in turn her ability to serve meals to thousands of the poor and hungry of Minneapolis.

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This move has been raised because of alleged security concerns, and comes on the heels of the new ballpark stadium being built across the street from the facility. Those who would suffer from this are the poor, the disabled, the elderly, families with children, and people suffering from mental illness who come for a warm meal.

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There is a City meeting on April 25th and we need thousands of people of faith to call the Mayor's office and tell him you support Mary Jo's work and you oppose any move to remove Mary Jo's restaurant license.

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Please call today or before April 25 Mayor R.T. Rybak's policy aide: Erica Prosser 612-673-2133 or erica.prosser@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

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PROTEST MARCH Thursday April 17, 1PM The community is organizing a march to protest this threat. It is set for Thursday, April 17 at 1 pm in the Parking lot of Sharing and Caring Hands. Parking will fill quickly there so attendees are encouraged to park at the Target Center just 5 minutes away. Please call 612-338-4640 9-5 PM for more details or questions."


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If you cannot make the event on April 17 - call the Mayor's office and let him know you object to the harassment the City of Minneapolis is directing against Mary Jo Copeland and Sharing and Caring Hands. And PRAY!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A great American, and a manly man...


Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL)
Michael Anthony Monsoor
April 5, 1981 – Sept. 29, 2006
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Proud to be an American.

He likes us! He really, really likes us!
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I watched the welcome for the Holy Father on the White House lawn by the President and the Nation. What a wonderful tribute.
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Happy Birthday Holy Father!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Funerary

Denial.
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I painted this as an ex-voto in memory of the man who had been my novice master in the monastery. He died several years ago now. My inspiration was a funerary fresco from ancient Pompeii - hence the shrouded mourner in the lower corner. The winged man is the Roman God Dionysus. The torch represents the false light of the world. The empty cowl illustrates his abandoned vocation, and the naked man is the dead monk.
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I later destroyed the canvas after the monastery denied the circumstances of the monk's death.

Therese


This is a life size painting I did of St. Therese a couple of years ago. Unfortunately it was photographed from below so the perspective is a bit off, and the image isn't very clear.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More on cleric-wear.

Shirting.
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Most off the rack short sleeved shirts for priests have too short of sleeves. A clerical shirt should have a short sleeve length that hits right at the man's elbow - if not longer. Many priests wear their shirts much too small - they need a one finger collar space - depending upon their weight, and the shirt buttons should never show strain - always wear full cut. And dress shirts should have sleeve lengths long enough to show approximately 1/2" of linen when one is wearing the cassock or a suit coat. Short sleeved shirts should only be worn with a jacket, sweater, or casual sport coat - never under a suit or cassock.

Priest-wear.

The limited wardrobe of the priest.

On my new blog I mentioned I wanted to work on some designs for priests to wear - just for fun of course. It seems to me most of the younger and newly ordained priests wouldn't be caught dead without their clerics. While lay Catholics seem to prefer priests dressed as priests - especially in cases of emergency - so they can recognize the priest from the ordinary man on the street. Younger priests are also very willing to go about town in their cassocks now days as well - as if the world is now following Vatican etiquette - and I like it. I was watching the news the other night and there I saw Fr. Joseph Johnson visiting Mary Jo Copeland in downtown Minneapolis wearing a cassock. How cool is that?
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Some priests still go out of uniform on their days off - sweatshirts and jeans and no shaving. Men love not to shave and to wear beat up clothes. Some people at the religious goods company I once worked for used to comment about priests coming in without clerical clothing. I found that a bit narrow. Having said that, there is a growing number of priests who would never do that - but do they have to wear a suit or a cassock all of the time? I don't think so. Which is why I'm doodling some ideas around.
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Pictured:
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Casual -
#5) Black Sweatshirt (or sweater) with layered collar. The collars are sewn onto the sweatshirt/sweater. The under collar is white, middle collar is black with a notch opening to reveal the white, both sewn onto the ribbed collar of the sweater. Paired with black stone-washed denim jeans, brown leather belt and hiking boots. (I like brown and black.)
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Dress -
#2) The black traditional cassock deserves decent outerwear. I did a long, full trench which stops about 6 inches from the hem of the cassock. The trench coat is constructed of soft black microfiber with a contrasting french khaki lining. Extra wide collar and belted (not shown). No capes. Not on the street.
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I might continue with this, I might not. Then again - I might design some nun's habits.

Git the gun!


Pope Benedict urges a crackdown on handguns.
"The pontiff said he was urging 'every effort against the proliferation of light and small-calibre weapons, which fuel local wars and urban violence, and unfortunately kill too many people every day in all the world.'" - Source


How many "Ratzinger fans" bought their wives firearms? LOL!
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Even Hillary is a gun-totin' church-goer now days. - NY Times